Setting Boundaries With Those Small Wedding Couples

Business By jenmat Updated 8 Dec 2011 , 3:23am by Chef_Stef

jenmat Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 2:52pm
post #1 of 51

So as I raise my prices, I have gotten fewer and fewer bridal couples who "try to cheat the system" by ordering a 2 tiered cake and sheet cakes. Now, I don't mean actual cheating, I mean they really want my cake and are trying to fit me into their budget.

I should be grateful, right? Nope. These couples for whatever reason are the most HIGH maintenance couples I tend to have! They request extra tastings, they want more design meetings, they email ALL the time about details that don't really matter, they are difficult to chase down for payment.... you get the picture.

I have a groom that is in charge of the cake, told me upfront they are trying to spend as little as possible, and are ordering the 2 tier plus sheets. Ok, fine it's a Friday wedding, no biggie we booked it.

But his tasting is this week, and they have ordered FIVE flavors, including my most expensive one, (just to TRY it mind you, not to order it) and FIVE different icings, 2 of which are technically not on my wedding menu. They are paying for the extra samples, but that isn't the point.

I want to say,"dude, you know you've only got 2 tiers, right?"

It's like since they know they are saving a bunch of money they want to make sure they get as much attention as those spending $800 on a cake. This is NOT a new thing, it happens almost any time someone orders one of these mini cakes, and it is beginning to tick me off and wastes my time.

Words of wisdom?

50 replies
aligotmatt Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 3:09pm
post #2 of 51

I have the exact same experiences here! Well, not with 5 flavors, but YES! The 2 tiers with sheet cakes couples are so high maintenance. I would either say, no, I don't offer that, or charge the same or only like .50 less for the sheet cakes per serving.

I just had someone email me yesterday with such a high maintenance email it made me cringe to read it and she wanted her cake to be so small that it just served her and her husband, but still be elegant and beautiful to match. seriously? 2 servings? No thanks...

AnnieCahill Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 3:11pm
post #3 of 51

It's tough since they are paying for it. But you could put some guidelines in place. For example, you could create a tasting menu from which the client could select the flavors. Make them flavors which can easily be altered with extracts, oils, or fruit compounds. Make the number of flavors they get to choose correspond with the number of tiers, or go one higher (so for two tiers, you can try up to three flavors). If they want anything additional or any flavors which are not offered on the list, then they have to pay for a 6" cake at x price. The same goes for second tastings. If they want to try more flavors, then they should purchase whole cakes.

Some people misinterpret the purpose of a cake tasting. It's to determine the quality of the baker's product, not an opportunity to try everything on the menu. I can hear Indydebi now...hi Pizza Hut, I'd like to try every flavor of pizza on your menu before I place my order. LOL

A tasting is a business meeting and you have to try hard to drill that into their minds. Good luck!

kakeladi Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 3:19pm
post #4 of 51

Have a minimum price for weddings? Like cakes costing over $500? OR a certain # of servings?

I think it was IndyDebi who said they only get a choice of choco and vanilla; anything else is still CAKE, they will know it is moist and delicious etc, no need to go into each and every flavor possible.

When I had my shops I would usually offer choco and white then they got their choice of one. IF I had another flavor on hand I would throw it in there too. I don't know if it makes a difference but I didn't go into making a tasting a dining pleasure. After trying several different ways & ending up throwing out 1/2 the cake they were presented, I settled on giving each person a 1x2x2 piece of each flavor and often put fondant on one of them. This was given on a 6" disposable plate with tea or water to drink.

Cakechick123 Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 4:11pm
post #5 of 51

You can say that cakes below x servings ( or a certain $$) can only taste 2/3 flavours picked from a list. Sheet cakes dont count IMO icon_smile.gif

I have a "budget" range, brides can only choose from a few designs, no tastings, whole cake must be one flavour. This is then a bit lower per serving because I cut out a lot of the hassle with brides that has very small budgets. I find that a lot of them goes for this option because they can then get a 3 tier cake for almost the same price as a 2 tier. I give them references that they can contact to confirm the quality of the cake.

cupadeecakes Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 5:04pm
post #6 of 51

For weddings under a certain serving size (under 100) I do not offer a tasting or a design consultation. If you want that, I charge a fee. I consider it just like a birthday or other party cake. We work out the details over e-mail and you get one free re-design. The number of samples you get at your tasting also relates back to how many you are feeding. A cake for 101 gets 2 free samples, and then you pay for any additional samples you would like. The more cake you want to buy, the more willing I am to bake up samples for you.

