Have To Turn Down Orders Because Of Time Issue

Business By claribou Updated 26 Jun 2011 , 4:45am by JenniSize

claribou Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 8:38pm
post #1 of 25

Hello, I started my home business a few month ago and it is blooming. I have orders every single week end. I cook on thursday morning, cover cakes on thursday afternoon and decorate on thursday afternoon and all day friday. Clients pick-up their cake on saturday morning.

With that time frame, I can only make 4-5 tiers (either 2 big cakes or 4 small cakes). And when my agenda is booked with those 4-5 tiers, I simply have to turn down orders, which happens every week-end !

Ok, that's a pretty cool problem but that's a problem. I would love making more cakes but since they are all due on saturday and I only have one day or so for decorating ... what are my options ?

I would love to take advantage of the sucess of my business and I can't

Any solution ?

Thanks. Isabelle

24 replies
jason_kraft Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 8:48pm
post #2 of 25

It sounds like you need to increase your prices. Higher prices = lower demand, but since demand for your products is already greater than your supply this should not affect your workload, so you will make more money with the same amount of effort.

If you want to expand you may want to look into renting a commercial kitchen and hiring additional help (in which case you'll also need to increase prices to cover the increased overhead).

Unlimited Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 9:11pm
post #3 of 25

I'd suggest finding ways to work more productively or hire help.

If you're truly maxed out and overwhelmed without enough time to physically complete more, there's nothing wrong with turning down orders. If you feel guilty and wish to spread yourself thin, you could give up sleep or raise your prices. Doing more cakes doesn't necessarily mean more money... if you work smarter, you can crank out more, or if you charge more for the cakes that you are doing, you won't miss the income that you could have been making from the orders that you choose to turn down.

gatorcake Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 9:13pm
post #4 of 25

Bake your cakes earlier in the week and freeze them. (If you have the room). That would give you the morning on Thursday.

Take a look at your procedures and see if you can become more efficient. In the production process for instance do you waste time on unnecessary steps such as changing tasks (not measuring all ingredients before you start for instance). Baking by weight can speed things up. Much faster to dump 16 oz of flour on a scale than to swoop and level 2 cups of flour--at least I find it easier to prep by wieght than by volume.

carmijok Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 9:35pm
post #5 of 25

I agree that you need to bake your cakes earlier in the week and freeze them. That frees up the time on Thursdays that you spend baking.
The bakery I worked for would bake only on Tuesdays for orders that week and weekend. (they were closed on Sun, and Mon). Cakes would be frozen and then decorated the day they were due. Prep work such as icing and coloring fondant would be done on Wednesdays in between cakes due that day. (there weren't many due on Wednesdays).

We turned down orders on occasion because there are a limited number of cakes we could do per week. That's why we always put a 2 week ahead time on ordering. And we always encouraged people to plan ahead...if they knew a cake was going to be in the future down the road, I would suggest we go ahead and get them on the books so that they wouldn't have to worry about ordering at the last minute. This worked great to secure future business and it helped them because I would call a couple of weeks in advance and remind them of their order. If they canceled it was OK because there was plenty of time to add new business. It's all in managing your time and figuring out your limitations.

Remember that it's OK to say no. If people call up at the last minute and want a cake, you will train them that it's OK to do that unless you say no.

warchild Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 10:21pm
post #6 of 25

You've only just started, you're booked with orders every weekend, you have to turn some orders down.

I'd say you're doing just fine for only 6 months up & running and working another job. (I'm assuming you have another job because of the time allowance you stated you have for working on your cakes?)

If you're not underpricing your cakes, why not be happy with what you're making for the time being? More cake orders and, hopefully, more profit, will come with more time spent in your new business.

One thing to always remember, is allowing yourself enough "YOU" time with your new found success. If you start taking on more and more orders with no other employee but yourself, you can easily end up burning yourself out. To the point you may one day give up caking.

Believe me, I've seen a very successful caker friend do that very thing.

