Yet Another Pricing Vent Thread!

Decorating By KJF1985 Updated 28 May 2011 , 7:13pm by jennifercullen

KJF1985 Posted 25 May 2011 , 6:04pm
post #1 of 28

I know you all can related so I'm venting here.

A week ago yesterday we received an email that our IT guy's wife had a baby and since she works for the University we do (but in a different department) there will be a baby shower for them next Friday, June 3rd. I don't know him very well but decided I would offer to make the cake instead of buying a gift. I thought that I would be pretty free to design what I wanted but was told that the theme of the nursery is mopar - for the little girl and they really wanted a race car on the cake. They had checked with Sam's club and they didn't really have what they were looking for (hard to find a pink mopar race car!) and were very happy I offered. The lady in our department who is helping to plan asked what I would charge. I said not to worry about it because it would be my gift. She said they would pay me for materials at least and my time could be the donation. I sent her pictures of my cakes and drew up a sketch of what I was thinking - A sheet cake with a round tier on fillable pillars to look like a trophy with the pink race car (made of RKT) on top of the round tier. The sheet cake would be decorated with flowers, baby booties, a pacifier, rubber ducky and baby blocks with the baby's initials as well as the requested text (which I would all make by hand). She said it all sounded great and asked me to put a bow on the pacifier like the clip art that was in the email and then to place it under the round tier.

Anyway, I have been gone since Friday and today she asks me to let her know what the materials will cost since the planning people are meeting friday to discuss budget. I started adding everything up and my estimate came to about $45 for materials. I gave walmart a call and found out that they charge $35.97 for a sheet cake. I emailed her and said:

"I added up material cost and it will be around $45. I know this is more than a plain sheet cake from Walmart which is only $35. Obviously my cake will be more intricate however, I feel like it defeats the point of me donating the cake!! So I'm extremely negotiable and don't mind donating the difference in material cost as well so you only pay the $35!"

She responds with "Wow!!! That is a lot.........I will bring it up Friday at our meeting and let you know". I replied with "Yup, it adds up fast. Like I said, I'm very negotiable since this is my gift!"


Now, i'm not even angry over the money since I OFFERED to do it FREE of charge. But why is it that people can't see that making it at home doesn't mean dirt cheap? I feel like I'm trying to give away a BMW for the cost of a Corolla and they're horrified at how "expensive" it is!! By the time of their meeting I will only have a week before the shower. I hope they don't decide to go with a lame Sam's club cake, I really wanted to do this. icon_sad.gif I also think its funny that they would have had to settle for just an edible stock race car image on a cake and now that I've offered more she becomes picky about where a pacifier is placed. ahahaha

I just don't get people!!!! Thanks for listening. icon_biggrin.gif

27 replies
Brevity Posted 25 May 2011 , 6:30pm
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Did you give her a break down of what the materials are? Because sugar and flour are cheap, and a non-cake person doesn't just know what other materials will run. Pricing is frustrating, and often awkward for all parties...but there's no getting around it. Pointless Opinion Time: I personally would scale down the project. If the $$ is bugging you - it seems like you created a pretty extreme cake for an office baby shower for a) people you don't know well and b) no money.

KJF1985 Posted 25 May 2011 , 6:44pm
post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brevity

Did you give her a break down of what the materials are? Because sugar and flour are cheap, and a non-cake person doesn't just know what other materials will run. Pricing is frustrating, and often awkward for all parties...but there's no getting around it. Pointless Opinion Time: I personally would scale down the project. If the $$ is bugging you - it seems like you created a pretty extreme cake for an office baby shower for a) people you don't know well and b) no money.




Thanks. I didn't send her the detailed break down. I put the info into one of the elaborate spreadsheets here on the website and it said I should charge $195. Haha. It has to be a full sheet cake but I could take away the round tier, the gumpaste decorations, and just do a 1D race car on the sheet cake. I've taken all the Wilton classes but have only made a handful of other cakes. I figured this is a great opportunity to do something a bit more extreme so I get the experience and pictures for a portfolio in hopes that maybe someday I can justify charging more. I didn't even care if I got a dime for it but just can't believe that somebody could think there's not more than a few bucks worth of supplies in my design!

