cakesdivine Posted 29 Jan 2013 , 11:30pm
post #1 of

I had a potential client come in with her daughter for a Quince cake quote on Saturday with no appointment.  The girl shows me a picture of a 4 tiered cake, slightly topsy turvy with the bottom tier looking as if a big slice had already been taken out and tons of handmade gumpaste candy and lollipops the top 2 tiers were sculpted to look like a popcorn bucket and a bowl, again all with tons of hand made candy spilling out and all over the cake.  Bare minimum this cake was at least $1500 with all the fondant and gumpaste details (my price for this cake would be much higher).  So I ask the 2 most important questions:

1.  How many guests are we wanting to feed? Answer: 250-300

2. What is your budget? $300 icon_eek.gif

 

I then again asked "...and you want this exact cake?"  Yes

 

It was all I could do to not laugh in their faces.  But I was good,icon_biggrin.gif and started to educate them on the reality of it all.  I told them that even if I did a very basic buttercream cake and they purchased separately actual candy for me to decorate the cake with, that the least expensive I could do was $2.25 a serving which was still way over their budget. (and that was me being generous because they still wanted the 3d look of the bottom tier and the top 2 tiers carved to look the same as in the photo, with the slight topsy turvy build.) 

 

I did a taste sampling for them anyway, and encouraged them to shop around to see if they could get that cake for their budget, but if they wanted that exact cake from me my price was $9.75 per serving.

 

I doubt they will book with me.

 

This does happen to me all the time in this area.  And I had a similar experience that I posted about a year or two ago.  It just seems now that the cake shows are so popular that it has become an epidemic!

156 replies
Sparklekat6 Posted 29 Jan 2013 , 11:37pm
post #2 of

Cake central needs to have a section for their bakers where they post a "Photo of the Day" and we all clock in with how much we would charge for that cake.  That would hopefully educate SOMEONE!  Maybe I'll start a blog!

DeliciousDesserts Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 12:01am
post #3 of

AOooo! I like that idea Sparklekat!

I do love tha one of the TLC shows shows pice

cakesdivine Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 12:12am
post #4 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparklekat6 

Cake central needs to have a section for their bakers where they post a "Photo of the Day" and we all clock in with how much we would charge for that cake.  That would hopefully educate SOMEONE!  Maybe I'll start a blog!

Great idea!  But not all potential clients find their way to Cake Central.

Annabakescakes Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 12:22am
post #5 of

A

Original message sent by Sparklekat6

Cake central needs to have a section for their bakers where they post a "Photo of the Day" and we all clock in with how much we would charge for that cake.  That would hopefully educate SOMEONE!  Maybe I'll start a blog!

You should start a blog, with reader submitted photos, like CakeWrecks. And we will all submit our pics and tell the story, and you can have a panel of screened bakers that provide feedback on how much they would charge for it at their licensed bakery. (That way some poor newbie won't be able to chime in and say that they'd do it for $50, when it is clearly a $1500 cake.)

tdovewings Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 12:32am
post #6 of

Yes, most people don't know how much these things really cost. However, we are part of the blame too. I understand that every cake is different and priced differently but we all have minimum prices on our websites. I am really about to redo my website to show some example of cakes and how much they really cost. Most clients are truly and utterly disappointed when they find out, so I want to give folks a better experience and more reasonable expectations. It will probably reduce the number of calls I get, but I'm sure the number of orders I get will remain about the same.  When people are shocked by the price, my favorite line is, "I'm just like taking your car to the mechanic, you pay $10.00 for the part and $400 for labor". Most seem to get that analogy, I never have any hard feelings when they walk away, it's just part of the process when you are in the custom business of anything. 

Sparklekat6 Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 12:48am
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 




You should start a blog, with reader submitted photos, like CakeWrecks. And we will all submit our pics and tell the story, and you can have a panel of screened bakers that provide feedback on how much they would charge for it at their licensed bakery. (That way some poor newbie won't be able to chime in and say that they'd do it for $50, when it is clearly a $1500 cake.)

 

Yeah but the flip side to that is then I'd have to find bakers who would be willing to sit on said panel.  I was thinking if it was done through cake central that people could log in through their account and put a number into the program and it would generate the average throughout the day as people logged in with their price.  That way people could only post a price once and it would be really a PITA to try and bring down the price of the cake by continually logging in under a fake alias.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 1:10am
post #8 of

Sparklekat, that is an awesome idea.