"If the single man (Woman ) plant himself (herself) indomitably on his (her) instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come around to him (her)" --Emerson icon_smile.gif

claribou Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 1:00am
post #7 of 25

Thank you so much for your input, this helps a lot

I think I should indeed look at my procedures. This is a very good advise. I probably have room for improvement.

Also, since I do have another job, I just have to accept the fact that I am limited in time for my cake decorating business. And I should also feel grateful for the sucess I've had in such a short amount of time.

Regarding the price, this is a very useful tip too ... actually, I've already modified my price list in the first 2 month of my business, as I realized I was reaaaaally under pricing. I now feel confortable in my new price range. And I absolutely do not feel guilty when someone turns down an order because they think it's too expensive. This happens not very often though. I know how much work these cakes require and the cake are worth every penny!

Nevertheless, I plan to take some classes to learn new techniques and I will definitely charge more for cakes that require more elaborate techniques.

I was curious though to know how many cakes (or tiers, as it depens how big each cake is) you would do within a week if all cakes are due on saturdays ?

Another question, related to the first one : if you ONLY do cake decorating (nothing else on the side like cupcakes during the week), can you actually make a living out of this? Because there is indeed a time issue ... if all cakes are due on saturdays (and in real life, most cake are indeed due on saturdays), you just don't have much to do the rest of the week ...

Allright ... another one... About pricing. Even though I'm comfortable with my pricing, I'm curious to see how much you would charge for these 2 cakes (castle cake is 8po+6po and wedding cake is 10po+8po+6po)

Isabelle

PS - sorry about my English, I'm French speaking

claribou Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 1:06am
post #8 of 25

okay, don't know why I cannot attach the picture. you will see them in my photo gallery (I only downloaded the 2 cakes I was referring to)

cakenovice2010 Posted 23 Jun 2011 , 6:31pm
post #9 of 25

First of all that's amazing, congratulations on your new found business! Secondly pricing is subject to a lot of different factors but you can easily help yourself by pricing you ingredients cost per cake. How many hours did the castle cake take? If you offer someone that cake again if you log your time spent, materials used and cost you can say, okay for this cake I would charge $75.00 (example) based on my costs and what I value my labour at.

You do not have to bake on the day you decorate. Depending on if you are a scratch baker or not, I'm going to assume scratch. So if you make your cakes ahead, you can freeze them up to 3 months - not saying you have to, but for the sake of order volume let's use this. Knowing you have 4 cake orders a week at least. You know yourself what your popular flavours are. If you make a butter cream (true bc with eggs and butter) you can also freeze that.

If you wanted to do this in a more stretched out way to preserve your time (and sanity) bake ahead on say Monday/Tuesda fill/mask and put into the freezer. Take out the evening before you decorate to defrost in the fridge. decorate THurs/Friday. This is if you are of course able to properly refrigerate your cakes during this process. And this is an example so it's what works for you if you have another job.

Hopefully I explained this well enough that someone isn't going misinterpret what I am saying as baking a cake on Monday and keeping it out until Saturday - it's about baking ahead, freezing and pulling it out when it comes time to cover the cake. icon_wink.gif If you are using box mixes or combinations I am not sure about freezing and maybe someone else could speak on that end with experience.

claribou Posted 23 Jun 2011 , 6:39pm
post #10 of 25

THanks a whole lot, these are great tips ! I've already started applying some of the tips you guys have given me and I know can see I had an organizational issue. Preparing everything ahead helps a lot.

Annabakescakes Posted 24 Jun 2011 , 2:57am
post #11 of 25

I just have to say that your English is beautiful! There is nothing wrong with it and no need to apologize at all!

I try to bake and fill Monday and freeze. Tuesday I make fondant and color it, and make my icing. Wednesday I make flowers and bows. Thursday, Friday I decorate. I can comfortably do 2, 3 tier weddings, and 1 carved birthday cake, and a couple "simple" 8" birthday cakes. It is a comfortable living.

yummy_in_my_tummy Posted 24 Jun 2011 , 3:25am
post #12 of 25

Annabakescakes, I also bake and freeze ahead of time but I don't fill before freezing. Can you explain to me how you do that? Do you level and fill them just wrap tight in plastic wrap?? Thank you!

