Need Help With Response For Xcustomer

Business By Stitches Updated 30 Jun 2013 , 7:28pm by AZCouture

BeesKnees578 Posted 3 May 2013 , 3:08am
post #31 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches 

No I didn't tell her that. She asked me a month ago on first contact if I was available on that date. I was available then, I'm now sold out (the day before Mothers Day!). I work on a first come first serve basis. When I sell out, I sell out.

 

I don't ask for deposits on small cakes. I only ask for deposits on wedding cakes or substantial projects. I do not state my terms to a prospective small cake clients. I don't have many of them!! I want to be able to reject unreasonable clients at any point. They can fire me at any time also, that's what I get by not asking for deposit. I give people quotes on cakes all the time, asking for a quote doesn't guarantee they'll buy from me, there is no contract. If I have a no show on a cake, my hubby is always happy to take it to work.

 

I didn't hear back from her for over a week after I gave her 6 different quotes on cakes. I figured she was busy shopping pricing with every decorator. I had no certainty that she'd finally order from me! I just continued on with my life. I didn't email her warnings, that's not my style.


Please don't take this the wrong way, and I understand some of your points about going on with your life, but by not following up on an order seems like bad business...people will start talking about you being unreliable or flaky.  Since you didn't tell the woman specifically about needing a response to secure the date, you did give her the impression that you were doing it.  She should have followed up, too.  I am a very small business and when I send out a quote, I keep it in an email folder marked "QUOTES OUT" so that I can follow up with someone if another person has inquired about the date or I just haven't heard from them in awhile.  Yes, it's annoying but it IS part of exceptional customer service.  It's worth making it "your style".  I would have a minimum order if you don't want to waste your time with them.  Since you have a big order that you HAVE to do, I would suck it up and do it or, at least, apologize for the miscommunication saying that since you didn't hear from you assumed she didn't want the cake.  Maybe offer her a discount on a future order.  Do whatever you have to, within reason, to save your rep...she CAN be a great referral if it's handled properly.  I make it a habit to never let a quote go more than a week without following up.  I just tell them that someone else has inquired about their date and wanted to give them first dibs on it before I took on another order...and that I will need a deposit to secure the date.  Hope this helps!  Customer service is a huge part of business, which you know.  That small order that you don't care about just might be for someone who can open some doors for you in the future!  And being able to reject unreasonable clients is a perk of this business...but at any point???  Once you've committed...you've committed.  Unless something is beyond your control you gotta do that cake!  Would you drop a client who has paid a deposit?  I sure hope not.....just some thoughts.  Please don't think I am unsympathetic...I get it all, but you are building a reputation with each order, regardless of how large or small.

Stitches Posted 3 May 2013 , 1:46pm
post #32 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeesKnees578 
Please don't take this the wrong way, and I understand some of your points about going on with your life, but by not following up on an order seems like bad business...people will start talking about you being unreliable or flaky.  Since you didn't tell the woman specifically about needing a response to secure the date, you did give her the impression that you were doing it. 

I agree. I screwed up!

Stitches Posted 3 May 2013 , 2:25pm
post #33 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by liz at sugar 

 I guess I am not the "hand holding" type, who wants to hear every possible interest a customer has, and how it can all be incorporated on one cake. :)

 

That's me, I'm not a "hand holding" type either. Since I started this thread I've been talking with other clients about their cakes and I realize what the difference was between this client and everyone else.

 

The first thing she did that I didn't like was she treated me like an employee at the club. I don't care who they are, they never tipped me or spoke to me face to face, they didn't give kitchen people raises (but they gave golf staff raises).....and they laided me off when the economy went south. So I feel no loyalty or kindness to them at all! So it's o.k. with me if I burn a bridge with these people and they think I'm flakey. I have the baking skills they still want, they still keep buying from me. I guess I pulled a power play showing my anger...........my bad.

 

The other people that contact me for cakes are working class people. So often they are in such a hurry I can barely get the necessary info. out of them. They don't hassle over prices. They'll just be honest and say, "that's more then I want to spend, can you simplify things?". I give them a less detailed design, they are happy as can be. Most of them come to me knowing what they want or trust me completely do whatever I want..... and just simply place an order.

