jenmat Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 2:32am
post #1 of

Ok, first, I am 8 months pregnant. I'm not on bedrest, but more like "take it easy" orders from the doctor. 

 

It is tasting season and I am trying something new (for me). 

 

I am offering 2 choices- Baker's Choice (free) and Custom ($ per flavor). 

 

So WHY is it so flippin hard for brides to get back to me with their Custom flavor requests? I am booking them weeks out, sending them a Tasting Guide with orders to get their requests to me. I am reminding them at least 1 week in advance that if I am doing Custom, I need their flavors. 

 

And then I'm hearing back from them with 1 day or next day requests. I am beginning to see a pattern and it's driving me nuts. 

 

I have 4 tastings on Saturday and just heard back from one bride with FIVE custom flavors. After telling her I needed it by yesterday. So I told her no, she didn't get me her flavors in time and she would have to settle for a Baker's Choice. 

 

And while in theory I'm staying firm, they aren't going to see that. They are going to see bad service and go with someone else. 

 

I finished baking today and I'm so sore I can't imagine spending another chunk of time tomorrow on my feet and sitting through 5 hours worth of tastings on Saturday. (and I'm feeling whiney....)

 

Competition is getting more fierce in this area and since I'm at the higher end price-wise, convenience is working against me. Other bakeries are cheaper and couples can just walk in and taste whatever they want. I am making them work for it. It's always been fine, but I'm noticing a real resistance to anything "inconvenient" for these people these past few months. 

 

Thoughts? 

68 replies
enga Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 3:08am
post #2 of

You are in a delicate state right now, you need to make things easier for you, don't give them a choice, make them pay for it. If they don't want to follow your rules, let them go somewhere else.

 

I posted on here somewhere this neat little tray style tasting with different cake, fillings and icing to choose from. Charge $25.00 or more for tastings and be done with it. Don't let them take advantage of you.

 

Here it is. hth

http://www.bridalbuds.com/wp-content/uploads/Tasting-re__water_1161100121.jpg

Smallfrye Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 3:29am
post #3 of

Maybe you could post a tasting schedule that works for you right now. And schedule your brides around that. Like on this date I will hold tasting for a, b, and c flavors and this date is d, e, and f. Have your brides pick times to come in for tasting or stop by and grab a tasting box. I dont know just a thought to make it easier on you right now.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 3:35am
post #4 of

I do a complimentary tasting.  It includes 4-8 flavors & 2-4 fillings depending on what is available.  That's it!  My consultation guide states "if there is something specific you would like to try I suggest ordering for an upcoming event or purchasing a sample cake.  Sample cakes are 2 layer 6" rounds and are available for $15."

 

This is an example of a recent sample:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=540396042674293&set=pb.207874222593145.-2207520000.1389929462.&type=3&theater

 

I make up 6" sample cakes and keep them wrapped in the freezer.  They are welcome to fillings which have been ordered that week.  I almost always have chocolate ganache.

 

I have never had anyone complain about not having enough to sample.  Almost everyone is shocked at how MUCH there is.

 

Simple, easy, no fuss.

Karlay Cakes Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:30am
post #5 of

AThat's a good idea having 6 inch cakes frozen and ready to go for brides. I usually make mini loaves for sample. This works well because if I have leftover batter I just pour into mini loaf pan and freeze for latter. Question have you had bride ask you to do this?? My bride has already decided on the cake she wants. The modifications are marzipan instead of fondant. Wedding is in May. The problem? She wants a mini version of her cake to sample instead of my traditional tasting cakes. Which I provide for free up to four little mini bundt cakes along side different flavors and fillings. If I make a mini cake using marzipan (which she knows I've never used before, but agreed to incorporate) on a 6 inch and 4 inch cake with one or two of the flowers I charged her $39 plus tax. I charge usually $3.25 per slice for wedding cakes with fondant and then additional charge for complex piping designs or decorations, But I've never charged for a mini version of a wedding cake. She's willing to pay for it but I think she's testing me to see if it can be done. I totally get why your exhausted. Being pregnant and dealing with brides who try to make things complicated sucks. I'm doing this anyway just to prove can. What do you think should I have charged more? I'll make it up when I do the whole cake in a few more months. [IMG]http://cakecentral.com/content/type/61/id/3169012/width/200/height/400[/IMG]

howsweet Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:48am
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenmat 
 

 

 It's always been fine, but I'm noticing a real resistance to anything "inconvenient" for these people these past few months. 

