Cake Pickups At Home Business (Long)

Business By Kitagrl Updated 5 May 2011 , 6:03pm by StephanieLynn

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:25am
post #1 of 39

Okay my business (yes its legal, yes its insured) is from home....actually its a parsonage behind a church. icon_smile.gif

The house looks fine inside, of course clean...but its an older house. The exterior could definitely use some work. We can't help it, its what we have right now. The interior is fine, of course has been inspected and approved for my business.

I am basically moving up to fewer, larger orders (not so many smaller ones) which means I end up delivering most of them. Some smaller ones I allow pickups. I have tastings at a coffee shop. All my work and the flavor of my cakes and my photos and flyers look high end (at least I think so!).....the only thing that betrays me is my house.

None of the above loses me business...because the pickups, even though sometimes I feel awkward with them coming here, they already paid and they are getting a cool cake, regardless of how they feel about picking it up behind a church. They don't have to come back if they are uncomfortable with it.

But I get people who for some reason really HAVE to have a "tasting" before buying. I recently made tastings only available for 100 servings or more but I still get people wanting tastings, and I offer a small homestyle iced cake for $25. However on Saturday a lady picked hers up and she seemed nice and all...but...I guess If I were gonna spend $500 on a cake, I wouldn't do it on someone who worked in a house behind a church. icon_sad.gif I have not yet heard back from her, and she seemed all excited to purchase from me before. I guess she could be busy...

Soooo I said all that to say....anyone have any opinions about how I should change this? Should I just stop allowing pickups of any sort? Should i always meet at the coffee shop, even if its just to hand over a tasting cake? Should I stop doing tasting cakes? (Somehow it seems people these days really doubt that cakes can taste good...at least with me! And they DO taste good! A simple Google search will dig that up...)

I don't want to be ashamed of where I live, but it really does not speak as professionally as I would like, and especially for as much as I've been able to charge for my work.

I guess the bottom line is, I really need to figure out this tasting thing once and for all. I can't make everybody happy (have already gotten yelled at by someone who thought they deserved a free tasting) but I need to figure out what works best with my business.

38 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:37am
post #2 of 39

Well there are a few things you can do which won't cost you alot of money and really clean up the outside of the house.Power wash it...maybe take a weekend and hubby and you can sand and repaint trim ,doors ,windows etc...clean up flower beds and such.Curb appeal is the biggest hinderance of any business and sale of a home..Even though you don't get alot of pickups it might be worth it...

Sorry ..I didn't really give you any advice about the tsating thing...

Rainyvv Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:38am
post #3 of 39

Your cakes are AWESOME!! I'm just a hobby baker but if i was licensed to bae from home I don't think i would be comfortable letting people in my house that I didn't know. That being said I would choose to deliver all my orders or meet up somewhere for smaller ones.

HTH

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:42am
post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiddiekakes

Well there are a few things you can do which won't cost you alot of money and really clean up the outside of the house.Power wash it...maybe take a weekend and hubby and you can sand and repaint trim ,doors ,windows etc...clean up flower beds and such.Curb appeal is the biggest hinderance of any business and sale of a home..Even though you don't get alot of pickups it might be worth it...

Sorry ..I didn't really give you any advice about the tsating thing...




The siding isn't really paintable, its old aluminum siding sheets...the house needs to be re-sided but we cannot afford that right now. icon_sad.gif The color of the house is faded. The lawn around the church and flowerbeds look fine, and the church looks fine, but the house is a bit faded. Plus, I mean, its a parsonage....I think sometimes people feel weird coming back behind a church. (I.e. its one thing to meet me at a show and think I'm a talented, business-savvy wedding professional, but its another to find out I'm a mom of four boys married to a pastor living behind the church in a parsonage. LOL! I'm not ashamed of it...but on the other hand I should probably think about separating my business from my home life a tad more...???)

Kiddiekakes Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:45am
post #5 of 39

Yeah..I hear yah about that old aluminum siding..Not much you can do with it except tear it off...I wouldn't care about about a house behind a church...At least yah kow God is near by...HA!HA!

jason_kraft Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:46am
post #6 of 39

Maybe you could offer tastings at the customer's home.

Does the church have an all-purpose room you could use for tastings?

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:47am
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiddiekakes

Yeah..I hear yah about that old aluminum siding..Not much you can do with it except tear it off...I wouldn't care about about a house behind a church...At least yah kow God is near by...HA!HA!