 

I LIKE working class people! I've also worked with the super rich and they are just as cool as working class. It's the rich 'want to be's' that really rub me wrong.

liz at sugar Posted 3 May 2013 , 2:45pm
post #34 of 63

Stitches, my husband and I have worked at clubs, too.  He was a clubhouse manager, and it must be universal - the grounds/golf course gets all the money, and the clubhouse gets the shaft. :)  Your assessment is completely right on - those with real money are as nice as can be, those for whom it is a stretch to be a member are always a pain in the *ss.

 

Your customer who rubs you the wrong way is also looking for entertainment - she obviously has nothing better to do with her time than drone on about this one little cake - that is why she has overblown it.

 

Did you decide to do her order, or were you able to dump her?

 

Liz

Stitches Posted 3 May 2013 , 2:52pm
post #35 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by liz at sugar 

Your customer who rubs you the wrong way is also looking for entertainment - she obviously has nothing better to do with her time than drone on about this one little cake - that is why she has overblown it.

 

 

OMG, that's EXACTLY it!

 

Ordering this cake is her entertainment! Your totally spot on!

 

It's also her little responsibility in the group having the shower and she's taking it way too seriously..............so the girls will be super happy with her pick.

 

So since you get it, how Do you deal with this kind of client?.......I can't take them..........

 

 

P.S. I did drop her. I went back and apologized that I wasn't clearer about my policies, etc....

liz at sugar Posted 3 May 2013 , 3:10pm
post #36 of 63

Well, I won't be much help, because I have designed my business around avoiding such people.  icon_biggrin.gif

 

I had a drapery workroom for 13 years, and EVERYTHING was custom.  Every single person wanted a different fabric, a different style, different size windows, different trim, different hardware, and it can be exhausting.  For the most part, I made them do their homework - look in magazines, on the net, find what you like, what your style is, and I'll go from there.  But I'm just now closing my workroom because I have run out of energy for all that uniqueness.

 

My bakery opens this fall.  It will be a cross between a French patisserie and an old fashioned American bakery, where there is a case loaded with delicious, beautiful little treats.  I love to bake more than decorate, although I love everything to look beautiful, so I have selected items and techniques that are fancy to look at, but timed out so I can still make money.  No novelty cakes.  Remember when bakeries just had stuff, and you went in and bought it?  That is what I am opening.  No fondant football players, no Deco paks, no crazy sh*t.  Just delicious baked goods.  Can someone order a "dinner party" cake?  Sure, right out of the combination of flavors in my glossy book, complete with photos.  Can they add a big, beautiful gumpaste peony to the top?  Sure, for $XX more.  I'll pull one I've already got made off the shelf.

 

That is how I am avoiding those people.  And avoiding the copyright infringement cakes.  Luckily, there is a bakery here who wants to be everything to everyone, and I'll refer all those people to her.  icon_biggrin.gif  Since this concept has worked for the past couple hundred years all over the world, I'm hoping it will work again for me.

 

Liz

jason_kraft Posted 3 May 2013 , 3:28pm
post #37 of 63

A

Original message sent by liz at sugar

Your customer who rubs you the wrong way is also looking for entertainment - she obviously has nothing better to do with her time than drone on about this one little cake - that is why she has overblown it.

I'm not so sure that's a productive way to look at potential customers. If you are referring to the OP's customer in this thread, it just sounded like she needed help deciding what she wanted. If the customer was really just messing with the OP for entertainment purposes she wouldn't have cared if OP ended up rejecting the order.

It's also puzzling that a vendor would poke fun at a customer who wants the best cake possible and wants her friends to be happy with what she picked out. Especially in this industry, where "one little cake" to us can be a critical component of an event to our customers.

liz at sugar Posted 3 May 2013 , 3:38pm
post #38 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


I'm not so sure that's a productive way to look at potential customers. If you are referring to the OP's customer in this thread, it just sounded like she needed help deciding what she wanted. If the customer was really just messing with the OP for entertainment purposes she wouldn't have cared if OP ended up rejecting the order.

It's also puzzling that a vendor would poke fun at a customer who wants the best cake possible and wants her friends to be happy with what she picked out. Especially in this industry, where "one little cake" to us can be a critical component of an event to our customers.

 

Eighteen e-mails for a cake for $130??  That is more than just caring that her cake be the best possible.  If the OP needs to vent about a crazy customer, let her vent.  Telling her this isn't "productive" isn't providing her with any real advice.  You can give every customer the benefit of the doubt, all the time, but that doesn't help control the time she is spending.

