howsweet Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 12:16am
post #1 of

Oh my gosh, I just shot this email off to someone who emailed me to let me know she'd found someone to do my design for half the price:

 

Hi xxxx,
 
That's not a problem for us and I hope you have a wonderful party. I'm including some information below that is not intended for the purpose of anything other than to educate you because it's the natural response to assume that since our price was so very much higher that you think we are price gouging. We just want you to know our prices are fair and don't want to leave you with the wrong impression.
 
In no way do we blame you, even a little, for going with a lower price.
 
The person you ordered the cake from does not make his/her living from making cakes. Period. This is the only way anyone can afford to work this cheaply. Often it's a stay at home mom who doesn't have the slightest clue that she's running what could be looked at as a "husband subsidized cake program".  If he/she were to figure up her costs and time spent on the project, she might discover she's working for as little as $4 an hour.
 
Because Houston is so large, my business is barely affected by this. Unfortunately, in smaller towns these bakers are creating a situation  where no one can make a living in the cake business anymore.
 

I hope I don't sound bitter or angry - the point is just to educate. The sole source of income for my household is my cake business - I don't have the luxury of undercharging, so I do admit the situation annoys me.  Customers generally have no clue the amount of work that goes into these cakes and don't understand why they are so expensive. Anyway, if you read this far, thanks.

86 replies
jason_kraft Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 12:34am
post #2 of

AI don't think you have to worry, that email needed to be sent.

Of course it could have been slightly less blunt, so you may want to work on a revised version to bring up if a customer has unrealistic pricing expectations. I doubt you really offended her though.

Norasmom Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 1:02am
post #3 of

Or, potentially they could do it for half the price.  There is a bakery in my town that charges half of what I do, but they deal in volume, and they don't make sculpted fondant decorations and gumpaste flowers.

 

It's okay that you sent that email, I don't think the customer was offended, especially since she's the one who brought price into the equation by mentioning that someone did it at half the price.

 

As for "husband subsidized," my husband is my venture capitalist.  He'll get the return on his investment.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 1:55am
post #4 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by howsweet 

Oh my gosh, I just shot this email off to someone who emailed me to let me know she'd found someone to do my design for half the price:

 

Hi xxxx,
 
That's not a problem for us and I hope you have a wonderful party. I'm including some information below that is not intended for the purpose of anything other than to educate you because it's the natural response to assume that since our price was so very much higher that you think we are price gouging. We just want you to know our prices are fair and don't want to leave you with the wrong impression.
 
In no way do we blame you, even a little, for going with a lower price.
 
The person you ordered the cake from does not make his/her living from making cakes. Period. This is the only way anyone can afford to work this cheaply. Often it's a stay at home mom who doesn't have the slightest clue that she's running what could be looked at as a "husband subsidized cake program".  If he/she were to figure up her costs and time spent on the project, she might discover she's working for as little as $4 an hour.
 
Because Houston is so large, my business is barely affected by this. Unfortunately, in smaller towns these bakers are creating a situation  where no one can make a living in the cake business anymore.
 

I hope I don't sound bitter or angry - the point is just to educate. The sole source of income for my household is my cake business - I don't have the luxury of undercharging, so I do admit the situation annoys me.  Customers generally have no clue the amount of work that goes into these cakes and don't understand why they are so expensive. Anyway, if you read this far, thanks.

This. is. Awesome. I don't think it was rude or offensive either, just honest. People NEED to understand these things! 

kikiandkyle Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 2:07am
post #5 of

AI also would have let her know that the half price bakery also didn't have to spend any valuable time coming up with a design for them, and that you won't be charging them or the baker for the right to use your work.

I think the client will ultimately say that they don't care how the baker pays the bills, they're saving money. Those are not the clients to worry about.

Pyro Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 2:12am
post #6 of
Quote:
I'm including some information below that is not intended for the purpose of anything other than to educate you
 
Customers generally have no clue the amount of work that goes into these cakes and don't understand why they are so expensive.

