Sole Source Requirement (I Know It Is A Touchy Subject)

Business By brenda549 Updated 30 May 2011 , 6:38am by scp1127

brenda549 Posted 17 May 2011 , 2:48pm
post #1 of 54

I am just starting out (and completely legal) and have mixed feelings about sole source.

My primary job is a teacher and most of my business right now is through word of mouth with friends and coworkers. A coworker is getting married, so we had a wedding shower yesterday. The administrative team purchased 50 custom designed cupcakes from me. The administrative assistants decided to ask a coworker's wife to make cake balls for the shower. At first I did not have a problem with it, until yesterday and today, everyone keeps telling me how yummy the cupcakes and cake balls were. Many of them know I also do cake balls. This got me thinking, what if those cakeballs had been disasterous? Don't get me wrong, this wife is a great baker, but what if the assistants had gone with someone else? Many of the people at the shower have now connected me with the cake balls.

I guess my question is now for those that have sole source requirements, do you do sole source for all events or just weddings?

It seems almost impossible to even worry about or enforce, regardless of event. It just felt really weird being connected to someone else's product and not knowing if the product was a good one.

53 replies
cai0311 Posted 17 May 2011 , 3:51pm
post #2 of 54

My sole source stipulation is only for products I am providing. At a wedding or large party (for small events I don't require this as it is usally at the clients home with a small amount of guests) if I am providing the wedding cake, then no other cake is allowed. If they want someone else to do the cookie favors or other type of desserts, that is fine with me.

myslady Posted 19 May 2011 , 7:09am
post #3 of 54

In the situation you described, I would have told them, I'm glad you loved them but I only made the cupcakes.

brenda549 Posted 19 May 2011 , 4:01pm
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I never said I took credit for her cakeballs. That would not be very professional of me. I made sure to let everyone who commented know that I did not make them and who actually did make them. I thought they were quite delicious as well.

Sorry, but my question is about sole source and different events other than weddings, not about taking credit for someone else's work. That is something I would never do.

cakegrandma Posted 19 May 2011 , 4:21pm
post #5 of 54

I don't think anyone was saying that your were taking credit for something you did not make. I believe many guest just assumed since you make delicious baked goods that the cake balls came from you. Undoubtedly they were not advised that 2 people were supplying the treats. For small celebrations I never worried about it when I was in Marietta so if you have a legal business then I assume, maybe incorrectly, that you have insurance. If someone got ill from anything at the celebration then let your insurance take care of it and just let them know that there were other items at it. I would also incorporate as an LLC while I was at it, if you haven't already done so.
evelyn

cakelady2266 Posted 19 May 2011 , 4:44pm
post #6 of 54

This is one of those subjects that have many variables. If you are doing cakes to earn a living would you turn down a $1000 bride's cake just because you didn't get the $200 grooms cake?

I've been doing cakes for 22 years and as it turns out sometimes I get both the cakes and sometimes I get only one. I've never had the "I do all or none" rule and I make it work fine. I don't put any advertisement on the table so everyone will know who did what. I understand what a gamble it is when someone hauls in another cake, be it good or bad.

It's a decision you will have to make. If it turns out to be a not so good decision then you can always change your own rules.

brenda549 Posted 19 May 2011 , 4:47pm
post #7 of 54

Thanks, Evelyn, for the input!

You assume correctly. I am legal, insured, and LLC'd.

I have always been one to worry about things not in my control. It has taken a long time for me to move from a Type A personality to a "slightly" Type B. With this new adventure in business, and different scenarios popping up, I am finding that things that initially did not bother me (sole source being one), now do.

My thinking is this, why should my company and insurance take a hit for someone else that may or may not follow the rules that I do. My commercial kitchen lease required me to be ServSafe Management certified. It was quite eye-opening and informative. Even for those others that are legal in Georgia, the Dept of Ag does not require such training.

Once again, it is not the particular situation I was in that I am talking about. I have absolutely no problem with the other goods at this shower or the baker. Her goods are fabulous! It was the situation that got me thinking about other situations that could occur in future.

brenda549 Posted 19 May 2011 , 4:56pm
post #8 of 54

Thanks, Cakelady.

I do not do them to make a living (yet), but I do not like the all or nothing attitude. Before starting the business I had no problem thinking about Aunt Mae baking a groom's cake if I did the wedding cake. On the other hand, with the number of people trying to get into the business (and not always above board), I do have a part of me that is concerned about other's products and the impact on my reputation if something bad were to happen.

I know this is quite an individual decision. I have some thinking to do on it.

jason_kraft Posted 19 May 2011 , 6:03pm
post #9 of 54

To me, a strict sole source clause is a lose-lose proposition: you can't enforce it without trashing your reputation, and the customer could react negatively to a heavy-handed contract (by declining to book with you or simply ignoring the clause). I prefer a clause saying that it's OK to have other baked goods at the event as long as you are notified and the other items are clearly labeled...I would rather the customer work with me to make sure everything is labeled correctly instead of trying to go behind my back and hiding any other cakes until after I leave the venue.