Brevity Posted 25 May 2011 , 7:01pm
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Lol, yes, just forward that spreadsheet on to the planning team! I do know what you mean though - there have been several times that I've wanted to do more, and just go all out, for a group that's just not getting it.

jules5000 Posted 25 May 2011 , 7:02pm
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I don't know where you are from, but Sugar is going up weekly where I live. I was warned by my husband that sometime w/in the next 2 years(from about 6 months ago) sugar was not going to even be available. It had to do with a ban put on a certain pesticide and it would be two years before a crop could be produced with an approved pesticide. He told me to start buying extra sugar back then and I am glad that I did. I need to keep on buying extra sugar though even if it is going up because I bake a lot. I buy brown sugar and confectioners sugar also. I do not remember all the particulars, but he works for the federal govt.(not the branch the put the ban on, though), but he knows it was official.

KJF1985 Posted 25 May 2011 , 7:05pm
post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jules5000

I don't know where you are from, but Sugar is going up weekly where I live. I was warned by my husband that sometime w/in the next 2 years(from about 6 months ago) sugar was not going to even be available. It had to do with a ban put on a certain pesticide and it would be two years before a crop could be produced with an approved pesticide. He told me to start buying extra sugar back then and I am glad that I did. I need to keep on buying extra sugar though even if it is going up because I bake a lot. I buy brown sugar and confectioners sugar also. I do not remember all the particulars, but he works for the federal govt.(not the branch the put the ban on, though), but he knows it was official.




Oh my gosh!! That's scary and also really good to know!! I wish I had a better place to start keep a stock pile!!

AnotherCaker Posted 25 May 2011 , 7:50pm
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Maybe if you hadn't done this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by KJF1985

"I added up material cost and it will be around $45. I know this is more than a plain sheet cake from Walmart which is only $35. Obviously my cake will be more intricate however, I feel like it defeats the point of me donating the cake!! So I'm extremely negotiable and don't mind donating the difference in material cost as well so you only pay the $35!"




Then this wouldn't have happened:

Quote:
Originally Posted by KJF1985

She responds with "Wow!!! That is a lot.........I will bring it up Friday at our meeting and let you know". I replied with "Yup, it adds up fast. Like I said, I'm very negotiable since this is my gift!"




Sounds like you got the ball rolling for them to think about it as well. If you hadn't started defending your pricing, they might have never had an issue either?

TexasSugar Posted 25 May 2011 , 8:09pm
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I wouldn't worry about sending them a cost break down. Honestly that isn't any of their business, especially after OP said she'd cover anything over $35 anyway. If they are balking at a custom designed, non cookie cutter cake for only $35 then let them go buy a Sam's cake.

I honestly totally understand wanting to do a cool cake in a different design than you normally do. I also totally understand having a good reason to make a cake, rather than to make a cake for your family when you can't justify to yourself making a huge one. But please don't let people take advantage of you just because of that. If they can't understand the reason a cake costs as much as it does then try to educate them. There is so much more to the cake than just the cost of materials.

I just recently did a cake (Western Baby shower in my photos) that cost me over $100 in ingredients AND took me over 12 hours to complete, more like 14. That was 14 hours out of my already limited free time.

You have to consider if your time is really worth giving up, especially for someone that thinks $35 is a lot for a cake for a person you yourself said that you don't know very well.

I'm curious, you said you were doing a sheet cake and a round cake. What sizes of the two are you doing? How many servings are there? How many do they need?

KJF1985 Posted 25 May 2011 , 8:59pm
post #9 of 28

AnotherCaker -I guess I don't understand what you're getting at. When I went and offered to make the cake I said I'd do it 100% free of charge. So making sure she knew that $45 wasn't a set price isn't really a big deal, I'm not taking a loss I'm not ok with. SHE asked me for materials cost so I told her and made sure she knew I didn't expect them to spend more on a cake from me than what they originally would have paid.

TexasSugar - That western cake is simply AMAZING!! They couldn't tell me how many people since it's just a "hey everybody, feel free to come by" type situation. They only asked for a sheet cake that's half vanilla and half chocolate. For that I'm just going to make two 9x13 cakes even though that's a touch bigger than a traditional sheet cake. It'll be a 8 or 9 inch round on top of fillable pillars that I'll put glitter or foil in and make to look like a trophy stand. The round tier will have the RKT race car on top of it. Usually at these work things if the cake is gone by the time you get there, you're just out of luck! haha

AnotherCaker Posted 25 May 2011 , 9:25pm
post #10 of 28

Then I guess I don't understand what you were complaining about in the first place, so nevermind.

KJF1985 Posted 25 May 2011 , 9:42pm
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherCaker

Then I guess I don't understand what you were complaining about in the first place, so nevermind.