 

Liz

jason_kraft Posted 3 May 2013 , 3:47pm
post #39 of 63

A

Original message sent by liz at sugar

Eighteen e-mails for a cake for $130??  That is more than just caring that her cake be the best possible.

Without first-hand knowledge of the customer's thought processes I'm not sure how accurate this conclusion is. 

If the OP needs to vent about a crazy customer, let her vent.  Telling her this isn't "productive" isn't providing her with any real advice.  You can give every customer the benefit of the doubt, all the time, but that doesn't help control the time she is spending.

There's nothing wrong with venting, I was referring to the attitude that customers who are unsure or need help finalizing a decision are just looking for entertainment.

Stitches Posted 3 May 2013 , 4:04pm
post #40 of 63

Jason, Liz is correct in describing this specific customer. She does fit a customer profile associated to Country Club members. That person spends most of their days shopping and consuming. So "consuming" is their daily "entertainment". They do so in a unrealistically leisurely way and over evaluate every purchase or consumption so it gives them the most attention or admiration from their friends. They have no time schedules to meet and don't understand and place value on other peoples time.

jason_kraft Posted 3 May 2013 , 4:09pm
post #41 of 63

AI suppose I'm fortunate that I've never encountered that particular type of customer. Luckily it sounds like they are easy to identify in advance, so you know when to be more aggressive about cutting off debate and finalizing an order.

Stitches Posted 3 May 2013 , 5:14pm
post #42 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

. Luckily it sounds like they are easy to identify in advance, so you know when to be more aggressive about cutting off debate and finalizing an order.

Nope, no such luck. Sometimes it's just a normal rich person who wants something unique and will pay for it. It can be hard to recognize the rich from the super rich until you get deeper into a conversation with them.

kblickster Posted 3 May 2013 , 6:57pm
post #43 of 63

In addition to the aforementioned advice, I would like add that in business you will encounter all types of people.  Set some rules and stick to them for every customer that comes in the door.  This is your business and all customers, regardless of who they are must play by your rules or seek their goods from another vendor.

 

Just because a person is a member of a country club doesn't mean they have anymore money than someone who doesn't belong to a club.  I am reminded of my roommate from college who had a closet full of expensive clothes that made me swoon.  I thought they were rich, rich, rich.  Actually the were in debt, debt, debt.  They lived in a million dollar home where only three rooms were even furnished.  Their house had a foyer and a living room elaborately furnished but we slept on mattresses on the floor in the bedrooms for years.  They drove nice cars and socialized constantly in fine evening attire but didn't have 50 cent to rub together in cash.  It was all purchased on credit.  They eventually lost it all.

 

Some people live with the pretense of wealth. 

DesignerBaker Posted 3 May 2013 , 7:16pm
post #44 of 63

Well I guess some of my response will be preventive.  I had a similar experience a couple of years ago.

I now create a "work order" and if that work order (and a deposit) is not created there is no contract.  

I also have a deadline for the last day the work order can be created.  When I talk to my clients I tell them this right of the bat.

 

Now that you are passed doing that, I would suggest (which you have shown already) honesty.  She has run you out of time with her indecision.  She is not your only client.  Some people just can't make decisions, so a time limit is a must.  You gave her every opportunity.  Don't feel bad (cake people are notorious softies) there are other people depending on you.

Dyanna

Dyanna's Design Bakery

Cakery2012 Posted 4 May 2013 , 7:27pm
post #45 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by liz at sugar 

Life isn't perfect.  Sometimes we make mistakes.  Just send her an apology saying "I'm so sorry if I didn't make my policy clear - I speak to many prospective customers each day, and my schedule fills up as orders are finalized."  Just be honest: "my schedule filled up while you were deciding what to do, and as a small business, I can only handle so many orders at once".

 

If she wants to be a b*tch, she will be one regardless, so send her a heartfelt apology and move on.  Maybe refer her to another baker who could help on short notice??

 

Liz
 


thumbs_up.gif Yes I agree  with Liz at sugar. We live and learn. . I wouldnt do any other baker a favor by recommending this client unless I ask the baker first .

BakerBee7468 Posted 4 May 2013 , 10:06pm
post #46 of 63

i have to agree that this is a lesson learned.  Just be sure to be as clear as possible in the future. Create a set of rules and make customers aware of your policy. You don't need to spell out every detail to every customer verbally but for your own reputation make sure all your terms and conditions are available somewhere. Whether its on your website or on a printed handout. Also figure out your business model. This will make things much easier. Figure out what you want to offer and stick with it. You can't be everything to everybody and you shouldnt try. Have guidelines for yourself and work within those.
 

costumeczar Posted 5 May 2013 , 1:47am
post #47 of 63

No matter how many policies you have in place and how clear you are you'll still run into people who ignore them. You shouldn't feel worried about "getting a reputation" from not taking someone's business...Maybe you'll get the reputation of someone who won't put up with their nonsense!

