Sooo, undercutting doesn't hurt the industry, huh?

Business By LoveMeSomeCake615 Updated 30 May 2014 , 6:00am by SystemMod1

embersmom Posted 3 Mar 2014 , 5:39pm
post #61 of 110


Somebody who'd not a decorator is apt NOT to see all those little flaws and such that we, as decorators, zero in on. 

 

Anybody who creates anything, be it cake or a painting, a knitted hat or a poem, is always going to be more critical of his or her own work than the people enjoying the finished product.  Unless there's something in the finished product which sticks out like a sore thumb, those enjoying the finished product tend to look more at the the finished piece as a whole rather than nitpicking at that .5mm crater in the buttercream.

 

I would say that customers, in general, care more about color scheme than they do about an slightly off-kilter design.  We never hear any complaints about little blobs and bits and .5mm craters, all of which are commonplace when you're doing a bunch of cakes at once and don't have time to go back and fix them. As long as they're presentable and don't elicit horrified run-for-the-hills looks, they're for sale.

 

I've been accused of being too nitpicky because I messed up the rhythm of a bottom reverse shell border.  That's because I'm a decorator.  I would expect another decorator to pick up on it.  A customer?  No, unless they have some kind of artistic background.

AmbitiousBeginner Posted 3 Mar 2014 , 7:20pm
post #62 of 110

I only decorate as a hobby for  my kids' birthdays and holidays, so I can't comment on the business side.  But I wanted to add that I do agree with the comments that custom cake businesses are not competing with Walmart for business.  The reason I started decorating cakes is because I thought that my kids would love a sculpted to cake, but I could never bring myself to spend hundreds of  dollars on cake, so the solution was to do it myself.  A few months after I started learning, I made a standing unicorn cake for my daughter's 4th birthday (it's in my pics).  After that experience I realized: That's why those cakes are so expensive.  Before picking up this hobby, I would have been one of the people thinking how could cake cost so much?  Now I know why, but that is a result of firsthand experience.  Also, before this hobby, I would have been one of the people impressed by the blue roses.  Now when I go to parties and weddings and others are amazed by the beautifully decorated cake, I'm thinking: How could someone sell that,  with all those flaws? or That's so plain.  What's so impressive about it?  But I'm only thinking that because I've seen all the amazing cakes posted on here.  

 

People with no knowledge of cake decorating can't be expected to have the same high standards. My wedding cake is a good example.  When I selected it at the bakery, all I cared about were the flavors.  The design was an afterthought.   Once we tasted and picked out the flavors, we flipped through a portfolio and in two minutes picked a cake design. An unoriginal, boring design. I saw it again a while ago and thought: what was I thinking, that's so ugly!  But at the time I didn't know better.

 

But even now, even though I can't produce a flawlessly decorated, professional looking cake, and even though I know that cakes are expensive for a good reason, I still couldn't spend hundreds on a cake simply because I can't spend so much on something that we'll have only for a couple hours before it disappears.

 

I hope my comments make some bakers feel a little better about cake cheapskates.  Those that go for the cheapest option were never your potential customer to begin with.

LKing12 Posted 3 Mar 2014 , 11:51pm
post #64 of 110

I have a problem with Facebook.  In the Commonwealth of Kentucky you cannot sell from your home.  NO if's and's or but's!  But Facebook allows anyone who can type to set up a "Business Page" as a grocery, restaurant and sell from any kind of environment. 

I cannot tell you how many times that I have worked with a prospective client for days only to be turned over to one of these-I need to make a little money people.  I have made the commitment with a building, permits, inspections, insurance and paying taxes.

Facebook should hold these interlopers accountable by making businesses supply tax numbers or some form of documentation that they are indeed legal!

AivaCake Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 1:22am
post #66 of 110

As I'm reading this, I'm seeing an ad to the side of my screen for Sheri's Berries.  They sell "gourmet" dipped strawberries.  I've had their strawberries and they're nothing that I can't make.  The berries themselves are nothing special.  Some were even mostly green.  So why is it they have the ability to make as much as they do for dipped fruit?  That's not a custom job, that's just repetitive assembly line, flash frozen work.  Or going to an expensive restaurant.  Most people that say "I want to go to a fancy restaurant" know they are going to end up spending a lot more than going to the local sizzler.  They don't try to haggle down the price, and the meal is gone within an hour, but it always seems worth it.  Granted, I would never say a chef's job isn't any less important than mine, but why wouldn't our jobs be comparable to theirs?  Why wouldn't a custom cake be comparable to a fancy date night meal at a 5 star restaurant?  Why is cake "just a cake" but a steak is never "just a steak"?  