Oh.....ok. Consider it neverminded then. I appreciate the response anyway! icon_biggrin.gif

FromScratchSF Posted 25 May 2011 , 9:43pm
post #12 of 28

Playing devil's advocate, and just going off what you posted above, if I was the recipient of the email you sent, saying "Hey, my materials are XX, but Walmart is only X, so I'd totally understand if you just want a Walmart cake" I'd think, hurm, you don't really want to make the cake and would rather me go to Walmart. So I'm going to send the email back leaving the door open with "You are right... OK, we'll think about it". Email sucks for this type of stuff. Pick up the phone, call her, work out the details THEN send a confirmation email of the stuff you talked about. Never write something so vague and open for interpretation! And dude, NEVER price shop for someone! You are just waisting your time.

As for making sure you get paid for your time like TexasSugar suggests, I think that's off the mark. As a hobby baker just wanting to make something fun, you shouldn't be thinking about getting paid for your time. You suggested an extravagant design, I get the impression you were OK with the time you were committing to it, correct?

And WOAH that's a ton of cake you are planning on making. Surely there is a ball park number of employees that could show up, right? If you are donating the cake there is nothing wrong with getting a more exact head count and only making enough cake for that - making a cake to feed 300 on the off chance that a small army will show up is a little crazy, IMHO!

Good luck,
Jen

KJF1985 Posted 25 May 2011 , 10:03pm
post #13 of 28

Thanks for the response Jen!! I can see what you mean since you really only got to read the email exchange from today. I have talked to her in person. This morning she caught me in the hall and asked me to send her the materials cost so they would know during their budget meeting on Friday. When the email came out about the shower I practically went running to her office to offer to make it so she definitely knows I'm excited and WANT to do it. And yes, you're correct - it was my design so the time factor isn't an issue for me. I also didn't mean to imply that they SHOULD just go to walmart if they didn't want to pay $45. I only called to see where my materials cost compared to a basic cake from there since I knew she had already contacted Sam's about it.

I guess my issue is that I don't want to lose a "big" cake and the experience because people don't understand how "cake and frosting" can cost $45....(not that I actually expect them to pay the $45)


oh - and we work in a medical school so getting rid of excess cake is NEVER a problem, we just leave it where the students can find it!! :p

MelissaJeane Posted 25 May 2011 , 10:13pm
post #14 of 28

I work in a college and if we leave any food out for grabs especially sweets it will get eaten! Thats referring to staff and faculty only so I can see all that cake being eaten in no time. I read your post as if you were just irked that they had a problem with the supplies that you hadn't demanded payment for. Hope it all works out for you, best of luck icon_smile.gif

TexasSugar Posted 25 May 2011 , 10:23pm
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF


As for making sure you get paid for your time like TexasSugar suggests, I think that's off the mark. As a hobby baker just wanting to make something fun, you shouldn't be thinking about getting paid for your time. You suggested an extravagant design, I get the impression you were OK with the time you were committing to it, correct?




I was in no way suggesting she be compensated for her time, especially when she offered to do the cake. Nor did I say charge for labor. I was simply saying she should keep that in mind, for herself.

There is nothing wrong with doing an elaborate cake for free or even at cost, if you want to. But we are also talking about a work situation, how many other elaborate cakes may come up down the line that they may except the same thing on. And that is where I would be concerned, especially when they may be having issues paying $35 for a cake that would serve at least 72 people, that would be nothing like a $35 grocery store cake.

By all means KFJ, should do the cake if she truly wants to, for the price they discussed.

costumeczar Posted 26 May 2011 , 12:02am
post #16 of 28

I'd say that you should just wait to see that they say, but if you want to do it for free, go ahead. But I'd also say that you should make sure to get a guest count, since you don't want to waste your time and money doing something bigger than you need to.

People think of Walmart prices when they thik of sheet cakes, because that's the only point of reference they have. It's nothing personal when they think custom cake prices are a lot to spend. They just don't know any better.

jules5000 Posted 26 May 2011 , 12:43am
post #17 of 28

If I understand what the last comment made by Texas Sugar correctly I would too, be concerned if any more cakes come down the pike that they want you to do for free.

They will know what you are capable of and may expect you to donate the others. That of course is up to you, but what I would do is this, explain. When you first got the email about the baby shower cake you were excited and had a cake already in your mind and had never got to do a cake like that just for fun. You wanted to do it and you did not really even know the person you were doing it for. But I can not afford to do that elaborate a cake for every occasion. If I had made that cake to sell, I would have charged X amount for it.

Then and only then you can say what exactly did you have in mind and for how many people? who is the cake for? what is the situation? find out all the details. Go home and figure out what you could make it for-cost wise and figure out what you would really like to have for that cake. and then go back to them and let them know what you have come up with. You do not want to undersell yourself because they are gong to expect this everytime if you do. I hope this is clear.