I agree that small cakes can eat up all your time if you let it. Prepare some documentation for your budget brides so that they know what to expect upfront while letting them know that each perk is also available for an extra fee.

mariacakestoo Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 5:18pm
post #7 of 51

Do you do enough work (do you charge enough is really what I mean) to cut out sheet cakes all together? I have never offered them, and I'm glad when I see stories like this.

cakegirl1973 Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 5:31pm
post #8 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariacakestoo

Do you do enough work (do you charge enough is really what I mean) to cut out sheet cakes all together? I have never offered them, and I'm glad when I see stories like this.




I agree. Maybe don't stop offering sheet cakes altogether, if it is worth it to keep offering them for some of your orders. You could put a minimum for you to do them. For example, no sheetcakes for orders less than $500. This would probably eliminate this kind of client from ordering from you, if you can afford to lose them.

jenmat Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 6:12pm
post #9 of 51

Thanks everyone for the ideas, I definitely need to give it more thought! Keep bringing on the wisdom!

The sheet cake thing comes into play because the weddings in my area are extremely large. 250 people average, and many are in the 400 person range. That means a very big cake, and also means that the brides will go somewhere that does offer sheet cakes because they don't want a 8 tiered cake. I don't want to loose the big wedding business, just the el-cheapo couples.

Some thoughts- maybe a minimum tiers to qualify for sheet cakes? Like 75 servings or 3 tiers? I also thought that maybe if I nix delivery on 2 tiered weddings that will chase them all away.

The sad thing is that these weddings often take a spot that would have gone to bigger weddings. I turn couples away ALL the time, and it is frustrating when I have filled a spot with a small cake only to be contacted by a bride with a much bigger budget later.

I live 20-30 minutes away from any of my delivery venues, so I can only do so many cakes per weekend, nor do I want to pack delivery days so full that I'm a wreck. Maybe if I didn't deliver those small weddings I would be able to still take the big cakes too.

As far as the tasting issue, I'm going to have to suck it up for this particular one, but I think I may limit tasting options for these couples in the future, even if it makes me sound like a great big meanie.

Darn you wedding magazines- the suggestion of a 2 tier with sheet cakes is sooo lame! Who wants to look at their wedding photos later and see them couple bent over cutting a 35 serving cake?!

CalhounsCakery Posted 14 Nov 2011 , 6:15pm
post #10 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

I can hear Indydebi now...hi Pizza Hut, I'd like to try every flavor of pizza on your menu before I place my order. LOL




icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

costumeczar Posted 15 Nov 2011 , 12:25am
post #11 of 51

I'd limit tastings to a certain number of servings or above, but a lot of weddings around here have gotten a lot smaller and people won't hire you without a tasting. I don't mind doing tastings for people with small weddings, but they do tend to be the most demanding clients. I had one groom call to arrange a tasting for a cake for 35 people, and then said that since the bride's parents were going to be in town the tasting would be "something fun" for them to come along to. I put the kibosh on that right away. They hired me, but the groom sent the contract back with all kinds of corrections made on my deposit policy etc. so I had to "educate" him about that.

I think that your best bet would be to say no sheet cakes without a certain number of servings on the main cake. I also charge only about 25 cents less per serving for sheet cakes than I do for stacked cakes, so unless they have 400 guests it doesn't save them enough to justify giving up having a larger cake. Maybe do a minimum 100 servigns on the wedding cake before you'll do a sheet. That will prevent a lot of nonsense.

JanH Posted 15 Nov 2011 , 1:05am
post #12 of 51

Indydebi advises that it's faster (and therefore cheaper) for her to make one large wedding cake rather than a small wedding cake and sheet cakes so the budget minded couple doesn't get charged less for creating more work for her:

Sheet cakes .... why?

http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/search/label/sheet%20cakes

HTH

QTCakes1 Posted 15 Nov 2011 , 4:27pm
post #13 of 51

I don't have to decorate a sheet cake, so how could it be more time consuming then a 6-tiered cake? icon_confused.gif Cheaper no, quicker, yes. Less cakes to bake and less to decorate.

Anyway, I think having a tiered minimum to go with sheet cakes is a great idea. And I do think it would look silly to have 400 guest and a picture with a 2-tiered cake.

leah_s Posted 15 Nov 2011 , 4:59pm
post #14 of 51

During the phone convo I always asked, "And how many guests are you expecting?" My next question was based on the number provided.

