tdovewings Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 7:18pm
post #1 of

For the first time ever, I had a paying customer that was confused about my bakery status. Last night she came to drop off some cupcake toppers. She left, then came back about 5 minutes later to ask if she could have the toppers back and she would put them on herself. I thought, weird since you just drove 30 minutes to drop them off.

 

Later I got an email saying, she was misled by us, and had no idea we were a home-based bakery and she wanted to cancel her order with a full refund. In my over 300+ orders in my short 2.5 years I've never had such a misunderstanding or at least any one has complained or said they felt misled.

 

She found our website via Internet search.  

 

I really want some feedback as to whether we should change anything.

 

This is really bothering me.  Needless to say, even though she booked months ago and her order was supposed to be delivered tomorrow, I gave her a full refund. 

33 replies
IAmPamCakes Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 7:24pm
post #2 of

ABummer. Your 'about us' sections states clearly that you are home-based. I know not all potential customers would look at that, but it's there. I'm no site wizard, and don't pretend to be, so I can't give advice on your page. She has an issue with a home-based business - sounds like a personal problem.

sugarflorist Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 7:38pm
post #3 of

AI have it admit I only took a quick look at your web site. Really nice web site BTW. But Perhaps her issue was one of licensing. If that is the right term , here in the uk home bakers have to be registered and checked on by inspectors so I am guessing it is the same in the US. Perhaps your web site would benefit from making it clear that you have a licence as a home baker and that you comply with food regs. Perhaps she got got scared and did not know how or what to ask to get the reassurance she needed.

AZCouture Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 8:15pm
post #4 of

AWell that stinks. Are you open to the public, with regular hours, and counters and shelves filled with baked goods? Cause I see your name has bakery in it, and you refer to the "store"...so I can understand the confusion. I do everything I can to distance myself from being confused for a bakery.

maymay0829 Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 8:25pm
post #5 of

AI agree with AZCouture

liz at sugar Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 8:36pm
post #6 of

Did her order contain an allergen free item?  Maybe she was concerned about cross contamination and that you cook other meals in your kitchen, as well as cakes.  Just a guess, there.

 

Sorry it happened, though.

 

Liz

MBalaska Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 8:39pm
post #7 of

If your business is at home, and not a store front, perhaps she saw something outside that bothered her.

If she did not SAY, you will not guess or know for sure.

cfao Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 8:44pm
post #8 of

Sugar florist, she has that covered on her about us page:

"We have  strict processes in place to avoid cross-contamination. We have been inspected by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). We’ve done all the leg work in finding safe ingredients and we can’t wait to provide that very special dessert for your celebration."

 

I have the entire lower level of our home as an in-home bakery. Where most people have a family room/game room, I have my work place. I stock no less than 200 cake tops, along with dozens of guest books, glasses, unity candles, etc. I have more in stock than the party good stores! I still have a bride once in a while come in and say wow, you're in a house, we expected a "real" bakery. There's nothing you can do about customers like that, they would rather buy from a commercial location and that's ok. I wouldn't have refunded anything to her, it states quite clearly you are a home-based bakery, it's not your fault she didn't take the time to read the information you have provided on your web site.

ljdills Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 8:46pm
post #9 of

I have to say that looking at your website I too had the impression that it was a storefront bakery.  Especially with some of the terminology you used like "Latest Store Additions".  You also had "sale" items which, to me, says storefront.  There is nothing wrong with being a home based business, I, myself, am also a home baker.  However, there are people out there that are not comfortable with using me for that reason and I understand and respect that.  

cfao Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 8:51pm

Check out the FAQ page, the very first post says it is a home-based business, as well as again on the about us page

tdovewings Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 9:25pm

Thanks for the feedback it is very useful! Different people have different impressions with the same language, and we strive to be transparent and really have always tried to make it clear that we are a home-based bakery.

 

For non-custom items we found it most efficient with our time to let people order online, especially during the holiday rush.  I never thought about it before but using the words "store" and "shop" could be confusing. I'm not sure how to rectify that. I'll have to think about it.

 

I don't want to remove the online order capability it saves us tons of time, but I need to think of a better way to say that. Since our name has nothing to do with cakes, cookies, or anything else you eat "Out of the Bubble" we wanted to make sure people knew who we were by adding the bakery to the end. We are more than cakes and cupcakes, so the "Out of the Bubble Cakes" was eliminated as a name. 

