rsaun Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 5:34am
post #1 of

I am in Ohio and am a Cottage Food business.  When I first started out six years ago, I would let people pay me when they picked up their cakes (most customers were friends), then I started asking for deposits (to cover materials/supplies I needed to purchase).  I let customers pay me by checks without worrying about it.  Over the years, my policies have changed, mostly because people have screwed me over.  One customer ordered a basket cake filled with fresh berries -- and about $20 worth of berries later, she decided she didn't want the cake after all, and it was already made.  Another customer wrote me a hot check.  Now, my policies are this:  upon ordering, a $50 deposit (or half the total, whichever is smaller) is due upon ordering to "hold" the date.  The balance of the cake is due one month prior to delivery.  If the order is placed on shorter notice, then payment in full is due (no deposit) 2 weeks prior to delivery.  If order is placed completely last minute, I only accept cash and it must be paid in full before one finger touches anything to do with the preparation of that cake.  For the first time, a customer complained about that policy.  They don't want to pay me until they see the cake.  To me, that sounds like a screw-over in the making.  She has seen my portfolio and oohed and aahed over my work and now she feels "nervous" about paying in full now (her order is on the 21st of July...today is the 9th)...since it's less than 2 weeks away, i told her payment in full was due now.

 

Is this unreasonable?  What are your policies?  Cottage food business and licensed business owners' replies welcome!

35 replies
Cakechick123 Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 6:08am
post #2 of

I have the same policy for wedding cakes and for small celebration cakes I require 50% upfront and the balance when they collect.

your policies are not unreasonable, and in any case even if they were, its YOUR business and you decide the rules. If the client is not happy with that its her choice to go somewhere else, but I'm sure she will find that most places has an upfront payment of some kind.

 

In my opinion she can accept your policy or go somewhere else.

BomCakes Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 6:09am
post #3 of

Something I am learning as I go is every cake I do becomes a 1-3 cake generator from friends/relatives of the customer who ordered. There have been times I have cut someone a deal and don't you know the next several contacts will quote that price back to me. "You made a beautiful cake for so-and-so for  $xx.xx  I want the same price!" (but with twice as much of everything)

If you give in to this unreasonable request, a group of people may expect the same courtesy and you could have a problem. You know how well meaning situations turn into "she's a dishonest so-and-so".

 

So stick to your guns and just be gentle but blunt "This is a business and your order is for a custom made cake that cannot be sold to anyone else.  I can't afford to throw it in the trash if you decide you don't want it." If she balks cancel the order and throw her contact info in the round file. You don't need the stress that would come with her business.  

johnson6ofus Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 6:13am
post #4 of

In walmart, you pick a cake and pay for it.

 

With custom work, you pay upfront. Her nervous position may be just ill informed. She is hiring you (with all the "oohs and ahhhs") for a commissioned art piece made just for her. Maybe a soft sell approach will calm her, but in the end, I agree with the pp... stick to your guns!
 

Annabakescakes Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 7:06am
post #5 of

The way I do mine is if it is less than $100, payment in full before it touches the books, $100-200, 50% deposit at time of order and the rest at pick-up, $200 plus, $100 down and the rest 2 weeks before, unless it is last minute, then it is paid for immediately. The ONLY exceptions I make are for my very regular customers who order all the time. Stick to your guns, it could easily be a set up.

cakecoachonline Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 7:40am
post #6 of

I agree, stick to your guns.  If you want cash up front for a quick order - then those are the rules.   You pay up front for buying from a supermarket or Costco.  (I know that you are purchasing there and then and can see the cake)  But provided the consultation has been done correctly and there are no misunderstandings on colour, message, size, shape etc. there should be no problem.  If customers are questioning the 'pay in full now' policy - you need to ensure that they are certain they are getting the product exactly as they wish.  Then there can be zero argument as to whether your cake was worth the price you have charged.   So to me - this is all to do with the original consultation and getting things clear by both parties.

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 8:22am
post #7 of

Not the least bit unreasonable. People don't realize that the $300 cake they ordered can't just be re-sold to someone else if they change their mind at the last minute.