costumeczar Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 12:49pm
post #67 of 110

A

Original message sent by LKing12

I have a problem with Facebook.  In the Commonwealth of Kentucky you cannot sell from your home.  NO if's and's or but's!  But Facebook allows anyone who can type to set up a "Business Page" as a grocery, restaurant and sell from any kind of environment.  I cannot tell you how many times that I have worked with a prospective client for days only to be turned over to one of these-I need to make a little money people.  I have made the commitment with a building, permits, inspections, insurance and paying taxes. Facebook should hold these interlopers accountable by making businesses supply tax numbers or some form of documentation that they are indeed legal!

Facebook can't police everything and it would be logistically impossible for thm to keep track of every business page. A lot of people also open facebook accounts for a business using the personal pages, so that would complicate things even more.

What needs to happen when you see something that's clearly illegal in your area (and when I say "you" I mean everybody) is for you to pick up the phone and report the illegal business to the local health department. If people aren't willing to do that then they have no grounds to complain about it.

natt12321 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 1:41pm
post #68 of 110

A

Original message sent by costumeczar

Facebook can't police everything and it would be logistically impossible for thm to keep track of every business page. A lot of people also open facebook accounts for a business using the personal pages, so that would complicate things even more.

What needs to happen when you see something that's clearly illegal in your area (and when I say "you" I mean everybody) is for you to pick up the phone and report the illegal business to the local health department. If people aren't willing to do that then they have no grounds to complain about it.

It's not that complicated to prove legality, I can't have a business account with a wholesaler without proving my self employed status, I can't order from business suppliers without inputting my business information, so why should Joe bloggs get to sell their wares on a business page with no policing? If you report a business selling under a personal profile facebook will shut it down because its against the website Ts and Cs.

Its hard to work out who is legal and who isn't in this country because you can work from home and don't have to really prove anything to your customers so people don't seem to ask questions, if I could prove that they weren't doing everything by the book then I would report them, but it would involve investigating each of them and I honestly don't have the time to investigate every case I think is fishy.

-K8memphis Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 3:16pm
post #69 of 110

shari's berries is a company i admire--sure we can all make them but being able to ship them out successfully at a moment's notice almost all day every day is nothing to be taken lightly--you need a constant supply of fresh strawberries, peeps ready to pop them out, etc.--and you've surely got to deal with making a lot of strawberry jam if the orders don't come in--i've received them before and some of them were footed and i try to be real careful and not allow mine to puddle when i make mine--so they weren't perfect but they were beautiful and delicious and a real treat to receive -- i think shari's berries is a great company--

-K8memphis Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 3:17pm
post #70 of 110
as far as policing ourselves--for me i have contacted the cake person and did a friendly cautionary heads up type of 'didja know that...'--that's as far as i've gone--and eventually one of them did get shut down by someone else calling them in--but i don't want to conduct my self with all that investigation/suspicion and hard feelings and dealings by pulling the plug on anyone--yuck--not for me--i think time and circumstance does that for us and if it doesn't it ain't my call--

 

 

 

-K8memphis Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 3:17pm
post #71 of 110

in general regarding pricing:

 

  1. we can't tell anyone what to charge
  2. we are most annoyed if they don't charge enough (see #1) 
  3. we get annoyed when they ask (see #2)

 

seriously?

 

 

-K8memphis Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 3:18pm
post #72 of 110

and i think there is room for every level of cake--from the homliest cupcake, slidiest layer cake on up to the most perfect kerry vincent worthy creation--why not? i think we do ourselves a tremendous disservice by looking down our noses at each other--i think we need to do better than our last cake if we want to but unless we are in a competition we need to include each other--one of my favorite threads of all time was helping a caker survive making her daughter's wedding cake in real time--it was priceless--

 

we should have fun here--not classify, divide and conquer

 
tomsann Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 3:38pm
post #73 of 110

Hi, just wanted to add my thoughts to this and may not be worth much...

As I've watched the cake business grow and change over the years it has become a true art.

If you are some one who believes they can be one of those artist and make real money at it you have

to sell yourself....Have enough money set aside for a few years of bills or be in a position to not have to work

or continue to work for some one else while you work to sell yourself....Be prepared to keep up with every new

technique, go to every show and enter as many as possible.....hours and hours of work with no pay...