 

Thoughts? 

 

It may be partially related to the holidays. Many customers don't want to think about ordering cake until the last minute over the holidays and through mid January. it may improve from here.

jenmat Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:57am
post #7 of

Thanks everyone. You're right, I'm probably just being oversensitive right now and they've always been like this! 

 

I've vacillated between all sorts of kinds of tastings in the years I've been in business and I really like the idea of just pulling samples from the freezer for these Baker's Choice tastings. So far I am surprised they aren't more popular and brides are still wanting to pay for custom. I always try to offer a free option so if they decide to pay for it that's on them (since the majority of the competition is complimentary). But if they can't even get their act together and tell me what they want, I don't know how much more I can babysit.  

 

Normally I'm a hard and fast person when it comes to tastings- my rules, my way. But I'm starting to encounter pushback from couples and it stinks. Being in pain most days doesn't help either.....

jason_kraft Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:19am
post #8 of

AHow much are you charging for your custom tastings? What is your typical utilization (100% = you are working at max efficiency during your designated working hours with zero downtime)?

Smckinney07 Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 1:16pm
post #9 of

AHave you thought about doing group tastings a couple times a month (or something similar)? You can designate certain hours and switch your flavors up that way you can still offer free tastings.

Karlay-I have never had someone request that. Do you have a portfolio? Is your business newer?

If she's willing to pay then I'd make it-Definitley get paid in advance but treat it like a regular order (otherwise you're going to make a 3tiered cake for someone who might not book with you)! I make mini tiered cakes often, for birthdays and other events. Making mini versions of the flowers might be more challenging. Under no circumstances would I make one for free though, maybe that's just me

melmar02 Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 1:40pm

A

Original message sent by Karlay Cakes

That's a good idea having 6 inch cakes frozen and ready to go for brides. I usually make mini loaves for sample. This works well because if I have leftover batter I just pour into mini loaf pan and freeze for latter. Question have you had bride ask you to do this?? My bride has already decided on the cake she wants. The modifications are marzipan instead of fondant. Wedding is in May. The problem? She wants a mini version of her cake to sample instead of my traditional tasting cakes. Which I provide for free up to four little mini bundt cakes along side different flavors and fillings. If I make a mini cake using marzipan (which she knows I've never used before, but agreed to incorporate) on a 6 inch and 4 inch cake with one or two of the flowers I charged her $39 plus tax. I charge usually $3.25 per slice for wedding cakes with fondant and then additional charge for complex piping designs or decorations, But I've never charged for a mini version of a wedding cake. She's willing to pay for it but I think she's testing me to see if it can be done. I totally get why your exhausted. Being pregnant and dealing with brides who try to make things complicated sucks. I'm doing this anyway just to prove can. What do you think should I have charged more? I'll make it up when I do the whole cake in a few more months. [IMG]http://cakecentral.com/content/type/61/id/3169012/width/200/height/400[/IMG]

Are you sure she's getting married and didn't just con you into making a cheap birthday/baby shower/fill in any other occasion where you would only need about 20 servings of a custom cake for less than $40? I would get her non refundable wedding deposit first, or charge full price for that sample cake.

GGNK Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 2:20pm

AWe bought our wedding cake at Publix (this was way before I started caking and before I had even tried "real" cake lol). I did really like the way they handled the tasting. I plan to implement their idea if I ever start doing wedding cakes (I am not planning to do those just yet). Here is how my tasting went:

I called my local store ahead of time and requested a tasting. There was no charge, but I did have to set an "appointment" time to pick up my tasting package.

I went to pick up my package. This took less than 5 minutes. I ended up taking it to my best friends' house, where my fiancé (now husband), best friend and her mom were able to do the tasting together. I really liked the fact that we could do this, on our own terms, in the location of our choosing, and with whomever we chose. There was no one telling us we had too many people or we were taking too long deciding, etc. I am guessing this was more convenient for Publix because they did not have to pay someone to stand around and watch over us.