Haha, very true, I won't rip them off! (Errr these days I guess you never know, though!)

Oh I think the other thing my husband is concerned about is that if the aluminium siding has asbestos underneath, it will become a HUGE job which will cost big, huge bucks....

So the exterior really isn't repairable right now.

I just need to decide if I should nix smaller tastings, or maybe meet them at the coffee shop? And maybe just require deliveries for all cakes (except those pickups already on the books?)

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:49am
post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Maybe you could offer tastings at the customer's home.

Does the church have an all-purpose room you could use for tastings?




Oh I'd be scared to go into somebody's house that I don't know....hmmm

The coffee shop has been working fine for now....I guess the only things left are the smaller cake pickups that I allow people to do to save delivery fees, and then the people who request a tasting cake who insist on tasting the cake before buying a cake under 100 servings....

The church doesn't really have a room that would look as nice as the coffee shop....plus the coffee shop offers...coffee. icon_biggrin.gif

pattycakesnj Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:52am
post #9 of 39

Your work speaks for itself and if people have a problem with where you live, that is their problem. As for tastings, I only do it for 100 servings or more, no exceptions. I also have a minimum order so no small cakes, not worth it. Pick a policy and stick with it. good luck

leah_s Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:54am
post #10 of 39

I liked the idea of holding the tasting at the church. There must be a room there. And it's a neutral location, but close by. I did one tasting at a coffee shop for some potential clients who couldn't come to me because my house is not handicapped accessible. It was just weird doing MY business in someone ELSE'S business.

jason_kraft Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:54am
post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

Oh I'd be scared to go into somebody's house that I don't know....hmmm




If it were a "to go" tasting it would be no different from any other delivery, plus you wouldn't need to stick around while the customer tasted the cake. We've recently switched to offering only "to go" tastings, with followup phone consultations to discuss design and price.

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 1:59am
post #12 of 39

Patty: Really? No tastings, period, for under 100? So if someone won't purchase without tasting...you just say, cya? Hm...I'd like to do that...but....everyone is so into tastings these days that I dunno....

Leah: We really do not have a room in our church I would want to hold a tasting....the coffee shop people don't seem to mind, and I always am sure to purchase something every time to "pay" for my using it, and sometimes my clients buy something too. Lots of people go there and sit around working on laptops, and I know photographers who have consults at coffee shops too...if our church had a nice room, I would though.

Jason: I could be okay with the to-go tasting...two questions...so you would deliver the tasting to their house? Or have them pick it up at the coffee shop? I have clients that come from over an hour away sometimes so I dunno about the delivery thing.... also, so, do you ever do face to face consults? I have a lot of people who really want that, too....

VaBelle Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:00am
post #13 of 39

A lot of businesses who have storefront don't necessarily look all that great on the outside if the company they're leasing from doesn't do much for up-keep so the outside of your home shouldn't matter and being behind a church shouldn't matter. Okay, maybe if your grass is two feet tall and you dump your trash on your lawn instead of in trashbags and there's a bunch of rusted out old cars. Then I can see it's maybe not the best place to meet your clientele. Otherwise, put out some pretty potted flowers, keep your yard as neat as possible and don't worry about it. If the client is going to judge you negatively because the otuside of your house isn't "pretty", then they don't deserve one of your wonderful cakes. Frankly, I like making cakes, but I'd pay you $500 for one of your cakes and walk through that two foot tall grass to pick it upicon_smile.gif Cheer up!

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:07am
post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by VaBelle

A lot of businesses who have storefront don't necessarily look all that great on the outside if the company they're leasing from doesn't do much for up-keep so the outside of your home shouldn't matter and being behind a church shouldn't matter. Okay, maybe if your grass is two feet tall and you dump your trash on your lawn instead of in trashbags and there's a bunch of rusted out old cars. Then I can see it's maybe not the best place to meet your clientele. Otherwise, put out some pretty potted flowers, keep your yard as neat as possible and don't worry about it. If the client is going to judge you negatively because the otuside of your house isn't "pretty", then they don't deserve one of your wonderful cakes. Frankly, I like making cakes, but I'd pay you $500 for one of your cakes and walk through that two foot tall grass to pick it upicon_smile.gif Cheer up!




