The Unrealistic Client

Business By cakesdivine Updated 10 Feb 2013 , 8:39pm by howsweet

klhoward42 Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 2:28pm
post #91 of 157

Also if we want to go deeper, how many people on here order from an online source other than their local supply store??? You are charging market value but  trying  to purchase your supplies as cheap as possible to make a profit. My point is its a messed up system and there are several ways to educate decorators and yesterday when I made the first comment, I was attacked for being an amateur and was told I am hurting professionals. I had no idea, never really thought about it. When I made the statement, do you really think I am hurting local bakeries? I had no ideas I really was, I never thought for a moment my 2 to 3 cakes a month was doing anything wrong.  I am a very honest person and have seriously reconsidered my hobby because of everyone's posts. I seriously truly had no idea that I was illegal, and hurting the cake decorating business as a whole. There is no other choice but to not do cakes anymore, I can't afford to give my cakes away of free. There are no other options!

kikiandkyle Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 2:41pm
post #92 of 157

I give away my cakes, I'm not allowed to accept payment in IL because I don't meet the home baker licensing requirements. Because I do eventually want to open a business, I can't take the risk of breaking any laws that might jeopardize that. No I can't really afford to do it often, and I could certainly do with the extra cash, but that's the way it goes. If it was as easy for me as it is in GA, I would have already got licensed. So what if I don't make Colette Peters level cakes, people still want to pay me for them! 

DeliciousDesserts Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 2:45pm
post #93 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts 

So, 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?

 

Back to the original topic....

 

Just finished editing my photos to include pricing.  I'll start a new thread for anyone interested in comparing pricing.

Stitches Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 5:33pm
post #94 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by klhoward42 

Also if we want to go deeper, how many people on here order from an on line source other than their local supply store??? You are charging market value but  trying  to purchase your supplies as cheap as possible to make a profit. My point is its a messed up system

Labor and skills are different then materials. Your mis-understanding/twisting a previous example. Yes, buying from Wal-mart does hurt small retail business. The small business owner can't compete with the purchasing power of Wal-mart. That's why so many businesses have closed. But, the small retail store can offer services and attention a giant like Wal-Mart can't, that's the only ground left to compete on.

 

Decorators are those small retailers, we can't compete with the pricing of big stores because we can't buy or sell on the same scale. Instead, what we do is compete based on our skills, our services and attention to details (taste).

 

If people come along and don't charge for their skills, that takes away the only thing/product a small business has to offer to seperate themselves from the big box store. Now we have nothing left to compete for, we go out of business because we can't afford to work for free.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kikiandkyle 
So what if I don't make Colette Peters level cakes, people still want to pay me for them! 

Exactly. If they aren't good enough to sell, then don't. But if they are, then please charge a responsible amount!  

 

I would never want you to stop decorating cakes! I want you to act responsibly and think about how you either help or hurt the industry and the people you love. Do as you'd direct your children and see that you're making excuses. I can see how you'd never want to stop decorating, don't! Think about adapting, being all you can be and learning how you can support the thing you like so much.

kikiandkyle Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 7:21pm
post #95 of 157

ANobody wants you to stop making cakes and enjoying decorating them! Its simply a matter of understanding the difference between a hobby that you do for fun and being in the business of selling cakes, whether to simply make a little cash or as a full scale operation.

Jess155 Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 9:02pm
post #96 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by klhoward42 

So what is a person,  who likes to bake, suppose to do to start out, give away free cakes and then one day start charging the going rate in the area, never sell them to anyone before they make it where they feel they can charge the full price. Not all of us are as confident!! So back to my question how many people started out exactly where I am?? Nobody wants to admit for one moment that the majority of people who make it started out exactly where I am , so what is someone suppose to do?? All of you professionals did you start out selling your cakes for free and then one day charge full local area pricing???

