kendra_83 Posted 16 Jul 2012 , 10:42pm
post #1 of

I've been commissioned to build a cake replica of a classic car for a man's 80th birthday. I've underpriced myself many times before because I wasn't sure how the end result would turn out. I'm finally confident enough that I know it will be really great, I just don't know where to start on pricing a cake like this. Just for reference, my base price for regular, non-sculpted cakes is $3.50/serving for singles, $4/serving for tiered cakes. I asked the client how many guests she would be serving and she was more concerned with looks than servings. How large should it be in order to get the most detail and full effect? Also, does anyone know of a tutorial to help me get started? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

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28 replies
Pearl645 Posted 16 Jul 2012 , 10:57pm
post #2 of

Well this is truly a masterpiece sorta cake! I charge $250US minimum for carved 3D cakes. Time is going to be your biggest cost to factor into this cake. I did a 3D catamaran cake and I spent 3 hours just stacking, filling and carving.

cakemama2010 Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 2:24am
post #3 of

I recently did a replica of an old Chevelle, down to the bumper sticker he had on it. I charged $175, and that was for a very good friend. It took waaaay longer than I had anticipated and required a lot of patience. My best advice is to start with a whole lot more cake than you think you need. You'll waste half of it carving, but you'll be glad you had too much rather than not enough. My car came out really well, except it looked like it's growth was stunted....needed to be longer (more cake). I used 3" styrofoam for the tires and they should have been more like 2.5" (impossible to find) or even 2". Of course, had the cake been longer I'm sure the tires wouldn't have looked so large in relation. Good luck!

ApplegumPam Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 2:58am
post #4 of

Just goes to show what a difference a country makes.... In Australia a car cake such as this, with good attention to detail - chocolate mudcake with chocolate ganache and fondant cover - starting out with a 10inch x 4inch high cake - carved etc (most of the carvings can be re-used when layered with the ganache - would start at $600 - this is not something that you would knock out in an afternoon

jason_kraft Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 2:58am
post #5 of

Definitely find out the customer's budget before you go any further, you're probably looking at at least a $500-1000 price point.

ApplegumPam Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 2:59am
post #6 of

Just goes to show what a difference a country makes.... In Australia - a car cake such as this, with good attention to detail - chocolate mudcake with chocolate ganache and fondant cover - starting out with a 10inch x 4inch high cake - carved etc (most of the carvings can be re-used when layered with the ganache - would start at $600 - this is not something that you would knock out in an afternoon

KileyChase Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 3:14am
post #7 of

If you go to Mike's Amazing Cakes website they have an awesome DVD on how to do cars as well as recipes he uses, it cost $40.00 w/shipping and handling.

icer101 Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 3:21am
post #8 of

When i did my grandson's truck cake,i had mikes dvd. I also would e-mail them and ask a few questions. They always got back with me. I had questions about he icing, etc. I had questions about the back of the truck. I got an answer every time. You could send them a pic, (after asking the first) and see how it would go with you. hth

kendra_83 Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 3:32pm
post #9 of

I shot the client a $400 quote for 50-60 servings and I'm still waiting to hear back before I proceed any further and purchase Mike's DVD. Thanks everyone for your tips and advice!

jason_kraft Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 3:41pm

That seems pretty low, especially since OK does not have a cottage food law so you would need to factor in the overhead of a commercial kitchen, and labor will be the biggest cost component by far. If your kitchen rent + wage is $30/hour and you spend more than 12 hours or so on this cake you are already taking a loss .

kendra_83 Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 3:44pm

I'm currently operating rent-free out of the commercial kitchen at my Mom's restaurant which closes at 1:30 in the afternoon so it works out pretty well for me. Most clients pick up their orders during business hours or I deliver if it's a large order. In the future, if I can save enough cash to open a shop, I'll definitely have to raise my prices. For now, I'm more concerned with building my reputation which I'm doing fairly quickly, however, I'm over feeling guilty about my prices and working for free. The only competition in my area comes from the supermarket or from a few others who advertise their "business" with a Facebook page that basically states they work from home. I've been too busy to advertise because I also work part-time and since my employees are me, myself, and I, there is no way I could handle any more than I currently am.

jason_kraft Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 4:11pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by kendra_83

In the future, if I can save enough cash to open a shop, I'll definitely have to raise my prices.



You may want to consider raising your prices now to factor in the market rate for rent. Since it sounds like you are operating at capacity this is the perfect time to raise prices. When you open a shop and suddenly have much more capacity you don't want to raise prices then since that would reduce demand, plus it would alienate your existing customer base.