The package consisted of a few plastic cupcake containers (the kind they sell their own cupcakes in). Inside one of the containers was one unfrosted cupcake of each flavor. These we cut into smaller pieces so we could each try some and mix and match with the fillings and frosting. Another container held the fillings. A good size "blob" of each type was each in its individual cupcake pocket so they stayed separated from each other. The frostings were in another container the same way as the fillings. The top of the (clear) cupcake container was labeled so we knew what each flavor was.

We took our time and had fun with the tasting. When we came up with a flavor combination we liked, we wrote it down. The next day, my fiancé and I took our selections to Publix and placed our order.

From a customer standpoint it was so easy and un-pressured and un-stressed and un-rushed.

From a baker standpoint, I think it would be an easier way to do tastings. Whenever I have extra cake batter I can make some cupcakes and throw them in the freezer so I don't have to scramble so much when I get a request for a tasting. If they don't show up or show up late or need to reschedule it's not a HUGE deal because I didn't have to set aside a large chunk of my day for them to begin with. I do, however, plan to charge for a tasting. There is too much time money and effort that goes into baking anything for me to just give it all away. I would consider charging something (like maybe $25- they don't get to pick the flavors but they will have multiple flavors to taste, if they want something special they can pay extra for that. I also may or may not subtract the tasting price from the final order if they book with me).

I am no expert on this subject since I don't even plan to do wedding cakes yet, but I hope this idea helps some of you!

costumeczar Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 2:45pm

As far as people not calling until the last minute goes, you do need to stand your ground on that. But I hear you with the "I want it and I want it now" mentality that's taken over. With everything so accessible online, to-go and fast these days, the brides who are in their 20's have been raised when they can get everything right away, and they don't like to be told they have to wait. I don't think it has anything to do with the time of year, it's just that these young'uns have different expectations than older people do. (and I include myself in the "older" category at the ripe old age of 48.)

 

And for the tastings, what I've started doing is giving people the option of a free open house appointment, where they can come and get samples between certain times, and only have one other person with them. So this weekend I'm doing from 2-4 on saturday for 6 people, and from 1-3 on sunday for 7 people. That's less time it will take for me, and I'll give them the option of having the samples at the office or sending them home with them. I got some little solo lidded containers to put the samples in.

 

Then I have paid individual appointments, which are $20 each and last half an hour. I've had three people schedule those already, so I guess it's not as off-putting as I thought it would be. There are a bunch of other people in this area who have started charging for appointments, though, so I think that people are starting to expect that.

 

I'll report back after tomorrow afternoon when I do the open house for the first time to see how it went. I'm hoping that they don't all show up at the same time, but if they do that will save me from having to go over the spiel multiple times, too.

jason_kraft Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 3:04pm

A

Original message sent by GGNK

The package consisted of a few plastic cupcake containers (the kind they sell their own cupcakes in). Inside one of the containers was one unfrosted cupcake of each flavor. These we cut into smaller pieces so we could each try some and mix and match with the fillings and frosting. Another container held the fillings. A good size "blob" of each type was each in its individual cupcake pocket so they stayed separated from each other. The frostings were in another container the same way as the fillings. The top of the (clear) cupcake container was labeled so we knew what each flavor was.

We took our time and had fun with the tasting. When we came up with a flavor combination we liked, we wrote it down. The next day, my fiancé and I took our selections to Publix and placed our order.

From a customer standpoint it was so easy and un-pressured and un-stressed and un-rushed.

This is eventually what we started doing once we realized in-person tastings weren't adding a lot of value for us or for customers. Our "to-go" tasting package consisted of two cut up previously frozen unfrosted 6" rounds (cut using a round cookie cutter) in different flavors, and two plastic containers with different frosting/filling flavors. The cost was $30, with $10 additional for each additional flavor of cake or frosting/filling.