Annabakescakes Posted 24 Jun 2011 , 3:51am
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by yummy_in_my_tummy

Annabakescakes, I also bake and freeze ahead of time but I don't fill before freezing. Can you explain to me how you do that? Do you level and fill them just wrap tight in plastic wrap?? Thank you!




It really helps the flavors to meld, and it makes the cake really moist, and saves LOADS of time.

I bake, cool, level, then dam, fill, and assemble and crumb coat on a cardboard round. I place the whole thing in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer. The night before I decorate, I take them all out of the freezer and place on the rack, in the bag. I take them out of the bag a couple hours before I decorate to let them dry a little, and I put them on a fresh round. (the frozen one gets soggy).

HTH!

de_montsoreau Posted 24 Jun 2011 , 7:07am
post #14 of 25

I do mostly wedding cakes which are usually 3 tiers and up and I average 3 for a weekend.
Sundays and Mondays are my days off (unless I do more than 3 cakes then I start preparations on Monday). Tuesdays are for organisational things and shopping. I bake Wednesday (scratch), make fondant and start with decorations if needed, fill und crumb coat Thursdays and continue working on decorations. I cover the cakes Friday and finish all deco elements where possible. I stack and decorate Saturday morning, then deliver. Then I wish I had a free week ahead of me... icon_smile.gif

cakecoachonline Posted 24 Jun 2011 , 9:29am
post #15 of 25

If I was getting too many orders, I would look at raising prices and employing help. I would also look and see if there was any recipes which would allow you to bake slightly earlier in the week - and still be fresh for the weekend. In addition are there any receipes which allow pre baking and then freezing of the cake - which would cut down on baking time and allow for more time to decorate when you have a full order book.

claribou Posted 24 Jun 2011 , 3:16pm
post #16 of 25

I'm starting to understand the process

A few questions though :

I always thought you could not freeze something that had already been frozen before. Do you really bake-freeze-defreeze-fill-refreeze-redefreeze-decorate ?

Let's say I finished decorating a cake on thursday (because I cannot finish them all on friday), and the client is supposed to pick-it up on saturday, should I leave it on the counter or should I refrigerate it ? Because on tv shows (I know I shouldn't believe all I see on tv but these shows seem pretty accurate), they all put the cake in a fridge. But I always thought you just don't put a fondant cake in the fridge.

costumeczar Posted 25 Jun 2011 , 1:33am
post #17 of 25

I work from home by myself and do mostly wedding cakes, so pretty much everything is due on Saturdays.

Today I had two 3-D cakes and one anniversary cake delivered. Tomorrow I have three wedding cakes and one groom's cake to deliver, which I put together and decorated today. Some weekends I have cakes on Sunday, so if that happens I bake then wrap everything (I don't freeze anything) and will decorate on Saturday after finishing deliveries. I can do up to 5 or 6 wedding cakes over the course of one weekend without much trouble.

You can make a living at working from home, but if you want to make a BIG living you'll probably need to expand. If I wanted to open a shop I could increase production and make a lot mroe money, but that comes with an entirely new set of headaches that I really want no part of!

Annabakescakes Posted 25 Jun 2011 , 2:03am
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by claribou

I'm starting to understand the process

A few questions though :

I always thought you could not freeze something that had already been frozen before. Do you really bake-freeze-defreeze-fill-refreeze-redefreeze-decorate ?

Let's say I finished decorating a cake on thursday (because I cannot finish them all on friday), and the client is supposed to pick-it up on saturday, should I leave it on the counter or should I refrigerate it ? Because on tv shows (I know I shouldn't believe all I see on tv but these shows seem pretty accurate), they all put the cake in a fridge. But I always thought you just don't put a fondant cake in the fridge.




I only freeze once. I bake cool, level, fill and crumb coat and then freeze, all in one day, and I take it out the night before it gets decorated. The only other time I stick it in the freezer is when apply the fondant, and I only put it in for 15 minutes or so. I don't refrigerate at all, I use shelf stable ingredients.