Hahahaha you are so sweet, and no our grass is not that high haha. My hubby mows the entire property every week LOL.... and NO rusted out cars either! thumbs_up.gif

scp1127 Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:11am
post #15 of 39

Some ideas... an old house with faded siding is not always a bad thing. Not trying to boast, I want to make a point. We own two fine homes... one where I have my business and one on the water two hours away. We use both each week. When my husband retires in five years, we are moving outside Charleston, SC, somewhere on the water. We will buy a home that will accomodate my business... a separate building by SC rules. We are going down this summer to look for a house. Here is what I want: Plain frame two story house, like a small farmhouse. Weathered, old porch and weathered detached garage for bakery. I want new, bright pink awnings on my shabby beach house. Inside the bakery and house will be the collection of weathered furniture, mostly painted white, that I have collected over the years. The good stuff will be given to the kids.

So, stop worrying about your house. Put a "shabby chic" painted sign in the yard, buy one great awning, put old pots with plants on the porch with a few chairs with peeling paint. Add some faded pillows and a flag. Go to the bookstore and look at magazines like Victoria, Romantic Homes, you get the idea. Embrace what you have and instead of worrying about it, make it a style statement. You already have what I want.


Take a great picture of your "Cottage Bakery" and invite people for pickups. Put the picture on your site so that people will know what to look for... you know people hate going to places the first time.

Of course, the yard needs to be neat, windows washed, curtains ironed, but you already have all of that. You house may not be your style, but it may be someone else's style.

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:14am
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Some ideas... an old house with faded siding is not always a bad thing. Not trying to boast, I want to make a point. We own two fine homes... one where I have my business and one on the water two hours away. We use both each week. When my husband retires in five years, we are moving outside Charleston, SC, somewhere on the water. We will buy a home that will accomodate my business... a separate building by SC rules. We are going down this summer to look for a house. Here is what I want: Plain frame two story house, like a small farmhouse. Weathered, old porch and weathered detached garage for bakery. I want new, bright pink awnings on my shabby beach house. Inside the bakery and house will be the collection of weathered furniture, mostly painted white, that I have collected over the years. The good stuff will be given to the kids.

So, stop worrying about your house. Put a "shabby chic" painted sign in the yard, buy one great awning, put old pots with plants on the porch with a few chairs with peeling paint. Add some faded pillows and a flag. Go to the bookstore and look at magazines like Victoria, Romantic Homes, you get the idea. Embrace what you have and instead of worrying about it, make it a style statement. You already have what I want.


Take a great picture of your "Cottage Bakery" and invite people for pickups. Put the picture on your site so that people will know what to look for... you know people hate going to places the first time.

Of course, the yard needs to be neat, windows washed, curtains ironed, but you already have all of that. You house may not be your style, but it may be someone else's style.




Hahaha that's actually a pretty cute idea! Thanks! We have a teeny porch right now but I suppose someday it could be made larger....But yeah...that is a super great idea on making do with what we have...hmmmm.

hrnewbie Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:21am
post #17 of 39

I don't have anything constructive to add, just wanted to post that you made me smile tonight. I spent my childhood living in one parsonage or another and hadn't thought about that in years. icon_biggrin.gif You made me reminisce.

I'm sure you'll get it worked out. The others have great ideas. Plus your cakes are amazing!

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:22am
post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hrnewbie

I don't have anything constructive to add, just wanted to post that you made me smile tonight. I spent my childhood living in one parsonage or another and hadn't thought about that in years. icon_biggrin.gif You made me reminisce.

I'm sure you'll get it worked out. The others have great ideas. Plus your cakes are amazing!




LOL! Cool. thumbs_up.gif

lilmissbakesalot Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:24am
post #19 of 39

I only do tasting for 100 servings or more too, and I have a $100.00 minimum... which will only get you an 8" cake, but I won't turn the oven on for less than that.

If someone requires a tasting for something smaller... they can buy a sample box for $30.00 that will not be applied to their order. Other than that they are SOL. I am a home biz too, and my time is precious. I'm not going to jump through hoops for a small order. I will have someone over for a consult for just about any cake, but I am not prepping a tasting and all of that for a puny order.

I meet with people in my home. It's nothing special. In fact, right now I have plywood over most of my garage door windows because they cracked and broke this winter... very ghetto indeed... LOL. I still booked a $900.00 cake last week. If you have the chops (and you do) people will not have a problem with your surroundings. So long as your home is clean, and you are pleasant, and you can decorate... people will be fine with your house.

icon_biggrin.gif

pattycakesnj Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:26am
post #20 of 39

Yes, Kitagirl, if they don't like my policies, they are free to go else where. I just can't see spending time on a tasting for 30 servings of cake. I will do an in person consultation though for just about any size cake and those are free but I am not laying out a tasting spread for less than 100 servings. Plus my tastings are $25 and if they book with me, the $25 goes towards their balance.

jason_kraft Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:44am
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

Jason: I could be okay with the to-go tasting...two questions...so you would deliver the tasting to their house? Or have them pick it up at the coffee shop?



