Handling Inquires For Dates Too Far Out

Business By Dreme Updated 20 Jul 2011 , 6:15pm by jenmat

Dreme Posted 17 Jul 2011 , 5:14am
post #1 of 13

Lately I have been getting inquiries from clients for dates going well into next year. I typically don't take orders no more than 6 months in advance, but something is happening where most of my inquires have been for this (and for some reason I have been getting ones for 3d cakes too. I have no idea where this is coming from but ok).

I plan on making some changes in the next couple of months so I don't want to commit to potential clients whom I definitely know will be affected by the changes, (Like those inquiring for fall of 2012). I understand that people would like to book with you early so they can make sure to get a spot on your calendar. Some of them don't have dates yet, they just want to be able to get a spot. I operate on a first to commit with a full payment (for most orders) or 50% payment for wedding & large orders over a guest count of 75.

How should I respond to these inquires in a polite "please come back within 6 mos of your event with a set date and we'll talk then" type of way? A lot of people inquire asking me to price an image of something (Which I wouldn't do the image verbatim anyways, so there is sorta no point in telling them a price of what's shown.) I'm already busy with current orders and really don't have the time to price or design for something so far out that will be priced or produced differently then anyways. How would you handle this? For some of them I would still like their business for the future, just not now.

12 replies
ConfectionsCC Posted 17 Jul 2011 , 6:35am
post #2 of 13

Tell them unless they have their exact date, you can not guarantee that a spot for their cake. And, with out a deposit (most small biz require it) you can not even guarantee an exact date! Weddings I will book a year in advance with a deposit, but I agree, smaller cakes like a birthday cake, kinda strange to book a year or so in advance! Just when they come for a price quote, give it to them and tell them that you require confirmation by deposit xxx many days/weeks ahead of time, and that if booked last minute, they may not get a spot!? This is good people are coming to you this early! Means they like your cakes and expect you to be very busy icon_wink.gif

jenmat Posted 17 Jul 2011 , 5:05pm
post #3 of 13

Post your policies about booking on your website. Be firm.
*booking require a 50% down payment, yada yada yada
*Orders cannot be booked more than 6 months out from the date

Every time you get that inquiry, then you can have a canned response: Thanks for your inquiry, per my website, I only take orders for 6 months out. Blah blah blah...

You are in charge of your policies, so pick what you're comfortable with. Heck, you can say you only take orders 2 weeks out, if that is what you want, so just make sure you are firm and have it posted and you're good to go!

Kitagrl Posted 17 Jul 2011 , 5:15pm
post #4 of 13

I'll take orders as early as they want to pay me a deposit for....why don't you want to take them far in advance?

As a customer, I probably wouldn't want to be told "come back later" because then what if I come back later, and the date is now booked?

(Each to her own haha I'm not saying its wrong, I just am not sure why you want them to wait.)

cabecakes Posted 17 Jul 2011 , 5:49pm
post #5 of 13

I agree with Kitagrl. I would much rather know in advance in I have commitments to doing cakes. I have the opposite problem. I mostly do cakes for family and friends, so they think it's ok to say hey can I get you to do me a such and such cake by next Friday. You should count yourself lucky. What is it you are afraid of by taking them so far in advance? Are you afraid you will forget an order or something?

Annabakescakes Posted 17 Jul 2011 , 6:49pm
post #6 of 13
Originally Posted by cabecakes

I agree with Kitagrl. I would much rather know in advance in I have commitments to doing cakes. I have the opposite problem. I mostly do cakes for family and friends, so they think it's ok to say hey can I get you to do me a such and such cake by next Friday. You should count yourself lucky. What is it you are afraid of by taking them so far in advance? Are you afraid you will forget an order or something?

