Janani65 Posted 8 Jan 2013 , 9:38pm
post #1 of

Hi, I'm doing a home based cake decorating business. I mostly do birthday cakes. Whenever a customer calls to inquire about an order, I design the cake and email them with the price. Most of them place the order, but some people don't. 

 

My problem is when those people doesn't place an order with me I have already done a design for them for free. I need to avoid this. Coz I'm wasting my money and effort for nothing. 

 

 I would like to know what do you do? 

27 replies
fcakes Posted 8 Jan 2013 , 9:56pm
post #2 of

AGood question...I'd like to know too....I've read people send customers links of cake pics from the web and say we could do something like that....

cakesbycathy Posted 8 Jan 2013 , 10:09pm
post #3 of

The very first thing I do is ask how many guests they expect and what their budget is.  This way I know from the beginning if I am even in their price range before I make any kind of sketch.  This will save you time from even doing a sketch in the first place if they aren't even able to afford you.

 

I have the customers email pics of cakes they like and tell them I can do something similar. I also direct them to my website so that they can see the kind of work I do and am capable of. I will also give a verbal description of what the cake could look like. 

 

If I am having a consultation in person, I may do a sketch if they ask. But I also charge for consultations.  I  do NOT give out sketches until I get a non-refundable deposit. This way you are getting paid for your work.
 

AZCouture Posted 8 Jan 2013 , 10:09pm
post #4 of

Generally, I prepare a sketch for every order, but it is shown to them in person at the consult when they come in to PAY for said cake. On the rare occasion they need to think about things or aren't ready to commit, the sketch stays with me. If they book, they can have a copy, no problem there. If I need to email a sketch first, I watermark it with my logo right across the middle with a blurb about original artwork property of me, not for reproduction by other decorators, blah blah blah.

Janani65 Posted 8 Jan 2013 , 10:13pm
post #5 of

These makes sense to me. I had one customer who had second thoughts after sending the design. I want it to stay at 1. 

 

I should start doing these. 

costumeczar Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 6:18pm
post #6 of

I do a written description of the cake on the contract, but I don't sketch anything anymore. If someone has booked me and really wants a sketch I'll do it, but I prefer to wing it as I'm putting the cakes together.

tracyaem Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 7:45pm
post #7 of

I don't show my customers sketches (mostly b/c I have no drawing ability and my 3 year olds pictures look better!). I do sketches for myself to make sure colors work together and to figure out the layouts, but they are for my eyes only :)

 

As far as wasting time on customers who don't place orders that's hard. I usually write back and provide a few options based on the info I have and give the corresponding range of prices. I end the email stating that if they would like to continue with the order I can work up a full invoice provided they finalize what options they would like. I don't give a firm quote and provide the detailed order form until all details have been hashed out and usually by that point it's clear whether or not they are serious. And even then there's just a written description, not any type of design sketch.

 

Sadly, I can spend a decent amount of time working up that initial email and options so when someone doesn't follow through it stinks. Not sure there's a way to avoid it, even stating minimums and putting prices on the web site doesn't guarantee they read it or pay attention to it (or think it applies to them...).

FromScratchSF Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 8:27pm
post #8 of

I do not do sketches for cakes under 100 servings, I don't sketch buttercream cakes unless there is some super special detail to them, and if I need a sketch, I use photoshop to make a composite from real photos after they have signed a contract and paid my retainer.  My days of loosing orders due to my chicken scratch or not having the absolute perfect shade of pencil on hand is over.

 

Yes, I have lost commissions because I refuse to sketch at the consultation.  But chances are pretty great I wouldn't book those people anyway.  I always say (at least it's my sales pitch), "I'm a baker first, a sugar artist second.  People that can sketch your dream cake after meeting with you for 30 minutes must be great fine artists - but it says nothing about their ability to replicate that sketch in sugar and have it taste good.  I prefer a more organic approach and get to know you and your event details a lot better before I design your perfect cake - and this can take several weeks after your paid booking".

 

It helps to have a big portfolio to show examples of your work.  If you don't have this, I suggest getting some dummy cakes and start adding to it.  The more real life examples you can point to, the less you'll have to prove your vision with a pen and paper.

