I'm not new to cakes but new to contracts. After some sticky situations lately I have finally decided to use contracts in my cake business. It is a business after all. I made up one based on some ideas I got from CC.
But I'm a little confused on what to do when you have a customer that commits to using you but is unsure of all the details? This seems to be pretty common for brides planning many (8-12+) months in advance. So if I don't know the exact size, shape, flavor, design at the time they give me a deposit how do handle the contract thing?
Page one of my contract is the work order with name, address, description etc and the second page is the price quote and terms of the contract outlined. Both pages require signatures. What is the protocol?
The contract I have my brides sign in very general. The only personalization is the name/date at the top and the signatures at the bottom. After the consultation, I type up the whole order on my computer (as well as set up all the other aspects of the file, baking list, address book, statistical info, etc...) and email that over. They read it and respond with "I approve" - it's sort of an addendum to the contract. When they make changes, I update and resend the order agreement.
Thanks for the help KoryAK. I couldn't figure out a way to make it seem legit if most of the blanks were well left blank. I'll catch on to it one day.
I was surprised to see only one response to this question since so many CCers are experienced in the contract/legal/business area. Oh well.
My contracts contain everything. During consultations, we go over ideas, colors, servings, etc. It is initialed at the bottom of each page and then signed. I have a line in the contract that lets brides know changes are allowed before a certain time, and that finalization of the contract will occur 30 days prior to the event, when the remainder of the balance is due.
If any changes need to be made, I have an addendum page specifying the changes. We make the changes in person, or I email it to the bride, letting her know that the changes are not official until I receive an email or signed copy stating she has received and approve the changes.
Hope the helps!
Did your customers put down a small deposit to just hold the date? Or did they make a larger deposit on their orders?
I guess in my head, if no details at all were agreed upon, I would not ask for more than a non-refundable deposit to make sure they have you for the day they want. That wouldn't require anything more than a receipt to the customer (and a note stating that details needed to be confirmed and other deposits/payments due by X date), and starting a folder for them and putting their date on your calendar. Once the specifics were in place, then and only then would I have them sign a contract, and begin work on the order.
Hope this helps,
I forgot to add...
If someone wants to definitely use me but does not have the details yet, they put down the 50% deposit to hold the date, and I give them an invoice that states details are to follow and how much was paid. If it is a wedding, the deposit is based on the number of people they are inviting to the wedding and the size of the cake I can provide based on that number.
I only take a $100 non-refundable retainer that's applied to the cost of the cake, so I don't have to worry about figuring out what 50% of the final design would be. If people are vague about what they want, I write a general description of the basic idea they're looking for just to get something as a point of reference down. That way if they come back later and change to a design that's a lot more complicated I can change the cost. If you leave the design area totally empty that can get complicated.
If they have no idea what they want, you can just price it out based on your base price, and make sure to write down something like "Pricing based on price for basic design work, any changes to the final design may incur extra fees" where the design would go on your contract.
This just happened to me recently, and I ended up increasing the cost of one girl's cake because she wanted something more complicated than what she started out with.
One thing I wanted to add is that you should make sure to have a contract attorney look over your contract. Every state has different laws about what is and isn't allowed in contracts, so you should make sure that things are worded correctly for your state. I had an attorney look at my contract and it came back a page longer, with smaller type, and with places that everyone as to sign and initial.
Thanks costumeczar. I had originally thought contracts would make life easier, especially the "make sure you pay on time" and "make sure all changes are made by so and so day". But when booking brides who don't know what they want and so far in advance, it stared seeming pointless if the blanks weren't filled in.
I added a page that explained the base price, everything that price included and stated the price is subject to increase based on flavor, filling and design of finalized cake. I figured that would take care of vanilla cake turns into carrot, simple into elaborate and so on.
Hopefully I will get the kinks worked out and this will simplify things. A friend of mine is an attorney, I think I'll have him take a look at it too.
I require a 50% non-refundable deposit, so for a bride who still doesn't know what she wants I have them put down a deposit based on their estimated guest count. I write TBD (to be determined) in any blank spaces.
They then have until 30 days before the reception to work out the details.
At the 30 day mark the remaining balance is due and all details are final.