 

If that doesn't work, I would totally volunteer for ya panel.

ellavanilla Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 1:22am
post #9 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparklekat6 

 

Yeah but the flip side to that is then I'd have to find bakers who would be willing to sit on said panel.  I was thinking if it was done through cake central that people could log in through their account and put a number into the program and it would generate the average throughout the day as people logged in with their price.  That way people could only post a price once and it would be really a PITA to try and bring down the price of the cake by continually logging in under a fake alias.

I think having the opinions of bakers from all locations would be very helpful. If only to understand that some work is so specialized that you might not even be able to find a baker in your area, who can make that amazing creation.

AZCouture Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 2:13am

AHa.. I'm in!

jenmat Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 2:19am

I am FULLLL of opinions! I can be your "up in the northwoods" pricer!

Stitches Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 4:39am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparklekat6 

 

Yeah but the flip side to that is then I'd have to find bakers who would be willing to sit on said panel.  I was thinking if it was done through cake central that people could log in through their account and put a number into the program and it would generate the average throughout the day as people logged in with their price.  That way people could only post a price once and it would be really a PITA to try and bring down the price of the cake by continually logging in under a fake alias.

I think that is a really great idea!

I worry about non-professionals being able to post their pricing, I still see some ridiculous pricing happening from newbies. Ideally there would be regional pricing included. Perhaps it would be even more helpful for people to see our ingredient costs, overhead burdens and the time factor separated out of the whole quote. That's how people could really understand some of the realities.

 

Doing something like this helps our entire industry!!! It certainly wouldn't require a new cake to price everyday..........you wouldn't want to overwhelm the viewer. You could feature famous cakes and get that decorator to elaborate on their costs. You could get professionals to volunteer their cake photos (for advertising) and contribute their info.. If it was done right, it would highlight the decorators, so everyone would be interested in disclosing those facts to the public.

 

I'm in, however I can help.

ibeeflower Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 5:06pm

A friend thought I should sell cakes for .75 cents a serving! I use Swiss buttercream, or couverture ganache. I bake all cakes from scratch, and I decorate my cakes well because I'm such a perfectionist. .75 cents a serving! I live in an area where prices aren't as high as others, but the market isn't at .75 cents.

BakingIrene Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 5:57pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by ibeeflower 

A friend thought I should sell cakes for .75 cents a serving! I use Swiss buttercream, or couverture ganache. I bake all cakes from scratch, and I decorate my cakes well because I'm such a perfectionist. .75 cents a serving! I live in an area where prices aren't as high as others, but the market isn't at .75 cents.

Next time she raises this issue, ask her what your local minimum wage is.  Then ask her how long it takes her at home to make a dozen cupcakes.

 

These people who think that you can put up mud and charge for cake never even think about minimum wage.  That's a good place to teach, because most people accept the concept of baing paid at least minimum wage.

 

And one of the wedding wesbites  has a portfolio of wedding cakes with prices from all over the USA.  They range from $4 to $20 per serving for a comparable amount of work...there is no way to account for the ego.

ibeeflower Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 6:37pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakingIrene 

Next time she raises this issue, ask her what your local minimum wage is.  Then ask her how long it takes her at home to make a dozen cupcakes.

 

These people who think that you can put up mud and charge for cake never even think about minimum wage.  That's a good place to teach, because most people accept the concept of baing paid at least minimum wage.

 

And one of the wedding wesbites  has a portfolio of wedding cakes with prices from all over the USA.  They range from $ to $20 per serving for a comparable amount of work...there is no way to account for the ego.

I found her comment surprising because she is getting her master's degree in business! I know she isn't trying to exploit me, but I at least thought that she would consider that I should make more than 9.00 for a dozen cupcakes. or 18 dollars for a 9 inch cake. I explained to her what pricing was in the area and she thought it was insane.

jason_kraft Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 7:29pm

A

Original message sent by ibeeflower

I found her comment surprising because she is getting her master's degree in business! I know she isn't trying to exploit me, but I at least thought that she would consider that I should make more than 9.00 for a dozen cupcakes. or 18 dollars for a 9 inch cake. I explained to her what pricing was in the area and she thought it was insane.

