I do cakes from home, I have a fb page I post to religiously. I know my cakes are good and they are really beautiful. I even undercharge sometimes just to get more customers and many say they will be referring friends to me and ordering more cakes from me but they never do! I'm a little annoyed! Sometimes I even email the customer and say 'I hope you enjoyed your cake.. blah, blah, blah'. No reply. What gives??
AWhat is your marketing strategy? What is your competitive advantage (e.g. what you can provide that your competitors can't)? Who is your target market?
I would avoid undercharging in the future, you will only attract customers who won't be willing to pay what your products are really worth.
APerhaps your cakes aren't as great as you think.
Yep, I am seeing more and more that customers don't really appreciate a good deal. A couple of times I have thrown in free cupcakes, cake pops, but they really don't appreciate it! I really don't have a marketing strategy, something to look into. I just post an ad in a classifieds site where I get most of my customers. I have lots of last minute orders which I don't really mind so much considering I can tack on a rush fee. The main thing I do is post to my fb page and have a blog. I'm think of advertising in some local bridal magazines, newspapers, wedding fairs down the road though.
And as far as my cakes not being good, each to their own, but I've never had a complaint. I think if they really didn't like the cake or had any issue they would tell me. I interned with a successful home baker for six months and use all of her recipes. She just does word of mouth advertising, I don't know how she gets so much business that way.
AHey, Your cakes ARE really great- I checked out your site. And we all know successful businesses whose cakes aren't that great, but still charge big bucks. It's all business skills and marketing. Be confident. Don't discredit word of mouth. I would sooner buy via a recommendation than through a classified ad. Next time, instead of bringing free cake pops (which is super nice!) deliver your cake with business promotion cards and ask them to recommend you to their friends. Ask past clients to post satisfied customer testimonials to your page. Let your site feel more like a busy business and less like a cake blog. Best of luck! Tammy
teaching cake deco helps get the word around--
dropping off a plate of goodies with business cards to like minded vendors, florists, dress peeps, venues, etc. might be an idea--
Looking at your page, I do agree your work is good.
So, what do YOU think is going on? I know you came for opinions, but do you have theories? It just does seem odd that with your level of work people aren't re-ordering. There HAS to be a reason. Either that, or you haven't looked close enough at your reorder vs lost clients ratio. Maybe it just SEEMS like lately they aren't reordering, but if you look at hard numbers you're fine? I know I panic every once in a while about business things until I sit down and actually see the numbers.
Maybe start a birthday club with reminders?
AHmmmm. Great work. Well two things you said stuck out for me. "undercharging" and "most of your customers coming from a classifieds site". Around here, those classified sites are where people look for and sell used lawnmowers, baby clothes, and anything else for cheap. There's even a local Facebook page for buying and selling those types of things, and the serious decorators wouldn't be caught dead there, and the decorators who are there, are falling over themselves to get jobs. And they are cheap. But they look cheap, and the people who buy them are cheap. I would hope someone with talent like yours is NOT purposely targeting bargain seekers. JasonKraft can describe it better than I can, but raising your prices and seeking a whole new level of clientele might be the remedy to your situation.
Thank for the good advice everybody. I know classifieds are lame, but I just started building up my clientele and at least it's helping me get going I suppose. I'm still having difficulty asking for $100 for a birthday cake, but I just did - to a friend in fact and she had no problem with it! Yay! Considering the amount of detail I put into every cake I know I should be charging at least $100 for every birthday cake. Maybe I just really haven't been selling long enough (maybe a year and a half) to get a ton of return customers but I thought by this point I'd have at least a few. Thanks for the little boost of confidence everybody!
You have to reach your customer.
$100 for that cake was insanely low (the one where you posted the price). And very likely your friend could not have afforded the real price for that cake. She's probably not your customer. But if she could and you have a lot of other well to do friends, then you're ahead of the game.
Aside from the short time you've been in business, one reason you're not seeing many return customers may have to do with the type of customer you're getting (yes, that again) . Even if you were charging enough, in the beginning you may only reach customers who are buying this as a splurge. A crtain percentage of your customers are always going to be doing the splurge. That means they probably aren't going to do it next year.
Your target customer can easily pay $200-300 for for 32 serving birthday cake for all three of her kids and her husband every year without blinking an eye. Your best customer appreciates really fancy cakes and will spend $400-$500+ a couple a times a year. I know because I specialize in high end birthday cakes. And there's competition for these customers - they aren't just going to roll into your lap.
Now before someone comes in and says I can't possibly know exactly what cakes go for where you live, it's true, I don't. But I know exactly how much work goes into the cakes on your page and that you should charge enough that you could at least pay for rent, food on the table and some health insurance if you were doing it full time. And there's just a limit to how low that can be if you live in the US. If you undercharge you're doing yourself a disservice and possibly taking food off the table of someone who does this full time for a living. If you think that's untrue or even a tiny exaggeration, I can point you to info to help you understand it.
And, sorry, I forgot to say you do lovely work - you should be getting a very high dollar for that kind of cleanness and quality.
Your cakes are great, I checked out your facebook page too! Don't get discouraged, I don't know how long you have been in business, but, it just takes time. As long as you are happy with the cakes you are selling to your customers, don't worry if they don't give you any feedback, sometimes it could be that they are just busy. When you least expect someone to come back, it seems they will, but, let's face it, specialty cakes are for special times. The average Joe can't afford them everyday.
Is the person you interned with still in business? Read: Is she talking smack on you?
I, for one, would be pretty upset if someone that I trained took all of my recipes to use for her own business while I was still running mine.
I haven't looked at your cakes, but from what everyone is saying, I will!
The majority, about 90%, of my business comes from repeat customers. But I am just a paying hobby team of one who only did 30 orders last year. I don't advertise other than FB and giving a small stack of biz cards to people when they pick up their cakes. You will get there if your products are the bomb!
Some inquiries won't want to pay your prices. Some will. That's OK. Advertise in wealthier areas if your area isn't...
Give it time...and make sure you aren't stepping on your mentor's toes with the recipes.
And don't lower your prices, as people have said, just to get new customers!
Oh, and please realize that custom cakes are a big splurge....not everyone can afford this kind of cake for each and every birthday.
So you may only see repeat biz on a yearly basis or only for landmark events. Not three or four times per year.