kendra_83 Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 6:13pm
post #1 of

Here's my rant for the day, just in case anyone doesn't have a problem of her own to worry about :)

 

I had a potential client wanting an exact cake replica of a military aircraft sitting on a runway, complete with replicas of several of the soldier's medals to serve 30 guests.  The closest thing I've ever done to this was a replica of an antique car.  I priced it way too low, completely underestimated how much time it would take and ended up making only $10/hour, not counting what it cost for ingredients and materials (frame, heavy-duty board, etc.)  

 

After spending hours researching this airplane and finding the scale blueprints, I sent the client a message quoting her $1500 for the project, noting at least 40 hours of work, plus the materials.  Her response was this:  "$150? or $1500? We were looking for something in the $100-$150 range.  See what you can do with that.  Maybe make a smaller plane, lol"  I can't even begin to explain how livid I am.  People seriously don't have a clue!  The time I've already spent on this project warrants $150 and I haven't even turned on the oven.

52 replies
costumeczar Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 6:15pm
post #2 of

Tell her you can ice a sheet cake grey with a white landing strip on it and she can put toy planes on top.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 6:50pm
post #3 of

Ugh, hate that! It's so frustrating to spend so much time working on a quote and get that response! "See what you can do that"?!?!? I'll tell her what she can do with her $150. icon_twisted.gif

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 6:52pm
post #4 of

A

Original message sent by costumeczar

Tell her you can ice a sheet cake grey with a white landing strip on it and she can put toy planes on top.

This. Cake decorating shows have made people think that an incredibly detailed cake can be completed in 22 minutes so I'm not sure this is all the customer's fault.

JanDunlevy Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 6:54pm
post #5 of

ACostumeczar you gave me my laugh for the day! Great response. I have only been decorating for less than a year and I am home based and Facebook has been my source of customers. It nevers ceases to amaze me the stupidity of the American public! I cannot believe the questions I get and the expectations people have for pricing. Also, the amount of time they think it takes to whip up a cake with lots of characters or decorations vs. the time it actually takes! I am almost over trying to educate them!

BakingIrene Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 7:03pm
post #6 of

They see it on TV--the green candy mountain with a river of chocolate, it's big enough (if it fell over) to kill that year-old kid whose birthday is being celebrated, all put together within 15 minutes.  Customers are coming to your webpage pre-brainwashed into stupidity...

 

You learned a good lesson.  Quoting good prices is a science taught in engineering firms, not bake shops.

 

Next time, ask more questions up front BEFORE you start the estimate and the research.  Not to mention, have a firm minimum order.

 

This is why I would ONLY do business with people where I have a face-to-face or telephone conversation.

Stitches Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 8:00pm
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakingIrene 

Next time, ask more questions up front BEFORE you start the estimate and the research.  Not to mention, have a firm minimum order.

 

 

This is the key to keeping your sanity!

 

Personally, I find it easier to handle this aspect of the business by email. I love to get clients to email me a photo of something they have in mind........sometimes when they say simple it means complex and visa versa....you've got to qualify their thoughts right away. If I'm eye to eye with them it's harder for me to say "no". It only takes a few times going through this kind of experience before you learn to talk price before you get into details. Just find out what kind of ball park there looking to spend with-in.... and you'll know whether it's worth talking details with them or not wasting your time.

Claire138 Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 8:51pm
post #8 of

I agree with Jason, these shows are coming to France now and people are clueless as to what goes in to these types of cakes, not to mention that Buddy has an army behind him so maybe he really can finish a cake in 20 minutesicon_wink.gif

-K8memphis Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 9:25pm
post #9 of

i was just reading in the ace of cakes book

 

they typically recorded 120 hours of work a week to make one show

 

plus all the staff to help out with phones, dishes & workload

 

Duff has built himself a stunner stunner bakery

 

geez i'm glad i'm not a film/tv editor!!!

