nhbaker Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 1:21pm
post #1 of

So, many of you might not see any issues here but some of this is a new one for me so I'm just looking for some input...  (sorry, a bit long)

 

A potential client (bride) emailed me this inquiry a couple days ago "I'm shopping around for a wedding cake for April 20 of this year for about 100 guests. The truth is I'm on a very tight budget - and we're not looking for anything too fancy. Could you please give me an estimated quote on a modest wedding cake? I'm thinking we can have a separate kitchen sheet cake if need be. How much would you charge to deliver to xx"

 

I email her back and give her my usual schpeal about without knowing her design, my base price per serving is $3.25 so a rough estimate for a cake to feed 100 people would be $325, plus $50 delivery (location is 45 miles away from me), and my kitchen cakes are the same base price.  She replies and says likes one of my cakes on my website (buttercream) and asks if that one would that one be any cheaper and also attached a picture of a fondant covered cake with sugar flowers and wanted a price on that.  I emailed her back and told her my base price remains the same, regardless of the design and goes up from there, and also told her the cake in the pic she attached would be more expensive.

 

Her next email says this "To be honest, we are on a very strict budget trying to kind if throw this at the last minute (sole purpose to very much wanting to include his mother battling cancer). We had no idea cakes cost so much! If the lace one is cheaper, then we would much have that instead and provide our own cake topper. Is there any way we can work on the pricing? Our meager budget was at $200 but I can do $275? Let me know if this is amenable to you or if it sounds too crazy"

 

I emailed her back (using some wording I found here on cc) this:  "I understand that budgeting for a wedding can be a challenge. However, my pricing reflects the large amount of time and skill it takes to design and execute a delicious work of art. I stand firm on my prices for that reason. Perhaps you could consider going with a smaller cake/serving count which will decrease your cost".

 

Her next email "We do not have much time to go up to NH anytime soon to try the cakes - but I read your reviews online, and they all sound promising! My only concern is that the cake won't be dry, and for the guests to enjoy them, of course! I saw the flavors online - do you typically do layers of different flavors/fillings? So it'd be $325 for the floral lace cake + $50 delivery/set up = $375 total?"

 

I replied accordingly and offered to give her refences, etc.  Her reply:  "Do you offer a contract that we can review?"

 

This threw me, I've never had anyone want to see the contract beforehand (especially with no real indication that they plan on ordering a cake from me).

 

Does anyone else see red flags here or am I just being paranoid and reading too much into this?

 


 

20 replies
DeliciousDesserts Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 1:31pm
post #2 of

AI don't see any red flags. Sounds to me like she's trying to negotiate a price within her budget. She also mentions she won't be able to attend a consultation. This may be one of those you do all by email/phone.

You do still need to be cautious. Be sure to get a deposit, cake paid in full before delivery, detailed signed contract, etc. final payment must be in your hand with time to clear the bank or made by cashiers check/money order.

In my case, I email a copy of my policies & procedures contract along with te consultation guide. I want people to know very quickly the limits of my responsibility as well as what to expect in various situations. Doesn't worry me that she wants to see yours. It's a good sign that she is seriously considering you.

BakingIrene Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 2:03pm
post #3 of

Customers should ALWAYS ask to review the contract before signing it. 

 

In this case the caution would be due to the serious illness.  They have to see the details about a cancellation at the last minute.  You are being given the heads-up to make sure that you spell all this out, if your normal contract does not address such circumstances.

 

These people are not asking you to compromise your payment schedule.  If your gut feeling doesn't settle, then you would be best off suggesting that this customer can save the delivery fee by using a more local baker.  I mean, MA has to be crawling with them...

 

Added later: When I lived in MA many people swore that ALL prices were always lower in NH.  These people may have heard the same fiction.

lkern777 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 3:02pm
post #4 of

I always email a copy of my contract before the consultation so they can read it beforehand. That way they can have any questions ready and not waste time at the consultation reading it.

cakesbycathy Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 7:02pm
post #5 of

First, I think you should always go with your gut.