KJF1985 Posted 26 May 2011 , 12:51am
post #18 of 28

That's a very good point about future cakes. Appreciate all the feedback!!

jules5000 Posted 26 May 2011 , 1:40am
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I don't think that any of us want to see anyone else unfairly taken advantage of.

It is one thing to volunteer to do something as a gift, but it is wrong to always expect that person to make cakes for special occasions w/o some compensation. If that is their desire and wish to do so let them give the money back that is to be paid them to do the cake, but don't assume they are going to do it for free everytime. There is another forum that I have been on that this woman has made some cakes for her church events and given the cakes as a gift. the event coordinator seems to think that she should make the cakes for every event and do it out of her own pocket. that is so wrong. If a person makes a cake and does it as a gift for one occasion it seems as though that there are a lot of people that just assume that, that should keep going and it shouldn't. Don't let yourself be put in this position no matter what the group is or occasion.

I have seen suggestions on here, CC forums, that I think are really good, but this one I just thought of. Make up an invoice and list what you normally list on your invoices or cake orders. amounts and everything. Then when you deliver the cake and you choose to give it as a gift instead of getting paid for it Mark a red or black slash mark, just once through the invoice, but not to cover up the costs. Then write gift. Make sure that you keep a copy for yourself at home. Hand it to the person who ordered the cake. Then tell them that you have decided to make this cake a gift, but that the price on the invoice is what you would normally get for a cake of this calaiber. This way they know that your cake has value and so does your time. If they want to order more from you they will have a record and some idea of what to expect. Of course I know that the person who ordered it will know what the cake costs ahead of time because they ordered it, but if there is some kind of committee that they had to take things before then there will be a record of the costs and what it's real value was. BUt the person who ordered it can tell them the reason you gave it as a gift. make sure that it is a very specail reason.

cakegrandma Posted 26 May 2011 , 2:09am
post #20 of 28

I can understand wanting to do a cake just to do it and put it in your "Look what I can make" folder, I have done it so many times when I first started making cakes. I do like the suggestion of making an invoice and then marking through the price and putting gift on it. If anyone makes any remarks like why did you not charge for it you could always say. "I would like to start selling cakes and want people to see what I can do," that is if you are going to start selling them.
evelyn

KJF1985 Posted 26 May 2011 , 2:17am
post #21 of 28

I think that's a fabulous idea Jules!! I may just steal it!

Kitagrl Posted 26 May 2011 , 2:21am
post #22 of 28

Personally, I would either offer to do a cake as a gift.....OR charge for the cake. I have some friends I give discounts to...but I NEVER make anything just for cost. Its either a completely free donation...or I give a percent off my regular price (with only a few exceptions).

I find nobody knows how expensive cake is and nobody is going to want to pay your costs anyway....so right up front, either get a payment...or give it as a gift. Never just ask for costs....too messy.

Good luck with it!!!!! Hopefully they will let you make it for them!

jules5000 Posted 26 May 2011 , 4:48pm
post #23 of 28

Go for it. I have no problem whatever with anyone using my idea. Actually, the Lord gave me the idea as I was sitting here reading forums one night. I do not believe the Lord wants anyone to be taken for granted either. I don't believe he wants to be taken for granted. I will use the idea myself when the opportunity comes. I use a lot of my practice cakes as gifts so they are not sitting around tempting me. I have never run into an unwilling guinea pig yet. When I need to do a lot of practice on a particular skill I have different people that I give them too so no one feels left out. HA! I also practice new things I have learned on my friends and make their birthday cakes. They are so happy with the idea that I made them a birthday cake that they do not care if it is "perfect" or not. If it is a practice cake or not. They are just tickled pink that I made something for them with them in mind. The occasional order comes along here and there, but it is more a hobby then anything. I would like to get some more cake toys so that I would feel competent to do more things even better. Things that would save me time. a pastry roller to fit my KA mixer, a silhoutte(like a cricut) and a new mat to roll fondant on. anyway a lot of those things would save me immense time and I could really feel that I would not be working harder than I had to . Got off the subject just a little. Please forgive.