 

If I got this, you would never receive business from me again. Even if what you are saying is true and accurate and as been debated around here a lot. Some might say someone like this wouldn't be your customer in the first place or someone you don't want as a customer. But if we stay to the email bit, my first statement stands true, for me anyway.

sugarpixy Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 2:19am
post #7 of

I think that it is very rude to tell a cake decorator that you can get something a lot cheaper, inferring that they are trying to rip you off. Just say that the cake does not fall into your budget and the decorator will understand. I recently had one of those type of emails and I simply sent back a picture of one of my wedding cakes with the "Good Cake isn't cheap and cheap cake isn't good" poster beside it, and wished her the best.

jason_kraft Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 2:27am
post #8 of

A

Original message sent by sugarpixy

I think that it is very rude to tell a cake decorator that you can get something a lot cheaper, inferring that they are trying to rip you off.

I think it was more a factual statement than an inference...if I was the seller, I would want to know that the customer found a cheaper vendor.

jason_kraft Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 2:32am
post #9 of

A

Original message sent by Norasmom

Or, potentially they could do it for half the price.  There is a bakery in my town that charges half of what I do, but they deal in volume, and they don't make sculpted fondant decorations and gumpaste flowers.

If another local vendor can execute the same design for half the price, the most likely scenario is that the undercutting vendor does not have the skills to execute the design and/or set prices based on realistic costs.

As for "husband subsidized," my husband is my venture capitalist. He'll get the return on his investment.

A subsidy is financial assistance given to a business in order to keep prices below market value with no expectation of a return. This is very different from an investment.

AZCouture Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 2:37am

AIt will most likely fall on deaf ears, or be interpreted as snarky and condescending. Good news is though, if their friends shop on price alone, they won't bother wasting your time contacting you. And they will hear about it. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong though, believe me.

AZCouture Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 2:44am

AI am in no way singling you out or even inferring that I'm referring to you, this is just an observation I've made in general from being around here for so long, and other forums. I think that the line between how we complain and commiserate in rooms like this, and the written correspondence with customers is really starting to grey. I will cuss up a storm and vent and even be insulting, I'm sure when colorful customer situations occur, but that's onky with other decorators. With the actual customers, I am Emily Freaking Post. And long gone are the days when I justify my pricing. I will explain why a certain method or decoration style may be costlier, and offer alternatives, but talking about why others may be cheaper, or why "good cake ain't cheap, and cheap cake ain't good"...no.

jason_kraft Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 3:00am

AAnother way to approach this would be to work out how many hours the customer's design will take to execute, then compare that with the competing quote. You can either imply or explicitly say that either the competing bakery will earn less than minimum wage on their order (in which case you can expect the quality level to match that level of compensation) or they will rush through their order to ensure they earn a decent wage (which would also negatively impact the quality of the cake).

Numbers specific to the customer's order will help drive home the point that you get what you pay for.

In any case, the customer should already have at least a general idea of how much time will be required for their design, this information should always be coupled with the initial price quote.

Stitches Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 3:12am

Your phrasing could have been a little more perfected before hitting the send button. I fully understand how you were feeling when you wrote it. I've hit the send button too quickly many times.

 

I don't think that client would have come back to you for another cake quote in the future. Your letter didn't burn a bridge (your quote did). In fact, I'd guess that at some time or another they'd have told all their friends about the great deal they got from this other cake decorator and how you were a rip off, bad mouthing you. Your writing that person and explaining things as you did, there's now a chance that they might understand why your prices and the other decorators were so different. I think most people would have read your entire letter. Their first reaction might have been anger, but I think a logical person would think about what you wrote. That's a good thing I think. Your trying to educate and in the long run help others too.

 

It's possible that your letter started a conversation that lead to several people discussing this issue and learning from it.

vgcea Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 5:11am

AEDIT: Never mind. I feel like I'm piling it on, and I can tell from your post that you feel some remorse. What's been done's been done, and you're now better prepared to handle something like this if it happens again. (((HUGS))).

morganchampagne Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 5:43am

APersonally I thought it was okay. The "husband subsidized" thing was maybe a lil snarky but i think it's fine. Not like you cursed her out lol. By the way..I live in Houston too!! Hey neighbor! *waves*

Cakepro Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 9:08am

I understand how you feel!  Are you up on the north side of town?