Annabakescakes Posted 14 Jan 2013 , 9:47pm
post #9 of

I had a consultation yesterday where I designed about 4 cakes, same general idea. The weird groom cared way too much about what the cake looked like, and kept throwing a wrench into our beautiful cakes! He wanted TOO MUCH DETAIL!!! I finally suggested they do 4 different 8" so he can have all the damn design he wants, just not all on one cake! But then they took the drawings with them...What would be a good thing to say to them? I make beautiful, delicious cakes, but I am not always great with words, but can generally avoid ticking people off, but I want to make sure! 

dkltll Posted 14 Jan 2013 , 11:27pm

In my day job (not a baker) we work up 3D renderings of custom items. We will be happy to show & review it with the potential customer but tell them that the designs are the property of the company until they put down their deposit. If they really want the renderings then we charge 10% of the quote and they can take with them. If they choose to sign a contract & pay a deposit then we will credit their invoice the amount that they paid for the drawings. We usually say, very pleasantly and with a smile on our face, that our trained team of designers worked hard on this proposal and we don't want it copied. If they balk at the comment we then tell them how many times a week someone comes in to our store with another designers drawing wanting a lower quote. Usually when you explain that it is a work of art , etc the customer often understands & if they don't then they were probably going to take my drawing to a competitor in the first place. I have however done sketches for potential cake customers but only customers that want soemthing very specific & I no longer send them without a deposit. HTH

costumeczar Posted 14 Jan 2013 , 11:33pm

A

Original message sent by dkltll

In my day job (not a baker) we work up 3D renderings of custom items. We will be happy to show & review it with the potential customer but tell them that the designs are the property of the company until they put down their deposit. If they really want the renderings then we charge 10% of the quote and they can take with them. If they choose to sign a contract & pay a deposit then we will credit their invoice the amount that they paid for the drawings. We usually say, very pleasantly and with a smile on our face, that our trained team of designers worked hard on this proposal and we don't want it copied. If they balk at the comment we then tell them how many times a week someone comes in to our store with another designers drawing wanting a lower quote. Usually when you explain that it is a work of art , etc the customer often understands & if they don't then they were probably going to take my drawing to a competitor in the first place. I have however done sketches for potential cake customers but only customers that want soemthing very specific & I no longer send them without a deposit. HTH

Excellent explanation!

AZCouture Posted 14 Jan 2013 , 11:49pm

Just though I'd drop this in here, so you can all marvel at my awesome drawing skilllllllllllllllz.

 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.404703616226710.100812.110414962322245&type=3

 

And yeah, even if I am chicken scratching, they're MY ideas, and they are definitely not walking out the door unless they've been paid for. Except the monkey cake, that wasn't really mine, I just moved some elements of another cake around a bit for that particular cake. But I've never lost a sale to a chicken scratch drawing. Usually people laugh and say they get it when I say something like "obviously the pink will be darker, but I don't have a hot pink pencil, so work with me"....

AZCouture Posted 14 Jan 2013 , 11:51pm

Read the comments too....lots of people feel like they should be embarassed that they can't draw. God gave me a couple of talents, and drawing is not one of them. Thankfully, I don't need to be.

Sparklekat6 Posted 14 Jan 2013 , 11:55pm

Have you thought about using paint?  Someone else had reccomended it.  It's super simple so you don't have to spend too much time doing epic designs and you can probably save a few "base" pictures to decorate for future clients.  I did the princess cakes in my gallery in paint and the one i attached. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish someone would design a cake decorating system like Flying Colors.  Best design program ever and so easy. 

Sparklekat6 Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 12:09am

HA!  I found it.  It's only the demo but you get the idea: (link below)

 

http://www.magicmouse.com/h_flyingc.html

 

See super quick drawing I just did attached.

 

 

 

quietude Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 12:31am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparklekat6 

Have you thought about using paint?  Someone else had reccomended it.  It's super simple so you don't have to spend too much time doing epic designs and you can probably save a few "base" pictures to decorate for future clients.  I did the princess cakes in my gallery in paint and the one i attached. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your suggestion of using Microsoft Paint. I just gave it a try, and can't believe that this simple tool has been at my fingertips all this time!!!

SugaredSaffron Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 12:29pm

I always do a sketch, It takes like 2 minutes. After they've explained what they want I can usually figure out in my head what they're looking for, and if they want something changed we can amend it there and then. I sometimes do them on the computer as well, 15 minute job.

I keep the sketch because I work from it. I don't think I would be able to do a cake without a guide, I draw sketches for fake cakes too.
 

Relznik Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 2:36pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Just though I'd drop this in here, so you can all marvel at my awesome drawing skilllllllllllllllz.

