How Do I Improve My Tasting / Consult Sessions?

Decorating By Emmar308 Updated 16 Aug 2011 , 9:41pm by lilmissbakesalot

Emmar308 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 4:59pm
post #1 of 14

I have only conducted 5 or 6 tasting consultations and i really feel that i'm letting myself down in them. It's not my cakes, it's the 'chat' about the cake, what they want etc. When a client comes in, after we've talked about the wedding date, where it is, how many people etc and it comes to what they want for the decoration, i just seem to lack inspiration when someone says they don't really have any ideas! Do you have a specific set of questions you ask to get ideas on what they want? Because i've mainly done novelty cakes til now, i feel like i have no imagination when it comes to wedding cakes! Which i'm certain wouldn't inspire confidence of a client in my ability!! This is someone planning their wedding, and i want to make my consults a fun, easy experience for the client and at the moment when the client leaves I feel depressed so god knows how the client must feel!
Also, do you give a price at the consult? I kind of feel pressured having to provide a price there and then, as i'm worried i'm over (or worse under!) pricing myself! Thanks for listening xxx

13 replies
QTCakes1 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 5:10pm
post #2 of 14

Ask about their colors, the style of the wedding, if they have an invite. If you sketch, you can do a rough sketch for them and give them a price. DO NOT give them your rough sketch, ever. If they give you a deposit, you can make a better sketch and then give it to them. But with knowing their style you can get inspiration and their invite might inspire a design. You can also ask if they are into modern or traditional, which you can then ask them if they are into a more traditional round or modern square, not that you still can't cross those looks on both cake shapes. But just some ideas.

tracycakes Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 5:14pm
post #3 of 14

I have pictures of cakes I've made but I also have a separate "inspiration" book. I've printed pictures of other wedding cakes in all different styles that they can look at. Before anyone starts ranting, I make sure the customers know I didn't make these, they are for inspiration.

Also, I have cake dummies in different sizes and shapes and we play with them to come up with a design they like.

If it is something really off the wall, I ask them to let me think about it a little bit. I give them a final price if we come up with a final design and flavors. Otherwise, it's an estimate.

Just be yourself and have fun with it.

BARBARAJEAN Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 5:17pm
post #4 of 14

I always have my picture albums of cakes I have made in the past. If you have not made wedding cakes, perhaps you could have cake books or pictures off the web that you are sure you could make. I know some people would not care for the web idea, but we all have to start somewhere.

BARBARAJEAN Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 5:18pm
post #5 of 14

Tracycakes, we must have been typing at the same time.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 5:27pm
post #6 of 14

I ask them to come with a clear idea of their style. Bring their invites or their inspiration invites, their colors with swatches if they have them, cakes they love, thoughts on linens and tableware... it all can help you bring their vision to light.

Having some wedding books like Martha Stewart or Grace Ormond or the Knot and the like can be good, but they are usually lacking in cakes.. LOL.

cas17 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 5:40pm
post #7 of 14

I agree with tracycakes. it's very important have pictures of cakes that you have done but it's also helpful to have some books, cake magazines for further inspiration. i too have cake dummies to play with which everybody really loves to do. ask them to bring the invitation and photos of her dress to possibly incorporate some of those elements into the cake design. I agree it's kinda hard when you feel like you have to "pull" info out of the bride but I just go slow and show them different cakes. just ask them what they like about the cake and what they don't then things usually get narrowed down and they have a big smile once they see the cake all sketched out. i don't give my sketches out either unless a retainer has been paid but then they get a copy contract and sketch anyways.

southerncross Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 6:11pm
post #8 of 14

I don't have a formal shop so tastings and consults are done in my home. I always have the tasting when the couple are discussing the design. I ask them to bring in pictures of cake styles they like ...not that I'll be copying them. I have photos of my cakes as well as Martha Stewart's big book and several other wedding cake books for them to view.

