Customers That Don't Pick Up Their Cakes On Time

Business By KellyJo3 Updated 14 Aug 2011 , 10:44pm by jules5000

KellyJo3 Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 5:41pm
post #1 of 23

I rent kitchen space for 20.00/hour, so I also rent an office to meet with customers for things like consultations, cake pick ups etc. to save money. On my website I state this fact as well as in my terms and conditions that I send to my customer's emails with every order. It clearly states that due to this fact and due to a high amount of orders being placed every week that it is not a guarantee that we can wait for them if they are late.

Which leads us to this particular situation. I had a lady place an order with us that needed to be picked up today at 10 am. She was informed of all of our terms and conditions etc. She informed me that she would pick up the cake at 10 am and drive it 3 hours away to the event location. That was all fine and dandy and I made sure to inform her of all the cake transporting tips-again.

Well 10 am came and went so I called her at 10:30 and she replied with "Oh well I will be there at 12:00 is that ok.?" I remained polite, but reminded her that we are only at our office for appointments and that she needed to pick up the cake as soon as she could.

She did not come to pick up her order until 12:30. Luckily for her we had no other cake deliveries or appointments today, since it's Wednesday because I would have gone to the other deliveries and she would have been late to her vacation destination or out a cake.

What I am wondering from you fine folks, is what would you do if a customer was way too late to pick up a cake and you had other important appointments that you had to tend to, therefore that customer was out a cake. Also all of my orders are paid for in full before I even start on a cake. So would you give any money back since it's their fault, and if so how much of a discount if any. Or would you refund their whole order? TIA!

22 replies
tracycakes Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 5:46pm
post #2 of 23

First, make sure that they have paid for it, at least a deposit. I've had to start doing that due to no-shows and late pickups. I tell customers that they are expected at that time. I wait 15 min., give them a call and depending on their response, I MIGHT wait a few more minutes. Make sure to tell them when you arrange for pickup that they are expected at that time or you will be gone.

Edited to add: you could do like daycares do and start charging x amount for each minute they are late. Not really but the threat might work if it is someone you really are having problems with.

Cakewishes Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 6:01pm
post #3 of 23

If the cake has been paid and the customer is rudely late, then what I would do is call once you see you must leave for another appointment/deliverly and l remind them that their pickup time was at such-and-such a time - according to contract -- and since they have not arrived yet, the cake will be set in front of your office doors waiting for pickup. Also note to them that you are no longer responsible for the cake. Now I am not saying to do this if the person is - lets say - up to 1/2 hour late and you are free because sometimes things really do happen to throw you off schedule, but the kind of late where it's hours later and they are still not there - then you do the above. And no, you do not offer a refund or any kind of discount; they are the ones that have not abided by your contract rules.

Cakeuhlicious Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 6:03pm
post #4 of 23

You fulfilled everything on your end of the contract. Once a customer misses their appointment, if you have to leave for your next appointment, it is my opinion that they can either work around your schedule and meet you when you have time that will not affect your other appointments, or they can be out the cake. No refund or discount involved.

There is no reason why you should cut into your profits when you did everything you said you would do. You deserve every penny you earned. If they can't wrap their head around the idea that the world doesn't revolve around them, then that is their problem. If they are late, they should be understanding about needing to cater to your schedule, because you are a successful business with many more clients to serve.

BARBARAJEAN Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 6:12pm
post #5 of 23

This is my biggest issue with doing cakes. It is hard for me to understand that half of my customers can not tell time. This summer I had a customer who wanted to pick up her cake at 7:00pm. I rushed home from work, finished the cake just on time and she called an hour later saying she would pick it up the next day. It was a bettercreme cake and I had no extra refridgerator space. That is why I finished it after work. I have never said the word NO so loud in my life. I think I hurt her feelings, but I insisted that she get right over here and pick up that cake. My poor grandchildren have never seen me get angry and they were down right shocked.