You could do either one, with an extra charge for delivery of course. Or have them pick it up in the church.

Quote:
Quote:

also, so, do you ever do face to face consults? I have a lot of people who really want that, too....



We used to do face-to-face tastings (in our home usually) but we found that it takes up a lot of our time and doesn't really offer much versus having the customer taste the cake on their own. We discuss design and pricing over email and occasionally phone conversations, and the customer mails us the final contract and deposit. It probably helps that we are in Silicon Valley and most of our customers are pretty tech-savvy, a more traditional approach might work better in other areas.

If you have a lot of idle time then you may want to continue offering face-to-face tastings, but it sounds like you are booked pretty far in advance so you can afford to be more selective with your time.

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:47am
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

Jason: I could be okay with the to-go tasting...two questions...so you would deliver the tasting to their house? Or have them pick it up at the coffee shop?


You could do either one, with an extra charge for delivery of course. Or have them pick it up in the church.

Quote:
Quote:

also, so, do you ever do face to face consults? I have a lot of people who really want that, too....


We used to do face-to-face tastings (in our home usually) but we found that it takes up a lot of our time and doesn't really offer much versus having the customer taste the cake on their own. We discuss design and pricing over email and occasionally phone conversations, and the customer mails us the final contract and deposit. It probably helps that we are in Silicon Valley and most of our customers are pretty tech-savvy, a more traditional approach might work better in other areas.

If you have a lot of idle time then you may want to continue offering face-to-face tastings, but it sounds like you are booked pretty far in advance so you can afford to be more selective with your time.




Yeah I prefer to do as few tastings as possible as I am booked pretty far in advance and I have to already put together tastings once a month for a new venue relationship I have for wedding cakes...so even if someone wants a cake in october, if they want a tasting, I have to try to fit it into an already booked early summer schedule...so I'm trying to figure out how to cut back I guess...or just remain professional.

Love the input everyone, thanks!

jason_kraft Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:49am
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakesnj

Yes, Kitagirl, if they don't like my policies, they are free to go else where. I just can't see spending time on a tasting for 30 servings of cake. I will do an in person consultation though for just about any size cake and those are free but I am not laying out a tasting spread for less than 100 servings. Plus my tastings are $25 and if they book with me, the $25 goes towards their balance.



If you have enough business your tastings (especially to-go tastings that don't take up a lot of time) can become a profit center by simply not applying the cost of the tasting to the final order. We will do to-go tastings for anyone...we've had customers order tastings before they order cake for a small birthday party (mostly because they don't believe an egg-free/dairy-free/gluten-free/etc. cake can taste good). There's no reason to turn them away if they pay for it.

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:51am
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakesnj

Yes, Kitagirl, if they don't like my policies, they are free to go else where. I just can't see spending time on a tasting for 30 servings of cake. I will do an in person consultation though for just about any size cake and those are free but I am not laying out a tasting spread for less than 100 servings. Plus my tastings are $25 and if they book with me, the $25 goes towards their balance.


If you have enough business your tastings can become a profit center, especially to-go tastings that don't take up a lot of time. We will do to-go tastings for anyone...we've had customers order tastings before they order cake for a small birthday party (mostly because they don't believe an egg-free/dairy-free/gluten-free/etc. cake can taste good). There's no reason to turn them away if they pay for it.




I guess I could meet them in the parking lot of the coffee shop with those...its just that it takes time away from the caking I'm already doing....

And that's what caused my concern this week...a to go tasting that she picked it up and somehow I haven't heard back from her yet and it concerns me. She did comment when she picked it up, something about being part of the church so maybe that made her uncomfy...dunno.

pattycakesnj Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:56am
post #25 of 39

Jasonkraft, I disagree, even if they offer to pay for the tasting, I am not doing it. I am not opening my shop, heating or cooling it, baking, cleaning, taking away time from my family, etc for a $25 tasting, whether it is to go or not. There is no profit in that at all.

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 2:59am
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakesnj

Jasonkraft, I disagree, even if they offer to pay for the tasting, I am not doing it. I am not opening my shop, heating or cooling it, baking, cleaning, taking away time from my family, etc for a $25 tasting, whether it is to go or not. There is no profit in that at all.