Yes, that's exactly what you're supposed to do.  Not everyone follows the laws in their areas and that does hurt those who do.  I am in a state that does not have a cottage law.  I cannot and will not sell my cakes.  I do them occasionally for family and friends.  We have 4 kids and another on the way so just birthdays keep me in practice ;)  I have done several big wedding cakes for friends and non-profit fundraisers.  It is an expensive hobby.  I would love to be able to charge for them.  But I will not break the law and have my kids see me thumbing my nose at laws even if I don't agree with them, (unless it's a matter of conscience, of course - which this is not).  BTW, I homeschool too!  It rocks!  Did I hear your state has a cottage law?  Check out the requirements, it may be fairly reasonable for you to get licensed. 

DeliciousDesserts Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 9:53pm
post #97 of 157

ASure would love an Angel Investor.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 9:53pm
post #98 of 157

AHa ha ha that makes me the unrealistic baker!

cakeyouverymuch Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 9:57pm
post #99 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts 

Sure would love an Angel Investor.

 

 

Or a lottery win!

klhoward42 Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 10:43pm
post #100 of 157

Yes my state has the Cottage food law, and it is very new. From the research I have done its hard to get approved, because most counties don't understand it and don't know about the new law. Most people I have heard from it takes up to $1000 to get all the ducks in a row! From surveys, to hearings and fees. Also, even if I were able to get those things in place. I know that there is not one customer that would pay $3 a serving for a cake, $85 for a 2 tiered cake, $50 for a simple round cake! So I basically have no customers if I do raise my  prices! It's not worth it, I am so sad because this isn't going to ever work out for me! The comparisons for cake are that to a Walmart cake so I priced myself above Walmart cakes without charging an arm and a leg for a cake!!! Do rural areas have a lower price standard than large cities??? Is it ever do able to compare to Walmart or Kroger?? 

homecake Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 10:54pm
post #101 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by klhoward42 

Yes my state has the Cottage food law, and it is very new. From the research I have done its hard to get approved, because most counties don't understand it and don't know about the new law. Most people I have heard from it takes up to $1000 to get all the ducks in a row! From surveys, to hearings and fees. Also, even if I were able to get those things in place. I know that there is not one customer that would pay $3 a serving for a cake, $85 for a 2 tiered cake, $50 for a simple round cake! So I basically have no customers if I do raise my  prices! It's not worth it, I am so sad because this isn't going to ever work out for me! The comparisons for cake are that to a Walmart cake so I priced myself above Walmart cakes without charging an arm and a leg for a cake!!! Do rural areas have a lower price standard than large cities??? Is it ever do able to compare to Walmart or Kroger?? 

Oh my dear!!! do never compare yourself and your cakes to Walmart or any other supermarket, you offer a one of a kind creation, made to a clients specifications, from scratch, spend hours lovingly crafting decorations and without all of the nasty preservatives etc

There is just no comparison!!!

jason_kraft Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 11:00pm
post #102 of 157

A

Original message sent by klhoward42

Also, even if I were able to get those things in place. I know that there is not one customer that would pay $3 a serving for a cake, $85 for a 2 tiered cake, $50 for a simple round cake!

If you've done market research to get this information then you should already have a good start on your business plan. You may need to dig a little deeper to find target markets that are willing to pay reasonable prices though. Unfortunately it may be the case that some of your local market is not viable because so many people have been undercutting prices for so long.

Is it ever do able to compare to Walmart or Kroger?? 

If you compare yourself to Walmart and local grocery stores you have already lost, since they compete primarily on price and small businesses can't match those economies of scale. Walmart customers are not your customers.

And that's another big problem with starting out pricing too low -- you will attract the wrong kind of customers, so when you increase your prices to realistic levels you essentially have to start from scratch and find customers who are looking for more than just a low price.

Your primary focus should be on your competitive advantages -- that is, what you can provide that other people can't. This can be a focus on superior flavors and taste, quality ingredients, presentation (decorating, sculpting, etc.), flexible delivery options, partnerships with venues, niche markets (like vegan or gluten-free customers), or some combination of these.