 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.404703616226710.100812.110414962322245&type=3

 

And yeah, even if I am chicken scratching, they're MY ideas, and they are definitely not walking out the door unless they've been paid for. Except the monkey cake, that wasn't really mine, I just moved some elements of another cake around a bit for that particular cake. But I've never lost a sale to a chicken scratch drawing. Usually people laugh and say they get it when I say something like "obviously the pink will be darker, but I don't have a hot pink pencil, so work with me"....


Oh thank you for this.

 

I think I almost sent a bride running for the hills, with the (lack of) quality of my sketches. 

 

People often say to me "but you must be artistic to do what you do?".

 

Erm....  no!!!!

AZCouture Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 2:42pm

AI mean really, if they see examples of what your cakes look like, they can be easily reassured. Laugh it off and poke fun at yourself and they'll find it amusing too.

Janani65 Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 3:07pm

I love all the ideas all of you have! I'm a still an beginner in this business. Sometimes I'm tempted to jump and give all the details out in good faith. Happened the worse once.(Took the design and ran away). So, determined to not to do that mistake again. 

pieceofcaketx Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 3:41pm

I draw before I quote, that way I know exactly what I'm quoting. However I work almost exclusively with repeat/referral customers and rarely do they not place the order. Years ago I spent way to much time giving away drawings, but now days it's not an issue.

 

I use paint and inkscape, I can draw, but this is just faster and I don't have to scan it when I'm done.

 

Sparklekat6 Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 3:52pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janani65 

I love all the ideas all of you have! I'm a still an beginner in this business. Sometimes I'm tempted to jump and give all the details out in good faith. Happened the worse once.(Took the design and ran away). So, determined to not to do that mistake again. 

Yeah I just wouldn't spend a whole lot of time drawing up something for a potential client.  Ultimately that's not why you are in business and, if you don't enjoy it that much to do it for free, then it's just not worth it.  

leah_s Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 4:09pm

I draw stick cakes.  Always worked for me.

-K8memphis Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 4:30pm

What a killer drawing AND cake--wow

 

are you kidding filligree, pearls, hearts & flowers plus zebra-esque rock & roll

 

what a blending of ideas  great design!!!

 

rock on angel wings!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pieceofcaketx 

 

gemmal Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 4:30pm

Just an odd thought reading through this. I cant draw for toffee (i think that is the polite way to put it) but maybe basic basic 'stick' drawings could work to your advanage? If you do an elaborate, gorgeous drawing of someone's dream cake, surely they can nit pick and say this isn't exactly how I expected this or the lettering is different here... Have you had any problems like that? Maybe I'm trying to make myself feel better for when I actually start a proper business, you know, the type with clients!

BakingIrene Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 6:01pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janani65 

Hi, I'm doing a home based cake decorating business. I mostly do birthday cakes. Whenever a customer calls to inquire about an order, I design the cake and email them with the price. Most of them place the order, but some people don't. 

 

You start with ALL customers by asking the date, the event, the number of servings, allergies/special dietary needs. 

 

You should have a minimum order $$, a minimum time for advance notice, a minimum cutoff date for the deposit.  You discuss these details, and then you email them with a rough estimate of price.

 

When the customer accepts these terms by calling or emailing back, THEN you work on a design. Or you ask them to email you a picture.

 

You will NEVER have 100% orders from initial contacts.  In the long run you should be happy with 80%.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Janani65 

 

My problem is when those people doesn't place an order with me I have already done a design for them for free. I need to avoid this. Coz I'm wasting my money and effort for nothing. 

So who is demanding that you do work for free? 

 

If you have never had a job in America, consider that you should get one even just part time.  Those skills will help you run your own business better.

Janani65 Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 6:40pm

I Agree! I have done 3 jobs so far. Not in America. It is challenging sometimes to find out that everything you've been used to is different here. I'm getting the hang of it though. Takes a little time and hands on experience. 

SugaredSaffron Posted 15 Jan 2013 , 9:07pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by pieceofcaketx 

I draw before I quote, that way I know exactly what I'm quoting. However I work almost exclusively with repeat/referral customers and rarely do they not place the order. Years ago I spent way to much time giving away drawings, but now days it's not an issue.

 

I use paint and inkscape, I can draw, but this is just faster and I don't have to scan it when I'm done.

 



Oh snap I use inkscape too! My bro gave me his photoshop c6 or cs6 or something but I have no clue how to use it.

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