 

I require 50% within a week of booking, the other 50% 2 weeks before delivery.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 12:29pm
post #8 of

A

Original message sent by rsaun

She has seen my portfolio and oohed and aahed over my work and now she feels "nervous" about paying in full now

I would totally turn this back on her. Why is she nervous? Is she worried you won't be able to execute?

"Mrs. X, please help me understand what makes you nervous? Are you worried I won't be able to execute the design?" Then pause. Don't say a single word. Let her squirm a bit. Most people won't want to admit that. If she does, ask her if she would agree that you're a reasonable person. When she says if course, let her know that if there really was something wrong, you would of course refund part of the payment.

Bottom line no pay no cake.

yortma Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 1:12pm
post #9 of

She may be thinking that when the cake is finished she can find (imaginary) flaws and talk the price down.  Since your alternative would be to throw it away and get nothing, she may be thinking you will compromise, since any payment is better than none.  Don't do it.

cupadeecakes Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 1:29pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts View Post

If she does, ask her if she would agree that you're a reasonable person. When she says if course, let her know that if there really was something wrong, you would of course refund part of the payment.
 

 

Ummm, I don't know that I would say that exactly.  To me, that's leaving the door wide open to her wanting money back after the fact.  "Something wrong" can get pretty loosely translated when the client is already suffering from buyer's remorse.

 

I would ask why her why she's nervous about paying.  If it's related to execution, do you  have any online reviews or previous customer testimonials that you could share with the client?  That might calm her "nerves" a bit.  Don't change your policies for this customer, they are not out of line.  I require 50% upfront / to hold the date and the remainder 90 days before the event.  Stay Strong!

sugarmagiccakes Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 2:16pm

Ive fell into the trap of giving friends & relatives discounts, then i have everyone thinking i do cheap cakes & favours for people. Definately learned my lesson now everybody gets a fair price worthy of what they have ordered. There has to be at least a 50% deposit and full payment before completion because the product is so unique.

    If you want a one off,handmade, custom designed cake, then you must be willing to pay for it!

    Otherwise get down to the supermarket.

You are doing the right thing.icon_biggrin.gif

rsaun Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 2:25pm

Thanks, everyone.  I thought I was reasonable, and she is the first person to ever complain/question my policies.  After all, she wants her cake in 11 days!  I do have customer testimonials and comments on my Facebook page (which is how she found me), so I don't know why she is worried.  I wonder if it's that she can't afford it, and wants to split the payments.  I understand but I can't afford to NOT take her payment and have her balk and run and be stuck with a cake I don't want/don't need/can't sell to someone else.  I wonder if she impulsively ordered the cake -- but my fear is she could just as impulsively decide she doesn't want it after the fact!

 

I've been kind, and explained to her why my policies exist.  She's supposed to decide by Thursday. 

cheeseball Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 2:26pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnson6ofus View Post

In walmart, you pick a cake and pay for it.

 

With custom work, you pay upfront. Her nervous position may be just ill informed. She is hiring you (with all the "oohs and ahhhs") for a commissioned art piece made just for her. Maybe a soft sell approach will calm her, but in the end, I agree with the pp... stick to your guns!
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scrumdiddlycakes View Post

Not the least bit unreasonable. People don't realize that the $300 cake they ordered can't just be re-sold to someone else if they change their mind at the last minute.

 

I require 50% within a week of booking, the other 50% 2 weeks before delivery.

Blammo.

rsaun Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 3:13pm

And the drama continues. 

 

I sent her an invoice.  I ALWAYS send invoices by email.  She said my attachment "made her phone and her computer crash" and she can't pull it up.  I ask people to print them off, write in any corrections, sign the bottom (the "contract" portion) and return it to me with payment.  She said she can't print it til Monday and since she only has til Thursday to do so (because I have someone else waiting til then to see if I have a slot open up), she'll just skip it.  She said, "I thought I'd have more time to do this and I feel rushed."  Ummmm...well, you're the one who waited until 11 days before your child's birthday to order your cake...  :)  Ahhh...people...

rsaun Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 3:25pm

She just let me know she just can't afford it...I'm so sorry to hear this, but this makes me glad I stuck to my guns.  I worry that what may have happened is that cake day arrived and she didn't have enough for the balance so she would have not picked it up.  :(

carmijok Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 3:34pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsaun View Post

