madebymissy Posted 14 Oct 2013 , 4:28pm
post #1 of

Hi Guys,

 

This is my first post so I hope I can get into the way of things.

 

Basically I am a hobby baker and love to bake in my rare free time. 

 

Aside from baking my interests lie in web and graphic design and I am currently studying in my final year of Interactive Multimedia Design at Uni. I am currently working on ideas for a major project and am trying to create a solution to a problem that I know most bakers have... HOW TO COST BAKING. 

 

First I want to gather some research to see what current resources/techniques you all use to do this and how effective they are.

 

Also if you have any ideas or suggestions in what the solution should entail to make all our lives a bit easier I would love to hear them.

 

The idea as it stands will be a free web application which will allow the user to log in to their own account, save recipes, upload photographs, save and send quotes, search for product prices and compare them against other supermarket/sellers the system will also allow the user to set their personal hourly rate in order to find out the price of the task in hand.

 

All thoughts would be greatly appreciated,

 

Melissa xo

21 replies
jason_kraft Posted 14 Oct 2013 , 5:05pm
post #2 of

AYou may want to look at narrowing the scope of the app to focus on the costing side, for the CRM features (such as saving and sending quotes) you could tie in with an existing tool like QuickBooks instead. A mobile app would also be nice (plus you could charge for it).

Providing prices for ingredients would be great but I'm not sure where you would source that data, and you would need several different data sets for different areas of the country. It might be easier to provide default data for labor cost per hour (using a multiplier on the state minimum wage, for example) and overhead costs (building a DB of average license fees by state and adding commercial kitchen rent if there is no cottage food law).

If you wanted to add data visualization features I recommend taking a look at Tableau, it's free for students. http://www.tableausoftware.com/academic/students

Overall it looks like a great idea, best of luck!

shanter Posted 14 Oct 2013 , 5:25pm
post #3 of

Aren't there already two apps for costing out cakes? I don't have them but I've seen others talk about them.

jason_kraft Posted 14 Oct 2013 , 5:31pm
post #4 of

Ahttps://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cakeulator/id561084522?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cost-a-cake/id553290399?mt=8

madebymissy Posted 14 Oct 2013 , 6:30pm
post #5 of

Hi Guys,

 

Thanks a bunch for your feedback!

 

Jason_craft thank you for suggesting Tableau I have never came across it, looks fab will defo be experimenting with it.

 

I think the mobile app is also a fab idea, for the time being I am going to stick a responsive layout (the website will respond and adapt to the screen/device it is presented on) but I would love to do a mobile app in the near future.

 

At the minute I am working on pulling data from supermarket sites, however this won't be as easy to fetch from independent sellers that perhaps don't have an online system for selling supplies so that is something I will need to look at. In relation to the different areas of the country and even different countries I would need to do alot of research into the most popular etc.

 

Its a toughie but I hope I can come up with a solution, I know that quite alot of people are still faced with this problem through looking on the forum. 

 

I know the two apps exist although I am almost certain that we have to pay for them, the cost a cake one is free however it requires the user to enter the price of the ingredients im not sure if the pro version generates them.

 

I am a very basic baker and have no idea how businesses/individuals cost their cakes, perhaps they are well experienced and know how much each cake will cost to make and add in their profit to generate the cost? 

 

Again thank you so much for your feedback it is much appreciated :)

shanter Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 12:06am
post #6 of

http://www.cakeboss.com/PricingGuideline.aspx

I believe custom cake bakers/decorators do not compare their goods to supermarket cakes.

thecakewitch Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 12:38am
post #7 of

AHow to cost baking: Excel for PC or Numbers for Mac. Some people just need to learn.

MimiFix Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 1:01am
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by thecakewitch 

How to cost baking: Excel for PC or Numbers for Mac. Some people just need to learn.

 

Excel! No fancy icons, best non-app, ever.

jason_kraft Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 2:54am
post #9 of

AExcel is a great tool, but if you present most people with a blank worksheet their eyes will glaze over. There's something to be said for building an interface to guide the user through the calculations step by step, especially if it includes portfolio management features and direct feeds from external data sources to automatically populate commodity prices.

