Advice Please, Established Cakesters! Need To Get This Thing Outta My House!

Business By BomCakes Updated 22 Mar 2014 , 10:24pm by Crazy-Gray

BomCakes Posted 18 Mar 2014 , 6:13am
post #1 of 15

Not trying to sound ungrateful at all. Not complaining either. 

I have been doing cakes, from my kitchen, for about 3 years.  Had busy spurts where I wanted to just run away to find some sanity and then it would always die down. Winter months, almost nothing. Fine by me.

 

But now, this year, I'm getting so many inquiries and people calling my house, cell, (obviously some folks out there sharing my personal cell number) showing up to my home unannounced to "See where you live" and FB-ing me 10-12 at a time, I'm getting overwhelmed and having to turn down, well this week so far, 8 or 9 people. It's Tuesday 1am. 

 

I understand perfectly the number of people might quintuple if there was a shop. That would be welcome if I had employees etc.   Need to be able to shut off lights and walk away... without having it follow me into the bathroom etc..(sarc)

 

I have no real money to open a shop, No idea, and no one here to help me figure this out. I would appreciate some serious advice for first steps beyond licensing, inspection, those are requirements I can figure out. It's everything else I am not sure of.

 

How much space to start? Equipment? Is it possible to have a store front but bake at home?  

 

How did you psyche yourself out to take the plunge? Is it even worth it?

 

There have been 2 established cake businesses to close in my town in the last 6 months. (approx. 55,000 population) Retirements. Not for lack of business. So it's wide open basically except for the grocery stores.   

Thanks folks! I appreciate any and all considerations 

14 replies
costumeczar Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 12:35am
post #2 of 15

The best thing you could do would be to call those two retired business owners and ask if you could take them out to lunch and pick their brains. They know your local market, they can tell you the good and the bad, and you'll get advice that's specific to your area.

liz at sugar Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 2:05am
post #3 of 15

First, get a handle on all the inquiries by funneling them through an online form - prospective customers must do this to hear back from you.  That will eliminate the time drag and the stress from the constant inquiries.  You can do the bidding on your schedule, instead of on demand.

 

Second, raise your prices.  If you are overwhelmed, you probably aren't charging enough.  This will let you work less, for more money.

 

Good luck!

 

Liz

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 2:41am
post #4 of 15
Agree with everything above. But also, to clarify, are you talking about a retail bakery, shop where people can walk in and buy cupcakes, cookies, etc out of a bake case as well as doing custom cakes? Or are you talking about a strictly custom cake shop, by appointment only, basically a cake studio? I ask because they are two completely different things. 
BeesKnees578 Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 3:15am
post #5 of 15

AYou will most likely lose any scheduling flexibilty that you may now enjoy by doing it at home....

Just mentioned that because you said you didn't mind the lull in the winter. Do you think you will get burned out if you are doing it year round? Would you take on employees?

And, yes, raise your prices...if you are THAT much in demand, either you are TOTALLY AWESOME or cheaper than you need to be. I am guessing it's a bit of both!

But you go....sounds like you've got a GREAT customer base! Those that truly value you will follow you even after you raise your prices!

Good luck and keep us updated!

AZCouture Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 6:18am
post #6 of 15

AMy friend Mandie just opened a shop that from what I can tell, is open for a few hours daily for sales of slices of cake and other small items, and custom cake appointments are held while the shop is "closed", if that makes sense. Not sure if that's helpful or not to you, but might want to poke around her site and Facebook page, make friends with her and see how she does it. Her business name is Got What it Cakes...easy to find on Facebook, and she's in North Carolina, in case you find more than one result with that name.

BeesKnees578 Posted 19 Mar 2014 , 12:42pm
post #7 of 15

A

Original message sent by AZCouture

My friend Mandie just opened a shop that from what I can tell, is open for a few hours daily for sales of slices of cake and other small items, and custom cake appointments are held while the shop is "closed", if that makes sense. Not sure if that's helpful or not to you, but might want to poke around her site and Facebook page, make friends with her and see how she does it. Her business name is Got What it Cakes...easy to find on Facebook, and she's in North Carolina, in case you find more than one result with that name.

I like that....it would allow you to keep some flexibility.

nancylee61 Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 6:56pm
post #8 of 15

Send them to me!!! I'm trying to start a cake business, and having real trouble getting traction!!

