karukaru Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 1:40am
post #1 of

Hello, Thanks in advance for your help.
I am a home baker (I have only done cakes for friends, family and acquaintances so far) and I live in a cottage food law state.My best friend referred me to this lady from an online mommy group we both belong to. This lady asked me for a two tiered fondant cake in the shape of gift boxes, with a tag and bows or with a figure of a pregnant lady and her and her husband. She said she wanted the cake to be black russian cake (which has lots of Kahlua and vodka.) I sent her an e-mail saying thst I can custom make anything she wants and that my fondant cakes start at $3.50 per serving but my "premium" flavors start $3.75. She sent me the following e-mail about 10 min after (and she also sent a similar e-mail to my best friend:

"Thank you Karina. I will send this over to my sister for review (as she is hosting). From what Peri said, I expected you to be a lot more affordable being that you make cakes from home as a side business. Are you licensed to have a functional kitchen for selling cakes at home? Some of your "competitors" with stores/bakeries charge less. Not to take away from your work or anything."

I know Peri didn't tell her anything because she knows about cake prices. Also, I know for a fact that my competitors charge way more. I live in the Ft.Lauderdale/Miami area and I have paid more than $5 per serving for a VERY basic single tier white fondant cake. Buttercream prices around here start around $3.00-$3.50 min. Also, I find very interesting that she didn't care if it was legal for me to sale her a cake until she found that I am too "expensive." She is probably referring to cakes from the grocery store or from people that seriously undercharge (There is a baker at our group that charges $2.50 for fondant cakes. She is probably not making any money on that and her cakes don't look very good.)
I am not sure how to respond in a nice way. I am upset that she also sent a similar e-mail to my best friend (my best friend forward the e-mail to me in disbelief.) I am tired of people thinking that because I bake from my house I need to make less money. Also, it is perfectly legal for me to sell cakes from my house.
How do I respond nicely and address every issue she mentioned in the e-mail? thanks!

37 replies
kelleym Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 2:33am
post #2 of

Honestly? I would ignore it. OR...

Dear Snotty Cow:

Thank you for your feedback. I am very comfortable with my pricing structure and my legal business. I wish you luck with your event, as I do not think we will be able to work together.

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

I would address her concern about licensing by saying you are fully compliant with your state's cottage food law, and her pricing concern by reiterating the premium quality of your products and your designs. You may want to offer a simpler product if budget is a concern (for example, a BC only cake with a flat design), but if she tries to get both high quality and low price I would simply wish her luck on her event and apologize that you couldn't meet her needs.

The customer was definitely rude, but as a business owner you are held to a higher standard and should take the high road whenever possible.

costumeczar Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:12am
post #4 of

"Thank you Karina. I will send this over to my sister for review (as she is hosting). From what Peri said, I expected you to be a lot more affordable being that you make cakes from home as a side business. Are you licensed to have a functional kitchen for selling cakes at home? Some of your "competitors" with stores/bakeries charge less. Not to take away from your work or anything."

Dear Karina,

Yes, I'm fully legal to sell cakes from home based on the cottage food laws that we have in our state. I can't speak for other people's pricing, but mine reflects the time and care, as well as the premium ingredients, that I put into each cake. I understand if it's not within your budget, and I'll be glad to help you if you ever need a premium cake in the future.

You might have more luck with Walmart if you're looking for something that will be appropriate for your level of class and sophistication.




Well, okay, maybe you should leave out the last part
icon_wink.gif

tiggy2 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:15am
post #5 of

You're my hero costumeczar!!!

costumeczar Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:19am
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiggy2

You're my hero costumeczar!!!




Yeah, but only if I sent the last part too, right, hahahahaha!

tiggy2 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:22am
post #7 of

Exactly!

Cakery2012 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:30am
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiggy2

Exactly!


Costumeczar said exactly.what I would say icon_wink.gif
I dont know where people get off thinking everyone who bakes a cake from home is making a killing . I bake for family and friends . We dont get wholesale prices . If you need a special ingredient you have to buy retail and may only use part of it .
I d have to throw something in there about each of your cakes are custom and not mass produced and or frozen .
What a beech!

karukaru Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:53am
post #9 of

Hahaha costumeczar! So funny!

I actually copied and pasted your suggestion (minus the walmart part, hehehe.) I just saw that someone wrote in the mommy group we belong to if someone knew a good baker and the same lady replied that Costco makes great cakes! hahaha so I guess some of my "competitors" means Costco!

Cakery2012 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 4:37am

You know if thats the price and quality someone wants go for it . But bakers on this forum have no reason to feel guilty for their prices . People just have no idea the time money and effort you put into learning this craft . ( Im no way a professional decorater . but Ive been baking since I was 8 yrs old)On top of. buying ingredients ,making the cake ,cleaning up not to mention the planning ,gas,electricity its hard to make a good profit on a cheaper cake.
My hair stylist converted her garage
into her salon. That doesnt mean I can tell her I only want to.pay $25 for $85 of her services.

mena2002 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 5:19am
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelleym

Honestly? I would ignore it. OR...