 

Yes, the customer did have an allergy concern, it was nuts. However, we don't do nuts at all, because I'm allergic to nuts. 

 

I paid a lot of money for this website and took a lot of time learning xml and other new programming languages, so it looks professional and showcases our products, but now I feel like, darn, it's too professional it confuses people? 

 

I know it was just one person, but I like to be open-minded and re-evaluate things. It was shocking to me. 

tdovewings Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 9:30pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Well that stinks. Are you open to the public, with regular hours, and counters and shelves filled with baked goods? Cause I see your name has bakery in it, and you refer to the "store"...so I can understand the confusion. I do everything I can to distance myself from being confused for a bakery.

 

Thank you! Good points.

sugarflorist Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 9:36pm

AI don't think you can EVER be too professional. Being professional will gain you more business than it will loose you. Personally I would have been loathed to give a refund. It would be interesting to contact her and get to the bottom of what was happening in her head. But I guess it would be difficult to do that without it becoming emotional and messy

tdovewings Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 9:43pm

When my partner responded she did ask was there anything in particular that caused the confusion, or anything on her "tour" of our kitchen that made her uncomfortable and she simply stated "your website make it look like a commercial bakery not an out of the house operation". 

AZCouture Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 9:45pm

AHonestly, if it's worked for you until now, don't worry about it. I actually put "monkeys ice my cakes on Tuesdays" in the FAQ section of my website for a whole WEEK once to prove a point to someone about people generally not reading stuff. No one ever mentioned it. I too would have fought that refund. Especially since it was for delivery the next day, surely you had already started on the order?

cfao Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 9:54pm

I had a couple last fall that spent a day doing cake appointments, I was #3 out of the 4 they were meeting with. When they came in, he said they almost didn't even drive in since I am a home business and the 2 prior appointments were also home businesses. They did their tasting, he loved my cakes & he wanted to book on the spot, she kept harping on she wanted a cake from a "real" bakery. Even though my license is on display and I assured her I am a "real" bakery, I just don't pay rent to a strip mall or have employees and overhead to pay, you could tell she was having no part of it, she would have gone with the worse bakery in the world as long as there were cases of baked goods in a store front. She asked if the next appointment was another home baker or a bakery, the next one was a store front, and she was off to hand over her money to them before she even tasted their product. Be as professional as you can, some people aren't not meant to be your customers....

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 10:03pm

I have a commercial kitchen on private property, no 'storefront', and I have had a few people who aren't interested. I've never had someone cancel an order though!
Like others have said, since this was the first time it's happened, I wouldn't worry about changing a thing.

I also don't think that calling your legal home based bakery a 'shop', or having sales or promotional items should be stopped. Don't even think about 'dumbing it down' to appear less professional. (I don't know any other way of phrasing that, sorry)

Some people have had bad experiences with often illegal home bakeries, or heard bad stories, so their mind is made up. Nothing you can do about it.

MimiFix Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 10:23pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by scrumdiddlycakes 
 

Some people have had bad experiences with often illegal home bakeries, or heard bad stories, so their mind is made up. Nothing you can do about it.

 

I began as a home-based bakery and I write/teach people how to start a home-based food business. But in the recent past there's been a change in the home-baking industry. We now see a vast number of businesses, many with a low level of professionalism. Unfortunately, this affects all of us. 
tdovewings Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 10:30pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Honestly, if it's worked for you until now, don't worry about it. I actually put "monkeys ice my cakes on Tuesdays" in the FAQ section of my website for a whole WEEK once to prove a point to someone about people generally not reading stuff. No one ever mentioned it. I too would have fought that refund. Especially since it was for delivery the next day, surely you had already started on the order?

 

We thought about fighting her for a refund, but the truth of the matter was, she called just about every day to change her order.  We didn't start on anything because we knew when she stopped by with the toppers she would want to change something else. We were a bit relieved not to have to work with her any further.  So it was really a "take your money and kick rocks and don't come back" kinda feeling. 

