Last Minute Orders

Business By VintageBaker Updated 22 May 2014 , 5:59pm by dkltll

VintageBaker Posted 16 May 2014 , 10:41pm
post #1 of 17

Hi I'm new to the forum. I am a fully licensed bakery out of my home. I just recently lost my job my friends and family are being really great about sending business my way.


But, I'm finding that since i don't have a job everyone thinks they can call and order a cake and want it in less than 12 hours. I can't be picky cuz i need the money but i think this is a bad habit to start if they think they can call and it magically appears what happens when i have other things booked or what they want i can't do. Also theses last min orders require me to do a lot of running a round. I'm not sure how to put my foot down or if i should? 


perfect example last weekend i dropped off cupcakes for a charity event on sat i got a call that night this lady want to place a order of 75 cupcakes no big deal tells me its for monday okay no come to find out if was for pick up mid day sun. okay scramble around get it done put of mothers day plans to make it call the lady and she said she forgot about it and now i have to deliver them 20 miles away the next morning . than i get a call today at 1pm a lady needs 50 cupcakes and 8in carved cake for tomorrow at 10am i quoted 90 she *****ed about but said find i sent her a invoice and started baking she called me back about 15 mins ago and said she changed her mind she was just going to buy ice cream. wtf this is why I'm having issues with last min orders to many vareables 

16 replies
howsweet Posted 17 May 2014 , 3:03pm
post #2 of 17

ADouble post

howsweet Posted 17 May 2014 , 3:11pm
post #3 of 17

AAnd try to keep stocked up, so that you're not running around. If they want chai cake with kiwifruit in the frosting, say no sorry - fewer options for last minute orders - how about vanilla?

howsweet Posted 17 May 2014 , 3:17pm
post #4 of 17

AUgh! It was showing a double post, so I deleted one and now the other is gone... No time to rewrite all that right now... Will come back later. Sorry!

jenmat Posted 17 May 2014 , 5:02pm
post #5 of 17

Um, no. You teach people how to treat you. Develop a policy and stick to it. 


Take deposits, finalize orders 1 week out, and don't let people do this to you. You may need the money, but in 6 months you will be angry, bitter and pissed off. People treat you how you let them. 

"I'm sorry, I'd LOVE to help you, but I need at least 7 days' notice. Please think of me next time!"


This is not the customer's fault, this is yours. Sorry for the tough love, we all go through it. (or almost all of us!) Don't say YES to something that you won't want to repeat indefinitely. Because missing Mother's Day to do a cupcake order is insanity. So is booking a carved cake with 24hours notice. 


Start as you mean to go on. Trust me, people will learn really fast. I have a 2 week policy, and sometimes that gets extended to 3 months if it's a popular date. 


I think I speak for other decorators in your area that by allowing this behavior you are training customers that every decorator should be able to drop everything and not require notice for cakes. Please don't devalue yourself or your market!

Hugs, I can't imagine trying to get all that done and missing Mother's Day because of it!!!

Sassyzan Posted 17 May 2014 , 7:45pm
post #6 of 17

AHe|| to the no. You are building yourself a nightmare clientele. If you keep taking orders like this, these are the only orders you will keep getting.

You won't be making any money off of people who don't even pick up the cakes they order! I wouldn't even get the flour out of the cupboard until the final payment check clears.

leah_s Posted 17 May 2014 , 7:58pm
post #7 of 17

agree with jen and sassy.  No starting on an order without payment.  If you really want to do last minute orders, have something in the freezer.  "Orders made less than 7 days in advance may choose between  chocolate or vanilla."  Period.  As others have said, you teach people how to treat you.  

howsweet Posted 17 May 2014 , 9:40pm
post #8 of 17

Ok, I have a minute to rewrite this. After a long policy of never taking last minute orders, I decided to start taking some to make some extra money. For me, that means 5-14 days before the cake is due. I would never take an order with less than 5 days to go.


What I found is that the customer who orders at the last minute is pretty much a different animal than the ones who order in advance. I would go so far as to say that more than half of them are rude and inconsiderate. So I disagree with what was written above about it not being the customer's fault. I did not train these people to act like that. Some of them are downright rude in their very first email.


If you're going to deal with these people, make sure you have some rules in order

1) They must order "now" - no time to think about it because they will drop you like a hot potato if you try to give them any leeway as they are likely working several decorators with their last minute mess - they aren't just talking to you.  Give a specific deadline, but no extra time, if that makes sense. Let them know if they call you after that, it will be too late. This is commonly the type of person who will completely ignore any deadline you give them.

2) That means they must pay. 

3) Don't ever lower your prices for them.

4) As mentioned above, since you've decided to do this, keep stocked up to save running around picking up items. Their order has to fit with what you already have.


So the bottom line is set things up so that it works for you. Spread the word to these folks who are sending you referrals that you just can't possibly accept any more orders less than x number of days before the party. No exceptions. Then stick to it.


Word all of this nicely, but firmly.

kakeladi Posted 17 May 2014 , 11:56pm
post #9 of 17 a call....lady want to place a order of 75 cupcakes....its for monday okay no...find out if was for pick up mid day sun....scramble ...get it done the lady...she i have to deliver them 20 miles away the next morning.......