Dear Snotty Cow:

Thank you for your feedback. I am very comfortable with my pricing structure and my legal business. I wish you luck with your event, as I do not think we will be able to work together.




icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

step0nmi Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 5:45am

lots of people have the nerve! and i think we forget that. They think they can take advantage of what they "assume" to be someone as an amateur just because we don't (or someone doesn't) have a store front. in my eyes...IT SHOULD BE OPPOSITE THAT! but it's not. :p

I'm glad you copy and pasted costumczar's post...she always gets it right icon_wink.gif

rosech Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 5:49am
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar



You might have more luck with Walmart if you're looking for something that will be appropriate for your level of class and sophistication.[/i]



Well, okay, maybe you should leave out the last part
icon_wink.gif




ROFL!!!!

scp1127 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 6:00am

I'm with mena. I don't want animosity spread.

FromScratchSF Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 6:04am

LOL!!! I feel you, I to belong to a mommy group, I always see people ask for cake recs, and the same people say "Costco!!!" These same cows drive $100K cars, live in million dollar houses and have au pairs. I have given up throwing my name out to the group, every time I do they expect a mom's club discount and I refuse to give it. It's super irritating... but actually, I don't want to make another freakin jungle birthday cake or explain how I don't make "sheet cakes": Sigh. Anyway, it ain't about the money, it's all about people sucking.

I'd totally be catty right back. What do you have to loose? Costumeczar's response is perfect of course! Perfect! Ha!

carmijok Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 6:37am

I'd love to see a picture of the Costco version of her vision! Somehow I don't think it will be the same. Bottom line...you get what you pay for!

fl_cake_lover Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 7:02am
Quote:
Originally Posted by karukaru

This lady asked me for a two tiered fondant cake in the shape of gift boxes, with a tag and bows or with a figure of a pregnant lady and her and her husband. She said she wanted the cake to be black russian cake (which has lots of Kahlua and vodka.)




I find it funny that she wanted a pregnant lady on top of a cake filled with alcohol.

jenng1482 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 8:09am
Quote:
Originally Posted by fl_cake_lover

Quote:
Originally Posted by karukaru

This lady asked me for a two tiered fondant cake in the shape of gift boxes, with a tag and bows or with a figure of a pregnant lady and her and her husband. She said she wanted the cake to be black russian cake (which has lots of Kahlua and vodka.)



I find it funny that she wanted a pregnant lady on top of a cake filled with alcohol.




I was thinking the same thing as I read the opening post!

costumeczar Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 12:01pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

. Anyway, it ain't about the money, it's all about people sucking.

!




Hahahaha!

I did some margarita glass baby shower cookies yesterday...the client was someone who had ordered the same things for her birthday last year and I asked her if she and her friends had a margarita fetish. She said "that's just about it."

But seriously, when you get a stupid email like that just respond professionally and then complain about how ignorant they are with their costco cakes to your family. No need to insult them to their faces.

costumeczar Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 12:18pm

And NEVER address specific businesses' pricing. Just say that you can't speak for how other people do things. Because if the customer drags you down that path you'll end up looking bad.

kelleym Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 1:48pm

I guess I'm in the minority, but I really don't think this email required a "business" response. It was the internet equivalent of her spitting in your face. Her questions were not good faith questions, they were actually very thinly veiled accusations, and I don't think you were obligated to respond to them. She's not going to buy from you, and she's not going to refer you to anyone, no matter what your response was. She's a waste of time and energy.

costumeczar Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 1:56pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelleym

I guess I'm in the minority, but I really don't think this email required a "business" response. It was the internet equivalent of her spitting in your face. Her questions were not good faith questions, they were actually very thinly veiled accusations, and I don't think you were obligated to respond to them. She's not going to buy from you, and she's not going to refer you to anyone, no matter what your response was. She's a waste of time and energy.




You're never required to respond to people like that, but if you can find a way to put someone in their place in a "nice" way then I say do it. It will make you feel better and what's she going to do, write back and tell you that you don't use ingredients that are as good as the Costco cake she's going to buy?

You're right that she's a heinous warpig and will never be a client, though!

ANDaniels Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 2:20pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar


You're right that she's a heinous warpig and will never be a client, though!




LOL!

I hate that you are having to deal with that, I also am a member of a dreaded mommy's group.. I have NEVER thrown my name out since within the first week I was invited in I heard Wal-mart and Sams a little too much for my liking. ICK!

sillywabbitz Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 2:58pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

I would address her concern about licensing by saying you are fully compliant with your state's cottage food law, and her pricing concern by reiterating the premium quality of your products and your designs. You may want to offer a simpler product if budget is a concern (for example, a BC only cake with a flat design), but if she tries to get both high quality and low price I would simply wish her luck on her event and apologize that you couldn't meet her needs.


Quote:
Quote:



I read an article a couple of years ago about women vs men in business. I know Jason K is the one who posted this but I thought I would bring it up anyway because it really hit home with me. The article talked about how women always apologize in business while men rarely due. Women are especially more prone to apologize when there is actually nothing to apologize for. She asked for a quote, you gave it and that's that.

