CakeItGood Posted 23 Feb 2012 , 11:24pm
post #1 of

So I know this topic has been beat to death here already, and we really NEED one more thread on it, right?

I am working with a bride that really is resisting the cake tasting fee. I don't think the fee is unreasonable, and it does weed out the wishy washy "lets get some free cake" clients. However, I don't think anyone else in my area is charging a tasting fee. While I don't "need" the her cake business, I would like to have it, even though the cake will be small (appx 50 servings).

My policy has been $20 tasting fee for up to 2 cake flavors (any flavor on my menu, custom made for them at a mutually convenient time), and that fee applies towards the purchase of a cake of $150 or more. Otherwise, they have paid $20. As with many of us here, I am a small operation, not a large bakery with many samples available in glass cases. I have resisted freezing samples in advance, because never freezing a cake is part of what sets me apart from the competition.

I am contemplating freezing mini cupcakes in advance for brides with cakes less than $150. That, or changing my policy altogether and eliminating the $20 fee if brides choose from flavors that are already made up. I hate losing cakes over "Free Tastings", especially when I have tried the competitors cakes, LOL! Every bride that has tried my cake has booked. Every time.

Would love your opinions! Thanks!

35 replies
MKC Posted 23 Feb 2012 , 11:56pm
post #2 of

I only give tastings to cakes over $300 and limit my tastings to 2 cake flavors and 2 buttercream flavors. I won't even offer tasting for cakes below that amount. It's not worth it even if they paid $20. They can always purchase my smallest tier. I haven't had any complaints yet.

I don't freeze cakes either but I do freeze the batter. So when I need one or two servings for tasting, it's easily done and it tastes fresh.

madcobbler Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 12:00am
post #3 of

I think freezing cupcake samples would be fine. It's a good way to use up leftover batter from previous orders. I always have the 5 basic flavors (lemon, carrot, chocolate, butter, and white) that most clientele seem to order in my freezer in 4" rounds. I offer 2 for free. If they want to sample specialty flavors such as pink champagne or pina colada for example then they can order a 6" cake for $20. Not all bakers waive the tasting fee even if they book the order.

jason_kraft Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 12:16am
post #4 of

We offer to-go tastings only, consultations are done over the phone and via email. For $30 you get up to 3 cake flavors (may or may not be frozen depending on stock) and 3 frosting or filling choices, cakes are unfrosted and cut from 6" rounds with a cookie cutter, and frostings/fillings are packaged in separate deli containers. Additional flavors of cake, frosting, or filling are $10 each. The cost is not applied to future orders, but anyone is free to order the tasting package.

Cakery2012 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 12:50am
post #5 of

Cakeitgood , what size are your 2 Custom made flavor cakes.I dont usually sell cakes but 2 custom cakes even and a face to face consulation for a mere $20 then putting told a wedding cake . Is that worth your ingredients and time? It wouldnt be to me.

If I ever start selling wedding cakes just from reading all these suggestions I would freeze left over batter and bake cupcakes fresh
. Its like someone said so they get an idea of your baking skills not a flavor sampler. And like Indy Deb said she
doesnt turn on the oven for less than $50.

annacakes Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 12:57am
post #6 of

In my business (small teaching studio and cake shop) we sell the 6" cakes in whatever flavour they wish to try (choice of fillings, buttercream and/or fondant) for $20.00. Many people ask about tastings this year...but we can't afford to turn the oven on to make free cakes. It has not been an issue at all. Some brides use the cakes at a dinner party with their wedding party to critique!

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 12:59am
post #7 of

Is she the only one so far that has had a problem with your tasting fee? If everyone else has been fine with it, I wouldn't necessarily change your policy just because one person is being cheap.

However, it is worth considering that none of your competition charges for tastings. Thats the reason we offer free tastings, because no one in our city charges for them (That I know of). That could be why she is resisting, because she can't understand why you charge.

Ultimately, you have to decide what works best for you, regardless. But again, if charging a small fee has worked fine up to this point, you may want to just stand by your policy and let this bride decide how much it means to her.

CLW Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 1:17am
post #8 of

Last year I had a woman ask for 8 different flavor combinations to taste test. Gimme a break. 8!!!!!! I made 4 and didn't want to do that. Some people have no idea.

PieceofCakeAZ Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 1:43am
post #9 of

Unless the majority of potential customers that you come into contact with find your policy unacceptable and decide not to do business with you for that reason, I wouldn't change it.