KellyJo3 Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 6:15pm
post #6 of 23

Thanks everyone for your input. It has not happened yet thank god, but very well could have happened today and all I was thinking was what I would do if I needed to leave. I really was thinking I would've had to leave it on the floor outside of my office door, as they were leaving for a weeks vacation so I would not have been able to freeze it and hold on to it for them until they got back. Of course I would not do that for someone who was only a little late, or like today when she was a couple hours late, but I had no other appointments. Although I do have 3 kids and thank god my husband was home today to keep an eye on them otherwise that may not have been the case.

love2makecakes Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 10:55pm
post #7 of 23

This is one of my biggest pet peeves! My shop is out of my home and I have pickup times scheduled at the time of the order. I can't even tell you how many times people just show up late and mean really late! I've had people call after being two hours late to say they will come tomorrow etc. Its like they think that I am home all day just waiting for them to come pick up their cakes. The worst time ever is when my whole family was all packed up and in the truck to get ready to go camping for the weekend and my client decides to stroll in some 2 hours late and didn't even mention sorry or anything. Uggg!!! I do not have "hours of operation" which is listed on my website and I make sure everyone knows I run by appointment only. So I basically have no balls or just plain dont like to lose customers, but I usually say nothing. icon_sad.gif

CarolWI Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 11:12pm
post #8 of 23

Those are the type of people that you have them sign a contract that specifically notes an agreed time for pickup. The contract must spell out that for each hour/day that they are late...there is X amount additional fee per hour/per day or what have you. This will make them realize that they need to be respectful of your life and hours of business!

QTCakes1 Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 11:15pm
post #9 of 23

Start charging for time and be paid in CASH! If I ahve a delivery and they are not ready to accept the cake, then they get bumped tot he bottom and charged another fee, cause I had to go back. If they are picking up, they get charged $20 an hour, paid in CASH at pick up. Or no cake. It's all in the contract. Contract, contract, contract. Write it all, initial it all. And isn't the phrase "Time is MONEY"?

Kiddiekakes Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 12:56am
post #10 of 23

I state the exact times that customers are allowed to pickup cakes..I will give 15-30 minutes and if they don't call or email..That's it...I don't care if they show up or not...I don't have all day to wait around until someone decides on their time when to show up.It is very disrespectful of your time.In 10 years I have only ever had one customer not show up for 4 hours from the time she said she would be by and luckily I was home and wasn't busy but I sure let her know that my time is valuable and I didn't appreciate no phone call etc..I have never done a cake for her since.

cakestyles Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 1:42am
post #11 of 23

I guess one way to avoid late pick-ups is to put a "delivery only" policy in place, with a fee of course.

Smashme Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 1:58am
post #12 of 23

i think a lot of the problem is people who are use to orderin from walmart, and they have the cake made by a certin time then you have all day to pick it up. once people stop thinking of bakers as a massed produced walmart factory this may get better, but unfortunatly i think they will always be out there icon_sad.gif

suzylynn58 Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 2:33am
post #13 of 23

I have started giving my customers a one hour window. "Your cake will be ready for pickup between 10 and 11 am on Saturday. After that the shop will be closed." I used to give them 2 hours, but they would show up at 5 minutes before the 2 hours was up and I was stuck waiting.

So far, so good, it's working out well.

costumeczar Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 3:07pm
post #14 of 23

"Hi, Customer...Your cake will be ready for pickup on Saturday at 9:00. The office will be open until 11. After that the cake will be outside the office door in a box for you. If we do have to leave it outside, we can't guarantee that people won't mess with the cake, so make sure to get here before 11. It will PROBABLY be okay, but who knows... Oh my gosh, can you believe that once a customer was late, and when she got there she saw that a dog had gotten into the box and was eating her cake??? It was awful, because the cake was chocolate, and we know that chocolate isn't good for dogs. It turned out okay, though, because he had just licked off half the icing and hadn't eaten any of the cake. Oh, but that won't happen if you're late, maybe. Probably not. But just make sure to get here on time and it won't be an issue."

KellyJo3 Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 8:24pm
post #15 of 23

Thanks for the good laugh costumeczar!! I'm sure that would guarantee an on time pick up! : D
Thank you everyone for the advice too!

audrey0522 Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 8:37pm
post #16 of 23

My daughter belongs to a food co-op. They are given a 20 min. window to pick up the food, paid for in advance. The contract states that after the 20 min. the food will be donated to a food bank and they can use the donation as a tax write-off. I bet no one is late.

instant-gratificaketion Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 8:57pm
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

"Hi, Customer...Your cake will be ready for pickup on Saturday at 9:00. The office will be open until 11. After that the cake will be outside the office door in a box for you. If we do have to leave it outside, we can't guarantee that people won't mess with the cake, so make sure to get here before 11. It will PROBABLY be okay, but who knows... Oh my gosh, can you believe that once a customer was late, and when she got there she saw that a dog had gotten into the box and was eating her cake??? It was awful, because the cake was chocolate, and we know that chocolate isn't good for dogs. It turned out okay, though, because he had just licked off half the icing and hadn't eaten any of the cake. Oh, but that won't happen if you're late, maybe. Probably not. But just make sure to get here on time and it won't be an issue."




