Free Cake? Really?

Business By vgcea Updated 28 Jan 2012 , 2:01am by kger

vgcea Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 1:53am
post #1 of 24

Hi everyone. Since it's finally legal to have a home-bakery in Texas I'm looking to take my caking hobby to another level.

For years I've baked and given away many of my cakes-- I figured the practice was worth the cost. Now I'm transitioning to actually charging for my cakes, mostly for the ingredients but I'm having trouble carrying my friends and acquaintances along. They EXPECT free cake just because I've given it away for so long. I've even had coworkers have the nerve to complain "oh I prefer x cake but you made y, can you bring x the next time?" or "You haven't brought us cake in xyz days, we want cake!" or "You're giving me xyz cake for my birthday but I want abc cupcakes!" REALLY? I have to remind them it's a "free" cake that cost me money and time and I'll bring "free" cake when I have the time and resources (interpretation: when I decide to practice on a recipe or design or feel like giving away a cake).

A few days ago I had this acquaintance (I see her around and say hi every now and then) text me out of the blue talking about "I need your services for this weekend, are you available?" She wants vanilla cupcakes with a brownie base and "only wants 16-20." I suspected she wanted free cake but I just could not believe that someone who barely knows me would have the nerve to imperially request my "services" for free. I text her back (with slightly professional tone) indicating that I provide cupcakes by the dozen, and if she is considering placing an order, we should talk to iron out the details. I never hear back from her.

Short of being rude, I don't know how to get across the message that the era of "free" cake is done. I will still give cakes out for free but that would be at my discretion for purposes that suit me and my budding business. Please help, how do I communicate to people around me that if they want my cakes they're going to have to start bringing out the wallets rather than expecting it for free?

23 replies
karateka Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 1:57am
post #2 of 24

You have to expect that they will still ask for free cake. You've conditioned them to it, and it will be a while until they get the message.

Have some business cards ready, tell them to call you to discuss their budget. Smile sweetly!

They'll catch on eventually.

vgcea Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 2:02am
post #3 of 24

That's a great idea karateka. Funny thing is, I ordered business cards a few days ago. Now I have an even stronger motivation for handing those suckers out . icon_lol.gif

Cakery2012 Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 2:22am
post #4 of 24

Do you have a break room or bulletin board for annoucements at work . Maybe even a flyer that annouces your service.

BizCoCos Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 2:24am
post #5 of 24

The business card is definitely the way to go, yet, I would add another layer, post and give out flyers at work and to friends, keep it business friendly, announcing your new business and a partial list of items and cost, for example, 12 cupcakes list say 5 flavors, at $30.00 a dozen, simple buttercream cakes serves 20 at $80.00 and so forth. Best of luck to you.

vgcea Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 2:34am
post #6 of 24

Adding flyers is definitely a great idea and including some pricing info would help get past that awkward part when the potential client is coming to term with the fact that the cake is not going to be free. I am so glad I posted my concern. I would never have come up with these ideas myself. Thank you!

step0nmi Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 2:49am
post #7 of 24

sometimes a simple "what's your budget!?" question will start the conversation going on what their expectations are after requesting your services. If they say "i thought you do free cakes?" then you obviously go on to say you are trying to do business and these are my xx prices. fliers are also a good idea icon_wink.gif

LisaPeps Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 8:43am
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by step0nmi

sometimes a simple "what's your budget!?" question will start the conversation going on what their expectations are after requesting your services. If they say "i thought you do free cakes?" then you obviously go on to say you are trying to do business and these are my xx prices. fliers are also a good idea icon_wink.gif




That is what I was going to suggest as well. Before you even mention any design or flavour, ask 'what is your budget?' and you'll see where you stand.

vgcea Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 7:31pm
post #9 of 24

I like that. Asking what the budget is sorta puts things in perspective for me and the person. Another great idea. Thank you!