(If the answer was 50 or fewer) me, "You can taste one flavor of cake from our tasting menu. Would you like to taste x,y,z,a,b,c,. Please choose one."

(If the answer was 51-100) me, "You can taste two flavors of cake from our tasting menu. Would you like to taste x,y,z,a,b,c,. Please choose two."Over 100 expected guests and they could choose three.

I NEVER offered more than three. The samples were covered in bc, I had a ball of fondant if they wanted to try that, and samples of 2-3 fillings is lidded souffle cups to share.

Done.

But what if they wanted a flavor not on the tasting menu? "Those are available for purchase. The free flavors for tasting are the ones I listed on the tasting menu."

Done again. Srsly, you have to take control right from the beginning.

And I agree. The smallest budget brides are the biggest headaches.

jenmat Posted 16 Nov 2011 , 2:42am
post #15 of 51

Soooo.... God does have a sense of humor.

I met with them tonight, and turns out they liked everything so much that they decided on a 4 tier fondant cake, and table cakes for the parents, AND sheets to supplement.
Grand total $900.

Still need to put limits on those 2 tiered couples, but I'm glad that emails don't come with "what she was really thinking" thought bubbles....icon_smile.gif

AnnieCahill Posted 16 Nov 2011 , 11:54am
post #16 of 51

That's great! Glad to hear everything worked out well.

QTCakes1 Posted 16 Nov 2011 , 5:03pm
post #17 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenmat

Soooo.... God does have a sense of humor.

I met with them tonight, and turns out they liked everything so much that they decided on a 4 tier fondant cake, and table cakes for the parents, AND sheets to supplement.
Grand total $900.




icon_eek.gif So happy for you that it worked out, BUT $900 for all that cake?! I think I live in an average mid cost area, $3.00 base for buttercream, I'm looking at at least $1500 for all that work. Are prices so much lower in your area? Just wondering.

imagenthatnj Posted 16 Nov 2011 , 5:22pm
post #18 of 51

QTCakes1, I think the OP prices are approximate to the one you have there. The 4-tier cake is not that big, I believe. Her prices are in her website in the wedding section.

jenmat, you do great work. If you were in my area, you'd be making tons of money.

KoryAK Posted 16 Nov 2011 , 6:23pm
post #19 of 51

We have a minimum of 100 servings in the main cake before kitchen cakes are incorporated. This gives them a much nicer showpiece cake too - 2 tier cakes are so sad icon_sad.gif (when seen at a wedding attended by 250 people)

loriemoms Posted 16 Nov 2011 , 11:58pm
post #20 of 51

I set a mim too, on how big the "main cake" has to be before they go to sheet cakes. Mine is 100 servings. This really stops the "budget" couples...and I agree, they always seem more high maintenance.
As far as tastings, I have a set menu for tastings and if they want to try something else, I make them buy a little sample cake.

jenmat Posted 17 Nov 2011 , 12:47am
post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagenthatnj

QTCakes1, I think the OP prices are approximate to the one you have there. The 4-tier cake is not that big, I believe. Her prices are in her website in the wedding section.

jenmat, you do great work. If you were in my area, you'd be making tons of money.




Aww, thanks! I'd probably have a LOT more competition too!

The 4 tier is only 130 servings, so not huge, but much bigger than the 35 serving cake they started with. My prices are 3rd highest in my area, only outdone by 2 in-town storefronts who focus on Euro baking. So I'm pretty competitive.

Of course any of you in a higher-end area would poo yourselves if you knew how little it cost to build my custom home with the basement bakery and wooded lot! icon_lol.gif So I suppose it evens out sometimes!!!

jmullican6 Posted 17 Nov 2011 , 1:50am
post #22 of 51

One of the things I'm offering now is to do the main bride's cake completely out of styrofoam and then having sheet cakes for serving. I'm loving this! This way the super big weddings don't have to have an 8 tier cake, but the smaller weddings can still have a 3 tier cake.

Because styrofoam is so much easier to work with (no supports or soft cake to try and cover with fondant), I can charge a little less for the "wedding cake" and then I only have to deal with sheet cakes to ice.

I usually do 2 layer sheet cakes so the pieces look like and regular serving of wedding cake. Brides love it because they don't have to track someone down to cut the cake. And, the cake is a lovely centerpiece throughout the reception.