 

When someone will occasionally tell me they are going with another bakery (probably a home baker) that quoted them a lower price, I tell them that I understand and that I hope they'll come see me for the next occasion.  More often than not, the cheaply priced cakes they get are NOT what they had been promised, and inevitably, a decent number of people come back, order their next cake, and tell me how disappointed they were in the cheap cake.  I hear a lot of horror stories about dry cake, burned cake, and crappy decorating in my little neck of the woods.

 

Love your letter!  icon_biggrin.gif

goodvibrations Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 9:29am

I'm in Spring/Woodlands, just north of Houston and particularly agree with this this portion of your response:  "Because Houston is so large, my business is barely affected by this. Unfortunately, in smaller towns these bakers are creating a situation  where no one can make a living in the cake business anymore."

 

Thankfully most of the decorators around here are well known to each other and we pretty much use similar pricing. We've even "welcomed" newcomers by letting them know how we price, etc. Sure is nice to have local decorators to send or receive referrals to when we're booked up or for emergencies! Maybe you can "welcome" the person who so generously was able to do your design at 1/2 the typical rate in your area. Your email says everything I would've liked to say in the same situation but would never have the "cake balls" to press send. Sure do know how you feel though cuz I have sent texts to the wrong person! Lesson learned......no more texting for me after one too many screwdrivers :)

kikiandkyle Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 1:27pm

AI'm in SW Houston, small world!

sugarpixy Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 2:43pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

I am in no way singling you out or even inferring that I'm referring to you, this is just an observation I've made in general from being around here for so long, and other forums. I think that the line between how we complain and commiserate in rooms like this, and the written correspondence with customers is really starting to grey. I will cuss up a storm and vent and even be insulting, I'm sure when colorful customer situations occur, but that's onky with other decorators. With the actual customers, I am Emily Freaking Post. And long gone are the days when I justify my pricing. I will explain why a certain method or decoration style may be costlier, and offer alternatives, but talking about why others may be cheaper, or why "good cake ain't cheap, and cheap cake ain't good"...no.

I see your point but I have been the brunt of many "your prices are too high" "I am getting the same cake somewhere else for much cheaper and the best was one was when a lady who I had given a quote sent me a  picture  of the cake that that she had gotten somewhere else. I have being doing this for three years so perhaps in time I will be less sensitive.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 3:46pm

I'd probably never do it, but I have certainly been tempted to respond with something like the OP's response before! I had one girl that I emailed back and forth with getting a design ironed out (didn't do a sketch, but put together a design for her) and practically had the signed contract, when she emailed back and said she found someone to do the same design for a lot cheaper and she just couldn't pass up such a good deal. It was reaallly hard to bite my tongue that time! icon_mad.gif

AZCouture Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 5:09pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarpixy 

I see your point but I have been the brunt of many "your prices are too high" "I am getting the same cake somewhere else for much cheaper and the best was one was when a lady who I had given a quote sent me a  picture  of the cake that that she had gotten somewhere else. I have being doing this for three years so perhaps in time I will be less sensitive.

icon_mad.gif She'd get a punch in her happy place for that!!!!

Lili5768 Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 6:10pm

She had some nerve to tell you she found someone else to do it cheaper!

 

In this case your response was justified and appropriate.

 

My motto is rise above it and always keep the door open ;)  Because if the other cake is a disappointment she will return to you and pay whatever you ask!  and you never know.

 

So I would have written her this:

 

I'm very sorry that I could not be of help to you at this time. I loved the design and was looking forward to making it. But I'm happy you have found someone that can.

 

I do feel though that my price was based on the quality of the work that I do, quality ingredients, and the time and work involved in executing the design.

 

I wish you a joyous occasion and I remain at your service for any future celebration.

 

Thank you and have a blessed day.

Norasmom Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 8:43pm

Are your prices too high?  If you're getting that feedback often, you might want to re-evaluate your business plan.

jason_kraft Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 8:47pm

A

Original message sent by Lili5768

She had some nerve to tell you she found someone else to do it cheaper!