No kidding! I did a wedding cake last week that I had 3 days notice for! A birthday cake with 2 days notice, a baby shower with 4 days notice and a birthday cake with 2 weeks notice (which is good).

carmijok Posted 17 Jul 2011 , 7:46pm
post #7 of 13

If it's a wedding...definitely a deposit and firm date. If it's party cakes...heck, why not have your calendar planned in advance? I used to encourage customers to go ahead and book their holiday and party cakes for the year when I had them in the bakery to pick up an order. We were on a first come, first serve basis and rather than turn down people who waited or forgot until the last minute to order, we had bookings set up as far as a year. I would call the customer 2 weeks prior to their scheduled cake to confirm and I'd get details then, or they'd have the option to cancel. We'd have plenty of time then to fill the space if needed. It sure made ordering, planning and sales projections much easier!

cocoanna Posted 17 Jul 2011 , 8:03pm
post #8 of 13

This has always interested me too. Except in my case I usually do them for fun so orders way ahead kind of makes me iffy. Someone asked for a cake for a November wedding and I had to really think about it before saying yes because I might have something important to do that weekend (you never know).

Jenmat's suggestion sounds great, although on the "*Orders cannot be booked more than 6 months out from the date" part it would also help to add "but not later than 2 weeks/one month/etc. before"

Enchantedcakes Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 1:29pm
post #9 of 13

This is what we have under our FAQ section:
We are unable to finalize the price of a wedding cake if the wedding is over eight months away, when the wedding is six months away we will finalize the payment structure. The cost of ingredients can rise or fall due to global conditions or the economy and sometimes we need to raise our prices and sometimes we need to lower our prices.

We use organic products and also offer vegan, gluten free, and sugar free. After the Tsunami hit Japan this past year, our rice flower went up 30% in one week. Eery 6 months we re evaluate our prices looking at if ingredient prices have risen or fallen and if any global disasters will impact some our of specialty ingredients. We explain to our brides that we would never want to overcharge them and they should not want to let us under price ourselves. They pay a small save the date deposit ( $25.00) to secure their date based on an estimate and then 6 months before the price is finalized and another deposit is made ( 25%). We have never had an issue.

Dreme Posted 18 Jul 2011 , 3:19pm
post #10 of 13

Thanks for all the replies!

I did respond back to a few potential clients answering their questions and letting them know about the set date thing and the 6 month time frame.

Right now there is a lot going on. I'm a home based business halfway through year 2 and am already going through some changes. I am doing the majority of the work with my partner working a full time job during the day. We are not in a position to hire at the moment so we are balancing a lot of things ourselves, including our own accounting. I really don't want to hold on to deposits that long as they are counted as made when the order is complete. With the way things are going we are looking into changing things such as our prices, policies, and possibly renting a kitchen. We also have an opportunity starting that will help us gear our business to more of our target clientele. Also I feel like sometimes i'm held back with not being able to execute my true style and design. Right now I just feel like I don't want to commit that far out especially when I know there will definitely be changes. Some of the inquires are the ones I want to weed out.

cakesbycathy Posted 20 Jul 2011 , 3:39am
post #11 of 13

Why would you hold on to the deposits? icon_confused.gif
My contract clearly states the their 50% deposit is non-refundable for any reason. I'm depositing (and spending) that deposit check the day after they write it.

IMO you are really risking losing out on a lot of business. If I'm a bride that wants to get all my planning out of the way, including my cake, and you tell me you can't help me for several months I can pretty much guarantee that I will take my business somewhere else.

Things to think about.

MnSnow Posted 20 Jul 2011 , 2:53pm
post #12 of 13

I get numerous inquiries for cakes for weddings 2 years down the road. I will not consider them. There are so many circumstances that can happen in the course of a 2 year period and I do not want to have to be looking at refunds--dates changing--and so on for 2 years.

I will book up to 1 year out with the condition that prices may change. 6 months out, prices are firm

jenmat Posted 20 Jul 2011 , 6:15pm
post #13 of 13

I take wedding cakes beginning on Jan 1 of the year before the wedding date (so Jan 1 2011 means I began taking 2012 orders) And that still still seems so far out, but I've had requests for dates in 2013 and 2014. While they are welcome to book the date, I will not give them a price, so none of them have ever booked that far out.
For celebration cakes, I've never had anyone book more than a few months in advance, but I would also be one who wouldn't let you book me more than 6 months out. Sheesh, its not a wedding. I have no problem with sending them somewhere else. But I can be crotchity that way. icon_smile.gif

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