AlphaSierra Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 11:11pm
post #103 of 157

Hi, klhoward, I just wanted to say that you mentioned before that you didn't think your cakes looked very professional. I think they are really good! Especially the Mickey Mouse one! Here's a little quote for you "... All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. That is why your work dissapoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit..." - Ira Glass     There are a lot of sassy vibes in this thread lately, but I just wanted to say that maybe you should look at it from a bakery owners (who lives off of their work) view,  as well as your own. 

kikiandkyle Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 11:50pm
post #104 of 157

You're not making the same cakes as Walmart or Kroger, their cakes are mass made from junk in factories, and decorated in a very quick, unskilled way with junk ingredients. Yours are carefully made, with quality ingredients and recipes, and skillfully decorated with custom details. You have to stop comparing your cakes to theirs if you want people to stop comparing your prices to theirs! 

Vista Posted 4 Feb 2013 , 11:51pm
post #105 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by klhoward42 

Yes my state has the Cottage food law, and it is very new. From the research I have done its hard to get approved, because most counties don't understand it and don't know about the new law. Most people I have heard from it takes up to $1000 to get all the ducks in a row! From surveys, to hearings and fees. Also, even if I were able to get those things in place. I know that there is not one customer that would pay $3 a serving for a cake, $85 for a 2 tiered cake, $50 for a simple round cake! So I basically have no customers if I do raise my  prices! It's not worth it, I am so sad because this isn't going to ever work out for me! The comparisons for cake are that to a Walmart cake so I priced myself above Walmart cakes without charging an arm and a leg for a cake!!! Do rural areas have a lower price standard than large cities??? Is it ever do able to compare to Walmart or Kroger?? 

 



If your county is not aware of the new laws, then take the time to educate them.  Here are some good pdf links that you can print off:

 

http://agr.georgia.gov/Data/Sites/1/media/ag_consumerprotection/cottage_food/files/cottagefoodregulations.pdf

http://agr.georgia.gov/Data/Sites/1/media/ag_consumerprotection/cottage_food/files/cottagefoodsfaq.pdf

 

Trying to compare to Wal-Mart or Kroger hurts everyone in the cake business.  It cheapens what we do!  I, personally, cannot purchase ingredients for what Wal-Mart  and Kroger charge for a completed cake.  I am not worried about someone stealing business from me, I am worried about the value of my work being lessened. 

 

You are not Wal-Mart or Kroger, there is no comparison between the junk that supermarkets put out and a quality, homemade, custom product.  I, too, am a SAHM and a homeschooling mom of 5.  The time I take away from my kids to work on my cakes is extremely valuable.  If someone wants my time, they can pay for it.  And honestly my time is worth so much more to me BECAUSE I am a mom with kids at home.  If I didn't have my kids here, what else would I do with my time.  Not everyone can afford my cakes, I understand that.  I would not/could not afford my cakes.  That does not mean that they are not worth it!!

 

I want to drive a brand new Mercedes, I cannot expect Mercedes to lower their prices because I cannot afford them where they are.  Value yourself, value your time, value your product, and charge accordingly!!

 

THAT being said... I have given cakes away as gifts, I have charged significantly less than market value when learning a new technique.  I let the client (usually family or close friends) know that I am charging a reduced price because I cannot guarantee the product will turn out as expected. HOWEVER, I always inform them of what the price would be if I were to do that cake again.  That way they are aware of the value and know that they are getting a steep discount, THIS time.