If you were the customer, what would your response have been?

karensjustdessert Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 9:10pm

I'm not quite sure what this was supposed to accomplish.  As a former cake business operator, I know the frustration of losing customers to lower prices.  It happened  enough for me to get upset, but never enough for me to take it out on a customer.   As a customer, I would be utterly horrified and angry to receive this.  This was not an email "to educate", but rather a condescending tirade.  It would have been nicer and more professional had you said "Thank you for wasting my time."  Would any professional you hired/potentially hired ever say something like this in person?

jason_kraft Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 9:17pm

A

Original message sent by karensjustdessert

This was not an email "to educate", but rather a condescending tirade. ... Would any professional you hired/potentially hired ever say something like this in person?

I disagree. The main purpose of the email was to educate, and while there were a few condescending sentences that should have been removed it was for the most part professional. I gave my "why our price is high" elevator pitch to customers several times in person and the feedback was universally positive, but you have to practice it and ensure you are reacting with logic instead of emotion.

jason_kraft Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 9:19pm

A

Original message sent by Lili5768

I do feel though that my price was based on the quality of the work that I do, quality ingredients, and the time and work involved in executing the design.

This is not specific enough to have any sort of impact, especially if the customer does not have a realistic idea of labor requirements for cake decorating.

karensjustdessert Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 9:24pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


I disagree. The main purpose of the email was to educate, and while there were a few condescending sentences that should have been removed it was for the most part professional. I gave my "why our price is high" elevator pitch to customers several times in person and the feedback was universally positive, but you have to practice it and ensure you are reacting with logic instead of emotion.

 

And that is what made it a tirade to me, the emotion.  I agree it could have been professional and educational with some editing.  But the lack of editing negates it.   What's done is done.  We've all done or said something we wish we could undo or unsay, and that just another way we learn.  

kakeladi Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 9:37pm

There's a grocery store bakery here who charges only $20 for a 1/2 sheet - supposidley will decorate *any way* you want using (I believe) non-dairy whipped topping :(

howsweet Posted 29 Jun 2013 , 10:56pm

Update: Surprisingly my email was taken the way it was intended. She responded by letting me know she wasn't all that happy already with the choice she made, but that she was a single mother and was going to try and get a bigger contribution from her ex. I felt awful on one hand, but also glad that she understood the email. She had indeed flaunted that price at me because she thought I was overcharging and when she realized that was wrong, she felt bad about it. I let her know she was right to go with the other person, gave her some tips about how to drive with the cake and thanked her for understanding.

 

To the folks in Houston: Hi everybody! - I didn't know there are so many of us on this forum. I'm just south of Tomball and the baker she's using in in the Humble area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

I don't think you have to worry, that email needed to be sent.

Of course it could have been slightly less blunt, so you may want to work on a revised version to bring up if a customer has unrealistic pricing expectations. I doubt you really offended her though.

I agree - I wish there was a good way to let people know this information.  Certainly that letter I wrote isn't it.   I'm used to people having sticker shock, but it hit me the wrong way this time. Haven't been sleeping well for the last week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Norasmom 

Or, potentially they could do it for half the price.  There is a bakery in my town that charges half of what I do, but they deal in volume, and they don't make sculpted fondant decorations and gumpaste flowers.

That doesn't apply in this case. I had no fear of saying that the person was working for nothing because it was the only possibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyro 

 

If I got this, you would never receive business from me again. Even if what you are saying is true and accurate and as been debated around here a lot. Some might say someone like this wouldn't be your customer in the first place or someone you don't want as a customer. But if we stay to the email bit, my first statement stands true, for me anyway.

Just like AZ, up until this email, I'm Emily Post all the time. What I was saying was completely "true and accurate" - this is not a situation where opinions are involved. As far as loosing a customer -- if anyone thinks I was planning on trying to keep her as a customer after an email like that, they must suspect me to be pretty foolish. ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarpixy 

I think that it is very rude to tell a cake decorator that you can get something a lot cheaper, inferring that they are trying to rip you off. Just say that the cake does not fall into your budget and the decorator will understand. I recently had one of those type of emails and I simply sent back a picture of one of my wedding cakes with the "Good Cake isn't cheap and cheap cake isn't good" poster beside it, and wished her the best.