Despite what some customers think, as small business owners none of us make up policies just to be jerks icon_smile.gif, there are very specific business reasons for each policy we have adopted. Sometimes those policies will preclude someone from being a customer but every customer is not a fit for every company (Range Rover has a policy of charging $70K for the SUV I would like, therefore I choose to drive a Honda Pilot.) icon_biggrin.gif

Best of luck!

costumeczar Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:18am

It seems like it's always the people with the smallest cakes who want the most for free...

I do tastings all on one day back to back, so I don't have samples sitting around. I also don't have unlimited time slots to give to people who will be ordering $150 worth of cake and taking up free samples and my time that someone who will be ordering a larger cake could be taking.

So...I tell people who have smaller cakes that I don't do tastings for cakes that size. If they get snotty about it at that point in the process God only knows what they'll be like down the road. I had one groom call and ask me about a cake for 35 people. I had an open time slot for the following day, so I said why not, go ahead and come to an appointment. Then he said "Our parents will be in town, so that will be something fun for them to come to." I put a stop to that right away and told him that only he and the bride could come because a cake that size was like a birthday cake and I was making an exception for him to come to a tasting at all. Every extra person at a tasting is extra $$$ out of the profit from the cake, so forget it.

KoryAK Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:34am

If she intends to buy a cake from you, then she has nothing to worry about with the $20 - it's going towards her cake anyway. If she's not getting a cake from you then you don't need to waste your time meeting with her icon_smile.gif

Maybe let her know that is she books on the spot you won't even worry about the $20 (IDK about you but that's what I do)

CakeItGood Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:02pm

Thank you for your responses! You have given me a lot to think about, some great ideas.

With no one else in the area charging for tastings, I have decided to be more flexible. I am working on a new policy of freezing mini cupcakes each time I make a cake for a client, and a bride can choose an additional flavor to be made up for a flat fee, which won't go towards the cost of the wedding cake. Will probably limit in person consultations as well, they take quite a bit of time and usually can be accomplished by phone or email anyway.

Around here, most of the brides that choose smaller cakes are coming in from out of town vs. "the budget bride". They are usually fun to work with, and I like to do what I can to accommodate them while not bending over too far backwards.

cakesbycathy Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 4:02pm

First, I think you have to do what's best for yourself and your business.

That said - if no one else in your area charges for tastings I can see why someone would balk at having to pay for a tasting with you. You'd really have to have a convincing arguement as to why some one should schedule and pay for a tasting with you verses getting one for free. It doesn't matter that everyone who has a tasting with you books. You have to get them there first.

I look at tastings as a chance for the bride and groom to get an idea of my baking and decorating style/skill. My cakes are moist and delicious icon_smile.gif If you like my chocolate cake, you'll like my lemon. It's just as good but it taste like lemon.

My tastings are free and the bride gets to sample 2 or 3 flavors of whatever I have on hand. If she wants a specific flavor she pays for it. Up to 4 people can attend. It doesn't take a committee to decide on vanilla verses chcolate cake.

Debbye27 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 4:27pm

I LOVE the idea of freezing batter for tastings!!

labelle24 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 4:28pm

[quote="costumeczar"]

I do tastings all on one day back to back, so I don't have samples sitting around. I also don't have unlimited time slots to give to people who will be ordering $150 worth of cake and taking up free samples and my time that someone who will be ordering a larger cake could be taking.

I do the same, I don't charge for tastings as long as it is a wedding cake order. Let's face it, the cake tasting is part of being a bride. I was a bride long before I was a cake decorator and it is part of the wedding process, I think it is expected and I wouldn't deprive a bride of that. I do also schedule them back to back because I don't like the idea of using frozen cake. It doesn't taste good and they are they to not just picking which flavor they like, but also judge the quality of the product. I don't use frozen cake for their wedding, so why would I have them taste it?

I also take a poll of what each of my brides especially want to taste, why not? I'm having to make the samples anyway, I might as well give them what they want (without it being unreasonable). I usually schedule about 6 tastings in one day, 1 hour each, and offer 6 different cupcakes at each tasting, all with different flavors of cake, filling, and buttercream. The only time I charge for a tasting is if it is not a wedding, or if they want to bring more than 2 people.

I have never to this date had a bride leave without signing a contract. People appreciate that you take the time to cater to them and give them an array of fresh samples. If you are willing to display that kind of quality and attention to just the tasting, they know you will do the same for their special day. Honestly, I just put myself in their shoes. If someone offered me a tasting of 2 flavors (that were frozen) and I had to pay $20.... I would probably keep shopping around til I found someone like myself.

Is it a pain in the butt, not really... especially if you bang them out all in day, then do it again in another 2 months.