Another way to look at this is figuring out who is really benefiting from your rent-free situation. If you are not including market rates for rent in your prices, your customers are receiving 100% of this benefit, and you are getting none of it.

howsweet Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 8:13pm

$400 is low and $175 is ridiculous (unless your cake is a sloppy mess) Setting out to put real bakeries and people who don't want to work for nothing out of business is irresponsible, or at least not very nice, and that is what you're doing if you underprice your cakes, folks.

cheeseball Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 11:26pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft


Another way to look at this is figuring out who is really benefiting from your rent-free situation. If you are not including market rates for rent in your prices, your customers are receiving 100% of this benefit, and you are getting none of it.




This right here. It's like using supermarket sale prices to determine your final cost instead of what it usually costs (if your ingredient purchases are retail).

Tjensen Posted 18 Jul 2012 , 1:30am

I recently did a vintage cadillac and I charged $750.00. It was extremely time consuming!!! I found the specifications for the exact vehicle and did the math and scaled it down to 24" long. Every mirror, light...geez, it was worth EVERY DIME they paid for that cake.

cakemama2010 Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 1:42am
Quote:
Originally Posted by howsweet

$400 is low and $175 is ridiculous (unless your cake is a sloppy mess) Setting out to put real bakeries and people who don't want to work for nothing out of business is irresponsible, or at least not very nice, and that is what you're doing if you underprice your cakes, folks.




My cake was not a sloppy mess. I mentioned its faults in my constructive and positive advice. I also stated it was for a very good friend. It was essentially a GIFT at $175, was my point, and that the OP needed to charge more. Furthermore, judging by the number of people who post on this site requesting pricing help I highly doubt most people are "setting out to put real bakeries...out of business". YOURS is the only response that was "not very nice".

kendra_83 Posted 25 Jul 2012 , 5:15pm

UPDATE: I've gotten the green light for the '37 Studebaker so say a prayer for me! Thank you all for your tips and encouragement. I'm patiently awaiting Mike McCarey's DVD so hopefully it comes in time to watch it and plan properly. Look for it next weekend!

Cakery2012 Posted 25 Jul 2012 , 7:55pm

Do like Jason said and raise your prices now . I've just read about too many people knocking themselves out and making nothing . A sculpted cake is a work of Art and you should be paid accordingly.
First question for potenial clients should be how many people are you serving and what is your budget ?
.

BailiasCakes Posted 2 Aug 2012 , 9:00pm

Are you planning to do an empty bed, or solid cake with a black top?

50-60 servings is a lot of cake especially when you are doing details like on that vehicle. You are definitely going to need to sit down with a design plan and see how big the final project will be to serve that many. You are looking at a cake at least 18"x8" (with solid bed). With an empty bed, all your cake needs to be in the cab & engine - that's gonna be big!

Plus there is the expenses of structure. Are you going to have it raised above the base board so you can see under the vehicle?

You are definitely undercutting yourself at $400.

kendra_83 Posted 3 Aug 2012 , 1:34am

Believe me, I know I've undercut myself yet again. My sore back and double vision are proof! I've put in at least 20 hours already. Yes, it will be sitting on a board with a riser underneath to make it look as if it's sitting on the tires. On the bright side, I'm almost finished. All that's left is attaching the tires once the board is ready, attaching the lights and painting the details chrome. At least I've proven to myself that I could do it and the next time someone wants a cake like this the price will be double.

howsweet Posted 7 Aug 2012 , 1:52am

We've all been there. I know that feeling and it's super easy to under price when you've never done a particular cake before. Pricing is something you learn along with your other cake making skills.

My point to the person who thought I was so nasty and making a personal attack on her - Since the passing of the Texas baker's bill, I've had to lower my prices fifty cents per serving. I'm pretty sure it's due to an increase in people doing cakes and also an increase in people under charging. While it's natural to undercharge at first, it's harmful to everyone not undercharging. If these same people were selling his/her used car, they'd look at the blue book value and price accordingly, but for some reason when it comes to making cakes people develop a self esteem problem and let their friends, family and bonafide customers walk all over them.

Also, I've suddenly started having a few people try to negotiate price. I'm sure as heck not going to get into a cake bidding war, but when I read posts in general about pricing it's clear to me that plenty of other people are afraid to let customers walk away and I just don't have a lot of patience with that because this is supposed to be business, not playing at business.