AZCouture Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 7:51pm
post #10 of 24

Now that you're in business, forget the co workers. You need a new audience, clients. Coworkers are generally not clients. It's too casual. Casual = uncomfortable communication and expectations that you will be casual with pricing.

jgifford Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 7:52pm
post #11 of 24

I'm in exactly the same situation. My dh and I had planned on opening a shop in the spring, but since the Cottage Food Law went into effect, we decided to go that way since we could do it sooner and with SO much less hassle. I've got the business cards, flyers and just placed my first ad; unfortunately, I'm not able to post flyers or pass out cards at work. icon_sad.gif

My response when someone asks where the goodies are? When were you planning on placing an order? It's all said with a smile, but gets my point across.

indydebi Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 10:57pm
post #12 of 24

when my co-workers would ask "When are you bringing in more cookies?", I'd reply, "As soon as I get your check that reserves your time slot in my oven." icon_twisted.gif

Kiddiekakes Posted 26 Jan 2012 , 11:56pm
post #13 of 24

Ha!Ha Indy.....too funny but needs to be said!!

vgcea Posted 27 Jan 2012 , 4:01am
post #14 of 24

Today a coworker walked up to me and said, "No cake?" I told her I've been busy. She goes, "That's no excuse." I told her, "the only way you will guarantee that I come in here with a cake is if you place an order." That got her quiet. Sometimes I feel like I have dug myself into a hole with all this free stuff I've been handing out. Well thanks to the guidance I've gotten here, I'm on my way out of that hole!

kakeladi Posted 27 Jan 2012 , 4:33am
post #15 of 24

Maybe you should somehow mention that before it was Il-legal to charge for your cakes but now the laws has changed and you are ready to accept orders.

BizCoCos Posted 27 Jan 2012 , 2:17pm
post #16 of 24

@kakeladi, good idea. Yes, people do get used to free cake but what a group at op's workplace, lol.

cakesbycathy Posted 27 Jan 2012 , 3:28pm
post #17 of 24

You could also send out an email thanking everyone for being such good guinea pigs and allowing you to try out new recipes and designs on them. Explain that now that it is legal for you to sell cakes you are excited to be turning your love of cakes into a business. Attach a price list.

When someone asks for a cake you hand them a price list and a business card and smile and say "Great! What's your budget?" If they want to know why they can't have it for free or cheap you say with a smile "Oh I just can't afford to do that anymore. I'm sure you understand."

Also I agree with a PP. You need to look other places besides work and friends and family for clients. If they are used to getting free treats they are NOT going to want to pay now. Do not expect them to be a source of orders for you.

vgcea Posted 27 Jan 2012 , 4:12pm
post #18 of 24

Thank you all so much for the responses. Yes my coworkers are definitely a handful lol.

Apti Posted 27 Jan 2012 , 6:03pm
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy

You could also send out an email thanking everyone for being such good guinea pigs and allowing you to try out new recipes and designs on them. Explain that now that it is legal for you to sell cakes you are excited to be turning your love of cakes into a business. Attach a price list.

When someone asks for a cake you hand them a price list and a business card and smile and say "Great! What's your budget?" If they want to know why they can't have it for free or cheap you say with a smile "Oh I just can't afford to do that anymore. I'm sure you understand."

Also I agree with a PP. You need to look other places besides work and friends and family for clients. If they are used to getting free treats they are NOT going to want to pay now. Do not expect them to be a source of orders for you.




This post is nearly word-for-word what I was going to write.

Since you will be transitioning into a business, you now need to PLAN and ACT like a business.

First, I suggest you read this excellent article: http://www.cakeboss.com/PricingGuideline.aspx
You should also purchase the software and load all the required information on your computer. (You will find all sorts of reviews online that are very positive about the CakeBoss business software.)

Second, create a business plan.
http://articles.bplans.com/writing-a-business-plan

Third, As CakesbyCathy says, "You need to look other places besides work and friends and family for clients. If they are used to getting free treats they are NOT going to want to pay now. Do not expect them to be a source of orders for you."