Bridgette1129 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 10:43pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by labelle24

I also take a poll of what each of my brides especially want to taste, why not? I'm having to make the samples anyway, I might as well give them what they want (without it being unreasonable). I usually schedule about 6 tastings in one day, 1 hour each, and offer 6 different cupcakes at each tasting, all with different flavors of cake, filling, and buttercream. The only time I charge for a tasting is if it is not a wedding, or if they want to bring more than 2 people.

I have never to this date had a bride leave without signing a contract. People appreciate that you take the time to cater to them and give them an array of fresh samples. If you are willing to display that kind of quality and attention to just the tasting, they know you will do the same for their special day. Honestly, I just put myself in their shoes. If someone offered me a tasting of 2 flavors (that were frozen) and I had to pay $20.... I would probably keep shopping around til I found someone like myself.




I like the idea of giving them the flavors they want. It is something that will put you apart from the competition. But I also see the flipside where there's more labor.

PieceofCakeAZ Posted 25 Feb 2012 , 1:50am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridgette1129


I like the idea of giving them the flavors they want. It is something that will put you apart from the competition. But I also see the flipside where there's more labor.




Another downside of letting brides pick their flavors is that people don't know what your best flavor combinations are. We used to let couples pick their flavors and one time a bride tasted one and said "I don't like that at all" and I'm thinking "No kidding, you asked for Carrot cake with lemon raspberry filling, nobody likes that". icon_biggrin.gif

On average we conduct around 50 cake consultations per month and we have our 4 most popular flavor combinations available at all of our tastings. While we do offer to have them come by and pick up a box of additional requested flavors after they try our main set, 90% of the brides that book us don't need to taste additional flavors...which is good for us. icon_smile.gif

Bridgette1129 Posted 25 Feb 2012 , 2:03am
Quote:
Originally Posted by PieceofCakeAZ

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridgette1129


I like the idea of giving them the flavors they want. It is something that will put you apart from the competition. But I also see the flipside where there's more labor.



Another downside of letting brides pick their flavors is that people don't know what your best flavor combinations are. We used to let couples pick their flavors and one time a bride tasted one and said "I don't like that at all" and I'm thinking "No kidding, you asked for Carrot cake with lemon raspberry filling, nobody likes that". icon_biggrin.gif

On average we conduct around 50 cake consultations per month and we have our 4 most popular flavor combinations available at all of our tastings. While we do offer to have them come by and pick up a box of additional requested flavors after they try our main set, 90% of the brides that book us don't need to taste additional flavors...which is good for us. icon_smile.gif




Thank you for sharing! I have not started wedding cakes so I love all the insight I can get!

Do you fill the cakes? I was imagining my tastings would be cake and then different fillings and icings to mix and match. That way, they can try 2 of their favorite flavors (carrot cake and lemon rasp) but don't necessarily try it in a nasty combo icon_wink.gif

scp1127 Posted 25 Feb 2012 , 2:10am

I am not a wedding cake baker but I still have wedding cake orders, dessert buffet oreders, and candy buffet orders. I am also a small batch artisan baker, meaning there is nothing sitting around and nothing in the freezer.

This scenario has worked for me and it has been fun for the client. As most of these dates are scedules at least several months down the road, I have the time to do this.

When I am experimenting with a new flavor, have a family event, or have a recipe that I can add a little to make extra, I call or email the client and let them know that they can pick up a sample box. It usually has two good size servings and is boxed and bowed like all of my items. Sometimes the bride or client can receive three of these different samples and they love it. It will only be what I am making anyway or I will make a family or school cake in a flavor they want. It costs me nothing and they get an idea of my skills.

A few fresh scratch samples goes al ong way to making a client feel confident in ordering flavors not tasted. And in many cases, they change part of their order to add the flavor they tasted. I had this happen with my grapefruit cake. With modifications, this cake was a hit. I told her she didn't have to try it. It was just an experiment, but she ended up ordering it. We did change the name on the flavor card to Citrus Cake.

I know there are a lot of bakers who only make made-to-order items, so maybe this will help.

PieceofCakeAZ Posted 25 Feb 2012 , 2:37am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridgette1129


Do you fill the cakes? I was imagining my tastings would be cake and then different fillings and icings to mix and match. That way, they can try 2 of their favorite flavors (carrot cake and lemon rasp) but don't necessarily try it in a nasty combo icon_wink.gif




We do fill all of our samples, mostly because we want to ensure the ratio is correct. The couple doesn't know our cake to filling to frosting ratio so if they heap too much chocolate ganache onto their cake and then say it's too sweet, it's not an accurate representation our final product. For me, knowing that everyone is going to taste a consistent product is a big deal.