Karlay Cakes Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 3:15pm

AWhat you mentioned is what I do with the exception that the tasting is done with me. So my time is allocated. So I think I will change it up and let my brides do the tasting on their own, that way there's no pressure. So far I only charge $25 and add that money toward the deposit if they choose me. I'm hoping my bride is not using me by asking for something different that my normal tasting.

jason_kraft Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 3:33pm

AIf you offer a free tasting or apply the cost to the deposit, don't forget to add that cost back in to the price of the cake.

howsweet Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:14pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

With everything so accessible online, to-go and fast these days, the brides who are in their 20's have been raised when they can get everything right away, and they don't like to be told they have to wait. I don't think it has anything to do with the time of year, it's just that these young'uns have different expectations than older people do. (and I include myself in the "older" category at the ripe old age of 48.)

 


It's the only thing I could think of that would have changed suddenly in the last several months: "It's always been fine, but I'm noticing a real resistance to anything "inconvenient" for these people these past few months."

jenmat Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:21pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

As far as people not calling until the last minute goes, you do need to stand your ground on that. But I hear you with the "I want it and I want it now" mentality that's taken over. With everything so accessible online, to-go and fast these days, the brides who are in their 20's have been raised when they can get everything right away, and they don't like to be told they have to wait. I don't think it has anything to do with the time of year, it's just that these young'uns have different expectations than older people do. (and I include myself in the "older" category at the ripe old age of 48.)

 

And for the tastings, what I've started doing is giving people the option of a free open house appointment, where they can come and get samples between certain times, and only have one other person with them. So this weekend I'm doing from 2-4 on saturday for 6 people, and from 1-3 on sunday for 7 people. That's less time it will take for me, and I'll give them the option of having the samples at the office or sending them home with them. I got some little solo lidded containers to put the samples in.

 

Then I have paid individual appointments, which are $20 each and last half an hour. I've had three people schedule those already, so I guess it's not as off-putting as I thought it would be. There are a bunch of other people in this area who have started charging for appointments, though, so I think that people are starting to expect that.

 

I'll report back after tomorrow afternoon when I do the open house for the first time to see how it went. I'm hoping that they don't all show up at the same time, but if they do that will save me from having to go over the spiel multiple times, too.

Yep, that is the big fat wall I am running into. "I want it now, but I shouldn't have to actually work at it." And some bakeries can oblige. I cannot nor will I. 

For the past year I have been doing a tasting evening open house type thing at a local hotel. Free of charge, a buttload of flavors, come and go as you please, I am there to answer questions and book. If they can't make it, they could do a paid private tasting. Again, I want to make sure there is a free option. 

1. People love the free cake. 

2.People don't love the "it's not JUST about me" thing. They come and they eat, and then they try and set up a "private tasting" for later. Um, no this IS your tasting. They want BOTH. 

The booking rate at these events was about 30-50%. GREAT feedback, just no commitments. My conclusion was that although people like the option of free, they don't feel they are getting the personal attention they want. The "experience" wasn't quite right. And since baby is on the way and I will now have 2 kiddos and no hubby at night and the booking rate was way too low to justify the effort, I went back to the one-on-one format exclusively. The booking rate since Jan 1 is back up to 100%. (not a good segment of time, but I've had a LOT of tastings in the past few weeks!)

 

I know I could make a tasting event work with scheduled individual appointments over one day, etc. But with a new baby it just wasn't worth it. 

And now I'm back to "I'll talk to my fiancee and get back to you...." 

NOT. 

jenmat Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:32pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


This is eventually what we started doing once we realized in-person tastings weren't adding a lot of value for us or for customers. Our "to-go" tasting package consisted of two cut up previously frozen unfrosted 6" rounds (cut using a round cookie cutter) in different flavors, and two plastic containers with different frosting/filling flavors. The cost was $30, with $10 additional for each additional flavor of cake or frosting/filling.

This is not a popular option around here. I tried it for a little while, but the booking rate was not very high. Again, markets vary and I do not offer allergy-friendly options so I am not in a niche market. 5 years ago half the bakers didn't offer tastings. Now all of them do, mostly free of charge. The Bakeries offer a "pick whatever you want out of the case" option and I simply can't compete with that given my menu. 