I can see this too, I have a tasting this weekend and its gonna be a pain in the rear to box everything up and get it all ready, then take an hour out to meet them, but its for a big wedding so its gonna pay off (I hope) but still...

I don't want people to figure out that I sell $25 "tasting" cakes and word gets around I make a great dessert. haha.

jenmat Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 3:31am
post #27 of 39

Kita-
I really like the embracing what you have idea. There are always creative things you can do with a trip to rummage sales and a can of spray paint.
I don't do tastings for under 100 servings either, or at least not very often. AND all tastings are for brides only, not celebration customers, no matter how much money they want to spend. But I don't charge what you do, so I guess its apples to oranges.
Maybe get a cool sign that has the whole shabby-chic thing going on, and then do everything scp1127 said, or at least as much as you can afford. Also, remove any toys from the foyer/entrance area of the house, if possible. That way you have a "reception" area.
First impressions are everything too, so if you can spend some money on lighting in the home or on the teeny porch (an uplight in a potted plant?) it will make a biiiiiigg difference.
We built our home, and for a year I didn't have cabinet doors in my kitchen. All my tupperware was out there for the world to see. BUT I had under cabinet lighting. Every single person commented on how nice my kitchen looked, and when I remarked on the missing doors, every one of them said "Oh, I didn't notice, I just thought that was the look!" Its all in embracing what you have, shrugging off what you can't change, and thinking outside the box to hide flaws, which I'm sure you do with cakes once in a while! (though probably not as often as me!)

Kitagrl Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 3:34am
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jentreu

Kita-
I really like the embracing what you have idea. There are always creative things you can do with a trip to rummage sales and a can of spray paint.
I don't do tastings for under 100 servings either, or at least not very often. AND all tastings are for brides only, not celebration customers, no matter how much money they want to spend. But I don't charge what you do, so I guess its apples to oranges.
Maybe get a cool sign that has the whole shabby-chic thing going on, and then do everything scp1127 said, or at least as much as you can afford. Also, remove any toys from the foyer/entrance area of the house, if possible. That way you have a "reception" area.
First impressions are everything too, so if you can spend some money on lighting in the home or on the teeny porch (an uplight in a potted plant?) it will make a biiiiiigg difference.
We built our home, and for a year I didn't have cabinet doors in my kitchen. All my tupperware was out there for the world to see. BUT I had under cabinet lighting. Every single person commented on how nice my kitchen looked, and when I remarked on the missing doors, every one of them said "Oh, I didn't notice, I just thought that was the look!" Its all in embracing what you have, shrugging off what you can't change, and thinking outside the box to hide flaws, which I'm sure you do with cakes once in a while! (though probably not as often as me!)




LOL I hide so many flaws when I do cakes, that I can hardly stand to do a competition cake cuz flaws aren't allowed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hahaha

jason_kraft Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 3:55am
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakesnj

Jasonkraft, I disagree, even if they offer to pay for the tasting, I am not doing it. I am not opening my shop, heating or cooling it, baking, cleaning, taking away time from my family, etc for a $25 tasting, whether it is to go or not. There is no profit in that at all.



That's why I added the caveat that you have to be busy enough. If you are baking cakes (at home, in your shop, or in a rented kitchen) every Thursday and Friday anyway for weekend orders, baking off a couple extra 6" rounds for a to-go tasting during slack time costs considerably less than $25, so there is most definitely profit to be had. If you get in the habit of freezing small rounds of your most popular flavors when you have excess batter the cost is even less.

BTW, the to-go tastings are simply two unfrosted 6" rounds (more cake flavors cost $10 additional) cut into small circles with two small containers of frosting (again more frosting flavors are $10 each). We charge $30 and do not apply the cost toward the final order.

jason_kraft Posted 28 Apr 2011 , 4:09am
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

I don't want people to figure out that I sell $25 "tasting" cakes and word gets around I make a great dessert. haha.



That would actually be a blessing in disguise. If you get enough volume you can optimize the process for creating tasting packages down to the point where you would have a virtual assembly line. The additional sales would obviously be not as profitable in dollars as wedding cakes, but from a percentage standpoint you have a lot to gain, not to mention increased contributions to fixed overhead and just plain having more people tasting your product.

In fact, I just might look into doing something like that with our business. Deconstructed cake kits could be the next cake pop. icon_smile.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%