 

This could just be a situation where, given their particular case with the illness, they want to see if they will be able to get any of their money back if they have to cancel or postpone.  Maybe they read somewhere that you should ask for a copy of the contract before you seal the deal.

 

If they know you are firm on price then it shouldn't be a problem.  But if your gut is telling you this is not a good order to take you can simply tell them you are unable to make their cake.
 

erin2345 Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 9:04pm
post #6 of

If you are getting the feeling that she is going to be trouble, I would tell her you are now booked on that weekend and leave it at that.  I have had 2 clients that seemed like trouble, for whatever reason, and they ended up being  major headaches.  The first lady, I proceeded with the order only to field a stream of hysterical phone calls the next day because the cake was "gaudy" (it was literally exactly what she ordered - not my fault you have bad taste lady).  The second lady, after a miscalculation on my part, and 7000 emails for a first birthday cupcake tower, I cut her loose.  Now, if I get a hint of crazy, I stop it in its tracks.  I do not have time time or energy for that!

 

You can't afford my cake?  Tough, go somewhere else!  If $3.25 is the lowest per serving you do, then her only choice is to order less servings, or go elsewhere.  I don't know how you can tell her this any clearer.  She will most likely be the "complain to try and get $$ back" type.  

mcaulir Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 9:44pm
post #7 of

She sounds really reasonable to me.

Annabakescakes Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 9:46pm
post #8 of

I actually had a bride look very carefully at my pricing chart, do her own math and figure what the price of her cake would be, calculate delivery and ask to review the contract before the consultation. I find it refreshing! Most expect a 100 serving cake with a base price of $2.75 to cost about $50. 

costumeczar Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 11:51pm
post #9 of

AI don't know...if she used the magic words "dry cake" and is trying to wheedle the price down I might pass. The dry cake thing seems to be the basic complaint that people use when they try to get refunds for no reason, since there's no way that you can disprove that after the fact. I would also take notice of the mention of a serious illness, since that's a nice sympathy ploy to get you to drop your price. Maybe it's true, maybe it isn't, but it has nothing to do with the price of your cakes. My concern wouldn't be with the contract, I always give clients the contract to take home and look over before they hire me. It would be with the story she gave you and the bargain hunting.

costumeczar Posted 26 Jan 2013 , 11:54pm

AI did recently have a client try to get me to price match someone else, then asked me to change a couple of things in my contract when I wouldn't. One was the clause about who pays court costs if something goes to court, and the other was the amount of a refund they would get if a natural disaster happened and I couldn't deliver the cake. I told him no thanks, see you, have a nice day. If someone is that picky before they even hire you it isn't going to get any better after they hire you.

Evoir Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 12:38am

AI'm with costumeczar on this one. Gut feelings should be noted. As should odd questions, sob stories, requests for price-matching, and concerns about 'dry cake'.

If it was me, I'd not bother. But then I have to turn away a lot of business, so it's not like I need to kowtow to any potentially difficult client.

Sassyzan Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 1:57am

ARed flag. Needy. Weird. What does the cancer have anything to do with the price of cake? The line about dry cake and guests enjoying it? I agree it sounds like they're setting up a case for complaining later, even if its unconscious on their part. If you don't need the business, I'd take a pass.

AZCouture Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 2:22am

If something makes you feel weird, you can't ignore it. I had a back and forth with someone awhile back, a first birthday mommy who booked me online, with odd questions and just a general tone of distrust and buyers remorse (before I even made the cake). The last straw came when she emailed me after being at a party with what she thought was one of my cakes, and wondered why hers was going to cost so much more and that one was so much bigger, and the taste was funny, etc. She said "I'd like to get together and go over a few things in person." Uh, no. I ain't getting together with you for a $150 cake, in fact here's your Paypal payment back, go bug someone else. Bam! 

peppercorns Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 6:07am

AGo with your gut feeling, I always do, exams, situations, etc. Gut feeling is usually your 6th sense telling you something is maybe awry. Listen to it carefully. Good luck

jason_kraft Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 6:49am

A

Original message sent by BakingIrene

In this case the caution would be due to the serious illness.  They have to see the details about a cancellation at the last minute.  You are being given the heads-up to make sure that you spell all this out, if your normal contract does not address such circumstances.