-K8memphis Posted 5 Feb 2013 , 12:05am
post #106 of 157

the thousand dollars sounds like possibly going for a zoning variance

 

local jurisdictions have a ton of regulations that the state does not supercede just 'cause they enact a cottage food or farmer's market law

 

both/all have to be obeyed/complied with

 

when someone says, "oh your state allows such and such so you'll be fine" i just cringe

 

yeah no there's many other hoops to jump through too, your hoa, your apt complex, the city and the county multiplied by several different agencies

 

it'a all according to your local regulations

 

it's not about not learning the new laws it's about satisfying the ones that are already there

howsweet Posted 5 Feb 2013 , 1:52am
post #107 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


If you've done market research to get this information then you should already have a good start on your business plan. You may need to dig a little deeper to find target markets that are willing to pay reasonable prices though. Unfortunately it may be the case that some of your local market is not viable because so many people have been undercutting prices for so long.
If you compare yourself to Walmart and local grocery stores you have already lost, since they compete primarily on price and small businesses can't match those economies of scale. Walmart customers are not your customers.

And that's another big problem with starting out pricing too low -- you will attract the wrong kind of customers, so when you increase your prices to realistic levels you essentially have to start from scratch and find customers who are looking for more than just a low price.

Your primary focus should be on your competitive advantages -- that is, what you can provide that other people can't. This can be a focus on superior flavors and taste, quality ingredients, presentation (decorating, sculpting, etc.), flexible delivery options, partnerships with venues, niche markets (like vegan or gluten-free customers), or some combination of these.

The way Jason used the term "market research" may sound like a huge endeavor, and while it can be, you're just selling a few cakes and it doesn't take all that much work to find out what cakes cost in your area. If grocery stores are literally all there is, then you may be pleasantly surprised to find a niche you didn't know existed.

 

We can agree to disagree, but this isn't grey area where both of us can be right. Your 2-3 cakes per month count. They are your "vote". If you are the only person in the whole world who undercharges, then maybe your "vote" doesn't matter.  But you're not the only person.  How about this -- think of your small contribution to market prices comparing it to littering.  Each person knows his one plastic cup isn't going to create a giant mess, but we use a trash can and handle our trash responsibly because we know what will happen if everyone litters.  And we know how we feel when people think that it doesn't apply to them and litter anyway. 

 

When I first started, to make a portfolio, I made some dummy cakes, nine very fancy birthday cakes for family members and sold three cakes for well under what they were worth. Being a naturally lazy person, I was like, "There's no way in hell I'm going to work that hard for nothing ever again!".  Picture Scarlet O'Hara with the radish in her hand screaming at the sky about never going hungry again. :)  So, I had eleven really nice cakes, that are still on page one of my gallery,  and that was enough to show most people what I could do.

 

Most of us have under priced our work accidentally, since the nature of this so often involves doing stuff you've never done before. And I can tell you from experience, Jason is exactly right, when these customers come back to you and find out they can't get cake as cheap as they thought, the vast majority (like 90%) drop off. You can't interest them in something lesser priced, because they want a grand cake for cheap, and this is important, THEY KNOW THEY CAN FIND SOMEONE TO DO IT. And that's a sad state of affairs and also a little annoying.

AZCouture Posted 5 Feb 2013 , 2:19am
post #108 of 157

AVery well said howsweet!

Tresor Posted 5 Feb 2013 , 2:58am
post #109 of 157

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!

Yes! Please do! I retired as a master electrician and didn't deal with the "Oh, I can do that cheap, stuff!" In the bakery world as I seen earlier, craigslist $35 cakes leave people unrealistic! Anybody in business has a bundle of other expenses...as we know and someone needs to have a show that actually prices each dessert, cake, or service. That was done on one about remodeling houses and it really helped the contractors deal with the Harry homeowners who wanted all stainless appliances, new tile, (only Italian will do) and new flooring...for less than what you can pay for linoleum !!!

cakesdivine Posted 5 Feb 2013 , 11:33pm
post #110 of 157

A

Original message sent by jason_kraft

You're welcome! Please try to avoid personal attacks though, and try to keep the thread on-topic. Thanks!