 

I have an EXTREMELY comprehensive FAQ page which some people read and some people don't. I recently had a very annoying pre-booking communication with a client who refused to listen to anything I told her, was very demanding, and ignored my policies until I finally just wrote and told her that I was booked for her date. I had had enough, and there's no reason why I should have been required to make a cake for her regardless of whether she was under the impression that harassing me constituted booking my services. Never apologize for standing up for yourself, just be professional and polite about it.

jason_kraft Posted 5 May 2013 , 1:51am
post #48 of 63

A

Original message sent by costumeczar

No matter how many policies you have in place and how clear you are you'll still run into people who ignore them. You shouldn't feel worried about "getting a reputation" from not taking someone's business...Maybe you'll get the reputation of someone who won't put up with their nonsense!

I think the reputation issue comes into play if you are not clear about when an order is confirmed or not, and you start seeing a pattern of having to turn away customers who thought their cake was already finalized.

costumeczar Posted 5 May 2013 , 2:32am
post #49 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


I think the reputation issue comes into play if you are not clear about when an order is confirmed or not, and you start seeing a pattern of having to turn away customers who thought their cake was already finalized.

In this case, though, it's one customer, which  is hardly a pattern,  and the OP is being told that this will ruin her reputation (not by everyone of course) but that won't be the case. This was definitely a learning experience, but my point is that you can be super clear with some people and they'll still hear what they want to hear. You shouldn't live in fear that not doing a cake for one demanding customer will ruin your business.

 

The customer I mentioned was on the phone with me and the conversation went like this:

 

Her: I want to try these ten flavors at my appointment.

Me: I do a standard basic assortment, I don't do custom flavors for appointments.

her: When can I make an appointment to taste those flavors?

Me: I won't be doing those flavors at any appointments, I only do the standard ones so that you can get an idea of what my cake is like.

Her: I'll send my sister to pick the samples up, will email both of you.

 

When I got the email addressed to her sister and to me, it said "Kara has agreed to do the following samples" with a list of the ones I told her I wouldn't be doing. And it just got better with every further email until the day I told her I wasn't going to deal with her anymore.

 

I've also told people that I don't take orders without a deposit and had them be offended when they didn't send in a deposit and lost the date. You can't save some people from themselves.

BakerBee7468 Posted 5 May 2013 , 7:42pm
post #50 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar 

No matter how many policies you have in place and how clear you are you'll still run into people who ignore them. You shouldn't feel worried about "getting a reputation" from not taking someone's business...Maybe you'll get the reputation of someone who won't put up with their nonsense!

 

I have an EXTREMELY comprehensive FAQ page which some people read and some people don't. I recently had a very annoying pre-booking communication with a client who refused to listen to anything I told her, was very demanding, and ignored my policies until I finally just wrote and told her that I was booked for her date. I had had enough, and there's no reason why I should have been required to make a cake for her regardless of whether she was under the impression that harassing me constituted booking my services. Never apologize for standing up for yourself, just be professional and polite about it.


I completely agree. We can be as clear as possible as still people either don't listen or choose to ignore what you're saying.  there will always be those customers but atleast we can tell them we dont want their business. How do you go about taking deposits to secure orders?

costumeczar Posted 5 May 2013 , 8:09pm
post #51 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakerBee7468 


I completely agree. We can be as clear as possible as still people either don't listen or choose to ignore what you're saying.  there will always be those customers but atleast we can tell them we dont want their business. How do you go about taking deposits to secure orders?

I send them home with a contract after a tasting appointment and they have to send it back.Some people book without an appointment but they contact me before to get the information they need then send the deposit in. If they don't send a deposit and a signed contract in they have no contract with me...

 

Even with that people will blame you when they mess up. In 15 years I've had two people not send the contract back and just call me to say "Calling to confirm the cake." Considering that neither of them had sent a deposit or anything, and they'd had no contact with me at all after the initial meeting, I can't really see how they thought they had a booked cake, but they did. I worked both of them into the schedule since they were panicking. One was very happy, and one wrote a nasty review online about how unorganized I was because she didn't send the contract in. Go figure, no good deed goes unpunished.