Then I bring out the booze...yes counselling is quick but liquor is quicker!...just kidding, but I do have an inexpensive bottle of champagne (gussied up with a drop of raspberry or orange liquour) on hand at the consult/tasting. It not only gives a festive air to the consult/tasting but relaxes the couple (and whomever they have in tow). I ask them about their interests, what the dress will look like....I try to narrow down whether they are interested in a elaborate or simple style, whether they like flowers and if so what kind, will they be having a topper and what will that be (although most of my clients want sugar flowers on top).

I ask them about flavours they may like beyond what they sample. (my cake samples are french vanilla, chocolate, red velvet (after all this is the South), and one off the wall like pisachio or pina colada; my frostings/fillings are mostly mousellines flavoured with lemon, orange, chocolate hazelnut, cream cheese and strawberry. I give them a disc of regular fondant and white chocolate fondant to taste as well.

I never give them a sketch to take with them. It only comes back to bite you if in the middle of doing the cake, you have to make changes (I did a square three tiered cake in buttercream that wouldn't support the cascade of assorted sugarpaste flowers the bride had originally wanted down one side ...I made required changes and the bride never noticed...just raved over how much she loved the cake)

In all I've found that while many brides have an idea of what they want their cake to look like, they look to the cake expert for guidance. Don't be afraid to give your opinions and suggestiions.

cakegirl1973 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 6:11pm
post #9 of 14

Like people have stated above, I don't do any real sketching until I have received a deposit. Once I receive the deposit, then I usually do a couple of sketches to review with the clients. If they don't have a specific idea or style for the cake in mind, I usually do a couple of different sketches with different styles, using elements from their wedding, like the invitation or a pattern from the bride's dress. I find that using elements from the wedding, like the colors, the invites, the flowers, and the dress all can serve as wonderful sources of inspiration. Again, I don't do any of this work until they have made a deposit. Another thing to consider is the feel/tone of the room where the reception will be held. For example, I have a wedding at the end of the month where the reception is going to be held in a ballroom with a grand staircase. A small cake would not do well in such a grand room--it would be dwarfed, so we a going big on this cake. I guess what I am trying to say is to try to pull a little more information out of the prospective clients during the consultation--not just the basic information about the reception, but the little details, too. HTH!

cas17 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 7:51pm
post #10 of 14

great info being given here...particularly southerncross' champagne suggestion icon_biggrin.gif

lilmissbakesalot Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 8:32pm
post #11 of 14

Are we allowed to serve alcohol? Probably not a big deal, but I'm not sure about the rules on that. I know I can't serve coffee. If I do I'd be considered a cafe by my HD and have a different license. Tea is okay though... crazy friggin' rules... LOL. I just have the little 8 oz bottles of water for them to drink.

I'd love to serve up some champagne though... very cool. Float some raspberries in there... very nice.

cas17 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 9:30pm
post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by lilmissbakesalot

Are we allowed to serve alcohol? Probably not a big deal, but I'm not sure about the rules on that. I know I can't serve coffee. If I do I'd be considered a cafe by my HD and have a different license. Tea is okay though... crazy friggin' rules... LOL. I just have the little 8 oz bottles of water for them to drink.

I'd love to serve up some champagne though... very cool. Float some raspberries in there... very nice.

i'm taking a guess...but it's probably okay for me as i do not charge for my tastings so it's not like i'm selling alcohol??? maybe if it's complimentary it's okay? right now i give them a small bottle of water too. i'd check into it with the proper authorities before i did it tho.

Emmar308 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 9:36pm
post #13 of 14

Thankyou so much to you all - this is all great advice. I can see now that probably the big mistake i'm making is not getting them to talk more about the wedding!! It seems very obvious now! Invites, colour scheme, modern / traditional / vintage / retro, likes / dislikes, reception room, wedding venue, flowers... i think i will make myself a comprehensive prompt list for future consultations. I don't have a great selection of dummies, but i like the idea of having them available for clients to try out different styles. As for the champers....would it be rude for me to partake too??!! Thanks again for the help and for sharing your ideas icon_smile.gif

lilmissbakesalot Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 9:41pm
post #14 of 14

I don't charge either... maybe the loop hole? LOL

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