Dayti Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 1:21pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by shanter 
 

http://www.cakeboss.com/PricingGuideline.aspx

I believe custom cake bakers/decorators do not compare their goods to supermarket cakes.

Absolutely, but I think the OP was saying she was pulling pricing data (i.e. ingredients/supplies) from supermarket sites, not the price of a cake itself.

Spireite Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 1:49pm

Hello Melissa, I am only a hobby baker and have never charged for a cake, but I have made a gift of them a few times.  The last time I made a wedding cake, I kept all my receipts and worked it all out on paper.  It took me hours!  I did buy all new ingredients for the project (it was for someone's wedding after all!), as normally when I bake I use up what is in the pantry first!  I think my Mother did a similar exercise when she baked MY wedding cake 14 years ago!

 

HOWEVER, I didn't include the cost of utilities, dishwashing, prep maths research time to work out the number of servings per cake (should I include the cost of my home access to the internet?), shopping time, fuel in the car to go shopping, the use of my existing utensils, and the cost of me buying my new sized cake tins for that particular project.....and of course my labour time.  If I were a professional I would have to have insurance premiums as well, Environmental Health certificates....the list goes on!

 

Should there be a stress fee??? I remember being a little stressed out at times!

 

Good luck.

 

Hmmm looking at all of the above it seems I am not being very encouraging, but until I frequented this site I though it was all purely to do with the cost of ingredients!!

Spireite Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 1:51pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dayti 
 

Absolutely, but I think the OP was saying she was pulling pricing data (i.e. ingredients/supplies) from supermarket sites, not the price of a cake itself.

If I were a professional wouldn't I have access to trade outlets for my ingredients....I know as a hobby baker that I am already paying a premium in buying my ingredients form the local supermarket chain.

Stitches Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 3:00pm

There are people like me that have already done the pricing research comparing multiple outlets for buying ingredients. I physically went cost comparing from company to company to find the best prices. I broke down the cost of each ingredient to the ounce. Than I came to realize pricing fluctuates season to season. So you just take an average price for each ingredient and go with that.

 

I also realized (much to my distress) that the best over all prices came from Costco and Sam's Club. The wholesale suppliers I looked at didn't beat them. So it's a myth (in my opinion) that restaurants and bakery's are able to get better pricing. I talked to chefs about this and they agreed, Costco and Sam's are cheaper than what they can buy through wholesale sources. The ONE difference though is, you can get a better quality ingredients through wholesale sources.

 

Pulling pricing data from supermarket sites didn't work for me. Their prices really varied seasonally and they don't list all the info. you need to break down ingredients costs completely. How can you account for that? If I was the OP, I'd pull data from the two big pricing clubs plus Restaurant Depot (who has supplies those two don't stock) and you could soundly come up with your pricing, in the US.

 

I can see how you could come up with an average over head pricing for retail and home bakeries.........that's just math. But I don't know how you'd account for the biggest mistakes decorators make when giving estimates- guessing how many hours it will take them to complete a design/cake. Would it work if decorators could keep a log of how many hours it took them to make each cake, as a reference when quoting?....with maybe an optional add 10% to your time estimate for a design you've never done before?

 

I'm not sure if I explained that well.......... for example, we always run amuck on the "Price this Cake" threads here (in my opinion) because of the time involved per design. If you had a beginner, intermediate and advanced amount of time choices people could enter into the equation that averaged their per cake time you'd have a better idea of what your costs are or will be.

shanter Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 4:05pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dayti 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shanter 
 

http://www.cakeboss.com/PricingGuideline.aspx

I believe custom cake bakers/decorators do not compare their goods to supermarket cakes.

Absolutely, but I think the OP was saying she was pulling pricing data (i.e. ingredients/supplies) from supermarket sites, not the price of a cake itself.


You're right. I misunderstood.

jason_kraft Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 4:21pm

AI haven't really noticed a seasonal variation in prices for most ingredients, with the obvious exception of produce. Unless OP can find an automated pricing feed most of the data collection for the typical basket of ingredients would have to be done manually, or possibly crowdsourced with an open database. One data point per region from each type of retailer (grocery, discount, club, restaurant supply) updated annually should be enough to get a reasonably accurate picture of ingredient costs. The user could then select which type of store they shop at.