Hence the title "starving artist"...There is a market out there for cake artists who make 1000's of dollars

on a single creation and the time and work those people have put into getting there must be astronomical.

 

I think you can also make it being a cake decorator but then will you have to give up quality for quantity

to make a living at it???   probably....there is certainly a market for people who just want a decorated  birthday

cake for their children....the grocery store bakeries show that....

 

I think the hardest would be the middle ground...You can make cakes so much nicer than grocery stores

or the baker down the road but you are not going to be that exceptional artist for whatever reason.

Working for yourself is never an easy road no matter what...Always long long hours for very little pay

when you look at the per hour wage...

costumeczar Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 5:08pm
post #76 of 110

There are too many different "levels" of legality in the US, let alone in the rest of the world, for any one company to police that kind of thing. They rely on users to turn in violations, and so does the health department. If you know for a fact that home businesses are illegal in your area, then you can safely turn people in if they're advertising online. If home businesses are legal but need licensing and inspection, you might not know for sure if someone's illegal, and if there's a cottge food law where you are then all bets are off.

 

It's the same with copyright infringement. Web hosts aren't responsible for taking down copyright and trademark offenses unless the owner of the trademark contacts them and tells them to remove offenders. Everyone complains about online marketplaces like Ebay and Etsy having so many infringers on them, but the way that the law works, they can't remove things without the copyright holder telling them to. They would have to check with each individual listing to see if that listing was licensed, and that's just impossible. If the copyright holder contacts them about a specific incidence of infringement, and fills out the correct forms for it, they remove it. If I went on Ebay and flagged a bunch of illegal Disney items, they can't do anything because I don't own those trademarks. Disney would have to do it, and Disney relies on people turning in infringers so that they can find and pursue them. (Although it isn't as difficult now with the ability to search for images online...that just makes their job easier.) But anyway, there's no way that any social media site would be able to screen every single business page without knowing the laws in every single region of the world.

natt12321 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 5:34pm
post #77 of 110

And realistically if any network has the means to do it it is Facebook, they are based worldwide, have 20 locations in NA alone, 10 or so across Europe, plus locations across South America, Asia and Australia. If everyone of those North American locations learnt the laws for food businesses in 3 states it would be covered. Even something as simple as proving a business insurance policy has been taken out for the business would prevent so many people from illegally selling on Facebook. Everyday someone at one of the many Facebook offices around the world is scrolling through complaints and reported posts and dealing with them, it wouldn't be a massive extra workload to add on checking an insurance page before allowing a 'business' to trade on their site, or a charity number if registering a charity.

Yes every country/state is different in their laws, and some are easier to check than others, but they literally have a foot on 4 of the 5 inhabited continents in the world so if anyone could do it with little issue it would be Facebook. You can't stop people building websites, you can't stop them creating flyers, but Facebook Pages are marketed as a BUSINESS idea to reach larger audiences of CUSTOMERS so why should any lay person be able to do it when it hurts every industry where an illegal home business is a possibility?

And I am not saying it has to be Facebooks responsibility, however it would make a difference and would be a responsible step for them to take.

 

AZCouture Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 5:48pm
post #78 of 110

AFacebook doesn't give a rat's behind who has a legal business page or not. As long as the content isn't offensive, or breaking federal law, they aren't concerned. And if illegal businesses pay to have their posts promoted or buy advertising, all the better for Facebook! Seriously, that is not something they will ever care about monitoring.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 7:36pm
post #80 of 110

A

Original message sent by -K8memphis

[COLOR=669933][B]in general regarding [U]pricing[/U]:[/B][/COLOR]

[LIST=1] [*] [COLOR=669933][B]we can't tell anyone what to charge[/B][/COLOR] [*] [COLOR=669933][B]we are most annoyed if they don't charge enough (see #1) [/B][/COLOR] [*] [COLOR=669933][B]we get annoyed when they ask (see #2)[/B][/COLOR] [/LIST]

[COLOR=669933][B]seriously?[/B][/COLOR]

No, we cannot tell them what to charge because we don't know their specific costs. I could throw a number out there, say $200 for a 2 tier birthday cake, but how would they know if that is accurate for them?