I love it because I can decorate the wedding cake at my leisure and only have to deal with sheet cakes the night before or the day of the wedding. It's a win/win for everyone!

DDiva Posted 17 Nov 2011 , 2:13am
post #23 of 51

I am happy to say that I have completely eliminated tastings from my life!!!
On the Second Saturday of each month we have an event called Cupcake Saturday. It is a promotion that we started last year when we moved to another city after the tornado destroyed my business.

It has become quite the event!! I usually have 8-10 different flavors, and we sell them for only $1 each. I now suggest to potential wedding customers (and others as well) that they come to this event instead of a tasting (for which I charge a $50 fee and only offer one 6" cake that they can take with them). It has worked like a charm!!

We sell almost 200 cupcakes each time and the event only runs for 4 hours!! We have wedding planners sending their clients to our event. It's casual, no stress, I don't have to 'serve' someone free cake and use an hour of my time 'hoping' for their business.

I don't know anyone who offers 8-10 flavors at a tasting, and apparently neither do the brides, because we are swamped every month. We advertise the event everywhere that we can for free--FB, email, local tv and radio bulletin boards, etc.

I'm with Indydebi, I just don't understand the need to taste a bunch of different cake flavors in order to decide if you like the way I bake. As one of my cake decorator customers asked recently, 'how did this craziness get started? Where else do you get free food?"

I know some people love doing tastings, but I got tired of people not showing up; bringing more people than they were supposed to, and the final straw was the couple that whispered to each other as they were leaving (and didn't know I was behind the man) "Well, let's head to the next place. We should have enough free cake for the party tonight after we hit the other two places". Seriously??? After that I changed ALL of the tasting rules.

Just thought I'd offer an alternative that can really help your business.

QTCakes1 Posted 17 Nov 2011 , 2:57am
post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by DDiva

"Well, let's head to the next place. We should have enough free cake for the party tonight after we hit the other two places". Seriously??? After that I changed ALL of the tasting rules.




icon_eek.gificon_surprised.gificon_surprised.gificon_surprised.gif I can not believe someone would do this!!! I just have no words. I mean, I just don't know what the heck is going on with us as a people these days.

VMesser Posted 17 Nov 2011 , 3:53am
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by aligotmatt

she wanted her cake to be so small that it just served her and her husband, but still be elegant and beautiful to match. seriously? 2 servings? No thanks...




LOL! How Do ya make a 2 serving cake...LOL!
2 Cupcakes Maybe ?

LKing12 Posted 17 Nov 2011 , 4:30am
post #26 of 51

I charge a fee for my tastings. They can choose 3 flavors of cake and I choose the icing flavors to compliment what they chose.

I ice cupcakes with plain butter cream and put the flavored icing in souffle cups. I pack 6 of each flavor in a box and send them on their way. Six of each flavor allows others to taste and I am not out any expense for the cupcakes that I sold them or have to sit there while they try to decide.

Also, there are not 6 people at the tasting adding to the confusion. I ask them to bring pictures with them and then when we talk later I have an idea about what they want.

VMesser Posted 17 Nov 2011 , 5:11am
post #27 of 51

jenmat1st I would like to say your cakes are "A+++++++Awesome" I hope one day to be as talented as you. Seriously think of what DDiva suggested. icon_smile.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by DDiva

I am happy to say that I have completely eliminated tastings from my life!!!




DDiva you hit it right on the nose what I was thinking before I got to your post.

I was thinking : There are Bakers that bake a cake for a Tasting and then have to throw the rest of the cake out? Mind You that I don't bake professionally. Nor have I ever made a Weeding Cake before. My 1st one will be for My Daughter's Wedding here in 10 days.

So I was thinking why not make up some cup cakes or even some mini cakes. I have this cake pan i just bought a few weeks ago that makes those mini loaf cakes. You can have them at the ready for your tasters by freezing them up and just doing a defrost for the tasting appointment. I have read that a lost of bakers prefer freezing there cakes because they make them more moist and other reasons ect.

You can do like DDiva brilliantly explained and pick up some bottle waters at the store . Either give them to them for free or sale them to them for 25 cents or even 50 cents. Make up a brew up some coffee or Tea or even Sweet Tea and charge 50 cents. [I didn't do the math on the math on the coffee or tea but don't forget to add in the cost of the cups, straws, sweeteners, creamers and ect]

Plus every thing else that DDiva said. icon_biggrin.gif


Quote:
Originally Posted by DDiva

"Well, let's head to the next place. We should have enough free cake for the party tonight after we hit the other two places". Seriously??? After that I changed ALL of the tasting rules.