Having a degree in business is more about knowing how to do market research/pricing/etc. in general than covering specific examples for different industries. If you don't have the specialized knowledge to know how long it will take to create a product, then you won't be able to price that product accurately, and that specialized knowledge comes from work experience in the field.

That said, she probably should have withheld her advice until she had more information.

This is not unique to making cakes, I've come across this attitude myself in the form of "it's just a web site" and "fixing this computer problem should be easy".

ibeeflower Posted 30 Jan 2013 , 8:09pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


Having a degree in business is more about knowing how to do market research/pricing/etc. in general than covering specific examples for different industries. If you don't have the specialized knowledge to know how long it will take to create a product, then you won't be able to price that product accurately, and that specialized knowledge comes from work experience in the field.

That said, she probably should have withheld her advice until she had more information.

This is not unique to making cakes, I've come across this attitude myself in the form of "it's just a web site" and "fixing this computer problem should be easy".

You have a point Jason. I'm guilty of underestimating costs for certain things as well. Research would have to be done.

howsweet Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 12:51am

One advantage to having it on cake central would be to educate a large number of home bakers on how they are giving away cake and creating an uneven playing field for those who are trying to eek out a living in this business.  As far as any bakers' websites being to blame for people expecting low prices as mentioned earlier, I would blame the many people undercharging for giving people the wrong idea about fair prices.

 

I find only about 20% of people actually really anything on my website and just see the sparkly pictures anyway.
 

bnbmom Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 7:26am

ABakers giving away cake is exactly what is happening in los angeles. All over craigslist they are selling cakes that at the minimum should be $200 for around $60:(

If they make a thirty dollar profit, they are good with that. I cannot compete with there prices. It's not worth it for me.

They have orders and orders, and I think that for them it is about volume of sales.

I saw on there facebook a 4 tier huge wedding cake with all over bling and quilting and they price they gave to customers was $200.

It makes me so sad to see this kind of undercutting.

homecake Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 1:51pm

I too have had this problem before, I think my prices are VERY cheap, sometimes I do not make any money on a cake but I only started selling them not too long ago and at the moment prefer to get some "publicity" than the money, but I get loads of ppl saying they could get a cake in the supermarket for 10 euro!! this really irritates me, as all my cakes are made from scratch and I put myself under a lot of pressure to bake them last minute so its as fresh as it can be, unless you have ever made and decorated a cake I don't think anyone understands how much materials cost and the amount of hours that goes into it!!!

DeliciousDesserts Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 1:54pm

ASo, lets do it.

Later today, I'm going to go through my glory & add a price to my cakes.

Now, how do we start a cool section for this? Or do we just start a thread?

sidcaes Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 2:51pm

I would love to see this.  I am sort of a newbie, I used to work at a bakery (ages ago in my college days) and am now a stay at home mom looking to make a little spending cash.   I've been making cakes and really don't know how much to charge all the time.  And, really I'm making cakes for friends and family and don't always want to charge typical "bakery" prices.  I'd love to see what prices some more professional bakers are charging.

 

I'd like to add that a website like this ought to showcase a range of abilities.  There are some cakes here that I couldn't do even for $20/serving, because I lack the skills to pull it off.  I'd be willing to post some of my stuff, if people would be kind!  I'd love some insight on how much to charge.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 2:57pm

AThat does pose an interesting point.

There is a gentleman in my town with insane talent. While I am proud of my work, I am not yet at his level of technique & expierience.

As people view the examples & prices, they will need to know they need to adjust pricing accordingly. It's not fair to charge the same for a cake with minor blemishes as one that is flawless.

BakingIrene Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 3:01pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by sidcaes 

 

 I'd love some insight on how much to charge.

Add up all your costs--ingredients, electricity, paper goods, equipment PLUS calculate at least minimum wage for your time.

 

The people who are grossly undercutting are not earning the minimum wage.  They are not even thinking about earning the minimum wage. They are directly putting honest workers back 100 years to the days of piecework for pennies a day.