KJF1985 Posted 26 May 2011 , 4:54pm
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jules5000

Go for it. I have no problem whatever with anyone using my idea. Actually, the Lord gave me the idea as I was sitting here reading forums one night. I do not believe the Lord wants anyone to be taken for granted either. I don't believe he wants to be taken for granted. I will use the idea myself when the opportunity comes. I use a lot of my practice cakes as gifts so they are not sitting around tempting me. I have never run into an unwilling guinea pig yet. When I need to do a lot of practice on a particular skill I have different people that I give them too so no one feels left out. HA! I also practice new things I have learned on my friends and make their birthday cakes. They are so happy with the idea that I made them a birthday cake that they do not care if it is "perfect" or not. If it is a practice cake or not. They are just tickled pink that I made something for them with them in mind. The occasional order comes along here and there, but it is more a hobby then anything. I would like to get some more cake toys so that I would feel competent to do more things even better. Things that would save me time. a pastry roller to fit my KA mixer, a silhoutte(like a ) and a new mat to roll fondant on. anyway a lot of those things would save me immense time and I could really feel that I would not be working harder than I had to . Got off the subject just a little. Please forgive.





Boy oh boy do I know what you mean!! I think it's about time I talked the husband into moving so I have a bigger kitchen......

Thanks again, I already downloaded a spreadsheet from another member and looked at what I would charge if I was selling these cakes. It should definitely help eliminate the "but last time you only charged...." or "but so and so only paid...." Absolutely don't want to get taken advantage of. I too mostly enjoy it as a hobby but wouldn't mind selling one here or there (shh that's not legal in my state). Really really appreciate all the advice!

jules5000 Posted 26 May 2011 , 5:53pm
post #25 of 28

know what you mean. I have a nice size kitchen,but if I had an island to give me more room to work I would just have something else to bump into when I was in a hurry. The only problem is that I don't have anywhere that I could roll it out of the way to. I would have to have one that was on rollers(that could be locked) Moving again to acquire a different size kitchen, I do not think so. In order for me to move again it is going to have to be when the Lord comes back for us--LOL!! I am not moving again. He planted me where I am and I am not moving until he comes back for me. Of course I do understand if you have a home that you have no where to expand to even if you had the money well that could be proving a challenge. Fortunately I have a basement area that I can store all of my cake toys and out of season dishes or ones that don't get used often. The only thing that could have been made easier was if I could have had my extra fridge downstairs instead of the garage. They wouldn't fit. I have an older home. It was one of the first built in my town. 111 years old this year. I know you would love it. good luck with talking hubby into moving. I am sure you are going to need it.

KJF1985 Posted 26 May 2011 , 5:56pm
post #26 of 28

Jules- that's amazing! Our house is about 90 years old and I love it. But we don't have a garage OR a basement!!! Silly Louisiana.....

jules5000 Posted 26 May 2011 , 6:24pm
post #27 of 28

Somehow, I just knew you would love an older home. I don't know why, I just did. I have lived in the midwest most of my life and I consider a basement a must have. it is not negotiable. I don't want just a cellar either. It must be usable. ours was very well taken care of and is beautiful. I have 2 rooms decorated to my taste, but need new furniture in one and the kitchen is the other. The rest of the house awaits decorating until I have money. LOL!! What is that? I wish I had someway of sending just you a picture of it. You would love it. I am in MO. we are a few hours northeast of Joplin, but not so far from Sedalia. Since those two have been in the news I figured that you would have an idea of where I lived. We are about 45-60 minutes NW of Sedalia. Well since this is a forum I will end it there.

jennifercullen Posted 28 May 2011 , 7:13pm
post #28 of 28

I totally know what you mean about people expecting the cakes to be really cheap because you make them at home. I was recently asked how much it would cost for me to make my xbox cake from my photos for a friend of a friend of a friend lol, I'm only a hobby baker but have recently decided to start adding a bit of money onto my prices otherwise I would end up working on cakes every night for nothing, and would be committed to things in advance so wouldnt really have time to say oh no i dont want to do this anymore... anyway, while trying to decide how much to charge for the cake my colleague suggested just doubling the cost of ingredients which I said would work out at £40-50 so maybe charge 40? Her face was a picture she said oh really, maybe not then £20-£25 is a lot to make a cake! I tried to explain to her that at the cake shops around here you would probably pay about £60 for the same cake! But she didnt get it.

I heard somewhere that a lot of supermarkets make a loss on their birthday cake range just to get you in the door for the rest of your party stuff, not to mention the cakes (in supermarkets in england, I dont know about america) taste like cardboard in comparison. I love doing what I do and would love to turn it into a business someday, but I dont know if I can cope with the disgusted looks on people's faces when I tell them how much a cake will cost!

You say your cake was going to cost them $35, which isnt a lot for a custom made cake! They could even pay it as their gift to them!

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