SHE FORGOT??  Her negligence does NOT make an emergency for YOU!  NO you do NOT need to deliver - and if you choose to  then you charge for it.  Gas is not cheap anymore! :)   Don't let people run/ruin your life!  Get a back bone.  We all (o.k. most of us) have been there, done that and found out it only makes you bitter and washed up in a very short time.  

As another poster said, sorry for the tough love but you do need to set the tone for *your* business.

You are not a baking machine - you are NOT a participant on cupcake wars - you can't make 1,000 cupcakes in just 2 hours - NO ONE CAN! 

Yes, learn to stock up on your most commonly ordered item(s).  1/4 sheet; cuppies; what ever, bake ahead and store, well wrapped & labeled in the fzr.  When someone wants to order in a hurry they only get what you have on hand (no real flavor choice)

Take to heart the advice offered here from us well seasoned decorators - it will save your sanity :)

embersmom Posted 18 May 2014 , 12:15am
post #10 of 17

We have a 24-hour window at work.  Anything less than that your only choice is whatever is available in our case.


As everyone else has said, OP, you NEED to set parameters about last minute orders or else customers are going to steamroll over you and you NEED to stick to those parameters or else you're going to become the "last minute cake lady".  You don't want that, trust me.

howsweet Posted 18 May 2014 , 1:46am
post #11 of 17

Oh, the other thing is it's important to get the details in writing by email. I do this anyway, but these customers may try to change things or forget what was agreed on. And even be snarky about it. Often they are so, so nice until they know you'll take the order and then they do a Jekyll/Hyde switch and start changing what was going to be very simple to something you don't have time to even discuss. Get them to reply to prove they saw the email, by asking a specific question.


I always let them know how much more personal attention and time they'd be getting if they had found me some time prior to the very last minute. But that I'm so glad circumstances had allowed me to fit them in this time. That sends a few important messages.


I also send them something which makes it very clear how to order so that they don't think they ordered when they didn't.

costumeczar Posted 19 May 2014 , 6:48pm
post #12 of 17

To me last-minute is anything a week or less, maybe two weeks depending on my mood. Those orders, if I do decide to do it in a moment of weakness, also incur a rush fee.

VintageBaker Posted 21 May 2014 , 7:58pm
post #13 of 17

AThank you all!!!! when I brought it up to friends and family they thought I was just being lazy. I knew taking these on was a bad idea and i NOW have it listed on my website and Instagram that 72 hours for 3-10 in' cakes with no fondant. 5 day notice on any fondant cake and carved cakes, and 2 weeks for tiered cakes. I don't care if my family and friends think I'm being a *****. It's to much stress and running around for very little money. Especially since I'm doing job interviews and trying to get another job. I have to put my foot down now!! Because soon I won't be able to take last min orders. Thank you all again for making me see that it's okay to say no and that I must train my customers. I'm sticking to it. I just had a lady call for a cake for sat wanting fondant and I told her no! Bc only and ya know what she was okay with that.

cupadeecakes Posted 21 May 2014 , 8:54pm
post #14 of 17
Originally Posted by VintageBaker 
perfect example last weekend i dropped off cupcakes for a charity event on sat i got a call that night this lady want to place a order of 75 cupcakes no big deal tells me its for monday okay no come to find out if was for pick up mid day sun. okay scramble around get it done put of mothers day plans to make it call the lady and she said she forgot about it and now i have to deliver them 20 miles away the next morning...

This is why I always get paid in full before I crack the first egg.  If she forgets, that is her problem, not yours.  If you haven't been paid, customers will use the payment as leverage to get you to drive those 20 extra miles so you can get paid for the work you've already done.


I get a lot of last-minute calls and for now I turn them all down, and they usually are all cheap, get something quick customers.  I have toyed with the idea of having a couple of simple designs (vanilla cake with vanilla icing) that can stay in the freezer for these last minute emergencies.  Has anyone tried this with any success?

AZCouture Posted 21 May 2014 , 8:58pm
post #15 of 17

I could never start working on something I wasn't paid in full for. No way man. NO. WAY. Jennifer, I bet if I tried that, there would be something not good enough about it, or they would want to nit pick and add this and that, and just make it a general hassle. I was offering very simple BC cakes with a pearl border and a piped message that could be ordered with 48 hours notice up until recently, and even cut those out. People just want to push and push and try to do whatever they can to get one of my custom cakes crammed on to an eight inch cake. Nope, wasn't interested in those conversations anymore.

cupadeecakes Posted 21 May 2014 , 11:04pm
post #16 of 17

AThat's what I figured, AZ.

dkltll Posted 22 May 2014 , 5:59pm
post #17 of 17

Everyone has already given you their 2 cents and you agree but I just wanted to re-enforce the point. I do baking on the side and not full time (all legal). Outside customers don't give me short notice it is ALWAYS family, friends or their referrals. My MIL asked me one Christmas if I could whip up a cake for their church dinner to feed about 100. "Nothing fancy just a bunch of those pretty sugar poinsettias you do on it." And this was on Wednesday for Sunday! It took the Hubs to get her to calm down and understand that I was not dissing her but that the "Nothing Fancy" was going to take DAYS to accomplish. 

Stand your ground and keep smiling! I love to decorate and it is my stress relief from my day job so I had to decide early on not to let it cause me panic & distress just make a few bucks! Good Luck!

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