Due to the specific nature of our business (allergy-friendly cakes) we end up making quite a few secondary cakes, with another vendor providing a "traditional" larger cake. We've never had an issue with another vendor invoking a sole source clause, although we have benefited directly when customers dump their primary cake vendor because of said clause and give us their business.

leah_s Posted 19 May 2011 , 9:27pm
post #10 of 54

Would I turn down a $1000 cake if I didn't also get the $200 groom's cake? yes Because my reputation is on the line and that's worth more than $1000. All I need is for aunty to make a cake, not wash her hands, spread a little e coli around and I get blamed for it. Nope. No way do I allow another cake in an event where I'm doing one.

Drives biz away? That's not been my experience. Sole provider is on my website and a separate clause in my contract that requires a separate initial to make sure the customer understands what it says and why it's there. The response i always get, is yes I understand, you're a professional and this is your business.

I'm serious about my business and teach people to treat me as a professional.

cakesbycathy Posted 19 May 2011 , 9:45pm
post #11 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

Would I turn down a $1000 cake if I didn't also get the $200 groom's cake? yes Because my reputation is on the line and that's worth more than $1000. All I need is for aunty to make a cake, not wash her hands, spread a little e coli around and I get blamed for it. Nope. No way do I allow another cake in an event where I'm doing one.

Drives biz away? That's not been my experience. Sole provider is on my website and a separate clause in my contract that requires a separate initial to make sure the customer understands what it says and why it's there. The response i always get, is yes I understand, you're a professional and this is your business.

I'm serious about my business and teach people to treat me as a professional.




Leah thank you for posting this! I feel like everytime this subject comes up and I post that I have a sole-source clause (and enforce it) I get made out to be the bad guy (decorator).

There is a professional way to explain it to clients so that they understand it's for everyone's protection and not just because I'm trying to be mean.

jason_kraft Posted 19 May 2011 , 9:46pm
post #12 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

Would I turn down a $1000 cake if I didn't also get the $200 groom's cake? yes Because my reputation is on the line and that's worth more than $1000. All I need is for aunty to make a cake, not wash her hands, spread a little e coli around and I get blamed for it.



Food poisoning is far more likely to come from the catered food than from someone else's cake.

If you have a strong competitive advantage customers might be willing to deal with the single source clause (or just make sure you don't find out about other cakes at the event), but I know for a fact that people have lost business because of it.

maisyone2 Posted 19 May 2011 , 10:02pm
post #13 of 54

I also stipulate that I am sole provider and for the same reasons the Leah stated. But in addition to her reasons, the simple fact is that I DO NOT want someone to think the Big Box store's cheap costing, crappy tasting kitchen cake is the same cake as the wedding cake.

Sangriacupcake Posted 19 May 2011 , 10:26pm
post #14 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

Would I turn down a $1000 cake if I didn't also get the $200 groom's cake? yes Because my reputation is on the line and that's worth more than $1000. All I need is for aunty to make a cake, not wash her hands, spread a little e coli around and I get blamed for it. Nope. No way do I allow another cake in an event where I'm doing one..




Why, then, do caterers allow cakes to be provided by other vendors?? Why aren't they worried about anyone but themselves providing the cake? And why aren't YOU worried about the caterers providing tainted food? I really don't mean to be argumentative...I'm just speaking from the perspective of the consumer. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

tootie0809 Posted 21 May 2011 , 12:48pm
post #15 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by maisyone2

I also stipulate that I am sole provider and for the same reasons the Leah stated. But in addition to her reasons, the simple fact is that I DO NOT want someone to think the Big Box store's cheap costing, crappy tasting kitchen cake is the same cake as the wedding cake.




I totally agree on this one. You'd be surprised how many people think they're little money-saving plan of buying a pretty wedding cake that is much smaller than their guest count and then getting crappy sheet cakes to actually serve the guests is such a brilliant idea. I have had several clients outright tell me "we're just gonna get some sheet cakes to serve from Walmart" when then try booking their wedding cake from me. Most understand when I explain the sole provider clause I have and end up ordering kitchen cakes from me versus sheet cakes from the grocery store. And yes, I have lost orders because of this clause, but like Leah said, my reputation is worth more than the order I could have gotten. I think it's a very smart policy.

cabecakes Posted 21 May 2011 , 3:18pm
post #16 of 54

I saw a prime example of this at a wedding I was at last week. The bride/groom bought a small wedding cake and then served "Aunt Bessie's" cake to guests. Noone knew they didn't come from the same source. I was quite disappointed with both I must say. But had the "Professional decorator" cake been associated with "Aunt Bessie's" cake which was clearly not up to standard it could really damage her reputation. If the cake would have been good in the first place, (sorry, just saying). Even the bride was disappointed with the "Professionals" cake. There wasn't even any buttercream or moistening agent under the fondant. I don't know how they got it to stick to the cake. But that is another topic altogether, "Amateurs posing as professionals". Weddings are big events and amateurs should stick to practicing on friends and family. I felt sorry for the bride. Think of this story when brides want to use "Aunt Bessie's Cakes" or "Unpolished so-called Professionals". If I were doing this professionally, no way would I allow other cake at the venue to be associated with my work. That's just bad business any way you look at it, whether it cost me orders or not.