After reading the article, I realized how many times in a work and personal email I say something like "I'm sorry I don't understand" or "I'm sorry if you misunderstood". I now make it a policy to remove all apologetic type words from an email unless I actually did something that caused a problem or issue. I think it's a natural way women communicate to try and smooth things over or make the other person feel better but we need to be aware of our words. Keep it simple and take responsibility for only those things that are actually your fault. I wouldn't even say I'm sorry you didn't like the cake. I would say "I'm disappointed to hear you don't like the design" but I'm sorry implies guilt on your part which is often not the case.

Thought I'd share since we're talking about communication.


AnnieCahill Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:01pm
Quote:
Quote:

heinous warpig




This slays me.

CakeItGood Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:23pm

For some reason, that line from the movie "RV" flashed through my mind ... this client sounds like a "big ole rollin turd".

And yes, it did sound more like thinly vieled threats and accusations than genuine questions. And without being apologetic, this "lady" needs to be set straight. Who knows what she will be saying to other potential mommy group clients (who, if they are like her, are not worth it anyway).

So in addition to the wording others have already written about being a legal operation, if you think it's about Costco, you could start by saying "In regards to my pricing, I know some of our fellow Mommy Groupers with tight budgets get their cakes from Costco. I am a custom baker offering a level of quality, design and service that won't be found in a grocery store." And follow it with altered excerpts of the following (originally swiped from CakeBoss software)::

Question: "Why shouldn't I just go to Costco, Wal-Mart or the grocery store for my cake?"

When you are price shopping be sure to compare apples to apples. Be aware that Wal-mart's serving portions are half the depth of our own. We use the industry standard serving size of 1x2x4, theirs is 1x1x4. So double their serving sizes and prices, and you will get a true picture of how we compare in that one area.

A cake from Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco, or a grocery store simply cannot be compared to our own. Clients can't get the same cake that they get from a custom baker. That cake at Wal-Mart was made months ago, flash-frozen, and shipped to the store, where an employee working as quickly as he/she could frosted it with mass produced icing from a bucket, and maybe added some airbrushing or buttercream roses. That employee probably had 50 other cakes to complete in the same shift.

The difference between our cake and xxx's cake can be likened to the difference between custom garments and off-the-rack clothes. Say you went to a seamstress, consulted with her about the perfect fabric and cut for your body type, discussed your coloring, took measurements, went back for several fittings, and in the end had an exquisite dress, hand-made with excruciating attention to detail, perfect for your body and your coloring. When the seamstress required payment, you would not tell her that a Wal-Mart dress costs $19.99, so that's all you should pay. The two products are not comparable.

Will Wal-Mart match a baby shower cake to an invitation? Will they accept fabric swatches of bridesmaids' wedding dresses to ensure a perfectly color coordinated wedding cake? Will they respond to multiple emails from a mother who's worried about making her daughter's bridal shower perfect in every way? We are about servicing YOU and helping to make your day memorable.

step0nmi Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:30pm

cakeitgood....those are some GREAT points! But i have seen in other threads where this type of response to a customer can come off as condescending. Anyone writing a response should not have "education" in their emails to customers because it then sounds like you are trying to put them down and/or being snotty. Seriously, saw it happen in another thread where the person was being really nice and did a short blurb about who she was and why she was so high and it blew up in her face! Nothing good comes from educating people through an email because they were never going to be a customer to begin with.

I also agree with sillywabbitz. we shouldn't be apologizing buuut, in another way to look at it...apologizing at the end of an email, in the way that jason described, is to let the customer know that you are moving on, the order inquiry is over. there are many times where people do not get the clue with just saying "i won't be able to do that for you." people think they can just keep pushing to get what they want...JMO cuz i've had it happen to me a couple of times.

labelle24 Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:46pm

just say,

"Costco uses frozen cake, and bags of powder icing they just add water to. They do not do fondant, they do not do specialty sculpted cakes, and they do not do premium flavors like Kahlua. In fact, the only thing Costco, and myself have in common, is that we are both legally licensed and inspected to sell cakes in our state. As the old saying goes, Good cake isn't cheap, and cheap cake isn't good. Thank you for your inquiry, but I am clearly not the baker you are looking for."

SweetTzippy Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 3:58pm

This topic of PRICING is always interesting.
@: CakeItGood
Thank you for sharing this explanation about how our custom made cakes cant compare to store bought. It is very well written!
@ costumeczar
I congratulate you on suggesting a reply that is professional, accurate and non-offensive (leaving the last part out LOL). If you allow me, I am actually saving it to use it myself if needed in the future
@ sillywabbitz
Thank you for reminding me about how most men tend to conduct themselves in business. I sometimes compare myself to my husband who is never offended; neither has he taken it personally, when customers complain about his products prices. His response usually is, if it is cheaper elsewhere, go there!
I am gradually increasing my cake prices as they become better with practice, training and purchasing of better and expensive tools. Occasionally I am questioned about my prices and, compared to another home baker who serves the same market, who charges considerably less.
icon_lol.gif

Momofjaic Posted 24 Feb 2012 , 4:47pm

Last time I checked ( a looooonnngggg time ago) Wal-mart, sam's, even a local bakery only offers two flavors white or chocolate. Hope she can get them to change their poloicies.

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