Jess155 Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 9:26pm

Maybe I'll get jumped on for this, but $50 a slice is not a price that anyone would imagine regardless of TV shows.  A 9" cake with a gumpaste or RKT airplane shouldn't be anywhere near $1500.  Unless it's covered in gold.

costumeczar Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 9:34pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jess155 

Maybe I'll get jumped on for this, but $50 a slice is not a price that anyone would imagine regardless of TV shows.  A 9" cake with a gumpaste or RKT airplane shouldn't be anywhere near $1500.  Unless it's covered in gold.

If you're looking at a scale model replica with scale model gumpaste planes and replicas of actual medals, you pretty much throw the serving count out and go with the labor involved. Something super-detailed might actually take a full week of work.

 

seriously, I'd just start asking people what their budget is upfront. I ask people "Is there a budget that you want to stay within?" that way you can tell right away if you can or can't work with them.

 

But you're right that nobody would expect it to be that much, because they have no idea how much time goes into them.

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 9:37pm

A

Original message sent by Jess155

Maybe I'll get jumped on for this, but $50 a slice is not a price that anyone would imagine regardless of TV shows.  A 9" cake with a gumpaste or RKT airplane shouldn't be anywhere near $1500.  Unless it's covered in gold.

If a 9" cake involves a very detailed, labor-intensive design $1500 would absolutely be an appropriate price. For example, if a design takes 80 hours of work at $15 an hour you are already up to $1200 in costs without accounting for ingredients, overhead, or markup. Whether a customer is willing to pay that much is another question.

Jess155 Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 9:46pm

So tell her that you can make an airplane that is based on that one (although not a painstakingly exact one where every single detail is measured), and skip the medals.  She can display the medals near the cake.  At some point the customer will not notice or care or be willing to pay for the mind-numbing processes we put ourselves through.  Finding an easier, more affordable solution makes your job easier and her wallet happier.

 

Edited to add: I'd love to know if anyone here has sold a 9" for $1500. 

BakingIrene Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 10:18pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by kendra_83 

 

I had a potential client wanting an exact cake replica of a military aircraft sitting on a runway, complete with replicas of several of the soldier's medals to serve 30 guests. 

.....part missing.....

After spending hours researching this airplane and finding the scale blueprints

OK so you could use these images to produce a few sugar sheets and slap them onto a freshly buttercream iced cake. Add a reasonable border and you can sell the cake for $120-130 and make these people feel good.

 

Save the images you found for this project--they don't have to go to waste.  Build yourself a library of cake art for future use. I know how it feels to spend hours online looking for stuff.  I have filled 2 hard drives with folders of the results...

ellavanilla Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 11:06pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jess155 

Maybe I'll get jumped on for this, but $50 a slice is not a price that anyone would imagine regardless of TV shows.  A 9" cake with a gumpaste or RKT airplane shouldn't be anywhere near $1500.  Unless it's covered in gold.

 

Isn't Duff's minimum around $1500?

BlakesCakes Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 11:13pm

I hear your pain. 

 

I'd liken it to her asking you to build a detailed scale model--without the kit because you'll need to size & cut all of the pieces out yourself--of the plane.  Most model makers spend WEEKS working on these types of things.

 

Mike McCarey of mikesamazingcakes.com specializes in these types of cakes.  He's also one of the friendliest people you'll ever meet.  I bet if you shot him an e-mail with some of the basics, his reply would be very helpful.

 

As for the client, I'd just tell them what I CAN do for $150 and 30 servings.  In my market, that would be a very basic carved plane (more cartoon than model) using the Wilton Long Loaf pan.  They either take it or leave it.

 

And yes, the next time, more questions first--and provide some gentle education and information about your business practices and pricing.  You need to know their budget as much as they need to understand your pricing.

 

I do EVERYTHING by e-mail.  You can't argue easily with the written word.

 

Rae

AZCouture Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 11:15pm

Yeah, my baby grand piano is certainly not marketed at $30/serving. But if you want to break it down, yes, that is what it would be. But $30/serving is a scary sounding number. The total price for a labor intensive project is easier to swallow.

Jess155 Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 11:20pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellavanilla 

 

Isn't Duff's minimum around $1500?

