Sorry this is long, but it just goes to show what can happen if you have a soft heart.
A few weeks after a no response princess castle cake, I have this woman call my house and leave a message that she would like to talk to me about doing a cake, but I can’t call her back because it is a surprise. So she tries contacting me by phone for nearly a week, and finally on Sunday, comes and finds me, in between my two cake classes, to talk about this cake. I take a couple of moments to speak with her. Given what happened with the castle cake, I tell her that I CAN NOT compete with cakes from the grocery store or Costco. She says she understands that and she doesn’t want a sheet cake and is willing to pay more. She asks me how much I charge, and I tell her it depends on what she wants as to the price, but I tell her it’s usually between $1.25 to $1.75 per serving. She then says she would like to keep the cost at about $50. Ok, a bit on the cheap side, but I can work with that figure (read too nice!). This is for her husband’s 75th birthday, and while she knows how to do cakes, she obviously can’t do this one because he’d find out. She can have someone pick up the cake on Friday for the party on the upcoming Saturday (I think I have enough time in my schedule to do this, and I feel a bit to blame for the short notice since she HAD tried to talk to me earlier – again I am too nice!).
I ask her how many people they are expecting and she says they invited 75! I should have said no right there, but being the nice person I am, I think about how we can get the cost down. Suggest buttercream only, and maybe have only 40 to 50 servings as they are serving other things. I was asked to get some ideas and send them to her daughter, via email, to work out the details as I still can’t contact her directly. I get the cake flavor and my only direction is that the party theme is black and gold. Monday I tried to find some ideas when I had the opportunity, but didn’t have enough time to put a quote together. At noon on Tuesday, I sent the daughter photos of some cakes I found online, along with what each of the cakes would cost. I tried my best to keep it to $50, but they were a bit more. All were black and gold, two-tiered, some with stripes, some with stars, but what I felt was appropriate for a 75 year old man and wasn’t just a slab of cake.
At 12:24, I get a reply from the daughter that she has found an awesome cake online and is there any chance I could do something like it, or is it too expensive.
Gold instead of the silver. Also he is the handy man for the community, maybe some cute saying about being handy, and do more tools on the cake or something. She’s not fond of the star themed cakes I sent.
Before I can respond, she sends another email with another idea. Says she’s not sure if her mom wants this, but the cake on top can have tools and handy stuff, and do everything in black and gold.
After picking myself up off the floor from laughing so hard, I politely told her that, while the first idea was awesome, it is definitely WAY too expensive to do. The second, also would not work because I would charge $90 for 36 cupcakes and a 6” top tier, which was over their budget. Plus, I do not own that type of stand, could not get one in time for their event, and the rental of it would also add to the cost.
I suggested an old Wilton idea that was handy-man themed. It would be more in their price range, and all buttercream. I told her I would need to figure out where to get the tools that were on top (as the ones in the photo were candles).
Around 5:00 pm, she said my idea was cute, but would need the tools, and since mom was adamant about no sheet cake, she wasn’t sure if this counted.
So about 10 pm, she sends me one last idea. She says it may be cute as the upper tier with a square cake on the bottom. Maybe could say 75 and he still has all his tools. But she’ll ask her mom about the saying.
WTH!!! I don’t know what her intention was on the saying, but I would have to know a person VERY well to write something like that on a man’s cake! Even if her intentions were innocent, you KNOW there would be someone at the party s******ing in the corner if I put that on the cake. Secondly, this is a butt cake. Given that the theme is black and gold, and this man is 75, this is a bit “campy” in my opinion, and I told her so.
At this point, I am regretting saying I could do this, but feel the need to continue because of the late date, again, because I am TOO nice and don’t want to leave them high and dry.
Fast forward to Wednesday night at nearly 6:00 pm. Just a reminder, this cake is going to be picked up on FRIDAY. She sends me an email – my mom likes the first cake you sent.
Seriously?!? Seriously? We could have had this settled 18 hours ago! Needless to say, I did do the cake, it was worth WAY more than what they paid, and considering that I ended up with an inner ear infection Thursday evening (I sanitized everything, and wore a face mask and gloves through the entire decorating process) I was very pleased with how it turned out.
What do you think?
AVery nice cake. The market value for that cake in most areas would probably be in the $3-5/serving range.
I strongly recommend at least doubling your price range ASAP (or in the case of this order, quadrupling it). Not only will this ward off customers like the one you described, it will also bring in a lot more money for the same amount of work, and you won't be undercutting the market or devaluing custom cakes in your area.
I may be old and set in my ways, but customers like these are looking for entertainment. Do they really think $50 covers the ingredients, the baking, the decorating AND all the myriad hours of your time they took?? You need to take control of the process sooner, while still being nice. After finding out their budget, explain exactly what they can get. And in response to the photos/e-mails (for instance: the man at the grill) just respond: "Great, I'm glad you've raised your budget to $300 (insert realistic price here) - that is in the ballpark for the number of people you are serving and the design you have chosen". Don't let people waste your time while they are playing party planner.
By what do you think, I am guessing that you wish to have this cake reviewed? I don't want to butt my nose in without asking first!
AKDBasher, this remind me of several sayings:
1. No good deed goes unpunished. 2. You teach people how to treat you 3. There's a difference between being nice & being a doormat
In my opinion, this is not an example of being too nice. Being nice is deciding that you will gift someone the difference of what they want & what they can afford. When I do that, I first evaluate exactly what in willing to do & communicate that to the client. I don't then get to blame them for accepting or trying to clarify exactly what they can get.
Sadly, as is true for so many, these ladies had no idea what custom cakes are really worth. They still don't fully have a grasp. They also now think they can drag out the process to the last minute and all the other trouble you had with them.
I don't be to be lecturing. I'm hoping to give you some insight. You are valuable!! That cake is worth far more than $50!!! Seriously!!! Your time is valuable. Sometimes, it really is best to pass on a sale. This may have been one of them.
AHopefully you learned to not take pity on people that have burned you before, and to not deal with customers that are obviously not willing/able to pay market rate for cake. I'd be surprised if you even made any money on that cake at $50.
These people will come back to you for a 4 tier full fondant with cute 3d figurines for 75$, because more cake is cheaper right ?
You provide the service, until you get paid you have no obligation to fulfill anything. Once you agreed to do a cake for cheaper then usual, all talking about the details should have been final. A lot of people need to take a step back and think ( if I went to buy a " insert luxury item hare " ), would you really be able to haggle, change your mind 20 times, dictate what you should receive for the price and so on?
To me, custom cakes are a luxury. I couldn't afford one before I made one. I also can't afford a Lamborghini. It's just the reality of life.
ABut seriously now, are you a business or are you a charity?
Reading your post made me angry. Not at the client, but angry at you for being a doormat.
Get you some cakeballs, girl, and stop letting the clients run your business.