heartsnsync Posted 19 Aug 2012 , 5:13am
post #1 of

It is so hard to calculate how long it will take to execute a design when you have never done the design before! I just did a very elaborate birthday cake for a one year old and thought it would take me about 7 hours to complete but it took way longer than that. For the life of me I can't figure out how to get faster when just about every cake has some new crazy feature I thought up that I then have to figure out how to execute. Any of you have any insight on how to better estimate the unknowable?? icon_confused.gif

22 replies
karateka Posted 21 Aug 2012 , 12:29am
post #2 of

About the only thing I can say is:

Double whatever you think it will take you. Sooner or later you will do it again, and then you'll have a better idea. Keep good records so you can refer back.

Of course, I'm a good one to talk.

Apti Posted 21 Aug 2012 , 5:23am
post #3 of

heartsnsync~~Are you talking about the Andy jungle cake? The one that is P...E...R...F...E...C...T...? The one that probably took a LONG time to get the tiger and lion and trees and zebra stripes P...E...R...F...E...C...T...?

As a newbie to all this cake perfectionism (I plead 100% guilty as well!), I see that one of the big problems with custom cakers is that they must make EVERY cake perfect, instead of "good enough for their price point". From a business perspective (time+labor = overhead), custom cakes only need to be "good enough for the price charged", not a 100% perfect, competition level, work of art.

Customers will be just as pleased with a 90-95 percent "perfect" cake that takes 1 hour or even 2 hours less than a 100% "perfect" cake.

Perfectionism is our enemy and costs money in ingredients and time.

vgcea Posted 21 Aug 2012 , 5:35am
post #4 of

Apti I like that idea. I too tend to be all over the place. one day I'm working with royal icing the next I'm all over ganache icon_lol.gif

Apti Posted 21 Aug 2012 , 5:37am
post #5 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea

Apti I like that idea. I too tend to be all over the place. one day I'm working with royal icing the next I'm all over ganache icon_lol.gif




Whoa! This forum stuff is FAST! I just erased my original comment and substituted the one above.

Why do I feel that Big Brother is watching????????

vgcea Posted 21 Aug 2012 , 7:09am
post #6 of

And now I look like a crazy person with my now irrelevant response to you LOL~!!!!!

AMACakes Posted 21 Aug 2012 , 2:56pm
post #7 of

I'm the exact same way. Because I'm still new to this, I am doing a lot of things for the first time and it is taking me much longer than I anticipated. However I'm so excited to try new things that I don't mind at all....my back does...but that's another story. LOL

cookiemonster025 Posted 21 Aug 2012 , 4:21pm
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

About the only thing I can say is:

Double whatever you think it will take you. Sooner or later you will do it again, and then you'll have a better idea. Keep good records so you can refer back.

Of course, I'm a good one to talk.




haha, this is the exact same thing my husband always tells me. It usually does take me twice as long as I think (I'm somewhat new). He's right, as are you.

Apti Posted 21 Aug 2012 , 7:08pm
post #9 of

Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea

And now I look like a crazy person with my now irrelevant response to you LOL~!!!!!




well.......we already kinda knew about the crazy part......... (heh heh heh)

vgcea Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 9:10am

Hehehehe! icon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gif

Apti Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 12:05pm

BTW, Heartsync--My guilty confession is that I LOVE your perfect cakes! Each of them is a work of art that delights the eye. But hey, I'm sure your version of 90% close to perfection is still light years ahead of my 100%! (and about 18 times faster.)

heartsnsync Posted 24 Aug 2012 , 8:51pm

Thanks for your comments on my perfectionism. I am a perfectionist and I guess some of that is going to have to go the wayside if I am going to do better on time! The cake that I did that prompted the post I have not put in my gallery - I am behind on uploading to CC. It is this one:
LL

Apti Posted 24 Aug 2012 , 9:38pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsnsync

It is so hard to calculate how long it will take to execute a design when you have never done the design before! I just did a very elaborate birthday cake for a one year old and thought it would take me about 7 hours to complete but it took way longer than that. For the life of me I can't figure out how to get faster when just about every cake has some new crazy feature I thought up that I then have to figure out how to execute. Any of you have any insight on how to better estimate the unknowable?? icon_confused.gif




