Is This Normal? How Do You Handle Such Requests

Business By Pebbles1727 Updated 28 Mar 2011 , 8:09pm by scp1127

Pebbles1727 Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 2:21am
post #1 of 20

Well, it started out with people asking for a job so they can learn, and now, they just want to learn--come watch me work or do cakes with me. The amount of these requests is going up, and it goes like this: "oh your cakes look good, I sell cakes too, can I come watch you work?' Is this normal? I would never had considered calling a bakery and telling them that I sell cakes too but would like to watch them do cakes so I can learn how to do mine better. These are not complete strangers, more of acquintances. Of course, I'm flattered that they think my work is worth watching, but why in the world do they think I would want to teach them? Do you get requests like that or am I an odd man out? I try to be polite but it's little hard to put a "no" in a polite sentence icon_sad.gif

19 replies
jason_kraft Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 3:29am
post #2 of 20

If there is that much interest maybe you should start offering classes, priced high of course.

Pebbles1727 Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 4:25am
post #3 of 20

Haha, I don't think I'm that good icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 5:05am
post #4 of 20

Evidently you are that good or they wouldn't want to shadow you! thumbs_up.gif

I agree with the above: Start responding that you'll be starting private classes soon at $50/hour ... how many hours did they want to sign up for? icon_rolleyes.gif

jason_kraft Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 5:24am
post #5 of 20

I would charge more than that for a private lesson, at least in the $60-70/hour range. We offer private lessons (mostly focused on baking rather than decorating, since many of our customers can't have nuts/eggs/gluten/dairy/soy/etc.) tailored to fit each customer's needs, usually around $75/hour. We bring all the ingredients to the customer's home and the customer uses their own equipment to make the recipes. We haven't booked too many lessons so far (we actually stopped advertising the lessons because we had too many regular orders) but it has provided a little extra income.

The viability of offering private lessons depends largely on the affluence of your target market, you can find average salary data by zip code online if you wanted to do some research.

I might be wary of teaching a direct competitor advanced decorating techniques though...if you have competitive advantages you want to protect you can always provide them access to your expertise on a turnkey consulting basis (where you would create works for hire instead of teaching them how to do it), this would of course be more expensive than a private lesson.

indydebi Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 5:29am
post #6 of 20

What Jason said! thumbs_up.gif

I just pulled a number out as an example of what to say. jason adds some excellent points to consider! thumbs_up.gif

scp1127 Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 6:09am
post #7 of 20

My classes are $50.00 per hour, but they provide the ingredients or I sell them at cost. I offer baking lessons. My kitchen is approved for the public. Make sure you let your insurance company know that paid clients will be in your kitchen. I don't know if that is necessary, but I like to cover my bases.

Pebbles1727 Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 10:59pm
post #8 of 20

Hmmm, I did not think about teaching as extra income..I guess because I'm still learing and have so much more to learn myself.
Thank you for an idea, P

Pebbles1727 Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 11:03pm
post #9 of 20

And what did you mean by "consulting"? As in, if or when they take a cake order and having trouble fulfilling it, I'll help them out? How would that work with liability since it's coming from unlicensed kitchen? Sure would not want my standing affectected should someone get sick...

jason_kraft Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 11:30pm
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by Pebbles1727

And what did you mean by "consulting"? As in, if or when they take a cake order and having trouble fulfilling it, I'll help them out?

If you have a specific skill -- for example, you're really good at fondant scroll work and another decorator is not -- you may be able to work out an arrangement where you are paid hourly to come in to a bakery and do the work on an existing cake. This is done all the time in the IT world (with code instead of cake) but I don't see why it wouldn't work.


How would that work with liability since it's coming from unlicensed kitchen? Sure would not want my standing affectected should someone get sick...

When you mentioned that others said they sell cakes "too", I assumed that you were would need to get licensed and inspected according to the rules of your state before you did any work on your own. However, you should be fine if another licensed bakery hires you as a contractor as long as you do all your work in their kitchen. You would probably still need your own liability insurance though.