In that post I used the language I did to point out that whether a person purposefully tries to put someone out of business or whether they do so without a single thought rattling around in their empty head, the harm done is the same.

Pearl645 Posted 7 Aug 2012 , 11:30pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by howsweet

We've all been there. I know that feeling and it's super easy to under price when you've never done a particular cake before. Pricing is something you learn along with your other cake making skills.

My point to the person who thought I was so nasty and making a personal attack on her - Since the passing of the Texas baker's bill, I've had to lower my prices fifty cents per serving. I'm pretty sure it's due to an increase in people doing cakes and also an increase in people under charging. While it's natural to undercharge at first, it's harmful to everyone not undercharging. If these same people were selling his/her used car, they'd look at the blue book value and price accordingly, but for some reason when it comes to making cakes people develop a self esteem problem and let their friends, family and bonafide customers walk all over them.

Also, I've suddenly started having a few people try to negotiate price. I'm sure as heck not going to get into a cake bidding war, but when I read posts in general about pricing it's clear to me that plenty of other people are afraid to let customers walk away and I just don't have a lot of patience with that because this is supposed to be business, not playing at business.

In that post I used the language I did to point out that whether a person purposefully tries to put someone out of business or whether they do so without a single thought rattling around in their empty head, the harm done is the same.




Interesting points here. Perhaps my comments belong to another thread but I too have seen prices drop due to an increase in people doing cakes as well as people doing wedding cakes as gifts for family members and friends for free or just covering cost. Almost everyone now has someone in their family who can bake and decorate at varying skill levels. What amazes me is the number of persons who do free wedding cakes. I never did anything free for anyone. Not even a family member. I worked with a decorator for years before I started on my own which is why I never felt I had to do it for nothing. It really has affected the industry here and has affected those who treat this as a business.Why pay x baker when it can be free as a gift. It just made it harder for some of us but I assume this is how it is in many industries.

Tashayee Posted 23 Feb 2013 , 11:10pm

I took the times to look at your work. AMAZING! You are selling yourself short. Your time is worth much more. 

kendra_83 Posted 26 Feb 2013 , 7:29pm

Thank you, Tashayee!  Pricing is probably the hardest part of the business for me.  Like I said before, there isn't really any competition in my area besides the supermarket bakery and a few home bakers so people are usually shocked by my prices.  I'm finally gaining enough confidence to charge more for my work because I really value my time.  If people don't want to pay me what I feel that I'm worth then that's just fine with me.  I'm not wasting anymore time making cakes for people who make me feel like they're being robbed.  In this case, I estimated 15-20 hours of labor and I was WAY wrong.  It ended up taking me over 40 hours, so I made less than $10/hour, plus I had to pay for all the ingredients and materials, not to mention I had to take two days off work.  Just thinking about it makes me ill!  Lesson definitely learned!

enga Posted 26 Feb 2013 , 7:56pm

Hi Kendra_83 here is a tutorial for sculpting  a fondant car to give you an idea, there are others too.

 

http://youtu.be/ONUwi0_R62c  hth

enga Posted 26 Feb 2013 , 8:01pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tashayee 

I took the times to look at your work. AMAZING! You are selling yourself short. Your time is worth much more. 

Dito, very nice work

enga Posted 26 Feb 2013 , 8:11pm

Kendra_83, I know I am dipping in, but there are places where I have worked that didn't look as half as good as yours and their princes were ridiculously high.

 

I have to give it to you your are very talented, I really like the cake with the rosettes, beautiful, my dear you have everything you need to charge whatever you want.  I could only hope to become as good as you , because fondant work is not as easy as it looks,  and I'm still trying.

 

So good luck to you.

enga Posted 26 Feb 2013 , 8:58pm

icon_eek.gif old thread, sorry
 

Tashayee Posted 27 Feb 2013 , 7:54pm

Kendra,

         I am a beginner, however I am very critical.In NY, where I live it is very competitive. Charge more. I have seen work that cost more for work that isn't as neat. I am having the problem of friends wanting FREE or offering what they want to pay. I refuse. I am not as good as you, but like you said the cost of supplies aren't cheap. I hope to be as good as you soon. But you have to be compensated for your time. I used a few pointers on here. I look at other ppl prices so I am competitive n if ppl dont want to pay u need to network with new clients you have the pockets to supply the needs. One thing is stop posting were u got your supplies from n letting the client calculate the costs n learning ur tips and tricks. But this is just a suggestion ...

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