Wedding Cake Consultation - No Shows!!

Business By ymmat77 Updated 19 Apr 2011 , 5:43pm by CakeForte

ymmat77 Posted 12 Apr 2011 , 7:24pm
post #1 of 24

I have a cake biz I run out of my home legally in Iowa. Anyway, I do private consulations for weddings, of course.

I am running into alot of no show situations. Since I make EVERYTHING from scratch, the tasting cakes do take me time and money to make. Should I charge a refundable deposit if they show up?

Who else has run into this problem? Any advice? I am MAD right now, so I am venting a bit. I had to get childcare b/c this couple wanted to meet after business hours and everything. They just cancelled a few hours ago.

And I have had some just not call me to cancel at all. The other vendors in my town don't charge for consulations so I am not sure what to do to be competitive?????

23 replies
Cakes-and-bakes Posted 12 Apr 2011 , 8:20pm
post #2 of 24

I dont blame you for being angry. Im sorry this happened to you.
It happened to me twice in the past. Once was with a woman who wanted a tray of cake balls on saturday, and another tray on monday. She picked up the first tray no problem, and then on the 2nd day when an hour went by and she didnt show up, she said she had decided to go on a roadtrip and didnt need it. I was so mad. I went on facebook and offered it to anyone who wanted it half price.

The other time was with a woman who was out of town and ordered some for her dad, swearing her mom would pick it up and give me the money. Never showed. I let her have it.

Now of course im wiser, and since people dont really do tastings with cake balls, what I do is whenever I have an order, I make a little extra and freeze in containers according to flavor. When someone wants to taste first, I tell them they can purchase a small assortment of a few flavors, plain and undecorated for a fraction of what I normally charge.

I think this is happening to you more than once, I wouldnt schedule any more tastings unless they give you a refundable deposit. particularily one high enough to cover baby sitting charges!

And if the others dont charge for consults, at least "refundable deposit" just means theyll get their money back if they show up. If it becomes a serious issue, which I doubt, I guess send all potential clients an email/text/phone call that if they do not confirm tasting appointment 24 hours before scheduled time it is automatically cancelled.

Good luck in the future. its their loss.

Cakes-and-bakes Posted 12 Apr 2011 , 8:23pm
post #3 of 24

another thingyou might do, when I had a no show I would tell her that all the other home bakers in town and I share information, and all no shows are put on a "do not take order" list. That wasnt true at the time, but then I arranged a small group in facebook with the other local bakers, where we discuss issues we have in town, and some of those discussions are names, phone numbers, and emails of no shows, or people who didnt pay, or PITA's, etc. Gives us a bit of a heads up when we see that number in the caller ID. Maybe something you could also do?

jenmat Posted 12 Apr 2011 , 10:24pm
post #4 of 24

I can imagine you're really ticked off. I would be too. I've only had one no-show and the lady "forgot." When she called back to reschedule, I told her in a businesslike manner that because of her no-show, I was no longer available to make her cake.

Anyway, I have no idea exactly what is causing this issue for you, but I do have a suspicion. You said you got a sitter and arranged for an after-hours meeting? My suspicion is that you are being too nice with these people and therefore they aren't taking you seriously. Not kidding, I'd bet that is what is happening.

You are a business, this is a business meeting. Do NOT bend over too far backwards for potential clients. They will stomp all over you if you are a doormat for them. Keep in mind that you are teaching them how to treat you from the time of first contact.

Customer service is a must. But be polite, not "nice", firm and knowledgable, not "wishy-washy." Business hours are business hours, you do NOT have to explain childcare issues, you just say, "I have a 1pm or 4pm, which work for you? Neither? I am sorry that doesn't work, how does next week look?"

It's just a guess, I haven't met you, so I'm not sure. Another piece of advice is to send prospective clients a firm, businesslike, polite "tasting guide" that outlines your policies.
Hope that helps a bit.

costumeczar Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 12:30am
post #5 of 24

Definitely set times that you do more than one appointment on a day. If you say that you'll be doing tastings from 1-5 on a Sunday or something like that, then schedule four people, it will be less of a big deal with no-shows.

I have no-shows all the time. I've cut down on it by emailing to confirm appointments about 5 days ahead of time, with the instructions on what they need to bring and how many people they can bring, etc.