Yes, she was implying that I was trying to rip her off. But I have a feeling she is going to get good cake for cheap. And in this particular case, I'm kind of glad she is. But you and Jason are right, that is so often not the case in these situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

I am in no way singling you out or even inferring that I'm referring to you, this is just an observation I've made in general from being around here for so long, and other forums. I think that the line between how we complain and commiserate in rooms like this, and the written correspondence with customers is really starting to grey. I will cuss up a storm and vent and even be insulting, I'm sure when colorful customer situations occur, but that's onky with other decorators. With the actual customers, I am Emily Freaking Post. And long gone are the days when I justify my pricing. I will explain why a certain method or decoration style may be costlier, and offer alternatives, but talking about why others may be cheaper, or why "good cake ain't cheap, and cheap cake ain't good"...no.

I 100% agree - I've never, ever done anything like this before. I don't justify pricing either, except as you said - offering different pricing alternatives. Normally, if someone has flaunted a lower price at me, I've wished them a wonderful celebration and in some circumstances have offered to continue to help them if they need guidance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitches 

Your phrasing could have been a little more perfected before hitting the send button. I fully understand how you were feeling when you wrote it. I've hit the send button too quickly many times.

 

I don't think that client would have come back to you for another cake quote in the future. Your letter didn't burn a bridge (your quote did). In fact, I'd guess that at some time or another they'd have told all their friends about the great deal they got from this other cake decorator and how you were a rip off, bad mouthing you. Your writing that person and explaining things as you did, there's now a chance that they might understand why your prices and the other decorators were so different. I think most people would have read your entire letter. Their first reaction might have been anger, but I think a logical person would think about what you wrote. That's a good thing I think. Your trying to educate and in the long run help others too.

 

It's possible that your letter started a conversation that lead to several people discussing this issue and learning from it.

That's a good point - she couldn't afford this kind of cake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakepro 

I understand how you feel!  Are you up on the north side of town?

 

When someone will occasionally tell me they are going with another bakery (probably a home baker) that quoted them a lower price, I tell them that I understand and that I hope they'll come see me for the next occasion.  More often than not, the cheaply priced cakes they get are NOT what they had been promised, and inevitably, a decent number of people come back, order their next cake, and tell me how disappointed they were in the cheap cake.  I hear a lot of horror stories about dry cake, burned cake, and crappy decorating in my little neck of the woods.

 

Love your letter!  icon_biggrin.gif

So true and same here. I just snapped. At least it wasn't as bad as that dentist who ran over her husband in that hotel parking lot out by NASA haha :)  And yes, toward Tomball.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Norasmom 

Are your prices too high?  If you're getting that feedback often, you might want to re-evaluate your business plan.

I make my living in the cake business and know what I'm doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


If you were the customer, what would your response have been?

That's what hit me. Of course that's what a person would think.  I think I'd been blithely going along not realizing that a lot of of people think I'm price gouging. Well,  that's not right, of course already knew it, but it really sank in. Guess my usual thick skin wasn't working well haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karensjustdessert 

I'm not quite sure what this was supposed to accomplish.  As a former cake business operator, I know the frustration of losing customers to lower prices.  It happened  enough for me to get upset, but never enough for me to take it out on a customer.   As a customer, I would be utterly horrified and angry to receive this.  This was not an email "to educate", but rather a condescending tirade.  It would have been nicer and more professional had you said "Thank you for wasting my time."  Would any professional you hired/potentially hired ever say something like this in person?

You are mistaken - my intent was honestly just to inform her. If you would literally be horrified and angry that after coming back gloating about getting the same cake for half the price and hinting I was trying to cheat you, then that's kind of myopic. And your implication that I was hiding behind the internet is also wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


I disagree. The main purpose of the email was to educate, and while there were a few condescending sentences that should have been removed it was for the most part professional. I gave my "why our price is high" elevator pitch to customers several times in person and the feedback was universally positive, but you have to practice it and ensure you are reacting with logic instead of emotion.

Thank you for seeing that I wasn't stupid enough to think that's the way to turn someone into a customer or "yelling" at a customer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karensjustdessert 

 

And that is what made it a tirade to me, the emotion.  I agree it could have been professional and educational with some editing.  But the lack of editing negates it.   What's done is done.  We've all done or said something we wish we could undo or unsay, and that just another way we learn.  

Just to be clear, you think my email was a "A long, angry speech of criticism or accusation"?

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