 

And I wish that customers had the decency to ask home based bakers "are you really earning the minimum wage" BEFORE they buy.

sidcaes Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 3:30pm

I do add up all the costs (although I haven't done electricity or water or gas.  I always run another load in the dishwasher plus wash a lot by hand), but I am lacking in adding in my time.  I do add for my time, but I'll be honest, not min wage.  And because I only have about a cake a week, if that, I do them "here and there", spending an hour or so after my kids go to bed.   I haven't yet added up all the time that a cake will take me, but I ought to.  I'm really new at this and underestimate the amount of time that a cake will take me when quoting a price.  And I often add details to a cake that weren't requested that take me much longer than I thought.

 

I absolutely do not mean to undercut any other bakers.  Partly I'm trying to create a portfolio and using people who would buy a cake from a grocery store or not at all and partly I'm just inexperienced.

 

I plan to add all my time for the next cake and see just how much time I am spending on the cakes.  I bet it will surprised me!

BakingIrene Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 3:45pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by sidcaes 

 

I absolutely do not mean to undercut any other bakers. 

 

I plan to add all my time for the next cake and see just how much time I am spending on the cakes.  I bet it will surprised me!

I know that you are dealing honestly.  I was referring to other posts about other peoples prices. And the race to the bottom is happening all over the place, not just in home based baking.

 

Keeping track of your time is important while you are working up the portfolio--then you can give good estimates to customers.

tdovewings Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 4:23pm

speaking of adding in the cost of your time, I don't think most people know how much to charge for their time. I haven't found a good source for hourly rates,  I know it is somewhat based on area, but finding a starting point is hard.  I called around to bakeries (storefront, but not grocery) and couldn't get a straight answer. I find it funny how cake decorators give away all their trade secrets on decorating, but won't tell another person how much they make.

 

I'll try.... SO what rates are you all paying yourself? I think I pay myself a bit high for my years of experience (who knows how good of a number it is), but it takes a lot of R&D to develop my recipes, so I pay myself $15.00 per hour. I looked on payscale.com and other places and it says cake decorators should make ~8.00-15.00 an hour. 

DeliciousDesserts Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 4:28pm

AWhen adding a cost for your time, you have to consider reasonable time. When I first started, it took me forever to frost a cake. I spent hours getting it straight & smooth. Now, I frost a cake in 1/3 the time. Think like a mechanic. They have set "times" it should take. Some move faster & others slower. It's not fair to overcharge a client because we are slow or inexperienced. Course, it's also not far to undercharge.

Just a thought.

homecake Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 4:42pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakingIrene 

I know that you are dealing honestly.  I was referring to other posts about other peoples prices. And the race to the bottom is happening all over the place, not just in home based baking.

 

Keeping track of your time is important while you are working up the portfolio--then you can give good estimates to customers.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts 

When adding a cost for your time, you have to consider reasonable time. When I first started, it took me forever to frost a cake. I spent hours getting it straight & smooth. Now, I frost a cake in 1/3 the time. Think like a mechanic. They have set "times" it should take. Some move faster & others slower. It's not fair to overcharge a client because we are slow or inexperienced. Course, it's also not far to undercharge.

Just a thought.

I absolutely agree with DeliciousDesserts, I never actually calculate my time as I know for example that to make a person out of fondant probably takes me ten times longer than somebody that has been doing it for a lot longer than me

I usually have a "base" price for a cake as in, a round 8" is one price and then add on to that depending on the amount and type of decoration I was asked for, NO WAY it is my intention to undercut anyone else, ( this wouldn't happen anyway as there isn't anyone else in my town doing this at the moment) but it is trial and error for everyone and I know if I tried to charge the same as an established bakery I would never sale a cake as I'm only starting, I don't have a shop and rely a lot in word of mouth.

jason_kraft Posted 3 Feb 2013 , 5:08pm

A

Original message sent by tdovewings

I'll try.... SO what rates are you all paying yourself? I think I pay myself a bit high for my years of experience (who knows how good of a number it is), but it takes a lot of R&D to develop my recipes, so I pay myself $15.00 per hour. I looked on payscale.com and other places and it says cake decorators should make ~8.00-15.00 an hour. 

Personally I prefer factoring R&D in to overhead costs, since after you launch the business and get your recipes ready you won't be doing R&D for every order. Payscale is generally accurate and $8-15/hour is a good range, again depending on area. If you run your own business you will also get the benefit of your markup for profit that accrues directly to the business (usually in the 15-45% range depending on your costs and market values).

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