No matter what you do you'll end up with no-shows. Some people are just rude.

sugarlover Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 12:55am
post #6 of 24

I sy charge a consultation fee and just put towards the price of the cake. It will save you alot of headaches and hard work. IMO

Kitagrl Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 1:11am
post #7 of 24

I recently put my tastings for 100 servings or more. Sometimes I have extra cake batter, I just bake that up and freeze it. I offer "chef's choice" tastings for free. If they want to choose their flavors, then its $25 payable in advance for a "custom tasting".

I also call/email a day or two before the consult to confirm the consult. Usually at that time I will find out if the person plans to cancel, or to keep the appointment.

If they are a custom tasting, then I have the money, and I know they'll show. If its a "chef's choice" tasting...well then I already have the cake in the freezer (just keep 3-4 flavors in there, can be leftover from previous cake orders or whatever, and then leftover buttercreams and fillings) and once I confirm their appointment, I can go ahead and pull out the tastings and thaw. The freezing does not affect taste, and of course after a couple months I will rotate out anything that is old.

cakesbycathy Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 2:16am
post #8 of 24

I've been having this same problem the last two weeks!! 3 no-shows. icon_mad.gif I completely sympathize with the aggravation.

I have an information sheet I email them about what to expect. I have also been calling to confirm 1-2 days before their appointment. Still not coming or cancelling a couple hours before they are supposed to show up.

I finally decided that it's going to be $25 paid via pay pal at least a week before the appointment and if they book I'll apply it towards their cake.

coldtropics Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 2:38am
post #9 of 24

I tell brides that i will make an attempt to have their preffered cake/filling flavors available at the tasting... but dont make any assurances. That way if i have time to make a great pistachio buttercream or creme brulee fine if not they understand. Also I charge a $50.00 tasting fee for specialty /wedding cakes greater than 100 servings... the 50bucks applys to their cake balance if they book... if not then im not out the money for the tasting and have atleast been somewhat compensated for my time.

indydebi Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 5:53am
post #10 of 24

Agree with a couple of previous posts that you are being too nice. "I have an opening on Tuesday at 1 and one on Thursday at 4. Which do you prefer?" is how it should be phrased .... NOT "when do you want to come over?"

Whenever I see threads like this, I suggest inflicting a serious business tone from the start (I believe someone else mentioned this, too.) In my confirming email, I had 4-5 bullet points of what to expect and one of them emphasized how children should be left with gramma as "a catering facility is not a very entertaining place for them while mom and dad conduct a BUSINESS meeting." This sent the message that this was not a cake-n-coffe moment ... this was BUSINESS.

Also in the email was my request to "call me if you run into traffic or are running late. At 15 minutes past the appt, I close up and go home." LOTS of brides, who were not even close to running late, would call me and let me know they were on their way! icon_wink.gif

With these things in place, I can count on one hand the number of no-shows I had in about 5 years.

How much are you baking for samplings? They don't need a whole cake nor do they need multiple cupcakes. I baked three 8" square cakes (each a diff flavor), cut them into 9 pieces (3 rows by 3 columns), froze it in a ziplok bag and just used one square from each for the samping appts.

Tellis12 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 1:50pm
post #11 of 24

I HATE tastings. I would be SO much happier if I didn't do them but I feel that it's something brides expect and since I'm still small and want to grow, I'll cater to them for now. However, I no longer do tastings for cakes under 100 servings and I also charge $10 for a tasting because it weeds out people who just want free cake. That fee is applied toward their total balance if they book, if not, it covers my costs. I also bake a couple of kinds of cake once a month or so, freeze them and pull them out for a tasting. That keeps me from having to bake specially for each tasting. I don't have the time or money to do that. Also, I try to schedule tastings for one weekend each month. If I manage to do that, I'll go ahead and bake fresh because I'm not baking for just one couple. But once again, I HATE tastings. No shows are such a PITA and waste of my time.

There, that's off my chest. icon_smile.gif

ymmat77 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 2:03pm
post #12 of 24

Thank you to everyone for your comments. I do consider myself a straight forward person and am not one to be walked on very easily..... but people just don't care once they have chosen another vendor. I have taken the advice of only having a "chef choice" selection on my website and if they want something more they can pay a deposit of $25. I feel liberated! My cake tastes good, and I know if I can get them here ,they usually book with me, LOL! I wish the other cake designers in my town were more willing to help each other. There is only one other girl that I talk to about this stuff, everyone else is so competitive and closed off. I think that's lame. It takes the fun out of a great profession. Keep the opinions coming!

buttercuppie Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 5:02pm
post #13 of 24

I charge $25 for my tastings (with that going towards the cake if they book) and that usually weeds out those who aren't serious. I emailed a couple of times with a potential bride who then told me she wanted to come in for a tasting...she was all good until she found out that there was a fee...mysteriously, I never heard from her again! icon_lol.gif

Even with charging there's still a chance for no-shows so you may want to considering getting a credit card to hold the appointment (you tell them that it holds the appointment and if they cancel within 24 hours, their card will still be charged. Then give them the option of either paying in cash or the credit card after the tasting). That way if they don't show up, you can still charge the card for the missed appointment.