She just let me know she just can't afford it...I'm so sorry to hear this, but this makes me glad I stuck to my guns.  I worry that what may have happened is that cake day arrived and she didn't have enough for the balance so she would have not picked it up.  :(


thumbs_up.gif

johnson6ofus Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 3:50pm

CONGRATS for sticking to your guns!!!! Prime example of why people don't pay.... At least you won't be starting a new thread--- "Customer didn't pay and won't answer my calls to pick up cake..."icon_biggrin.gif

 

 

Hope the one waiting for the slot turns out to be a customer for you...

rsaun Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 4:20pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnson6ofus View Post

CONGRATS for sticking to your guns!!!! Prime example of why people don't pay.... At least you won't be starting a new thread--- "Customer didn't pay and won't answer my calls to pick up cake..."icon_biggrin.gif

 

 

Hope the one waiting for the slot turns out to be a customer for you...


Thanks!  In the past, my husband used to worry that I was a doormat.  NO MORE!  :)

Annabakescakes Posted 9 Jul 2013 , 4:26pm

AWhy am I not surprised? You did good!

BomCakes Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 12:13am

Relief! thumbs_up.gif

 

You know sometimes It feels like losing no matter how far backward you bend.

I had a girl book a cake with me way back in the spring for *June*  and I had not heard from her in a long while. I contacted her a couple of times asking for her final details because I needed to know what to purchase for it etc. Then I got to the week of and messaged her:

"Hi Sadie!, I still need details for your little girl's cake. I am super swamped! Will be shopping for the ingredients tomorrow can you send me the details ASAP? icon_razz.gif

"Yeah. I'll get you the details ASAP". So I figured I could probably make whatever features she comes up with..

I wondered about that phraseology hoping she didn't take my request the wrong way. (to myself: 'ASAP just means As soon as possible.. Who is that sensitive? She must know it's JUNE...mumble, mumble..Whatever!  It'll be ok Barbie'.) So, another day goes by, 

"Hi Sadie! Am baking *tomorrow* and don't really have the details I needed to make your daughter's cake. I will be on again tonight...(whatever else I said- smiley face)  Sadie "Well, I have to talk it over with my husband, We might make it ourselves but if not I'll get you the details...ASAP"

 

Deleted/blocked her from my FB. Threw the order in the trash. If that makes me an evil blankity baker in her book well I guess I'll never know! but I can live without the attitude and future stress!  

ellavanilla Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 12:37am
Quote:
Originally Posted by BomCakes View Post

 

 

I wondered about that phraseology hoping she didn't take my request the wrong way. (to myself: 'ASAP just means As soon as possible.. Who is that sensitive? She must know it's JUNE...mumble, mumble..Whatever!  It'll be ok Barbie'.) So, another day goes by, 

"Hi Sadie! Am baking *tomorrow* and don't really have the details I needed to make your daughter's cake. I will be on again tonight...(whatever else I said- smiley face)  Sadie "Well, I have to talk it over with my husband, We might make it ourselves but if not I'll get you the details...ASAP"

 

 

HOw much do you wanna bet that she thinks "as soon as possible" means whenever she feels like it.

 

Jen

heartsnsync Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 2:26am

AI get most of my orders weeks if not months in advance but occasionally I will get a frantic last minute request. If the amount due is over $50.00 (almost always is) and it is less than two weeks to the date, I have the customer pay using my Squareup account or Paypal with payment in transferred to my checking account before I will begin work. I tack on a surcharge of 5% to make up for the amount that is paid to those services so that I am not out any money for the urgency of the payment. If it is a longer period of time, I request a check which I promptly deposit in order to ensure the check does not bounce long before I purchase anything or make any sugar work. For anything over $200.00 I require a contract and 50% payment up front with the remainder due 30 days before the event. If the cake is over $200.00 and the cake is cancelled less than thirty days to the event, I keep the down payment.

BomCakes Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 2:39am
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellavanilla View Post

HOw much do you wanna bet that she thinks "as soon as possible" means whenever she feels like it.

 

Jen

That was exactly what she meant alright. I just thought, What did I do? Her last cake was beautiful and she loved it. Posted it all over FB.

I'm not into games. I am good to everyone, and try to be kind and honest/up front and helpful about any/everything. Chalk it up to experience I guess, ha! 