 

Kidding! Best of luck to you, you must be very good to grow so much!!
Nancy

BomCakes Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 2:18pm
post #9 of 15

Thanks everyone. I do the very best I can at all times, that's what I want to be known for. But I believe it's primarily just sheer lack of cake designers/bakers in this area.  There are a few cake ladies, but no cake shops aside from Wal Mart and two other groceries.

BomCakes Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 2:43pm
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

My friend Mandie just opened a shop that from what I can tell, is open for a few hours daily for sales of slices of cake and other small items, and custom cake appointments are held while the shop is "closed", if that makes sense. Not sure if that's helpful or not to you, but might want to poke around her site and Facebook page, make friends with her and see how she does it. Her business name is Got What it Cakes...easy to find on Facebook, and she's in North Carolina, in case you find more than one result with that name.


Thank you AZ! I Do like this and have considered it. I also am thinking about a front of the house/back of the house sort of operation, beautifully decorated, Sleek with lots of deco'd cake dummies and to-go only items in a cold case available and then the private "back room" where the baking and decorating happens. A person in the front to handle the walk in customers. Ideally, I would like to be in and out but primarily handle appointment only customers. I have a lot of ideas swimming around..

Will definitely check her out :)

Crazy-Gray Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 3:07pm
post #11 of 15

A

Quote:
Originally Posted by liz at sugar 

First, get a handle on all the inquiries by funneling them through an online form - prospective customers must do this to hear back from you.  That will eliminate the time drag and the stress from the constant inquiries.  You can do the bidding on your schedule, instead of on demand.

 

Second, raise your prices.  If you are overwhelmed, you probably aren't charging enough.  This will let you work less, for more money.

Liz

 

I agree, I use jotform, its free and you can quickly add a new form to a page on your website.

You can also remove the ability for people to personal message you on FB and put a note in your header picture to say "for all enquiries pleases visit our contact page here....." I can PM you my contact form if you'd like to use it for inspiration?

I don't like people coming to the house so I do delivery only, you could try that? If you have online location details just leave out the 1st two lines and google maps will then just list you in the middle of the post-town so people can't just turn up checking out where you are - that'll lose you some business but sounds like that won't be a problem!

You couls also put up a 'cakes from $' minimum order price, I found that killed so many non productive enquiries!

best of luck, really glad it's going well for you :-)

BomCakes Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 2:49am
post #12 of 15

 

 

 





You couls also put up a 'cakes from $' minimum order price, I found that killed so many non productive enquiries!

best of luck, really glad it's going well for you icon_smile.gif

I've thought about this too, a lot! I get these nutzo requests for single serving cakes for adults that look like wedding cakes with gum paste flowers and all but the person only wants to spend 5 dollars. So I have put my foot down a few times.  Right up on the old FB page, huh? Hmmmm...

Wish I were computer savvy! I have the invisible wall  that goes up whenever I try to change my FB page or learn anything about my computer. Prob have to hire someone soon! I'm of that group of people who can't operate a cell phone and wish I'd never bought one! Thanks for your kind words!

BomCakes Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 3:43am
post #13 of 15

Quote:

Originally Posted by LoveMeSomeCake615 
 

LoveMeSomeCake, This thing wont let me quote you but I would have to start out by appointment only. Let folks know I'm here. I think prob to feel my way along not just jumping feet first into a full service walk-in cake shop.  The top comment I get is "so glad we found you! There just isn't anybody."

My DH and I were cruising town today checking out all the available buildings on our main street near the university, offices and court house etc. There are a lot to choose from!

BeesKnees578 Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 9:40pm
post #14 of 15

ACrazy-Gray THANKS for mentioning jotform....put one on my website last night. Put down a few points to consider before contacting me such as MIN ORDER (have it on another part of my site, but you know how people just LOVE to read...not), don't do sheet cakes, etc.

Crazy-Gray Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 10:24pm
post #15 of 15

A:(

Original message sent by BeesKnees578

Crazy-Gray THANKS for mentioning jotform....put one on my website last night. Put down a few points to consider before contacting me such as MIN ORDER (have it on another part of my site, but you know how people just LOVE to read...not), don't do sheet cakes, etc.

Oh wow I'm really glad it helped you too! I love it :-) it takes out so much faff making sure you know what size cake they want, what flavour, date, time....

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