Wow! I'm speechless. Wow! icon_evil.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

They hired me, but the groom sent the contract back with all kinds of corrections made on my deposit policy etc. so I had to "educate" him about that.




Man I must be reading this wrong???? The Groom went and rewrote your "Deposit Policy" for you? hhhuuuhhhh? LOL! That was nice of him to do....lol.... but No Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

I can hear Indydebi now...hi Pizza Hut, I'd like to try every flavor of pizza on your menu before I place my order. LOL




Calling Pizza Hut Right Now ....hehehehe man I hope it works icon_lol.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by jenmat

Soooo.... God does have a sense of humor.

I met with them tonight, and turns out they liked everything so much that they decided on a 4 tier fondant cake, and table cakes for the parents, AND sheets to supplement.
Grand total $900.

Still need to put limits on those 2 tiered couples, but I'm glad that emails don't come with "what she was really thinking" thought bubbles....icon_smile.gif



Way to go!! Awesome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

Done again. Srsly, you have to take control right from the beginning.




Awesomely said! I would love to do business with ya. I think some people crave people that take control. Well in a nicely way. Just as you have stated. Made a note how you handled things so that if My Love ever grows into a business I will have it straight. Thank You leah_s

VMesser Posted 18 Nov 2011 , 3:05am
post #28 of 51

I was just thinking. $1 per cupcake might be to cheap or if you make the personal cakes from a mini pan. I don't know if that Cake Boss software would figure out the cost on mini cakes or even cupcakes but since I dont' have a total need nor the money for the software I figured out on a piece of paper what it would cost me per a basic cupcake to make.

Even down to the vanilla in the icing Meringue Powder. I know that it cost about 45 cents for 3 eggs in a cake mix and ect. I know you might have already know this but I thought i might list it since it escaped me the 1st time around. Cause if some of your batters cost more than others you might need to adjust the prices a bit. Also with the icings or fondant that they might want to try on a cupcake or mini cake. To see how each one reacts to each other.

Man I hope that a business grows and big enough so tha tI can have a taste testing event like this :0) woooo hooo! K sorry to much sugar in the air and in me to day hehehehhehehe icon_biggrin.gif

JanH Posted 18 Nov 2011 , 6:23am
post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by QTCakes1

I don't have to decorate a sheet cake, so how could it be more time consuming then a 6-tiered cake? icon_confused.gif Cheaper no, quicker, yes. Less cakes to bake and less to decorate.




Indydebi's included link is self-explanatory on both points. icon_smile.gif

Tails Posted 18 Nov 2011 , 7:06am
post #30 of 51

Just a point, being someone who is currently shopping for a wedding cake for myself, I fit into this "nightmare group":

1) i'm having a small wedding, 50 guests MAX.
2) i would only have a 2 tier, no larger.
3) i would hope for a tasting that included more than 1 flavour.

My view on the tasting is that it IS there to taste the FLAVOURS. I dont need to determine the quality of a baker, cos chances are, I've sampled a slice of cake from them before somehow or I've been sent there via a friend or a good review. However, not everyone's flavours are equal. And I'm not about to chance ordering a cherry flavour based on the fact the chocolate was nice.

I'll give you an example. My boss had a birthday this year and the company bought a chocolate cake which was of course cut up and dished out. This cake was DIVINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Being on the lookout for a baker, I got the name and checked their website. Turns out they do a few flavours. So, I would go to them for a TASTING. I already know their quality is amazing, but I havent tried more than their chocolate cake. Maybe their vanilla is a bit on the flavourless side? Maybe their red velvet is dry. Hell, I've never even had red velvet, maybe I dont like it at all.

My point is, while I wouldnt expect 8 flavours in a tasting, I would expect at least 3. Perhaps more if I were buying a larger cake. There was someone on page one who said if they're having 50 guests or less they taste 1 flavour....to me, thats somewhat unfair. Just because I'm not spending $1000+ doesnt mean my wedding is any less special to me.

I understand that businesses get these jumped up brides who think the world revolves around them, and I agree they need to be curbed, but what I'm saying is dont cut out the small brides. Not all of us are egotistical and greedy. icon_smile.gif

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