I make cakes of all kinds on the side and I've done a few wedding cakes. I'm trying to get better about pricing the cakes so they are reasonable for the customer and so that I actually make a profit from them. I'm a one-woman operation so I think the cost of ingredients is the base factor plus all the work involved from prep through delivery.
So here's my dillema: I quoted a bride for a 3 tier wedding cake for 120 guests. I used 6"/10"/14" double layers (128 servings). Top tier is vanilla cake, middle and bottom layers are marble. They only want buttercream, no fondant. I've attached a sketch of the design we agreed upon (the flowers are silk). I quoted her $4.00 a serving plus $25 for delivery. So the total for the cake would be $512, plus $25 delivery = $537.
The bride's friend, who referred her to me (I used to work with her at my FT job) emailed me and asked if there was any way I could do the cake for $300-$400 or if there was a way we could "make it work". Now I'm stuck! I would like the business and an opportunity to get the word out about my cakes. However, I feel like taking $400 for the cake, nevermind $300 is a lot of money to lose.
Am I being unreasonable or over-priced? I did research on my prices and for the area they are reasonable. My cake are all from scratch and like I said it's just me doing all the work. I've priced cakes similarly for weddings and special events and never had any complaints about price and customers return/rave. So anyone that could give me advice on how to handle the situation, I'd REALLY APPRECIATE IT, so I can email this woman and her friend ASAP.
I would just explain that your price is your price, and you do not offer discounts. If she wants it to be less expensive, then she can order less cake. Giving people deals only hurts you in the long run, because they (and their friends they tell about your great, super inexpensive cake) will expect these sorts of discounts in the future. They'll become your permanent price. Don't do work at a loss, it isn't worth it. It will turn into burn out later.
How much is your cost for ingredients, estimated labor, and allocated overhead for this cake?
No reason to say anything except that your price is firm.
Should your former co-worker say anything more, you can privately ask her if SHE would take a 20-40% pay cut on her job...
Or else you can point out that you are being paid close to the minimum wage and that not even your best friend would be asking you to take a pay cut...
Your sketch didn't attach, however, I looked at your photos and looked at the "Scroll and fresh flowers Wedding Cake" and the "Silver Swirl Wedding Cake". Both a professional custom cakes which reflect your overall skill level. Charging industry/competitive pricing is absolutely appropriate for a cake at this level.
If your pricing, based on local competition research is reasonable, then you need to work on the business aspects of custom cake sales. (Massachusetts is a Cottage Food Law state, so I'm assuming the pricing is not a case of "under the radar home baker vs. licensed home baker".)
I would like the business and an opportunity to get the word out about my cakes.
I did research on my prices and for the area they are reasonable.
BakingIrene's comment is a good one. YOU need to determine how YOUR business will be marketed. Do you want the business if you are doing the cake for nothing? Do you want the "word out" that you will reduce the pricing 40% just because someone asks?
Have you even met with this bride or has she seen photos of your work? Has the bride tasted your cakes? YOU need to "sell" your quality and taste. YOU need to explain why your cake is BETTER than other cakes.
Read this basic sales article on "Features and Benefits". Substitute your cake as the "product" (instead of the hi-fi system). Then call back the bride (NOT the friend), and explain the "benefits" of your $4.00/serving + $25 delivery cake.
I would email the bride ASAP and ask her to communicate with you directly. NO you do not cc the friend. That's the first point to clear up.
The bride can look up Montilio's website who charge $3.50 a serving and up for similar cakes. What's her problem? Montilio's doesn't guarantee scratch cake...
Thanks everyone for the support and advice! I plan on heeding it all and stand firm on my price and contact the bride directly.