I'm pretty sure there is not an expression that exists that could express the severity of my LOL at this.

jenmat Posted 11 Aug 2011 , 9:02pm
post #18 of 23

The problem as home bakers/businesses, is that we have to compete with larger storefronts and grocery stores and their policies.

When I worked at Walmart, a person could say they'd be there at 6pm, and then come in at noon the next day. We didn't throw the cake out at that point, because we were used to it, and figured they'd come when they could.

Even a small storefront has business hours, so the schedules are more flexible, if you came at 2pm for a 12pm cake to the last bakery I worked at, no one would say anything to you, as long as the store was still open.

So, the challenge for us is to make it both convenient for the customer and still maintain proper boundaries. I usually give a one or two hour window, and then ask them to let me know right away if things change. I try an be as flexible as possible, understanding that while I am making them a beautiful piece of art, they still do have other things to worry about. If a customer were to call and reschedule a pickup for the next day, I would give them another window, and warn them that I will not be available after xxx time.

The goal is right from the start to give off the "nice, but professional" vibe to all your customers: no children screaming in the background during phone calls, no wishy-washy attitudes on policies and procedures, and FIRM boundaries that are good for both you and the customer. You teach your customers how to treat you. If you begin on the right foot, you will probably stay on the right foot. And if they still treat you poorly, then they won't get a cake again from you, now will they?

(and I am NOT in any way saying that you are not professional with your customers! I am just speaking in general to similar situations I have caused myself or encountered with others)

costumeczar Posted 12 Aug 2011 , 2:25am
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenmat

.

The goal is right from the start to give off the "nice, but professional" vibe to all your customers: no children screaming in the background during phone calls, no wishy-washy attitudes on policies and procedures, and FIRM boundaries that are good for both you and the customer. You teach your customers how to treat you. If you begin on the right foot, you will probably stay on the right foot. And if they still treat you poorly, then they won't get a cake again from you, now will they?
)




Very good point...I have people call me and say "I want to come for a tasting on Friday the 3rd at 2:30" (or whatever.) I don't even address that, I just say that the next time I'll be doing tastings is ------ and what time on that day would be convenient for them. If you let the client set your boundaries from the beginning, get ready to keep on doing it. It's a hard thing to backtrack from.

cakesbycathy Posted 12 Aug 2011 , 11:02am
post #20 of 23

I am a home baker and I have learned to be polite but firm. I give them a hour to hour and half window to pick up the cake and then tell them I will be leaving so if they don't come and get their cake they will NOT have it.

I usually call the day before the cake is due and remind them. Most people are worried that they won't have their cake and make sure they get here duriing the scheduled time.

Coryr33 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 10:16pm
post #21 of 23

I recently had an issue with a customer that wanted the cake for friday at 12:00 pm. I stayed up really late the night before making sure it was ready for them. They didn't show up and I didn't hear from them until about 5:00 pm. They asked if I could deliver the cake and I said I couldn't. They then said that they would pick it up the following day. I gave them a chance and said okay that is fine. I didn't hear from them the entire following day and now they are mad that I gave the cake to my family to enjoy so it wouldn't go to waste. Did I do the right thing? This is the first time a customer has done this to me and I did what I thought was right.

costumeczar Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 10:18pm
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coryr33

I recently had an issue with a customer that wanted the cake for friday at 12:00 pm. I stayed up really late the night before making sure it was ready for them. They didn't show up and I didn't hear from them until about 5:00 pm. They asked if I could deliver the cake and I said I couldn't. They then said that they would pick it up the following day. I gave them a chance and said okay that is fine. I didn't hear from them the entire following day and now they are mad that I gave the cake to my family to enjoy so it wouldn't go to waste. Did I do the right thing? This is the first time a customer has done this to me and I did what I thought was right.




If they didn't pick it up when given a second chance after the first time, that's their problem. I wouldn't do any more cakes for them, either.

jules5000 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 10:44pm
post #23 of 23

coryr33, you have to be kind, but firm. I agree with all of the others. You have to set boundaries and stick with them. You gave your customer actually more than 48 hours to pick up their cake with 2 specific pick up times scheduled which they did not meet. You can't beat yourself up because they screwed up. If they bad mouth you to too many people there is a very good chance that at least one of those people is going to realize that those people are never on time for anything and I bet there is more to the story than they are telling. More than likely they are telling only part of the story. Most people have enough common sense to figure out that there is more to the story than is being told. If people are late for picking up a cake that they paid for I am sure they are the ones that are late to everything and everybody around them knows it. I doubt that you are going to lose too much business over these people.

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