 

My marketing "pull" is a completely custom experience. BUT, people have to make an appointment, pick their flavors (supposedly!), and then make the drive. They do that because I have good cake, I delivered what is promised and I will sit with them at a tasting and watch them eat cake, listening to all their needs. Hence the reason that the tasting event wasn't working- I wasn't watching them eat the cake. 

 

I don't necessarily get it, but I do know it's true. 

 

Oh and as far as productivity, when I am in the bakery (certified home bakery- commercial grade everything) I am 100% on target. When things are baking, I am mixing icing, fillings, etc. Besides the pain of this pregnancy, I am very efficient. But I CAN'T be efficient if I don't know the flavors someone wants!!!! And I know better than to break out the mixer a day before a tasting, waste batter and time just because someone can't get their act together. 

 

I think I'm just going to have to get better at hounding people. Sigh. 

howsweet Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:38pm

You might consider using language that creates a sense of scarcity, as in a shortage of spots left for tastings.

costumeczar Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:40pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by jenmat 
 

Yep, that is the big fat wall I am running into. "I want it now, but I shouldn't have to actually work at it." And some bakeries can oblige. I cannot nor will I.

For the past year I have been doing a tasting evening open house type thing at a local hotel. Free of charge, a buttload of flavors, come and go as you please, I am there to answer questions and book. If they can't make it, they could do a paid private tasting. Again, I want to make sure there is a free option.

1. People love the free cake.

2.People don't love the "it's not JUST about me" thing. They come and they eat, and then they try and set up a "private tasting" for later. Um, no this IS your tasting. They want BOTH.

The booking rate at these events was about 30-50%. GREAT feedback, just no commitments. My conclusion was that although people like the option of free, they don't feel they are getting the personal attention they want. The "experience" wasn't quite right. And since baby is on the way and I will now have 2 kiddos and no hubby at night and the booking rate was way too low to justify the effort, I went back to the one-on-one format exclusively. The booking rate since Jan 1 is back up to 100%. (not a good segment of time, but I've had a LOT of tastings in the past few weeks!)

 

I know I could make a tasting event work with scheduled individual appointments over one day, etc. But with a new baby it just wasn't worth it.

And now I'm back to "I'll talk to my fiancee and get back to you...."

NOT.

That's the part I'm wondering about, whether the "experience" will be enough for people or not. I'll see how it goes. The booking rate around here has always been about 30-40% anyway, there are just too many people in town doing cakes now, and there are too many willing to undercut and give free delivery etc. The cottage food law has built up enough that we're oversaturated at this point.

 

It's interesting watching other businesses in town and seeing what they're doing differently, too. There are a couple who have NEVER done certain wedding shows, but they're doing them now. Or people are starting to offer the discounts who never did before. I can tell that some people are scrambling for business, and when I talk to the ones I know they tell me about their financial woes. One well-known shop's owner hasn't taken a paycheck for three months, so things they are a'changing.

 

On the other hand, I started my online stuff a couple of years ago, and last year I did better financially than I ever have before, so there are ways to diversify. The cake appointments are the worst part of doing cakes, IMO. I hate them so much, but I don't enjoy selling, so it's like a bunch of blind dates one after the other where I have to convince people to love me, and I just hate that kind of schmoozing.

costumeczar Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:47pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by howsweet 
 


It's the only thing I could think of that would have changed suddenly in the last several months: "It's always been fine, but I'm noticing a real resistance to anything "inconvenient" for these people these past few months."

I don't think it's just been in the last few months, though, it's been building...It's hard to pick out one reason for anything, but people have been getting more demanding here for quite a while. I have a lot of people now who email me and tell me that they're coming in on this specific day at this specific time, and I have to write back and tell them no, you're not. I've seen an increase in that kind of "I'll tell you when and you will serve me" attitude. Part of it also could be the influx of cottage food and "hobby business" bakers who are willing to do whatever someone tells them.

jenmat Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 4:50pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by howsweet 
 

You might consider using language that creates a sense of scarcity, as in a shortage of spots left for tastings.