Best of luck!

Bridgette1129 Posted 25 Feb 2012 , 7:13pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by PieceofCakeAZ

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridgette1129


Do you fill the cakes? I was imagining my tastings would be cake and then different fillings and icings to mix and match. That way, they can try 2 of their favorite flavors (carrot cake and lemon rasp) but don't necessarily try it in a nasty combo icon_wink.gif



We do fill all of our samples, mostly because we want to ensure the ratio is correct. The couple doesn't know our cake to filling to frosting ratio so if they heap too much chocolate ganache onto their cake and then say it's too sweet, it's not an accurate representation our final product. For me, knowing that everyone is going to taste a consistent product is a big deal.

Best of luck!




That makes complete sense! Thanks for explaining

Pinkbarbie123 Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 5:14am

everything you said i agree with. The wedding cake is something most women look forward to all their lives and this should be a day catered to the bride and groom, not vice versa. If i am the bride and i am paying a lot of money for a once in a lifetime cake i want the whole unique experience. If someone charged me for the tasting and then only offered me some white and chocolate bite sized pre frozen pieces i would be hacked off. Some of you who sound like you're too good for this, let me say theres always someone else who wants the business and knows about customer service. Yes, i can see its a pain, but thats part of the business. Now, if i just walk in right off the street i dont expect samples of everything, but if i schedule a sit down i dont want someone getting an attitude with me if i want to try several flavors. Now, if the person is just looking for free cake then by all means turn them away. There are a lot of talented bakers out there and the world of cakes and cupcakes are becoming more and more popular. Every baker thinks they are the best. If i as a customer were to be charged a tasting fee then i would expect a sample of anything the baker has on his/her menu and i would expect champagne or wine accompanied with my tastings.

jason_kraft Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 5:43am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinkbarbie123

If someone charged me for the tasting and then only offered me some white and chocolate bite sized pre frozen pieces i would be hacked off.



I'm not sure what you have against frozen cake, freezing cakes (if done correctly) can actually enhance the quality of the product.

We used to offer a nice sit-down tasting and consultation appointment with up to 4 cake flavors and 4 frostings/fillings (for $30, applied to the final order). About 2-3 hours would be involved for each appointment, including the setup, tasting, consulting, and cleanup, and brides really enjoyed them. But then we got busy, and scheduling these appointments would mean turning away other orders, so we switched to to-go tastings that could be put together with minimal effort. If anything, this decision increased the number of wedding cakes we booked since we were able to sell more tasting packages (the cost is no longer applied to the final order) and get our product sampled by more potential customers.

If you are having trouble getting orders and don't have a clear differentiator for your business, then offering a world-class tasting experience is one way to set yourself apart from the crowd, but if you are already consistently booked solid you really need to examine how much value the tasting is providing versus how much time and money you are spending on it.

Annabakescakes Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 5:58am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinkbarbie123

everything you said i agree with. The wedding cake is something most women look forward to all their lives and this should be a day catered to the bride and groom, not vice versa. If i am the bride and i am paying a lot of money for a once in a lifetime cake i want the whole unique experience. If someone charged me for the tasting and then only offered me some white and chocolate bite sized pre frozen pieces i would be hacked off. Some of you who sound like you're too good for this, let me say theres always someone else who wants the business and knows about customer service. Yes, i can see its a pain, but thats part of the business. Now, if i just walk in right off the street i dont expect samples of everything, but if i schedule a sit down i dont want someone getting an attitude with me if i want to try several flavors. Now, if the person is just looking for free cake then by all means turn them away. There are a lot of talented bakers out there and the world of cakes and cupcakes are becoming more and more popular. Every baker thinks they are the best. If i as a customer were to be charged a tasting fee then i would expect a sample of anything the baker has on his/her menu and i would expect champagne or wine accompanied with my tastings.




Everything Jason said, plus, I would like to add that serving booze to people requires a liquor license, and In Ky., you must ask for ID, even if they look 104. Not to mention, some people ( like me) cant handle it and one drink makes them tipsy, and these people will be driving. Also, some people are alcoholics and don't know how to say no. There is no fricken way I would serve booze to anyone I do not have a longstanding friendship or familial relationship with.

In addition, the $20 many bakers charge is none of your business to ridicule. I have free tasting, and a pay tasting, and they can take it to-go or sit and have a consult at the same time. But that is how I do it. If you don't have samples laying around and don't freeze your cakes, why spend a day baking samples, potentially wasting time and money, when someone may or may not order? Makes no sense at all, and someone asking them to is being unreasonable.

carmijok Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 6:14am

I will tell you what we did at the bakery I worked for and it was a great experience for all. Presentation is everything IMO.