BTW since you mentioned you are in GA you may want to take a look at the recent GA cottage food law, it makes it pretty easy to get licensed and sell cakes legally from home. http://agr.georgia.gov/cottage-foods.aspx

Ok, speaking of off topic WOW my thread sure got hijacked. LOL! But Jason is right about what constitutes a professional and an amateur. By dictionary definition an amateur does not accept payment for their work, and a professional does. I am a professional cake artist and a professional dancer. When I was an armature dancer I was still an advanced dancer, but was not collecting payment for performances I was cast in. Once I received that first paid job I was a professional, but I was still an advanced dancer. Amateur does not always equate with ability/skill level. A beginner decorator can be a professional if they are getting paid for their work and an expert decorator can be an amateur if they don't get paid for their work. So I think what you are truly saying about yourself is that you are not an expert cake artist yet, so you do not feel you should charge the same as an expert, and yes I agree with that. So maybe we should allow in this new whatever it is platform, have each caker classified as either a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or master/expert ability. This would let the potential client know that if their budget is low then they can go with a less experienced cake artist and pay a price accordingly. But if a client wants perfection then they are going to have to pay for it. Make sense?

Jess155 Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 12:00am
post #111 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine 

 So maybe we should allow in this new whatever it is platform, have each caker classified as either a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or master/expert ability. This would let the potential client know that if their budget is low then they can go with a less experienced cake artist and pay a price accordingly. But if a client wants perfection then they are going to have to pay for it. Make sense?

That makes so much sense!  I know it's not realistic for everyone to do this, but wouldn't it be nice??  My hair salon has like 3 different levels of mastery and I can choose if I want a newbie or a master.  I know going in that I'm going to get what I pay for - good or bad! 

Tresor Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 8:37am
post #112 of 157

AFor what it's worth...levels are ok in theory. But with art you can not judge overall who is "master" ...vs beginner quality. Bottom line is ...if you get PAID follow the LAW and be licensed and certified, insured and everything a bakery has to have. (Including your taxes, as a real bakery does.) if not ...GIVE them away! ...while at the same time have the client buy, pay for and deliver all the material. I'm sure if they only show up with eggs, flour and butter the cake would be much different! So many are barely charging to cover the cost to be able to play Betty Crocker. But in reality it is AGAINST THE LAW to do that in some professions..food..healthcare...lol how would you like a wanna be doctor undercutting.

costumeczar Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 11:29am
post #113 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tresor 

For what it's worth...levels are ok in theory. But with art you can not judge overall who is "master" ...vs beginner quality. Bottom line is ...if you get PAID follow the LAW and be licensed and certified, insured and everything a bakery has to have. (Including your taxes, as a real bakery does.) if not ...GIVE them away! ...while at the same time have the client buy, pay for and deliver all the material. I'm sure if they only show up with eggs, flour and butter the cake would be much different! So many are barely charging to cover the cost to be able to play Betty Crocker. But in reality it is AGAINST THE LAW to do that in some professions..food..healthcare...lol how would you like a wanna be doctor undercutting.

Hey,you live down the street from me!

 

do you remember that story in the news last year about some guy who was arrested for doing dentistry out of his home without a license? That happens a lot around here for some reason. I think he was yanking people's teeth out, for cut rates. Then there was that lady who got the "plastic surgery" from some person who injected household caulk into her butt. Those were some seriously deformed hips she ended up with.

cakesdivine Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 2:50pm
post #114 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tresor 

For what it's worth...levels are ok in theory. But with art you can not judge overall who is "master" ...vs beginner quality. Bottom line is ...if you get PAID follow the LAW and be licensed and certified, insured and everything a bakery has to have. (Including your taxes, as a real bakery does.) if not ...GIVE them away! ...while at the same time have the client buy, pay for and deliver all the material. I'm sure if they only show up with eggs, flour and butter the cake would be much different! So many are barely charging to cover the cost to be able to play Betty Crocker. But in reality it is AGAINST THE LAW to do that in some professions..food..healthcare...lol how would you like a wanna be doctor undercutting.