BakerBee7468 Posted 6 May 2013 , 12:56pm
post #52 of 63

A

Original message sent by costumeczar

I send them home with a contract after a tasting appointment and they have to send it back.Some people book without an appointment but they contact me before to get the information they need then send the deposit in. If they don't send a deposit and a signed contract in they have no contract with me...

Even with that people will blame you when they mess up. In 15 years I've had two people not send the contract back and just call me to say "Calling to confirm the cake." Considering that neither of them had sent a deposit or anything, and they'd had no contact with me at all after the initial meeting, I can't really see how they thought they had a booked cake, but they did. I worked both of them into the schedule since they were panicking. One was very happy, and one wrote a nasty review online about how unorganized I was because she didn't send the contract in. Go figure, no good deed goes unpunished.

Yeah, some people are that way. Now what form of payment do u allow people to pay in? Cash only, credit card??

costumeczar Posted 6 May 2013 , 1:25pm
post #53 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakerBee7468 


Yeah, some people are that way. Now what form of payment do u allow people to pay in? Cash only, credit card??

Cash, check, credit card, money order, pennies in bags and magic beans. They have no excuse.

BakerBee7468 Posted 6 May 2013 , 4:46pm
post #54 of 63

A

Original message sent by costumeczar

Cash, check, credit card, money order, pennies in bags and magic beans. They have no excuse.

Ha, pennies and magic beans. Don't think I'll take those forms of payment.

Ginni Posted 27 Jun 2013 , 2:24pm
post #55 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakerBee7468 


Ha, pennies and magic beans. Don't think I'll take those forms of payment.


lol not pennies but someone did pay me $350 in 1 dollar bills one time.  Never again!

Annabakescakes Posted 30 Jun 2013 , 6:02pm
post #56 of 63

A

Original message sent by Ginni

[QUOTE name="BakerBee7468" url="/t/757771/need-help-with-response-for-xcustomer/45#post_7391101"] Ha, pennies and magic beans. Don't think I'll take those forms of payment.[/QUOTE]

lol not pennies but someone did pay me $350 in 1 dollar bills one time.  Never again!

Ugh! I hate taking singles. A wad of them from a good looking person just makes my skin crawl. I try to use my card and if I touch singles, it is time to get the hard sanitizer out. I have this fear of them since I went to the strip club to pick up my ex and his brother. I waited outside for 20 and couldn't get him on his phone, so I went in and looked around and this waitress walked past me with a single stuffed... Um it looked like a little tail, but real low... I'm no prude, I just thought the money was generally put at the waist line. I hate touching money. Ugh.

AZCouture Posted 30 Jun 2013 , 6:42pm
post #57 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 


Ugh! I hate taking singles. A wad of them from a good looking person just makes my skin crawl. I try to use my card and if I touch singles, it is time to get the hard sanitizer out. I have this fear of them since I went to the strip club to pick up my ex and his brother. I waited outside for 20 and couldn't get him on his phone, so I went in and looked around and this waitress walked past me with a single stuffed... Um it looked like a little tail, but real low... I'm no prude, I just thought the money was generally put at the waist line. I hate touching money. Ugh.

Ha ha ha! Yep, that many dollar bills means one of two things! They were in a g-string/or were intended to go in a g string, or someone just had a yard sale. icon_lol.gif

Godot Posted 30 Jun 2013 , 6:49pm
post #58 of 63

ANot necessarily. I bartended all through uni and grad school and always had lots of dollar bills.

Annabakescakes Posted 30 Jun 2013 , 6:55pm
post #59 of 63

A

Original message sent by Godot

Not necessarily. I bartended all through uni and grad school and always had lots of dollar bills.

I know not all bartenders do this, but I can't mention what I saw this guy do, and then grab tips of the bar and serve more drinks.... I did turn him in to health department and the club the next Monday after, but went in 3 months later and he was still there so I left.

A hint: an overly made up, drunk ho in a very short skirt was involved, and the guy at the health dept was SICKENED.

Annabakescakes Posted 30 Jun 2013 , 7:00pm
post #60 of 63

ABut I didn't think of the money being soiled until you mentioned bar tending and I thought of it again. I was worried about my drink. I don't like to drink out of plastic cups even at home. I like a spotless glass. Not one smudge or speck, or streak.... None of what was on that guys fingers, for sure.

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