Of course the Sesame Street Cake is perfect. ALL of your work is perfect.
Suggestions from a newbie that is nowhere near your skill level and who does not sell cakes for a profit:

Study that cake. Determine WHY you came up with a "new crazy feature that you have to learn how to execute".
Did the client come up with the idea for the "new crazy feature"...or you?
Did you do it to increase your profit margin?
Did you do it to establish and/or maintain a competitive edge with your product and pricing for your geographic area?
Would the client have been just as happy with this cake if you had NOT added the "new crazy features"?

After you've studied the cake:
Was there an easier, less costly, less time-consuming design that would have made the client just as happy?
Where could you have "cut corners" without damaging the overall artistic effect?
How long would it take you to finish that same cake without the "new crazy features" and provide the client with what she ordered, expected, and paid for?

Ask yourself:
If this is your primary income, are you making a suitable profit? How much of that profit is lost because you get carried away with the artistry of each cake instead of the profitability of each cake? [If you ended up spending twice the time on the Sesame Street Cake, you may have wiped out 100% of your profitability in one swoop.]
Are you micro-managing each cake and design?
How can you streamline your decorating?
Are you using the mise en place method?*
(*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mise_en_place)

Maybe you just need to have a friend or family member tell you what they have observed. (Trust me, 9 year olds can be brutally honest!!!)

All of the above is sent with love. Sometimes it is really hard to step back for a moment and re-assess what we do. (Especially when it is our passion.)

Here's one of my favorite quotes:

Rudyard Kipling once said:

"Everyone is more or less mad on one point."

kelleym Posted 24 Aug 2012 , 9:41pm

In the words of Ruth Rickey, when determining how far to take a design, think of the customer and ask yourself:

1. Will they notice?
2. If they notice, will they care?
3. If they care, will they pay?

You gotta be able to answer 'Yes' to all 3 to justify adding an element, and I can say from experience that that's a pretty tall order icon_smile.gif

stephdover4 Posted 24 Aug 2012 , 9:54pm

thanks kelleym for those questions. I find myself over doing too. The bride on my golf grooms cake took me FOREVER, then I decided she was to big. Made another one in 20 mins that looked every bit as good as the first one...ugh!! So those questions really will help!

Apti Posted 24 Aug 2012 , 10:06pm

Quote:
Originally Posted by kelleym

In the words of Ruth Rickey, when determining how far to take a design, think of the customer and ask yourself:

1. Will they notice?
2. If they notice, will they care?
3. If they care, will they pay?

You gotta be able to answer 'Yes' to all 3 to justify adding an element, and I can say from experience that that's a pretty tall order icon_smile.gif




That pretty much sums up my super-long post in 3 short sentences. I'm gonna shut up now.

kelleym Posted 24 Aug 2012 , 10:09pm

Well, they do say that brevity is the soul of wit. icon_lol.gif

(I claim no credit, I'm just repeating something I heard Ruth say.)

Apti Posted 24 Aug 2012 , 10:16pm

Yup.

traci_doodle Posted 25 Aug 2012 , 3:13pm

That's a great rule of thumb! I need to take that to heart, especially since my last cake took longer than I thought, and I wasn't able to finish! icon_redface.gif

JanDunlevy Posted 25 Aug 2012 , 3:41pm

That is an awesome cake with immaculate detail. I would have had to start on that a month ahead of time!

BakingIrene Posted 26 Aug 2012 , 1:17am

Here's a fix: write down how much time you "think" you need for each cake. The write down how much time it actually took.

That way you know pretty quick what number to use to multiply to get the "right" number and price.

heartsnsync Posted 26 Aug 2012 , 3:53am

You all gave me some good ideas. I did an estimate on a wedding cake I had for today and was only one hour off my estimate. But give me an occasion cake and I am almost always way off! I am going to implement some of your ideas and get better at it! icon_wink.gif

Apti Posted 26 Aug 2012 , 2:10pm

Ruth Rickey would be proud! Have a great day.

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