Good luck in your new endeavor. The business forum here on CakeCentral has a ton of valuable advice.

vgcea Posted 28 Jan 2012 , 12:05am
post #20 of 24

Thank you for the great advice cakesbycathy and Apti. I plan to purchase the cake boss software sometime next month (most of my budget this month went to registering the LLC). I tried to come up with an appropriate price for a dozen (custom) cupcakes the other day and have a new appreciation for anything that would make that process easier and more accurate.

I do have a business plan, spent the last 4 months on it. What had been holding me back from implementing my marketing plan was
1. registering my business name (which finally happened this week WOOOHOOOO!!! icon_biggrin.gif ) I didn't want to publicize a name only to find out it was not available.
2. Honestly I feel somewhat anxious, this is new territory for me and on some days I'm amazed that I am going through with this. My comfort zone is oh so comfy but I know I've got to leap out in faith that this will work.

From all these responses I'm getting the impression that I need to step away from the familiar people and places, and take on a more professional persona. I see now that my language must change to reflect that I am running a business with bills to pay. A business that has cost so much in time, sweat and tears to get to this point. I think keeping that in mind will help me charge prices that are appropriate for my products and services.

My work is definitely cut out for me but I know by God's grace I CAN do this.

inspiredbymom Posted 28 Jan 2012 , 12:34am
post #21 of 24

When I bought my first round of cards, a local business person told me to make sure that I hand out more than one to each person. That way they keep one for themselves and pass the others on. It has worked well for me. I also have a matching sticker that I put on my boxes so when I deliver something, everybody there gets to see where it is from. Having said that, good luck weening your co-workers from the "free cake" bottle. That can and will be tough. Best wishes to you and your new business! icon_smile.gif

Apti Posted 28 Jan 2012 , 12:55am
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea

I do have a business plan, spent the last 4 months on it. What had been holding me back from implementing my marketing plan was
1. registering my business name
2. this is new territory for me ... My comfort zone is oh so comfy

From all these responses I'm getting the impression that I need to step away from the familiar people and places, and take on a more professional persona. I see now that my language must change to reflect that I am running a business with bills to pay. A business that has cost so much in time, sweat and tears to get to this point. I think keeping that in mind will help me charge prices that are appropriate for my products and services.




Good for you! Sounds like you are definitely on the right track. A business plan is ESSENTIAL; as is "a more professional persona". It will not be easy, and you will have to remind yourself on a daily basis that THIS IS A BUSINESS. Implement your business plan ideas to target the appropriate market who will pay custom cake prices (not family and co-workers or friends).

One of the best resources available for start-up bakers is the Cake Decorating Business Forum here on CakeCentral. You will see problems and learn from those mistakes. You will read responses from some VERY savvy, professional people who are successful. I wish you well.

jason_kraft Posted 28 Jan 2012 , 1:00am
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by inspiredbymom

When I bought my first round of cards, a local business person told me to make sure that I hand out more than one to each person. That way they keep one for themselves and pass the others on. It has worked well for me. I also have a matching sticker that I put on my boxes so when I deliver something, everybody there gets to see where it is from.



We attach a few business cards to the invoice for every order that goes out the door, so people who eat the cake can take one home if they like it. If the order is going to a school or venue we haven't been to before, we will bring several dozen cards and leave them with the receptionist or venue manager if possible after giving them our elevator pitch.

kger Posted 28 Jan 2012 , 2:01am
post #24 of 24

I posted something on FB about becoming a bonafide business and have been updating every so often. Like, LLC has been formed! Business license received! Logo in progress!, etc. My friends who have previously been the recipients of freebies are now asking if they can be my customer, which is kind of nice.

I did have a text from someone who I was pretty sure was going to assume cake would be free. I contemplated just telling her I was busy that day, but I decided to just reply that I could do it for $35. Certainly not what I would actually like to charge, but I needed to wean her off of freebies. Plus, I was able to experiment with a new design and RIT, so it worked out just fine.

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