Amberwaves Posted 21 May 2011 , 3:58pm
post #17 of 54

So what do you do when you deliver the cake and there are other cakes/cupcakes there anyway? This just happened to me last weekend with a baby shower.

I put my cake on the display table and over on the other table there was a cupcake tower. The hostess saw me look at them and said Sorry--we didn't know exactly how many people were coming so we made cupcakes...

At that point what kind of solution is there? Take your cake and run? The party was starting in 1/2 hour and the cake had been paid for 3 weeks ago.

jenmat Posted 21 May 2011 , 4:07pm
post #18 of 54

I've shared this before, but here goes.
While I have an exception for allergen-free cakes from another source (thanks jasonkraft), I too have a clause.

I'm sorry, but being only one person, I cannot afford to have someone book me, then inform me later that she will be buying a 2 tiered cake from me, (that I have to deliver, typically 1 hour away because I'm in the country) and then going to Walmart or Sam's for the rest of her cake.

Because chances are I've turned down 4-5 bookings for her spot, and I usually take only 3 per weekend. I need maximum $$ for the spaces I have.
I've dealt with this twice in the past month at planning meetings with brides. Neither of them read the contract when they printed it off, and both of them intended on going elsewhere for the rest of their cake. They had the choice to go elsewhere period, or order all the cake from me, and I would have refunded their deposit (because they can't read apparently). They chose me.

Depends on what you offer and your competition in a given area if this will work for you.

BUT to the OP's original question, I have NO problem with someone ordering a bday cake to feed 25 and paying me $200, then ordering cupcakes from somewhere else to supplement. I don't offer cupcakes under 10 dozen, I don't want to do 3D cakes to feed 50 people. And, at a bday party, it is MUCH easier to tell who made what, or to ask the hostess about who made what.

jason_kraft Posted 21 May 2011 , 5:53pm
post #19 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by cabecakes

I saw a prime example of this at a wedding I was at last week. The bride/groom bought a small wedding cake and then served "Aunt Bessie's" cake to guests. Noone knew they didn't come from the same source.



Then how did you know they didn't come from the same source? icon_wink.gif

I can understand the perspective of not wanting your name to be attached to inferior products made by someone else, but you can't control what happens at the event after you leave the venue. If a bride really wants to serve cheaper cake to guests alongside a more expensive decorated cake to save money, she will do so regardless of what it says in your contract, and (if the bride is smart about it) chances are you'll never know.

But if you have a more open sole source clause, the aforementioned bride would probably feel more comfortable telling you about it, so you have the opportunity to set up correct labeling at the venue or decline the order if you aren't comfortable with the situation. You don't need a sole source clause to decline the order because you don't want the kitchen cake to be from Walmart.

Unlimited Posted 21 May 2011 , 6:15pm
post #20 of 54

As long as both bakers are licensed and insured, I don't see a problem with it. Prince William and Kate obviously didn't mind having two bakers, as well as many other royal weddings (I'd assume)!

brenda549 Posted 23 May 2011 , 1:46pm
post #21 of 54

Thanks, Jentreu! That is what I was wanting to know.

brenda549 Posted 23 May 2011 , 1:52pm
post #22 of 54

Jason, I also like your idea of labeling the items at the event. Opening that dialog and providing the customer with an option is always good.

What kind of labeling do you require? I know you and your wife work with gluten/allergy free cakes (if I remember correctly) and anyone at the event needs to know those options are there for them. My situation would be different. How does it work for you?

jason_kraft Posted 23 May 2011 , 2:04pm
post #23 of 54

Re labeling, we'll make sure all other baked goods at the event (as well as our cake) have a tent card saying what the product is, which allergens it does/doesn't have, and the source of the product (a business name or an individual at the event who made it). Typically the bride will leave the labeling to us, it only takes a few minutes to print out the tent cards on card stock, cut them out, and score them. We also bring a few extra blank tent cards in case there are additional labels required.