QueenOfSweets Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 6:06pm
post #14 of 24

ymmat77 - My cake studio is just about 35 miles west of you in Redfield, and I've been having issues lately too. I've had a couple of cancellations and one no-show in the past few months. The one that made me the most frustrated was the girl who came for a tasting with her groom-to-be and two bridesmaids (I do allow up to 4 max at the tasting), and then I later found out she'd booked her cake 2 months prior to that appointment. icon_mad.gif

I've also had similar issues with networking with others in the business in our area. Some I've attempted to get to know (not everyone in our area, just some) do seem very competitive and closed-off. Networking is so important!!

ymmat77 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 6:26pm
post #15 of 24
Originally Posted by QueenOfSweets

ymmat77 - My cake studio is just about 35 miles west of you in Redfield, and I've been having issues lately too. I've had a couple of cancellations and one no-show in the past few months. The one that made me the most frustrated was the girl who came for a tasting with her groom-to-be and two bridesmaids (I do allow up to 4 max at the tasting), and then I later found out she'd booked her cake 2 months prior to that appointment. icon_mad.gif

I've also had similar issues with networking with others in the business in our area. The ones I've attempted to get to know do seem very competitive and closed-off. Networking is so important!!

Queen of Sweets, I'd love to be in contact with each other regarding all things cake. I am not competive with this biz. I love it so much and b/c I do it out of my home I have plenty to keep me busy. Let's be in touch. I am sorry you are having these same issues. I am going to start charging for any flavors outside of my 3 most popular that I can freeze and have on hand. My real name is Tammy from Roseland Bakery ( Hope to hear from you! Best wishes!

leily Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 7:49pm
post #16 of 24

i'm in eastern iowa (near the quad cities) and would love to start a little group for chatting about things in iowa. And hopefully finding more people in this area.

ymmat77 Posted 13 Apr 2011 , 9:14pm
post #17 of 24

I think that is a great idea. I was a member of ICES last year, but didn't really see the benefit b/c the conventions are so far away. I also know some ladies in Omaha have a group, but I think we'd have enough right here in Iowa. Really, I think there are only one or two vendors that have been "closed off" to sharing and working together, so it might be good to just get it going and see what happens. What's the name of your business?

huskerfan Posted 14 Apr 2011 , 7:34pm
post #18 of 24

Count me in!

Stephy42088 Posted 14 Apr 2011 , 10:22pm
post #19 of 24

Hey! Me too! I'm close to Davenport so itd be great to start an Iowa buddy group!

dawncr Posted 15 Apr 2011 , 1:08am
post #20 of 24

Don't forget the fabulous Melvira (for whom the "Melvira method" of smoothing buttercream is named). She's in Lost Nation.

leily Posted 18 Apr 2011 , 10:10pm
post #21 of 24

Are all of you on Facebook? I can start a page there for us all together at and chat.

Let me know and i'll be happy to get something started.

huskerfan Posted 18 Apr 2011 , 10:17pm
post #22 of 24

I am....... icon_biggrin.gif

Wesha Posted 18 Apr 2011 , 10:46pm
post #23 of 24

This happened to me this evening. I had an appointment at 6:00 pm. Came home from work to bake up 3 different flavors of cupcakes and the bride and groom are no show. I started calling her from 5:45 up til 6:30 and got her VM. I left her a friendly message stating that we had an appointment at 6:00 today.

I usually do cupcakes at my tastings.. I bake them and freeze them and then just take out a few for the tasting and frost them. Well, I had a busy weekend and did not have time to do them.

I am going to start charging for my consultations because this is my time being wasted and I do not like having my time taken advantaged of. What would you all charge? I was thinking like $20.00 for the consultation.

CakeForte Posted 19 Apr 2011 , 5:43pm
post #24 of 24

I had a ton of no shows last year. This year, if they want a private appointment, there is a fee of $55, paid in advance via credit card. If they book, that fee is applied as a credit. Alternative they can attend one of my free open houses, which is based on my schedule.

I'm done playing around with wishy-washies and my open houses are full every time.

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