Agh. Just need some advise.
I moved to a new state a little over a year ago and the 'ol business is not the same.
I frequently have interested clients who either call or email and gush about how amazing my cakes are, how delicious the flavors sound... on and on. They usually conclude with a statement about how much they'd love one to look like this and this or that, and can I please quote them a price.
Each call/email I take the time to think about what they want and come up w/ a basic idea (only in my head!) to get an idea of what I would charge. I DO have standard pricing on my webpage showing the LOWEST cost for different sizes of cakes.
Anyway, after spending time thinking hen responding with either e-mail or phone call the response I usually hear is that it's WAY over their price range.
I know this happens and I won't get every order- but I'm SO annoyed that they don't take the time to look at my pricing before they contact me. I don't walk into Nordstrom and not pay attention to how much that nice handbag costs... I see if I can afford the prices before I look.
Any ideas on how I can avoid wasting my time and brain cells on people who aren't serious on ordering?
Sending a "standard" email to all listing basic prices? But then I feel like I'm not being sensitive to each customers needs?
i see that you have a lovely website and that you include pricing information. the problem i have with it is that it's hard to get your information at a glance. using my stopwatch, i saw that it took 13 seconds to scroll through the entire page of pricing information by holding down the down arrow on the scrollbar with my mouse. it would take much longer to read it all the way through. i would consider maximizing the space you have on your site to get the more important information to your customers up front, then put the details somewhere else. it's a little disorienting because some text is colored and aligned differently than others, so it's difficult to skim through to look for what i want.
Before I even begin to put a moment's thought to a cake design, I ask the client what their cake budget is. This allows me to know right away if we will be able to do business together. If their budget is like $25, I tactfully suggest they may be better off opting for a grocery store cake.
Also your site is Flash based, and they can be notoriously difficult to navigate (plus some mobile devices can't even display Flash). It took me a while to find the pricing section on your site, and it wasn't immediately obvious where to scroll down because of the nonstandard scrollbars.
I strongly recommend having a web designer redesign your site so it is easier to use and provides more information with fewer clicks.
You should also look at your marketing strategy. Where are you advertising, what is your competitive advantage, and who is your target audience?
I was having a similar problem and have just started asking people what their budget is as well so that I can eliminate time wasters and give people something within their price range. I havn't had a problem since doing this.
my first question is always budget...my answer for a customized cake is: "I need a $50 deposit for a customized cake to start the process, so we need to me up!" something to that extent. if you weed those people out first you'll stop hearing what you don't want to hear
Yes, the budget question is very important. Ask that in the first phone call or email. Sometimes they will not want to give you a number, though. In that case, you could at least tell them where your basic pricing starts and see what their response is.
Another way knowing their budget will help is that if their original idea is way out of their budget, you can give them options. Go ahead and quote their original idea, but also give them another cheaper option that still incorporates their theme or the look they are going for.
I have to agree that looking for pricing on your website is quite difficult, and even on your pricing page, you have to do a lot of scrolling; the window where the text is, is tiny; and there seems to be a lot of information that's not about pricing that I had to weed through to find the information I wanted. It's really difficult to read, and if I was your customer, I'd give up and call you as well.
I love the idea of posting your starting price and I agree that while your site is lovely and very sophisticated, it's hard to navigate to the pricing section. The challenge is to find that happy medium between connecting with your potential client base and having a web site that is, in it self, an interesting work of art. The site that you have now is obviously developed by a skilled and creative designer...they just need to refocus for your benefit
I agree that some may not like to give out a budget figure. Sometimes it's because they have no clue on how much they want to spend or should be spending, but in my opinion its usually because of what I call "Used Car Salesman Syndrome". They fear that if they tell you they budgeted $100, then you will sell them a $100 cake .... even if there is another cake you could do for $75.
The phrasing I used that seemed to put people at ease was, "What kind of dollar figure do we want to keep this under?" for some reason, this made them more comfortable in giving me a figure.
I like Indideby's approach. If you think they'll be shy about offering up a budget,try something like this. "custom cakes can range in price from $100 to several thousand dollars, based on size and design. Before we get into the design, how many people are you needing to serve and what price would you like to keep the cake under."
I know exactly how you feel! I had pricing on my site, separate tab as well as links to it on every other page in bold, highlighted type. There was no guessing to do...at all! Every size and shape was priced. Single tier celebration cakes as well as multi tier...individually as well as popular combinations - size, servings, price. I still got calls and emails for quotes. "I just looked at your site....". I'd go check the stats to see what they viewed, and lo and behold, they'd even viewed the pricing!
All your cakes are fondant? Man if I could have done that, I might not have gotten out of the biz. I'd say fondant and people would run.
Thanks guys for all the responses!
Yes, I wondered if my pricing was hard to find, and I'll make a note about how hard it is to read and fix that.
I'll also start questioning budget from the get go. In my old area, to be honest, it was never much of a problem. Most people had oodles of disposable income and liked to "show up" everyone
Here in my new area it's def. a big deal.
Leah- yes, all fondant. I know a lot of people don't offer that but to be honest I don't like working with buttercream as a base for decoration I'm a perfectionist and I can never get it smooth as I want it to look- I only use IMBC so it doesn't crust to smooth. I have people who want the look of fondant but no fondant and I can't provide that unless I switch up recipes.
I've not ever had a bride complain. Many come saying others have warned them "no fondant" but when they taste mine, they like it!
Thanks again everyone! I'm going to start incorporating all these ideas, and am excited that it may save me a meltdown in the future
I always say "what price range do you want to stay within?" They usually say "I don't know." I have a minimum price listed on my site but no pricing specifics, so I tell people about what price range they're looking at for their guest count if they're vague on the budget.