You are so off base here.  Yes you can determine skill level, dance is an art form, gymnastics is an art form, ice skating is an art form, singing is an art form  ALL have skill level designations of beginner, intermediate, advanced, and elite/expert/master.  Those who say you can't designate ability because it is art is usually someone who has little or no talent in it, but has a heart for it.  It is a Montessori attitude to have.  Same reasoning that gave way to not scoring young kids sports "oh let's all get a trophy just for showing up". thumbsdown.gif  But I digress.  This thread is NOT about whether someone is legal or illegal, that is on them personally and what their conscience tells them.  So back on the thread please!  "stepping off soap box now".

jason_kraft Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 4:14pm
post #115 of 157

A

Original message sent by cakesdivine

Yes you can determine skill level, dance is an art form, gymnastics is an art form, ice skating is an art form, singing is an art form  ALL have skill level designations of beginner, intermediate, advanced, and elite/expert/master. 

Art is subjective. Generally it is easy to distinguish beginners from experts, but different people will have different opinions on the finer distinctions between levels.

Objective criteria like location and the amount of labor required for a design are better judges of expected price.

This thread is NOT about whether someone is legal or illegal

Actually it plays a pretty big role in establishing unrealistic expectations among potential clients, since illegal bakers have an artificially low cost structure and tend to not account correctly for even those costs. It's a financial issue, not a moral issue.

kikiandkyle Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 4:57pm
post #116 of 157

AArt may be subjective, the law is not.

melanie-1221 Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 5:08pm
post #117 of 157

I had a bride wanting a replica of the Royal Wedding cake , only for 200 people, and with a $150.00 budget.  icon_eek.gif 

Many of our customers really just don't understand what goes into cakes like this.  I blame the TV shows that make it all look so easy, and promoting these cakes without promoting how much they charge for them.

 

Also , to chime in with the somewhat off topic conversation here:

 

A huge source of my 'Unrealistic Clients " are due to the fact we have another decorator in my area operating illegally.

In my county, to operate legally, I have to pay rent for a space at our farm market. I pay for insurance to CMA. 

3 miles away from me there is a decorator, with little experience, operating illegally, advertising herself as a business through a facebook page that she actively promotes and charging somewhere around $1.00 - $1.50 per serving.

She is considered my ' competition' . Weekly I have someone request a quote from me who feels I am unreasonable seeing as she quotes out similar cakes on her facebook at 1/4 - 1/2 of the price. 

I have potential clients come to me with photos of 3 tiered cakes, but they only need 30 servings but want the EXACT cake, and if they have already priced my  ' competition ' they are expecting me to make the 3 tier cake and only charge for the 30 servings they need as she does. ( Who does that?!? ) 

 

Even though I do not 'cake' as my main source of income, I do have overhead expenses to legally pursue my hobby that need to be covered. It's not right , in my opinion, for another hobby baker to operate illegally. It would be an easier pill to swallow if she was marketing only to friends and family members. It wouldn't matter what she charged, or what her expertise is as they wouldn't have been my clients anyways.

Godot Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 5:42pm
post #118 of 157

Turn her in! You can do it anonymously. Take a screen dump of her FB page and send it to the HD.

jason_kraft Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 5:52pm
post #119 of 157

A

Original message sent by Godot

Turn her in! You can do it anonymously. Take a screen dump of her FB page and send it to the HD.

Yep, that's the best option. Most health depts don't have the resources to be proactive, so they often rely on consumer complaints and other citizens reporting illegal businesses.

The alternative is waiting for them to burn out, which may take years if it happens at all.

melanie-1221 Posted 6 Feb 2013 , 5:57pm
post #120 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Godot 

Turn her in! You can do it anonymously. Take a screen dump of her FB page and send it to the HD.

That's a great idea. 

I didn't know I could do that under the radar. detective.gif

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