This.

I don't see a problem with the attempted negotiation as long as the customer is willing to go ahead with the order for your original price. But keep in mind that this order is at a much higher risk of being cancelled, so whether or not you want to accept the order is up to you and will largely depend on how much other business you have.

-K8memphis Posted 27 Jan 2013 , 3:16pm

this just made me flashback to a similar situation with a long time acquaintance

 

wanted a very cool choco plated designer cake 'simple cake' of course

 

there was an adult sibling dying and the bride had a lack of funds

 

and they wanted a deal but not for a cake they could afford

 

and there were teases about, oh i just opened an envelope with an unexpected love gift from blablabla

 

and i have almost enough money but i never saw a penny

 

and i just finally said, sorry you need to make other arrangements

 

no deal chicky -- get me off the merry go 'round

 

playing the sympathy card is creepy untoward in a business deal-- borders on disturbing

 

if it was me -- i might say something like 'we are fast tracking our plans'

 

i would play the sympathy card if i was truly desperate and i needed milk for the baby's bottle

 

but not for a wedding cake i could not afford

nhbaker Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 1:24pm

UPDATE - Now what? 

 

So my last contact with this bride was on 1/26 and all I said was "attached is a copy of my contract for you to review".

 

This morning I got this from her "Thanks. We trust that your cake will be nothing but fabulous! Really excited to see it that day! :) Should I fill out the contract or should i go ahead and give you the pertinent information?"

 

This is the FIRST indication that I've gotten that she wants to hire me.  Now what do I say?  I'm going to go with my gut on this one and not take the order but I want to word my email to her in a way that won't come back and bit me in the a>>.  Any suggestions?

DeliciousDesserts Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 1:29pm

AThank you so much for your faith and confidence. As I mentioned, I book on a first come first pay deposit basis. Since our last contact, I have received a deposit and am currently booked for ------. Please accept my best wishes.

If you know of someone to whom you can refer her, do so. Otherwise leave it.

costumeczar Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 2:03pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts 

Thank you so much for your faith and confidence. As I mentioned, I book on a first come first pay deposit basis. Since our last contact, I have received a deposit and am currently booked for
. Please accept my best wishes.

If you know of someone to whom you can refer her, do so. Otherwise leave it.

That's what I was going to say too.

-K8memphis Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 2:23pm

i know, nh! that's eerily similar to my situation

 

little teases long silences

 

punctuated with lengthy 'you and i are on the same page' type emails

 

and i was never near that page--missed deadlines no retainer

 

she had a nice wedding and got her cake needs elsewhere

 

nothing like the cake she showed me

 

which i understand and have compassion for the dire situation -- death/wedding whoa heavy heaviest

 

and i guess i understand the hiccoughing contacts w/me sort of-- due to all things considered

 

but then at some point business is business we're on or we're not and i finally called it--

 

i prolly said something like, 'unfortunately i'm no longer able to fulfill your order' but dang it was late late late in the game too so~~

-K8memphis Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 2:31pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts 

Thank you so much for your faith and confidence. (However) as I mentioned, I book on a first come first pay deposit basis. Since our last contact, I have received a deposit and am currently booked for
. Please accept my best wishes.

If you know of someone to whom you can refer her, do so. Otherwise leave it.

only thing i would do is add a 'however' in there to denote the change in direction

 

otherwise it seems like you're accepting... but then not really

 

and to my shock i have had people arrange thier event to coincide with my calendar so keep that in mind too

 

'well if you're booked on that date how about the week before/after' or 'when do you have an opening'

 

so keep it sweet, simple and for sure

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