 

True. I'm actually almost done booking tastings until May because of maternity leave. Which means it's even more crucial to book what I can right now and not come off as the whiney pregnant lady. (except when I'm on national cake websites....) 

Scarcity usually creates demand, but when the baker is the reason for the scarcity because she's taking time off, I would think that makes couples nervous. They want to think I will be available for them at all times, whenever they need to hold a hand. I'm being very careful not to blame my condition for not being able to provide service. What a balancing act...

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

 The cake appointments are the worst part of doing cakes, IMO. I hate them so much, but I don't enjoy selling, so it's like a bunch of blind dates one after the other where I have to convince people to love me, and I just hate that kind of schmoozing.

 And that would be why I love you.....

 

That's exactly how I feel. I don't suck up to anyone. And unless I'm on stage, I don't like the song-and-dance. 

 

But everyone has a part of a job that they hate so they can get to the good part, right? 

DeliciousDesserts Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:11pm

This is a wonderful example of one person's always is another's never.

 

For me, and my target client, the personal touch and experience is very important.  You want to taste my cake, you gotta meet with me.  The one thing I hear clients and planners say over and over is how much they enjoyed working with me and could really trust me.  Almost every single review mentions the wonderful consultation.

 

Different markets and different target audiences will react differently.  The struggle, as a business owner, is finding the one that works for you!

liz at sugar Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:19pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by jenmat 

 

Again, I want to make sure there is a free option. 

 

1. People love the free cake. 

2.People don't love the "it's not JUST about me" thing. They come and they eat, and then they try and set up a "private tasting" for later. Um, no this IS your tasting. They want BOTH.

 

The booking rate at these events was about 30-50%. GREAT feedback, just no commitments. My conclusion was that although people like the option of free, they don't feel they are getting the personal attention they want. The "experience" wasn't quite right. And since baby is on the way and I will now have 2 kiddos and no hubby at night and the booking rate was way too low to justify the effort, I went back to the one-on-one format exclusively. The booking rate since Jan 1 is back up to 100%. (not a good segment of time, but I've had a LOT of tastings in the past few weeks!)

 

If you are booking 100% of clients who want a private consult, and only 30-50% of clients who attend the free tasting, I would quit worrying about having a free option, and streamline your private consults.

 

There is no value in "free".

 

Liz

Smckinney07 Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:20pm

AI've been considering changing my tastings, other bakers have been doing the 'open house' type but I worry about losing that one on one time with clients. Not that we don't exchange a few emails or calls before but 9/10 times if someone comes to me for a tasting I book the order.

I didn't charge for tastings in the beginning and I ran into lots of issues-people just coming for free cake, asking for several flavors, and a few missed appointments. Switching to an open tasting, I wouldn't charge, but I worry I'd have to start weeding out people who aren't especially interested.

I limit the number of people and flavors with the option for additional flavors $10/each & I'll wrap up any extras if someone can't make it. I don't mind the schmoozing though, not that I'm a hard sell, maybe it's my sales/customer service background.

I have a sketch pad, my portfolio, a notebook full of different tiered cake examples, paint chips, a faux slice of cake cut to size, cake dummy's if they need visuals for size, etc. Is this excessive? Lol, I suppose it's working for me so why bother changing. Oddly enough, there aren't many decorators in my area that offer consults & tastings.

Perhaps, taking a credit card number would help, even if you don't charge just to book the private tastings. If someone thinks they'll get charged regardless it might be an easy motivation for them to get back to you quicker. Or simply say, if I don't hear from you by (date) then the flavors are up to you. I do hate calling people for reminders or payments, thankfully it's not something I run into often.

When are you due?

howsweet Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:21pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

I don't think it's just been in the last few months, though, it's been building...It's hard to pick out one reason for anything, but people have been getting more demanding here for quite a while. I have a lot of people now who email me and tell me that they're coming in on this specific day at this specific time, and I have to write back and tell them no, you're not. I've seen an increase in that kind of "I'll tell you when and you will serve me" attitude. Part of it also could be the influx of cottage food and "hobby business" bakers who are willing to do whatever someone tells them.