Dayti Posted 27 Mar 2011 , 12:35am
post #11 of 20

I think its the other way round - Pebbles is asking how it would affect her liability insurance if she, as a licensed kitchen/baker, were to "consult" or help on an order taken at an unlicensed kitchen...

Pebbles1727 Posted 27 Mar 2011 , 1:26am
post #12 of 20

Correct, I'm working out of licensed kitchen. Requests to "watch and learn" are coming from home bakers who are selling cakes. That is why my original question was on whether it was normal for custom cakes business or a bakery to be contacted with such requests. If it was, there are quite a few cake decorators, I would love to observe working.

costumeczar Posted 27 Mar 2011 , 1:34am
post #13 of 20

It's not normal, it's weird, but it's another example of people thinking that we're there to be their cake slaves.

Just tell them that the health department and your liability insurance won't allow you to have people in the kitchen while you're baking.

jenmat Posted 27 Mar 2011 , 12:38pm
post #14 of 20

They seem to be coming out of the woodwork for me too. My answer is "yes, I have taken interns on for short periods of time, and they all are either working on a culinary degree with a large amount of artistic background. If you'd like to give me your resume, maybe we could set something up during my slow season."
That usually stops them in their tracks, because they either have no intention of getting a degree or they aren't artistic. Most people who want to learn this think "it would be fun to do what you do."

Now I neither have an art background or a culinary degree, so its DEFINITELY not needed in this industry, but it does help squelch the unbridled enthusiasm that comes with the "teach me, teach me!" thought process.

I'm cutting a gal loose this week who has both a culinary enrollment and an art background. She's still not going to cut it. Not obsessed enough icon_smile.gif!

Loucinda Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 3:23am
post #15 of 20

I have had 2 inquiries from Culinary school students for internships here in the last 6 months. I politely tell them no.

tryingcake Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 4:05am
post #16 of 20

I get requests from people in school. That's OK. Student have to line up their own internships. I am not taking inters, I wish I were busy enough to. But I respect the legit students who call and ask.

I also get a lot of layman asking to come watch. Uh, no. Learn like I did. Not once did it involve standing around watching people.

KellyJo3 Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 10:11am
post #17 of 20

I found this post interesting because I literally just started my business, which means I myself am still learning things and I keep getting the same requests. I had a lady ask me yesterday if she could come watch me decorate a cake and help. I told her no thank you due to health regulations and all. I even asked her if she had any experience and she said no, but she had a cricut machine. She was very persistant and became somewhat irritating. I found it to sound a little fishy as well. Just the way she kept on even though I told her I had just started and I didn't need any help.

Pebbles1727 Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 2:17pm
post #18 of 20

exactly icon_lol.gif

tryingcake Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 3:50pm
post #19 of 20

Why is every so nice and blame it on the health department? Why not just say, "NO, learn like I did."

I did not go to culinary school. But I did pay money for many courses. I paid money to join a couple of awesome cake forums (well worth the yearly fee). I bought so many books and videos I can open my own library.

I have no problem telling people that. I don't bark it at them. But I do tell them this.

For those who want to teach as added income - go for it! These same learners will go to Micheal's or Jo-Ann's and pay to learn, why not pay you?. I do teach on occasion. I teach out of my home. I do not want people in my commercial kitchen. It's totally legal out of my home. I am not selling goods to eat. I am only teaching a skill, nothing more. They sign a waiver understanding this. You can teach cake decorating in a freakin' outdoor park or in a junk yard for all the law cares. My gosh, it's taught in a craft room at Micheal's and Jo-Ann's where only minutes ago they had out glue or yarn or whatever craft they were working on. Those rooms aren't food safe by any means. Have you seen a food grade on their window? I haven't.

scp1127 Posted 28 Mar 2011 , 8:09pm
post #20 of 20

I only teach baking technique such as cheesecake and bread baking. The rest, they can learn like the rest of us.

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