I don't get annoyed when people ask about pricing (I know some here do), I am all for educating new cakers on [I]how[/I] to price, which I have done. If you give them a formula for pricing, that is much more effective and helpful than just saying "Charge $XXX.XX"

And yes, I do get annoyed when they don't charge enough (and here I am talking about ridiculously underpiced, not just a little less than us), because it means they haven't even figured out the most basic elements of pricing, like the cost of the materials to make the cake and the hours of work it will take.

Original message sent by -K8memphis

[SIZE=13px][B][COLOR=800080]and i think there is[U] room for every level [/U]of cake--from the homliest cupcake, slidiest layer cake on up to the most perfect kerry vincent worthy creation--why not? i think we do ourselves a tremendous disservice by looking down our noses at each other--COLOR][/B][/SIZE]

[COLOR=800080][B]we should have fun here--not classify, divide and conquer[/B][/COLOR]  

I'm not looking down my nose at anyone, I'm certainly no Kerry Vincent or RBI myself! I realize there are different levels of skill and some are fine with a more simple cake. I'm not delusional enough to think everyone wants a artistic masterpiece for their kid's birthday party. We've done both very simple designs with buttercream roses and "Happy Birthday!" and completely custom designs with sugar flowers, intricate piping, painstakingly molded gum paste figures that look just like Aunt Sally, and the like. All I'm asking for is that if you are going to do a design that is more custom, takes hours of work, and/or a higher level of skill, that you charge accordingly (At least pay yourself minimum wage for crying out loud!) so that the "custom cakes are super easy to make and therefore should be cheap, and after all it's JUST CAKE!" lie is not perpetuated.

AZCouture Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 8:35pm
post #81 of 110

AWhat just utterly confuses me is the sheer number of people who just jump into this, without a grasp on business knowledge or basic skills at all. No, you don't have to be a master to sell, but what's with the urgency to jump right in? Sure there's a market for star tipped Elmo cakes. But there's already five other people competing for that kind of customer. Why make yourself the sixth?

kblickster Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 9:05pm
post #82 of 110

I have a love hate relationship with threads like this.   They are painful as they make me feel guilty for once being a cheap baker, but they help me!  You guys helped me in the long arduous journey to correct pricing! 

 

I was like a person in a recovery program who had to stand in front of the mirror everyday and repeat good things about themselves. 

 

"I AM WORTHY.  I MUST CHARGE FOR MY CAKES."

 

I fully understand where a lot of the undercutting is coming from.  Pricing my cakes was extremely hard for me.  I am generous by nature and even though I knew how much my ingredients cost and a general idea of the time involved in making most of my cakes, it was very hard for me to look into the eyes of a mom wanting a special cake to say exactly what my cake was worth.  In most cases, I knew that it was going to be out of their budget. 

 

Most of us start decorating for friends/family and trust me, mine do not have surnames of Hilton, Gates or Walton.  I gave away cakes for a long time, but when I decided to take this more seriously, I found I had to do cakes for lower prices to said friends and family in order to build a name for myself.  All of them understood that could never divulge what I charged them for their cakes.  It has become easier now that I have more business and most of my friends and family now only call me when they are prepared to pay for a custom cake.  BUT IT WAS HARD getting to that point.

 

If you are still reading this and you are a cheap baker.  I feel your pain.  I also know that you can overcome it.  Pay yourself.  You will be glad you did.

AivaCake Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 9:42pm
post #83 of 110

They definitely aren't one I admire.  Even the founder, Shari, herself has written a book stating that since she left the company, the new owners have changed everything she prided herself on.  They mass produce these strawberries, spray them with growth hormones to get them so big and they don't even dip them in real chocolate.  There are many complaints to the FDA claiming false advertising for "chocolate dipped strawberries" when they aren't dipped in chocolate, at all.  Isn't that what we dog on Walmart and Sams on?  Mass producing and having machines ice them, flash freezing them and shipping them to stores until they're ready to be personalized?  That's the exact same process that's going on at Shari's berries.  Shari has actually opened ANOTHER business selling actual hand dipped strawberries.  Now that I would support.  And I am not crunchy, by any means, but I'm not going to spend $60+ on 7 hormone filled strawberries dipped in oil that has some cocoa mixed in it.  

BeesKnees578 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 9:50pm
post #85 of 110


I totally get this because I was one of them (basic skills but no business sense) and it took me many years to figure a lot of stuff out and I'm still actually learning. 