In some cases the brides request a specific color theme or design on the tent cards to match the wedding theme, this is a nice value-added service for them. Most of the time the cards are just plain text in a script font though.

scp1127 Posted 23 May 2011 , 4:03pm
post #24 of 54

Jason, that's a really good idea. I do that at charity events because the flavor is usually at my discretion and I have a card with a description on it in case of allergies. I don't have a sole source clause because many of my wedding customers are people I know or their referrals. I wasn't going to offer wedding cakes, but people who have had my cakes are insisting. Plus, my clients are not at the income level where they are bargain shopping. I don't have to worry about a Walmart cake in the back to save money.

jason_kraft Posted 23 May 2011 , 4:42pm
post #25 of 54

We've never had to deal with customers who want cheap kitchen cakes to save money...aside from the food allergy issues, once we explain that some guests will get good cake and some will get bad cake they realize on their own that it's a bad idea.

The most common issue we've run into is when a close friend or family member wants to provide a small cake as a gift to the couple to serve at the event. Since we specifically allow this in our contract, the customer can inform us in advance and we can have a professional-looking tent card printed up for the smaller cake. It just seems wrong to tell the bride she can't serve her Mom's special cake at her wedding (to use one example) because I'm worried about my business's reputation.

scp1127 Posted 23 May 2011 , 4:55pm
post #26 of 54

That is my situation this weekend. The bride picked my company without even tasting my cake due to a referral. The bride lives out of state. A friend of hers wanted to make cupcakes. Both the cakes and cupcakes are vegan. This family is one of my best referrals. I don't care if the cupcakes are there. The wedding is two hours away. My job is to make the local people who referred me satisfied with my company.

My kitchen inspections are perfect and my insurance is up to date. That is the best I can do. I too believe that the bride will do what she wants and not tell there will be another cake at the wedding. But the practice of asking and then placing a card by my cake is a perfect solution for both sides. My new policy... THANKS JASON.

kakeladi Posted 23 May 2011 , 5:17pm
post #27 of 54

........ why should my company and insurance take a hit for someone else that may or may not follow the rules that I do.............

Well this is a *very* hard thing to enforce. When I had my shop I definately had such a clause....but on 2 occasions (that I know of) still other cakes were there - in one case Wal-Mart sheets and in the other a obviously home made groom's(?) cake. I just could not bring myself not to leave my paid for cake icon_sad.gif

I have mentioned this in other posts on this subject. Christopher Gerrin (On Uniquic(sp?) cakes on TV) has made groom's cakes w/o making the actual wedding cake. If someone of this 'fame' is not worried about his reputation should we??

Many, many years ago there was a lady in a next- town- over who ended up bankrupt /loosing *EVERYTHING* because of people getting sick from food at a wedding reception that she catered - not just the cake but the food also - out of her home. Some distant family member of the bride brought in something like potato salad and after the affair, the janitor took home the leftovers. His whole family ate it and all got very sick yet the lady was 'responsible' because she was in charge! I never understood the why's and wherefore's of this. 1) the affair was over; 2) the food had been left behind because no one remembered who brought it. 3) It *must* have smelled bad because it had not been refrigerated not only during the affair, but the janitor (as I remember) didn't put it in the frig overnight! 3) the woman in charge didn't make or bring this dish. I remember this incident because I had made and delivered a cake to that town that weekend and read all the detail to be sure it wasn't my cake that caused the problem.

jason_kraft Posted 23 May 2011 , 5:22pm
post #28 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by kakeladi

Many, many years ago there was a lady in a next- town- over who ended up bankrupt /loosing *EVERYTHING* because of people getting sick from food at a wedding reception that she catered - not just the cake but the food also - out of her home. Some distant family member of the bride brought in something like potato salad and after the affair, the janitor took home the leftovers. His whole family ate it and all got very sick yet the lady was 'responsible' because she was in charge! I never understood the why's and wherefore's of this.



That sounds like something a decent attorney (i.e. one hired by a liability insurance provider) would be able to get thrown out of court, or at the very least a small settlement to cover medical bills. If she had poor legal representation (or none) and she was not insured I'm not surprised she lost everything.

brenda549 Posted 23 May 2011 , 5:48pm
post #29 of 54
Quote:
Quote:

I have mentioned this in other posts on this subject. Christopher Gerrin (On Uniquic(sp?) cakes on TV) has made groom's cakes w/o making the actual wedding cake. If someone of this 'fame' is not worried about his reputation should we??




Because he has already built his reputation. I on the other hand am just starting out and most of my business is word of mouth through friends, family, and coworkers. I completely understand that this is a situation that I cannot completely control. A bride will do whatever she wants. I just want to be preventative rather than prescriptive.

I really like what Jason has going on. I just have to find a way to write it in my contract as to look as if it is their option and not mine.

LKing12 Posted 23 May 2011 , 6:25pm
post #30 of 54

If I remember correctly IndiDebi once posted that, "if someone gets sick they sue everyone."

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