,

Annabakescakes Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 3:14am

I find it helps to give a firm deadline. Like, "If you would like to think it over, or talk with you husband, that would be great, but I really need to know by noon tomorrow, if at all possible. Thank you."

Annabakescakes Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 3:43am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes View Post

I find it helps to give a firm deadline. Like, "If you would like to think it over, or talk with you husband, that would be great, but I really need to know by noon tomorrow, if at all possible. Thank you."

Actually, that wasn't as firm as I meant, lol. But it still has to be personable.... How about, "I'm really excited about this design, but it is going to be a lot of work and I need to get started right away with ordering supplies. (Everyone knows it can take time to get junk and stuff in the mail.) If you like to make any final decisions, please take until noon tomorrow, but then I really must have any final changes and payment in full to proceed with the order."

Annabakescakes Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 3:43am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes View Post

I find it helps to give a firm deadline. Like, "If you would like to think it over, or talk with you husband, that would be great, but I really need to know by noon tomorrow, if at all possible. Thank you."

Actually, that wasn't as firm as I meant, lol. But it still has to be personable.... How about, "I'm really excited about this design, but it is going to be a lot of work and I need to get started right away with ordering supplies. (Everyone knows it can take time to get junk and stuff in the mail.) If you like to change anything, please take until noon tomorrow, but then I really must have any final changes and payment in full to proceed with the order."

AZCouture Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 3:56am
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsaun View Post

 She has seen my portfolio and oohed and aahed over my work and now she feels "nervous" about paying in full now (her order is on the 21st of July...today is the 9th)...since it's less than 2 weeks away, i told her payment in full was due now.

 

I had a similar situation about a year ago, with a first birthday mommy (roll the eyes now, cause we've all had one of "those" ;) ). She oohed and ahhed, and blah blah blah, but she ended every email with some sort of suspicion and mistrust, and obvious regret at spending "so much money", which was the bare bones lowest priced cake I even offer. It went on for a couple more emails, with me reassuring and politely answering her concerns. Paid her paypal, end of story...or so I thought. A few days later, on a Sunday afternoon, I got a big long email outlining her concerns over her order, because she had been at a party that one of my cakes was at. Was it going to be that small? It didn't look that nice close up! The person who ordered the cake didn't pay that much! I'm not sure about the icing. Can you call me right away please???

 

I didn't have any orders that weekend. It didn't take me long to figure out who she was talking about, as there is another decorator with a similar name a few miles away, and a cake they posted that morning matched the description. She was promptly refunded her payment and I wished her luck in tracking down a suitable decorator for her event. I explained that every single piece of correspondence from her had been laced with regret and suspicion, and I wasn't going to spend hours on her cake only to have her find something wrong with it. Nope. Next! 

 

Anyways....trust your gut and stick to your guns!

AZCouture Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 3:58am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes View Post

Actually, that wasn't as firm as I meant, lol. But it still has to be personable.... How about, "I'm really excited about this design, but it is going to be a lot of work and I need to get started right away with ordering supplies. (Everyone knows it can take time to get junk and stuff in the mail.) If you like to change anything, please take until noon tomorrow, but then I really must have any final changes and payment in full to proceed with the order."

Yeah, don't say things like "if possible", it suggests that it doesn't really matter when they get back to you. Be firm, but polite. You're a business, and deserve to be respected accordingly. Give what you expect. :)

cakesbycathy Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 1:56pm

IMO you really need to be specific when dealing with clients.  I will always say "I need to know by noon on Wednesday."  People need a firm deadline or you can end up making yourself crazy.  Plus, most people have no idea the time requirement for creating a cake.  They think you can whip up a custom cake in an hour or two.  Seriously.

 

The words "as soon as possible" have completely different meanings to people.  When I say it I am thinking within the next few hours, end of the day at the latest.  When you say that to my husband he thinks it means whenever he gets around to it, maybe by the end of the week, or next week...
 

rsaun Posted 10 Jul 2013 , 9:52pm

I am so glad to read all of your answers.  I always ask for a specific date/time for their response, and when I do so, I feel "pushy."  In fact, the mom that was at the center of this issue told me she felt "rushed."  I will keep doing this, then, knowing it's okay (see, I'm just a girl who needs reassurance :) )!

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