 

That's why I was trying to think of something that would be related to the last few months since the OP gave that timeline for seeing the change.

 

Yes, hobby business bakers will do even 24-48 hour turn around. I hate to think what kinds of customers this encourages. My very first real order ever was for a professional basket ball player. They wanted 24 fancy cupcakes for the next day.  I whipped them up and delivered them. The next time they wanted to order,  when I couldn't do a 48 hour turn around, it was very rudely explained to me that they expected people to jump through hoops and there were plenty of other people who would.

jenmat Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:37pm


When are you due?

I'm due in March, but my daughter was born at 34 weeks and spent some time in the NICU. Not super early, but early enough that I'm considered high risk. So the unknown of when this new baby will actually make her appearance is super fun to this Type OCD personality! So I will have a large chunk of tasting season that I can't book people. Which means that the flaky brides mean more than they usually do. Does that make sense? 

I offer pretty much everything you mentioned at the one-on-one tastings, and they would never know I hate the song and dance when they are actually meeting with me, thank goodness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by liz at sugar 
 

 

If you are booking 100% of clients who want a private consult, and only 30-50% of clients who attend the free tasting, I would quit worrying about having a free option, and streamline your private consults.

 

There is no value in "free".

 

Liz

The current booking rate is based on both free tastings and custom tastings, all one-on-one. 30-50% was the booking rate for the open house style that was not one-on-one. The ROI just wasn't worth the effort with the open house vrs the one-on-ones. I know one-on-ones will go back down to 75%, which was my previous rate, I've just had a good month, but 75% to me is a much more comfortable number where I can weed out couples that are not a good fit. At 30-50% I would need to take almost every couple who came my way. Not how I want to do business. 

Smckinney07 Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:45pm

AYes, I know what you mean :) I'm sure it's not easy trying to book around a pregnancy, let alone a high risk. I can just imagine how stressed you are!

jason_kraft Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:45pm

A

Original message sent by jenmat

Oh and as far as productivity, when I am in the bakery (certified home bakery- commercial grade everything) I am 100% on target. When things are baking, I am mixing icing, fillings, etc. Besides the pain of this pregnancy, I am very efficient. But I CAN'T be efficient if I don't know the flavors someone wants!!!! And I know better than to break out the mixer a day before a tasting, waste batter and time just because someone can't get their act together. 

My question was more about utilization than productivity...if you are on target with the number of orders and you are happy with your profitability on a weekly basis (and more importantly your monthly trend of profitability) then your current strategy is working for you even if there are some anecdotal adverse events. If not (and the tasting is the source of the issue) then you need to change your tasting process to better serve your current target market and/or adjust your marketing strategy to focus on different customers.

But you are absolutely right that if the one-on-one time spent with customers at tastings is a key part of your competitive advantage, a to-go tasting wouldn't be the right fit for most of your customers. But it could still potentially be an option, and could serve to highlight the value of your personal consult ($X gets you the to-go tasting if you already know what you want, but $Y gets you a customized sit-down tasting experience where we will develop your ideas into an amazing design just for you, etc.).

jenmat Posted 17 Jan 2014 , 5:55pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


My question was more about utilization than productivity...if you are on target with the number of orders and you are happy with your profitability on a weekly basis (and more importantly your monthly trend of profitability) then your current strategy is working for you even if there are some anecdotal adverse events. If not (and the tasting is the source of the issue) then you need to change your tasting process to better serve your current target market and/or adjust your marketing strategy to focus on different customers.

But you are absolutely right that if the one-on-one time spent with customers at tastings is a key part of your competitive advantage, a to-go tasting wouldn't be the right fit for most of your customers (but it could still potentially be an option).

Ah, I see. I can't definitively say that the new changes versus the old system have been a success with only a month's evidence, but my gut tells me I am on the right track. The issue is not really my system, but the mind-reading required (anecdotal adverse effects). My crystal ball has become a little foggy lately. 

As Costume said, I am sensing a quickly changing tide as the new crop of brides pop up every year. She may have been observing it for years, but only in the past year or so has it made it's way to my neck of the woods and it's driving me CRAZY, working system or not. 

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