How Do I Nicely Say No?!

Decorating By luvscakes Updated 13 Jun 2013 , 10:19pm by jenmat

luvscakes Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 5:00pm
post #1 of 16

Hi there,


I have a problem. A big problem. It's with my tongue mouth. Every time I open it to say the "N" word, the "Y" word comes out instead! I'm tired to putting myself through undo stress and taking orders that I really don't make any money on.


You see, I have people, all the time, think they are helping me by ordering a cake- last minute. These are people I vaguely know. Acquaintances, really.


All orders I usually require a 7 day notice. That way I can plan, shop and order my product online for the best deals. I typically know every month what orders I have for the month and am stocked- only for those. (I don't have a ton of storage space).


So the typical scenario happens when ( it's usually for a holiday weekend when I am busy both with orders AND with family things) I get a call, a day or two in advance, asking for a cake. Because these are people I sort of know, I always cut them a %15 deal (I know, I know, not good business) THEN I realize, to actually make their order, I have to go to 10 (OK maybe like 3) stores to shop for ingredients.

 Sometimes this takes 2 hours just to get around.


After my cost, I find that my profit is only usually $20 or so. Hardly worth the time.... but I just can't seem to get my tongue to say NOOOOOOOO icon_cry.gif


Anyone have any advise, catch phrases, I can train myself to use? I'm thinking about a shock collar so I can use it on myself  the next time my phone rings for a last minute order.

15 replies
jason_kraft Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 5:07pm
post #2 of 16

AOne way to do this is to route all business calls directly to voice mail and direct people to the order form on your web site so you have time to think about whether or not you can fit their order in. It may be easier for you to tell people "no" over email.

Norasmom Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 6:24pm
post #3 of 16

Just say "I wish I could, but unfortunately, I'm booked, but please keep me in mind for future occasions."  People understand.  You're not saying no, you're telling the truth.  I hate turning down orders too, but since it's just me, it need to be done this way.

AZCouture Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 6:42pm
post #4 of 16

You need to be doing more than just saying no, that's probably not the biggest issue with your business that needs attention. You have some retraining of your customers to do, and probably will want to get rid of these discounts. Are they giving you a cut on whatever they do for their jobs? What is your pricing like? WHat does your work look like?

AZCouture Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 6:47pm
post #5 of 16

Ok, I found your site, and I was prepared for super low pricing and not as clean work as what I saw. That sounds harsh, but usually when someone presents problems like you described, they're new to the game, have rock bottom pricing, and need a lot of practice. So, sorry!


Your pricing looks pretty acceptable, you present a nice professional appearance with your website, and seem to be pretty busy. I probably spoke too soon in my earlier post and assumed too much. 


I second the suggestion of ringing thru to voicemail. I would cut the discounts out, and work on getting people to confirm orders at least 3 weeks ahead of time and paid in full. You can organize better, not feel rushed, and things will fall into place a little easier. 

AZCouture Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 6:49pm
post #6 of 16

Seriously, treat every customer (friend or family) the same. If they truly respect you, then they will play along. Not only that, but when you are consistent with procedures and pricing across the board, it makes life a lot simpler. Trust me.

liz at sugar Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 6:59pm
post #7 of 16

Not to sound like I am psycho-analyzing you, but you are obviously getting something out of saying "yes" all the time.  Maybe you like to save the day?  Maybe you just like money (although not much money at $20 profit per cake).  If it was making you miserable, you just wouldn't do it.  (Now putting away my Lucy from Peanuts sign that says "Psychiatric Help - 5 cents")



VeenasArtofCakes Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 7:04pm
post #8 of 16

I think one of the big issue with us (me!!!) we show how grateful we are to get orders and how happy we are doing what we love. 

I use to have the same problem in the beginning especially with family (extended family) members and friends. They tell you to take cost price and have fun doing your cake..  

Now I show that I am busy and that I do not have time to do last minute orders. I also tell people who know me that my kids deserve their time so I take only limited orders. So, no offence but I can't help you. 
My customer get discounts if they order minimum 2 weeks ahead of time. Late order no discounts. 

I started two years ago and worked my axx off only to realize I was not making any money and my kids were being neglected.. 

We need to be more understanding towards are selves or we can get sick (mentally)

still_learning Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 7:28pm
post #9 of 16

AI really like what Veenas does about discounts. If someone wants their family and friends discount their order has to be placed early (two weeks or whatever you think is reasonable) so you aren't running around spending time getting last minute supplies. If you want to accept last minute orders do so with an up- charge to compensate for your time. If you stick to that policy for ALL and let the policy be known there won't be hurt feelings but if you continue each request on a case-by-case basis people will always expect you to make the exception for them.

Carrie789 Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 7:29pm
post #10 of 16

I just looked at your website. Nice work!


I would remove this statement above your price list:

Because your cake is custom made for you, pricing can be difficult. Cake pricing can be largely influenced by the amounts of decorations and the types of decoration used.

As a "professional bargain hunter," I would read this as an invitation to negotiate/challenge prices. Perhaps you could have a few customization prices and then say something like, "Customized item are priced according to amounts and intricacy of the decorations." Whatever you say, you want to make it clear that YOU are in charge of pricing, not them. And that more discounts. Businesses use discounts to benefit themselves: As a special sale to draw in new customers; an extra large order; or to encourage repeat business (buy nine, get tenth free, half off, whatever). If a discount doesn't benefit YOU, why give it?