Automatically estimating the amount of time needed for a cake is a much more difficult problem, it would require analyzing a picture of a cake and recognizing the complexity of different design components, then building an estimate based on the skill level of the user. That would probably be a computer science master's or PhD thesis problem on its own. Of course you can fake it with pictures of example cakes and estimates of how long it would take for decorators of different skill levels to complete.

Spireite Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 4:27pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

I haven't really noticed a seasonal variation in prices for most ingredients

Jason, in the UK, on the approach to Christmas in the supermarkets Plain flour rises in price whilst Self raising prices don't as much!!  A very bizarre seasonal phenomenon. Rather annoying asI bake my Christmas cakes using plain flour.  :)

Stitches Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 4:57pm

"Seasonal pricing".... at the moment I was typing I couldn't think of a better word to explain the constant ebb and flow of commodity prices. For example, I remember last year paying almost $3.00 per pound of butter and right this moment it's at a great low around $1.80 per lb. at the big box stores (although it's still really expensive at the grocery stores, which I don't understand). The bigger your production or tighter your profit margins are the more you feel that pain or gain..........but it's there.

Stitches Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 5:04pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason_kraft 

Automatically estimating the amount of time needed for a cake is a much more difficult problem, it would require analyzing a picture of a cake and recognizing the complexity of different design components, then building an estimate based on the skill level of the user. That would probably be a computer science master's or PhD thesis problem on its own.

That's why the "price this cake" threads should really be, "how long would it take you to do this cake" thread. Costs can be calculated easily, estimating your time and getting a profitable payment for it is a lot more challenging.

jason_kraft Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 5:08pm

ACommodity prices will definitely fluctuate due to the available supply, that's why it's so important to update the price DB on a regular basis. Big box stores rely more on higher volume than higher margins and they buy more often, which is why they are more reactive to price shifts.

If there are true seasonal differences that are significant enough, this can be captured in the DB by including separate line items for things like in-season vs. out-of-season fruit or xmas pricing vs. non-xmas pricing for flour.

jason_kraft Posted 16 Oct 2013 , 5:12pm

A

Original message sent by Stitches

That's why the "price this cake" threads should really be, "how long would it take you to do this cake" thread. Costs can be calculated easily, estimating your time and getting a profitable payment for it is a lot more challenging.

Building in overhead costs is also a critical piece many people leave out, but I agree the most important cost component is usually labor.

madebymissy Posted 17 Oct 2013 , 8:27pm
Wow, Thank you all so much for your feedback it is helping alot as there are a few things that I didn't take into consideration in the beginning.
 
Stitches you have definitely done your research on this thank you for sharing your findings. I know supermarket pricing changes so often, creating an automated feed from supermarkets pricing fields is the main part of the project which I have almost mastered, this will ensure that the prices are always exact. 
I love the beginner, intermediate and advanced idea also!
 
I guess time is the biggest issue here, its a tough one to master.
 
​Spireite, there are definitely alot of things to take into account, especially for the hobby baker who may not have a supply of tools etc required for orders, I don't know if we should include these or not within the pricing.
 
As long as I know there is a potential market for the site and its not just a feeling in my water im willing to put alot of work into it.
 
Cannot thank you guys enough for the feedback... I am getting hooked to CC already!
DeliciousDesserts Posted 17 Oct 2013 , 10:00pm

AOf course there is a market for it! That is why CakeBoss ha been so successful.

The difficulty will be deciding how much information to provide in order to be able to provide the program at a cost people will be willing to pay.

Currently, the cake boss software is about $150 (I think. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong). It provides costing recipes, creating invoices, & tracking orders. As far as I know, it does not provide the cost of ingredients. The user is responsible for inputting that information.

I have been wanting to purchase it for some time. Sadly, there always seems to be something more important to spend that $150. It's still on my wish list.

You'll need to decide what you want your price to be & how much you are willing I provide for that information.

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