Networking Locally: Pros And Cons

Business By vgcea Updated 6 Jun 2012 , 5:26am by vgcea

vgcea Posted 29 May 2012 , 10:54pm
post #1 of 14

I had someone come up to me today requesting a birthday cake for this weekend. Unfortunately for her, I'm booked. While I can't take the order, I thought how nice it would be if I had a network of bakers in my local area who I might be able to call to see if they would take the order.

Of course another side of dealing with a local network of folks doing what I do is the fact that we are each other's competition. So I'm not sure how that would work.

The fact that our CFL has not had the greatest reception by the HD, some government agencies, and big business is another reason to be cautious and MYOB.

So, do you have a local network of cakers you associate with (bulk orders, references etc) or do you keep the relationships strictly "business acquaintance?"

How do you feel about local networks? Are there benefits to them or do the cons outweigh the pros?

13 replies
brenda549 Posted 29 May 2012 , 11:04pm
post #2 of 14

I do not have a network, but would love to see about creating one. I hate when I am booked and someone asks for a referral. However, the one time I contacted a baker about a client needing something out of my delivery area, I was cut off at the knees!

vgcea Posted 29 May 2012 , 11:05pm
post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by brenda549

I do not have a network, but would love to see about creating one. I hate when I am booked and someone asks for a referral. However, the one time I contacted a baker about a client needing something out of my delivery area, I was cut off at the knees!




How do you mean?

scp1127 Posted 30 May 2012 , 8:25am
post #4 of 14

I refer customers every time I can't take the order, either because I'm too busy or because they want something beyond my capabilities. I know most of the other bakery owners and we share market trends, refer, and get along just fine. I only know other larger operations, so we all can share valuable local business information. I don't know any legal home bakers because there are only two in my area.

ajwonka Posted 3 Jun 2012 , 2:31am
post #5 of 14

Interesting idea! I have a designer cookie maker I refer all cookie requests to & she does the same to me for cake orders. The only other cake decorator uses box mixes & Wilton fondant so I don't really want to refer people to her because of quality.

scp1127 Posted 3 Jun 2012 , 6:02am
post #6 of 14

I refer to box and scratch bakers. If a client is looking for a lower price on a cake, I refer to the mix bakers. They have clients who love their baking too. These are retail operations, relying on many customers to keep their doors open. I don't see any of them closing.

costumeczar Posted 3 Jun 2012 , 10:33pm
post #7 of 14

Some people in my area are real jerks who don't want to play with others, but there are plenty of people who will work with you. I refer to a handful of people, so you can definitely find people who would be interested in that kind of thing. It's helpful for clients when you can refer them to other people, but be careful, because if you give someone a bad referral they'll blame you for it!

Chellescakes Posted 4 Jun 2012 , 4:44am
post #8 of 14

I am a member of our State Cake Decorating Association, we have over 50 members in our local branch and within that I have a network of decorators I can ask for help , pass work on to and have work passed on to me.

Whenever one of the members has a problem, for example I broke my ribs last year , the call went out and I had people helping my cover my cakes , teach my classes and even drive me to deliver .

I have also been part of the rescue team as well.

Also when I have a lot of work on I can call in help when I need it . We also share tins, books and equipment it's great

I can confidently take orders knowing that I always have back up.

vgcea Posted 4 Jun 2012 , 6:12am
post #9 of 14

Thank you all for the responses. I would join the local cake club but they meet on a day that would be impossible for me.

scp1127 Posted 4 Jun 2012 , 7:21am
post #10 of 14

You can go into shops and introduce yourself. And buy a few things. From that meeting, you can decide if you would like to refer. If the owner is someone that rubs you the wrong way, forget it. But in my experience, the business owners are very willing and are generally a nice group of people.

There will always be a time when you are too busy, or like me, are asked to do a cake beyond your skill level. And here's the big one: If you work alone, it is important to have a backup baker. AnnieCahill, a CC member, and me, have agreed to back up the other in case of an emergency. She and I have very similar baking styles.

When you refer, it will come back to you in goodwill. Remember the movie, "Miracle on 34th Street"? Customers who never used you will refer to you just because you helped them out in a jam.

This is an odd situation, but three of the bakeries in our area have connections with my daughter's very small prep school. My daughter's close friend's mom and the girls' basketball coach started a retail location specializing in celebration and wedding cakes. My daughter's french teacher and her husband have a boutique retail bakery and sandwich shop. He bakes artisan bread and has a small selection of pastries and desserts. And I have a bakery. Of course we all get along.

I think you could pick the ones you feel good about and make sure you have a variety. Make sure you know about their products and they know yours.

vgcea Posted 5 Jun 2012 , 3:24am
post #11 of 14

I never thought of going to introduce myself. Honestly, I'd be scared of getting "cut off at the knees" like brenda549 said icon_lol.gif

scp1127 Posted 5 Jun 2012 , 5:54am
post #12 of 14

Then you will know to never refer to that one. It will be her loss.

Baker_Rose Posted 5 Jun 2012 , 7:50pm
post #13 of 14

Yea, I do think it just depends on the other bakers in your area. Nice gals and guys or not.

I have met some very interesting characters in this line of work. Good interesting and stab you in the back, poison your family and burn your house down interesting as well.

Yup, there are a lot of people out there........

vgcea Posted 6 Jun 2012 , 5:26am
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker_Rose

Yea, I do think it just depends on the other bakers in your area. Nice gals and guys or not.

I have met some very interesting characters in this line of work. Good interesting and stab you in the back, poison your family and burn your house down interesting as well. Yup, there are a lot of people out there........




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