How Hard To Chase A Customer?

Business By ericapraga Updated 6 Jul 2013 , 8:54am by Cakechick123

ericapraga Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 11:15am
post #1 of 14

I had a wedding consultation several months ago. It went well, we settled all the details, design, etc. I sent her the formal contract a day later by email (which is how we had been communicating). A couple of weeks after that, she emails back to say that she would like to provide the ribbon and when can she pay the deposit. Then nothing.

I have tried to call her, and have emailed numerous times, but have gotten nothing! The cake is for the 20th, and I have another wedding PLUS desserts for that weekend that is paid already. I can still squeeze her cake in, but I need to know NOW so that I can prepare for my time. I have called and sent her an urgent email to let her know that I need to hear something by the 12th to still be able to do her cake!

Should I keep trying? What else can I do? Suggestions would be helpful, since I am at a loss. I don't want her to be without cake and me without money! But I don't want to create a beautiful (4 tier no less!) cake and then not get paid or her have bought another.

13 replies
leah_s Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 11:33am
post #2 of 14

AI think she has ignored your communication to the point where she's sent a pretty clear message.

I NEVER chase an order. It screams "desperate".

Pyro Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 11:43am
post #3 of 14

Calls and numerous emails, I think that's plenty. If you didn't already, send her the " payment must be received by X day before X time or you won't be able to proceed with the order. Then let it go.

tracyaem Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 11:51am
post #4 of 14

Agree that you've done enough and any more will seem desperate. After I send my quote I wait a week, then send a follow-up email asking if they have any additional questions and reminding them a deposit is needed to secure their date. I end with saying if they have decided to go another route, then best of luck with their event and please consider us in the future. I used to consider quote requests and interested customers "orders". Not anymore... until the deposit is paid, they are not on my calendar.

BeesKnees578 Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 12:31pm
post #5 of 14

I agree with all of the above.

 

TRUE STORY:

I set up a consult to meet with a bride at my house.  She was coming from far away.  Waited and waited.  Texted her...NEVER HEARD BACK FROM HER.  I was mostly PO'd because my house was spotless and by DH took THREE kids out of the house so that I could meet with her. 

 

She calls me almost a year later and sets up another meeting.  I say to her, "I don't think you remember me, you had set up a consult last year but you couldn't make it for some reason..."  Of course, she didn't remember.  But I did.  She had a memorable name.

 

She makes it the second time, loves the cake, takes a contract to review, I tell her that I will send her a quote via email over the next day or so.  I do that.  She says something like "great, what do we do next?"   Well, you have to send in a deposit of 1/3 of the price to SAVE YOUR DATE.  OK....not a problem, she says.

 

Time goes by and by and by...no deposit.

 

FAST FORWARD to TWO MONTHS prior to her wedding....she emails me wanting to finalize the details of her cake!!!  WHAT??!!!??!!  I told her that I informed her that I needed her deposit in order to save her date.  At this point, I was 6 mos pregnant and didn't feel like dealing with her as she has since proven to be a PITA (or just very irresponsible) so I told her my Dr told me I couldn't do anymore heavy lifting!  Lie, yes...did I care?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  So I referred her to someone who could take on her artistic vision.

 

I also told her that because I didn't hear from her, I assumed she changed her mind.  And my "dr's excuse" just helped out a little.

 

MORAL OF THE STORY....no deposit, no date saved.  I would follow up with an email after you've given a deposit amount that says something to that effect, as well as stating it in your contract.  I always tell people to get that deposit in quick (maybe even a deadline date) so that no one snatches up their date.

 

I have been known to send a follow up email to someone I haven't heard from stating that another client is inquiring about their specific date and wanted to give them a heads-up to get their deposit in, giving them first dibs if they do so. Whether there is another client or not...doesn't matter.

 

I just had to turn down a girl who I gave a quote to in APRIL.  I thought maybe I forgot something, but I found my last email to her and she said "What do I do next?"  My reply was in my files and it was "Send in your deposit of $50 asap."  Since then, I had acquired an order from a long-standing customer.  Too bad, so sad, you loose.  I told her I was sorry but I assumed she didn't want to place the order since I hadn't heard from her and she understood.

Cakechick123 Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 2:02pm
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracyaem 

Agree that you've done enough and any more will seem desperate. After I send my quote I wait a week, then send a follow-up email asking if they have any additional questions and reminding them a deposit is needed to secure their date. I end with saying if they have decided to go another route, then best of luck with their event and please consider us in the future. I used to consider quote requests and interested customers "orders". Not anymore... until the deposit is paid, they are not on my calendar.

 

^^^^^ This!!

jason_kraft Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 2:36pm
post #7 of 14

AIf a customer seems like they are ready to commit to an order but don't send a deposit/signed contract within a week or so, I will follow up and let them know that if I don't receive the deposit and contract by X date, their order will be cancelled.

ericapraga Posted 4 Jul 2013 , 5:24pm
post #8 of 14

Thanks guys. The last email I sent told her that I had to have payment in full by the 12th or I could not complete her cake. On my contract it clearly states the deposit amount and date needed as well as the deposit and date for final payment. Ah well. I had accidentally under priced the cake anyway. If she calls last minute, and if it is feasible, I will charge her the correct price! At least the other bride has been super nice and very communicative, plus it is for a local place I would love to be the cake person for, so I want to do a super nice job, and maybe earn some more business!
 

lorieleann Posted 5 Jul 2013 , 3:54pm
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

If a customer seems like they are ready to commit to an order but don't send a deposit/signed contract within a week or so, I will follow up and let them know that if I don't receive the deposit and contract by X date, their order will be cancelled.