Kitagrl Posted 25 Jun 2011 , 2:23am
post #19 of 25

I only do 2-4 cakes per weekend depending on size. I just have a minimum order of $200 and I price about what the other high end bakeries in town are charging.

I am not required to serve everyone who wants a cake (although it would be nice!)...I just want to accept the orders I can manage, and be paid decently for them.

claribou Posted 25 Jun 2011 , 2:28am
post #20 of 25

THanks a lot again for the replies.

A last question : I've read several posts on this forum regarding home businesses. I know it depens on the state you live in but it seems that a home business in the food industry is not allowed, meaning that the job has to be done in a specific kitchen (that is not used for anything else but baking cake). But it seems that most people here are home based, so I find it tricky to understand. How does this work ? Lets say you have a website and you are an established business but since you work in your kitchen you are not really legal ?

I really need help on this one because I'm planning on seeking for government subvention for my business but I do not want to get into trouble when I have to say it's a home business and discover I'm not supposed to have a home business and then I have to close ...

Annabakescakes Posted 25 Jun 2011 , 2:33am
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by claribou

THanks a lot again for the replies.

A last question : I've read several posts on this forum regarding home businesses. I know it depens on the state you live in but it seems that a home business in the food industry is not allowed, meaning that the job has to be done in a specific kitchen (that is not used for anything else but baking cake). But it seems that most people here are home based, so I find it tricky to understand. How does this work ? Lets say you have a website and you are an established business but since you work in your kitchen you are not really legal ?

I really need help on this one because I'm planning on seeking for government subvention for my business but I do not want to get into trouble when I have to say it's a home business and discover I'm not supposed to have a home business and then I have to close ...




Oh Lord...I really hope the trolls don't come out...

One of the two best things you can do is start a thread and other people in your area, and the other is to call your Dept of agriculture or health dept in you r area and ask if it is legal and what you have to do to be legal.

costumeczar Posted 25 Jun 2011 , 3:06pm
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by claribou

THanks a lot again for the replies.

A last question : I've read several posts on this forum regarding home businesses. I know it depens on the state you live in but it seems that a home business in the food industry is not allowed, meaning that the job has to be done in a specific kitchen (that is not used for anything else but baking cake). But it seems that most people here are home based, so I find it tricky to understand. How does this work ? Lets say you have a website and you are an established business but since you work in your kitchen you are not really legal ?

I really need help on this one because I'm planning on seeking for government subvention for my business but I do not want to get into trouble when I have to say it's a home business and discover I'm not supposed to have a home business and then I have to close ...




It depends on your location. In Virginia you can bake out of your home kitchen, but you can't cater out of it. For that you need a separate commercial kitchen. Every state in ths US has different laws, and since you're in Canada I'm sure they have different laws too. You'll have to check with your local government to see what you need to do specifically.

Kiddiekakes Posted 25 Jun 2011 , 3:12pm
post #23 of 25

I bake Mondays and Tuesdays and refridgerate or freeze...I make icings tuesdays as well,cover boards etc and make flowers etc a bit earlier...I decorate wednesday.Thursday and part of friday as 50% want to pickup friday afternoon instead of saturday...I can do about 6-7 cakes depending on size...I never have had to turn anyone away unless they call on wednesday or thursday for a cake that weekend...It's all about time management...

claribou Posted 25 Jun 2011 , 3:15pm
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Quote:

It's all about time management




I'm really starting to realize that it is, indeed, about time management. I can now see that I could do much more cakes !

JenniSize Posted 26 Jun 2011 , 4:45am
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes

I bake, cool, level, then dam, fill, and assemble and crumb coat on a cardboard round. I place the whole thing in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer. The night before I decorate, I take them all out of the freezer and place on the rack, in the bag. I take them out of the bag a couple hours before I decorate to let them dry a little, and I put them on a fresh round. (the frozen one gets soggy).

HTH!




How do you get them on a fresh round without messing up the cake itself?

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