 

And at the time, CC didn't exist, to my knowledge, so I had no help.  Literally winging it.  At the time, I knew of no local custom cake makers in my area..we had dail-up, so a trip to the internet could take FOREVER.  So researching what was out there wasn't even on my radar.  Didn't care...I was doing my own thing.

 

I think that is why I can see where both sides of this argument are coming from. 

 

I just knew I enjoyed decorating, I was a stay-at-home mom who wanted to feel like I was contributing *something* to our household.  Little did I know that I was just working for ingredients (boxed mixes at the time).  It was a learning process, but instead of learning my skills in a bakery, I taught them myself at home while making a pittance on a few cakes a year.  Every year got a little better.

 

I think so many people with cottage law just kind of morph into a business because we start with making for fam and friends, then friends of friends, etc.  And it's difficult for those who needed real business creds to start with to understand how some people can just sort of "happen" into business.

 

But....from these 5 people who are competing for the Elmo cake customer, maybe one (or two) will up their game by taking classes, practicing, investing their money in new products that will help them produce a better cake.  The others will not want to put that kind of time or effort into it and will be making that same ol' Elmo cake 10 years down the road.  Or they will just drop it all together because they realize it's not worth it.

 

Like survival of the fittest....

 

And all these fabulous decorators make it look so darn easy...who wouldn't want to jump in?!  LOL  

 

With many of the top decorators doing the Craftsy classes, and the like, they are upping the skills of all of us, helping to further saturate the market.  They make money making all of us better by sharing their tips and skills, which floods the market with more skilled decorators. 

 

And yes, there are varying degrees of those skills.  Some have "it" and some don't and won't grasp it no matter how hard they try.  But they do have the right to keep on trying!

 

For the record, I will gladly pay for a Craftsy class...so thank you teachers!

 

So I guess I didn't really jump right in, as people seem to be doing now....they have SO VERY much (decorating) knowledge at hand.  Maybe that's the problem...it's not an exclusive club anymore....

-K8memphis Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 10:10pm
post #86 of 110

lovemesomecake616---yes of course, i was just speaking in general--at first i had all that in one post and i prefaced it with 'here are some thoughts of mine on these subjects:'--then i put them each one in their own post--should have been more clear on that--

 

but i can't help but point out that the entire industry is founded on the principle that everyone who wants to can learn how to do this and they are! this didn't just happen overnight--this was planned out decades ago. --so yes undercutting hurts but the foundation is near gone too----bakerysauruses -- continuing on the endangered list--nearly extinct--

 

so even if all the undercutters charged better--it really isn't gonna make that much difference--the whole thing has already been undermined 

Lizzybug78 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 10:58pm
post #90 of 110

AI had one of those quotes tonight. It really got my hackles up.

I get a fb message with a photo asking 'how much for this for my boyfriend's 20th ?' No hello, no sign off and the age all make me think this is going to be a waste of time. I duly quote anyway and send it off. Computer bings a few minutes later to say she's replied. I finish what I'm doing then check messages. 'Way too expensive, lol'. OK, bit rude but had worse. I start to send a 'thanks anyway' type reply when another message comes in. '£85 for a birthday cake, I don't think so, that's a ridiculous price'. So now she's sent her slightly rude message, left it 10 minutes and thought she hadn't made her point enough, so sent a ruder one. I hit send on my polite reply anyway, then a few seconds later get 'I've got someone who's doing it for £30'

At this point I'm thoroughly p****D off. She's now essentially told me 3 times that I'm trying to diddle her. I replied simply saying that it would cost me over £20 in ingredients alone, plus several hours work including shopping, prep, baking, etc etc, and that as I am running a business I can't afford to work for free. And that I hoped her cake was lovely. I was lying on the last bit - I did say it, but clearly I hope it's cack :-)

The trouble is, as has been pointed out, she will get some awful bodged cake and think it's great. This is why I am moving away from novelty /birthday cakes and concentrating on wedding cakes, as people are more willing to accept that you have to pay for quality.

That whole thing about people thinking we put up prices when we see the word 'wedding'? Personally I think it's the other way around - if we don't put 'wedding' in front of the word 'cake', people think we should be doing them for nothing. I don't charge any more for wedding cakes, but equally I won't charge less for the same design made as a birthday /anniversary etc cake!

Really, this business would be so much easier without having to deal with customers!

Ps- I spent some time searching for the photo she'd given me after this happened. Found the site, and it was up for £90. This tells me that a) my pricing is OK and b) she's a git :-D

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