 

 

I agree with this procedure, though I think that by calling it an 'order that can be cancelled without deposit' leaves the door more open for misinterpretation  on the customer's part than if you phrase it so that a 'deposit on your estimate will place the order'.  If you call it an order before the contract is signed and the deposit is made, then the line is blurred as to when the order becomes and order.  I like to keep all talk before money classified as estimates, just to subconsciously reinforce to the customer that this cake we're discussing doesn't become real until some $$ is paid. 

jason_kraft Posted 5 Jul 2013 , 4:03pm
post #10 of 14

A

Original message sent by lorieleann

I agree with this procedure, though I think that by calling it an '[B]order[/B] that can be [B]cancelled[/B] without deposit' leaves the door more open for misinterpretation  on the customer's part than if you phrase it so that a 'deposit on your [B]estimate[/B] will place the [B]order'.  [/B]If you call it an order before the contract is signed and the deposit is made, then the line is blurred as to when the order becomes and order.  I like to keep all talk before money classified as estimates, just to subconsciously reinforce to the customer that this cake we're discussing doesn't become real until some $$ is paid. 

I've found that customers react with more urgency if you tell them their order is about to be cancelled (since there is a specific deadline to meet) than if you say that X is required to place the order. It's true that this blurs the line between an order and a request, but it's a moot point since after the deadline they will either have the order confirmed or it will be cancelled so there's no ambiguity there..

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 5 Jul 2013 , 6:01pm
post #11 of 14

I tell people up front that I will hold their date for a week. I don't chase at all really, if I haven't received the signed contract/deposit within one week, I communicate with them once to let them know their date is no longer reserved.

If they still want to book, they are more than welcome to, but if someone else calls first wanting that date, they get first dibs.

(of course, I word it much nicer than that when talking to potential clients :P)

 

It works great for me, like Jason said, giving a deadline seems to do the trick. I very rarely get people flaking out on me.

lorieleann Posted 5 Jul 2013 , 8:47pm
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


I've found that customers react with more urgency if you tell them their order is about to be cancelled (since there is a specific deadline to meet) than if you say that X is required to place the order. It's true that this blurs the line between an order and a request, but it's a moot point since after the deadline they will either have the order confirmed or it will be cancelled so there's no ambiguity there..

 

 

the age old difference between positive reinforcement and negative reaction (ie. deposit will place your order vs. no deposit will cancel your order).  But Jason, when you used to own a bakery did you used to sell more volume of smaller, dessert type special diet cakes? (i'm trying to remember what you said when you had your kitchen open)  Or was the percentage of your business in larger, custom decorated cakes?  I wonder if the type of order, such as a milestone cake like a wedding cake, vs a fabulous dessert cake, warrants a different tact in presenting to customers?    Personally, I tend to think the bigger the ticket item and when dealing with a bride (instead of a dinner party or birthday), that being positive and non-threatening is the right choice for my customer.  Of course that is my own experience, and your experience with the customer base you used to have may have been totally different.  They both get results, and i think that it is something that people may not automatically think about,  but I like falling on the side of the positive. icon_biggrin.gif

jason_kraft Posted 5 Jul 2013 , 10:54pm
post #13 of 14

A

Original message sent by lorieleann

the age old difference between positive reinforcement and negative reaction (ie. deposit will place your order vs. no deposit will cancel your order).  But Jason, when you used to own a bakery did you used to sell more volume of smaller, dessert type special diet cakes? (i'm trying to remember what you said when you had your kitchen open)  Or was the percentage of your business in larger, custom decorated cakes?  I wonder if the type of order, such as a milestone cake like a wedding cake, vs a fabulous dessert cake, warrants a different tact in presenting to customers?

Most of our orders were smaller cakes, but we did have our fair share of larger cakes that required a deposit, and all orders required written confirmation that the invoice was correct. Virtually all our orders were to celebrate a milestone (usually a birthday).

At this point in the transaction the customer has already essentially committed to placing an order, they just haven't sent the deposit or confirmation. If an email telling them their order will be cancelled if they don't send the deposit/confirmation offends them to the point that they cancel the order, it's probably for the best since that doesn't sound like a customer I really want to deal with.

Cakechick123 Posted 6 Jul 2013 , 8:54am
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

If an email telling them their order will be cancelled if they don't send the deposit/confirmation offends them to the point that they cancel the order, it's probably for the best since that doesn't sound like a customer I really want to deal with.

 

I totally agree, those are the clients you dont want to deal with. When I started out I had a few clients string me along, and eventually I realised that they are not really going to commit and was just wasting my time. Now I send one email reminding them of the deposit with a deadline, and if I dont get it the order is cancelled.

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