AZCouture Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 7:31pm
post #11 of 16
Originally Posted by Carrie789 

If a discount doesn't benefit YOU, why give it?

well said!

luvscakes Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 8:16pm
post #12 of 16

Thanks guys! You have said what I really already knew but gave me a few new ways to consider saying no.

Why do it? I really DON'T enjoy last minute orders nor discounted orders at all. I'm a yes lady all the way around. Need something done at school- YES! Need something filled at church- YES!

One of my main issues, is my husband is a pastor. He works for inner city church and many of those asking me don't have a lot of money... so when people come, I see need. And, as a wife of the pastor, people really expect me to be able to provide whatever their needs are. (So many things wrong there)... care to set that booth up again? icon_wink.gif


But yes, my pricing is fair, and I need to really value my time/sanity/ work better. Bottom line. I guess the shock collar idea would hurt a little more than just learning to say no!

liz at sugar Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 8:56pm
post #13 of 16
Originally Posted by luvscakes 

One of my main issues, is my husband is a pastor. He works for inner city church and many of those asking me don't have a lot of money... so when people come, I see need. And, as a wife of the pastor, people really expect me to be able to provide whatever their needs are. (So many things wrong there)... care to set that booth up again? icon_wink.gif


I'm afraid you are on your own there . . . my brain only works on business related matters. icon_smile.gif


But maybe you could make it less personal by saying "I'm sorry, but my appointment book is already filled up."  Take the sting out of the no by putting the blame on an inanimate object, instead of apologizing that you can't fit their order in.



vgcea Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 9:28pm
post #14 of 16

AThere are as many 'takers' in the church as there are in the secular world. You've gotten the business advice. Maybe I can speak to the churchy side since I'm all too familiar with that.

When it comes to giving, I always tell people to do as you are led by the Spirit. You've got to be discerning on where and how you cast your pearls. Remember when that Canaanite woman came to Jesus to ask for healing for her daughter and Jesus said, "It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs" (Matt 15:26 NLT). Jesus didn't say this to be insulting, neither am I. It was more of a symbolic expression. His priority was "the lost sheep of Israel" not the gentiles (Paul would later be the one to handle that part of the ministry). It was not that He did not love her as Jesus loves everyone, but He understood his priorities.

What am I getting at? You need to prioritize your ministries: First as a wife, then as a mom, THEN comes the role as a pastor's wife. If any activity will make your primary ministry, e.g. serving your family, suffer then you really need to ask if it's the right thing to do. Your business is a form of service to your family but if you're taking time that should be spent with your family to deal with people who have no regard for your work and business guidelines, you've got to ask what Jesus asked, is it okay to take your children's food (mom's attention) and your husband's food (wife's attention) and cast it to people who have no regard for or no understanding of the value of your primary ministry?

Sometimes the Holy Spirit will have you make exceptions for some people, but saying yes to every and all people shows a lack of wisdom.

If you can't accept an order, you could tell them, "sorry, not now but how about (insert a time frame that works)?" Or if you feel led to do something, try to suggest something quick and simple you can knock out in little time. "I have a busy schedule this week, you want an 8 inch round fondant cake with bells and whistles. I can't possibly fit that in this week. How about 2 dozen buttercream cupcakes, it serves the same number of people."

Be prepared for these scenarios so that when they come, you know what to say.

jason_kraft Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 9:47pm
post #15 of 16

AYou definitely need to separate your role as a business owner from your role at the church.

Unfortunately it sounds like the members of your church do not fall within your target market, therefore they should not be customers of your business. However, you can still cater to them by donating cakes (with specific parameters and limits on design/size) on a regular basis, say every month or so. The recipient of the donated cake could be chosen based on a random lottery, or raffle tickets where the proceeds benefit a charity, or even as a reward for parishioners who donate their time to help the community.

Another alternative might be to get the parishioners (and their kids) involved in decorating their own cakes with simple classes where the supplies are provided.

jenmat Posted 13 Jun 2013 , 10:19pm
post #16 of 16

Being in the church as well, I guess developing a strategy to "pass the word" around would be in order. Your problem is going to be that you are not just saying no to some random customer, you are saying no to a parishioner and we all know they talk to each other. If you just start saying no out of the blue, you will be an instant grinch. 

Maybe find "that" person or people in the church that will start the ball rolling. Mention that you are cutting back on orders, or cutting out all last minute orders to focus on the church more, or whatever it takes. It WILL get around. Then put it on the website, or Facebook, or wherever. You have trained these people how to treat you and you will need to GENTLY retrain them, or you could have a hot mess on your hands. Nothing like a tiny nudge to cause an avalanche. 


Then, you have to tell yourself that you need to separate personal from business. Take control of your "giving" side, and make a decision ahead of time who gets what. God didn't make us to be doormats, and He certainly didn't give you the gift of cakes so that you could ignore your kids or hubby. 


(can you tell I've been there?!)

Quote by @%username% on %date%