That minimum probably buys you more than just a 9 inch cake.  Unless it is an incredibly detailed masterpiece.  And gold.  Either way, he does have that pesky tv show and the whole name brand thing.  So, yes, he probably charges more than us who are not on tv.  I was referring to the fact that although the people that watch those shows don't have any idea how much they cost, they could probably never imagine a $50 per serving price tag. 

jason_kraft Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 11:32pm

AYou would never sell it as $50/serving, it would be something like $5/serving for the cake plus $15/hour for detail work.

ellavanilla Posted 9 Jan 2013 , 11:51pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jess155 

That minimum probably buys you more than just a 9 inch cake.  Unless it is an incredibly detailed masterpiece.  And gold.  Either way, he does have that pesky tv show and the whole name brand thing.  So, yes, he probably charges more than us who are not on tv.  I was referring to the fact that although the people that watch those shows don't have any idea how much they cost, they could probably never imagine a $50 per serving price tag. 

Agree and Agree. 

kendra_83 Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 1:49am

AJess: The client WAS wanting a scale replica, of which I tracked down blueprints in order to do so and she DID provide me with pictures. I don't think $1500 is an unfair price at all. I planned on 50 hours of work, not to mention clearing my schedule for that week and the week prior, purchasing building materials for the frame and building it . Plus I would have to deliver it ~80 miles. When did I ever say anything about a 9" round anyway?

The botton line is: I CAN'T make a 30 serving cake for under $100 whether there's a plane on it or not. I'll definitely be finding out the client's budget in the future before wasting my time. She said that her sister-in-law's (whom the cake was to be for) husband had some big money contacts and they would be using me in the future after seeing this cake so I just assumed she would put her money where her mouth is. Guess not!

BlakesCakes: I used Mike McCarey's car DVD on a Studebaker cake and, yes, he is very smart and talented.

AZCouture Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 2:14am

I don't see any mention of minimum order on your FB page...might want to indicate that somewhere since you seem to do most of your business there? Just a thought. I definitely have my minimum front and center on my page and website. Helps to weed out the requests that won't pan out.

Jess155 Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 2:34am
Quote:
Originally Posted by kendra_83 
When did I ever say anything about a 9" round anyway?
 

You didn't.  You mentioned it was for 30 people.  It doesn't really matter what shape it is.  I didn't think for 30 people it sounded like a major project involving blueprints, frame, and building materials.  Sounds like a gumpaste plane on a small cake.  That's why I balked at the $1500 price tag, as did the client.  I didn't know about the delivery, which could add a significant charge.  And I didn't say you should make it for under $100.  Neither did the client.  Her price range was $100-150 I believe.  I'm just saying that there are a lot more ways to make this way more affordable and way easier for you.  Then you won't have to clear your schedule for 2 weeks. 

waggs Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 2:42am

AThree years age for my 50th birthday my husband and my daughters surprised me with a cake from Duff. It was $1,000 for a small sheet cake and delivery was $500. My daughter drove to Baltimore to pick the cake up.

kendra_83 Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 2:57am

ASure, there are ways to make it easier on myself but simple is not at all what she attempted to order. What she wanted was a replica. My thinking is this: if she expected to get a scale replica for under $150 then she'll more than likely be disappointed in a $150 cake.

kendra_83 Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 3:11am

AAlso, I'm in no way comparing my work to Duff's. I'm sure he would charge ten times that amount for a cake like that, not to mention, it would be much more awesome. All I'm saying is that if I'm going to spend that much time, I need to be compensated for it. I'm done stressing and working for free.

ultraviolet Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 3:55am

AI think 1500 is fair, many bakers charge minimum of 1000-1500. Get a good list of questions together for people wanting cakes. Like an employment application.!! Hehe and most importantly find out their budget first! There are many people charging 10-30$ per slice of 4" highx1" thick, 3" deep sometimes 2" deep

ultraviolet Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 3:56am

AAlso check out cake boss software to help you just costs

Norasmom Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 4:13am

For the amount of work and detail you were going to put into this cake, $1500 is reasonable, at least to fellow bakers on this forum.  However, that is a shocking price to the general public.  Unfortunately, most people don't understand what goes into a cake.

ultraviolet Posted 10 Jan 2013 , 4:30am

AYep and that's why they have betty Crocker !!

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%