A bride and her fiance and usually mother would come in and we would have a small wooden table set with clear glass plates, ice water in real glasses and ice water in a cute glass pitcher on the table, pretty napkins, silverware and a silver cake cutter.

We would prepare a small 5" cake...french vanilla...torted...iced in buttercream with two of our most popular fillings (raspberry and bavarian cream) side by side inside the cake. The cake would have a small bead buttercream border at the base of the cake so it looked bride-y, and then she would put it on a pretty, small glass cake pedestal (the kind that had those glass beads around the edge). We'd also place two chocolate cakeballs with the couple's initials on top on the pedestal with the cake.

I'd come out with the cake and set it on the table, sit down, and before we'd start tasting I'd get basic information...they'd look at some of our work...we'd discuss her style etc. Then I would hand her the cake cutter and say that she should cut the cake for 'practice' (yuk, yuk) and they would get to taste our most popular cake used for weddings with the fillings and the chocolate cake balls would give them an idea of what our chocolate cake tasted like.

I would remind them that we could provide any kind of cake she wanted, but this would give her an idea of what to expect. More often than not, they were satisfied with what was presented and we'd sign them on the spot. If they wanted to try a different cake we might have a tasting cake in the freezer made from extra batter or we would prepare cupcakes for them at a later date...but they would pay for those.

This worked very well. The bride had an experience, she got to taste our buttercream and baking skills and she felt special. We did not charge for this because we weren't out a lot of product and there was not that much to do in preparation as it was always the same.

And may I say 'freezing' is not a dirty word. Freezing cakes properly allow one to bake ahead and it actually helps the texture of the cake. Freezing small tasting cakes from extra batter will allow you to have different flavors on hand if need be. No one can tell if a cake has been frozen if it has been frozen correctly. Presenting a small cake to me is more special than just having cupcakes or small bites of cake with lots of icings and fillings. Too many choices can cause indecision. Simple is best. Anyway, that's how they did it and it was successful. HTH!

Bridgette1129 Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 8:22am
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok


This worked very well. The bride had an experience, she got to taste our buttercream and baking skills and she felt special. We did not charge for this because we weren't out a lot of product and there was not that much to do in preparation as it was always the same.

And may I say 'freezing' is not a dirty word. Freezing cakes properly allow one to bake ahead and it actually helps the texture of the cake. Freezing small tasting cakes from extra batter will allow you to have different flavors on hand if need be. No one can tell if a cake has been frozen if it has been frozen correctly. Presenting a small cake to me is more special than just having cupcakes or small bites of cake with lots of icings and fillings. Too many choices can cause indecision. Simple is best. Anyway, that's how they did it and it was successful. HTH!




Thanks! Super helpful as always!

KoryAK Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 6:40pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinkbarbie123

everything you said i agree with. The wedding cake is something most women look forward to all their lives and this should be a day catered to the bride and groom, not vice versa. If i am the bride and i am paying a lot of money for a once in a lifetime cake i want the whole unique experience. If someone charged me for the tasting and then only offered me some white and chocolate bite sized pre frozen pieces i would be hacked off. Some of you who sound like you're too good for this, let me say theres always someone else who wants the business and knows about customer service. Yes, i can see its a pain, but thats part of the business. Now, if i just walk in right off the street i dont expect samples of everything, but if i schedule a sit down i dont want someone getting an attitude with me if i want to try several flavors. Now, if the person is just looking for free cake then by all means turn them away. There are a lot of talented bakers out there and the world of cakes and cupcakes are becoming more and more popular. Every baker thinks they are the best. If i as a customer were to be charged a tasting fee then i would expect a sample of anything the baker has on his/her menu and i would expect champagne or wine accompanied with my tastings.




I'll bet you $100 this is a bride and not a baker icon_smile.gif

aprilismaius Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 8:54pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

I'll bet you $100 this is a bride and not a baker icon_smile.gif




Funny, but I thought the exact same thing when I read that.

Annabakescakes Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 9:10pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by aprilismaius

Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

I'll bet you $100 this is a bride and not a baker icon_smile.gif



Funny, but I thought the exact same thing when I read that.




I agree, completely.

AnnieCahill Posted 27 Feb 2012 , 9:26pm

LOL I called bride after the second sentence. Away with you, troll in white! icon_evil.gif

Quote:
Quote:

There are a lot of talented bakers out there




And there are also educated, competent people out there who can spell and write correctly. You are one customer among many, and hopefully none of ours.

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