AZCouture Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 10:32pm

AOh ain't that the truth. You should see what some of these dummies around here do. The things in their background pictures should be enough to put anyone off. They take pictures of cakes on their floors, they have cans of bug spray on the counter, they have soggy diapered babies in the background, all kinds of stuff. But for the most part, they move on to selling candles and healing oils after they piss enough people off.

morganchampagne Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 10:42pm

A

Original message sent by AZCouture

Oh ain't that the truth. You should see what some of these dummies around here do. The things in their background pictures should be enough to put anyone off. They take pictures of cakes on their floors, they have cans of bug spray on the counter, they have soggy diapered babies in the background, all kinds of stuff. But for the most part, they move on to selling candles and healing oils after they piss enough people off.

Candles and heating oils!!!!!!!! Lol!! So funny because there's two around here that went on to do just that!

tdovewings Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 10:46pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix 
 

 

 

MimiFix, your story is amazing! What an inspiration you are!

Annelie76 Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 11:11pm

I have to agree with your customer, I get why she feels mislead. Far from everyone reads "about us" when they visit a store website.  If you´re really striving to be transparent then you might consider clearly stating on the front page that you are a home-based bakery. Nice site though :)

AZCouture Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 11:19pm

AOr photography. Cakes and photography. The two most abused professions out there.

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 11:25pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Oh ain't that the truth. You should see what some of these dummies around here do. The things in their background pictures should be enough to put anyone off. They take pictures of cakes on their floors, they have cans of bug spray on the counter, they have soggy diapered babies in the background, all kinds of stuff. But for the most part, they move on to selling candles and healing oils after they piss enough people off.

Then they all add me as FB friends, apparently!

tdovewings Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 11:38pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Annelie76 
 

I have to agree with your customer, I get why she feels mislead. Far from everyone reads "about us" when they visit a store website.  If you´re really striving to be transparent then you might consider clearly stating on the front page that you are a home-based bakery. Nice site though :)

Thanks, nothing wrong with tweaking the language a bit. I just changed "Latest Store Additions" to "Featured Products" since several have pointed that out. 

crushed Posted 14 Feb 2014 , 12:03am

Your website is beautiful to look at and quite informative. I wouldn't change a thing.

costumeczar Posted 14 Feb 2014 , 3:36am
Quote:
Originally Posted by MimiFix  I began as a home-based bakery and I write/teach people how to start a home-based food business. But in the recent past there's been a change in the home-baking industry. We now see a vast number of businesses, many with a low level of professionalism. Unfortunately, this affects all of us.
 

 

MimiFix is exactly right, and if you're inspected and licensed you should put that on the front page of your website. I'm inspected in Virginia but there's a cottage food law here now, and it's changed the home-based landscape completely in the past three years or so. A lot of people don't want to hire someone home-based, so I emphasize the inspection part. Even then you'll get people who don't want to buy from a home-based business, but for the most part people are fine with it.

The Cake Man Posted 17 Feb 2014 , 2:46pm

You mentioned that she booked months in advance, and cancelled, then basically demanded full refund. Like a couple others, I agree that she shouldn't have gotten a full refund.  There should be penalty for a customer cancelling an order.  Think of the time you spent on that order, you owe it to your business.

tdovewings Posted 17 Feb 2014 , 2:58pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

MimiFix is exactly right, and if you're inspected and licensed you should put that on the front page of your website. I'm inspected in Virginia but there's a cottage food law here now, and it's changed the home-based landscape completely in the past three years or so. A lot of people don't want to hire someone home-based, so I emphasize the inspection part. Even then you'll get people who don't want to buy from a home-based business, but for the most part people are fine with it.

I had no idea you could actually have a home-based bakery without an inspection. I guess when I started out, I got a hold of the older information-but i'm surprised as to why one wouldn't get an inspection. The process isn't hard, and the $40 fee is one of the cheapest expenses I've had. Yes, putting the package together is mundane, but again wasn't a big deal because I already had all my recipes written out by weight, since I had to cost out how much each product costs me to figure out pricing.

 

  Yeah, I understand not everyone is comfortable with the home-based bakery idea, and there nothing I could ever do to win those folks over. This was just mind boggling to me, because most of my clients have allergies or dietary concerns, and they normally do in depth research. 

 

Moving the information to the home page wouldn't hurt though. 

 

Thanks for the feedback.

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