Educating The General Public.

Business By cazza1 Updated 9 Aug 2014 , 3:30pm by costumeczar

cazza1 Posted 7 Aug 2014 , 6:01am
post #1 of 19

Lots of people say we should start a thread on this but it never seems to happen so I am going to start it off with a recent experience.

 

I was going to do the wedding cake for friends later on in the year, but due to family circumstances I have had to pull out of the commitment.  The friend brought me a picture of the SIMPLE cake his wife wants, and the quote price that they received from a local business, wondering if we could do the entire cake in advance and freeze it.  (My problem being that I cannot be relied upon to produce the cake at the set time because of recurring crisis' that need immediate attention).  They could not believe that it cost so much for such a SIMPLE cake.

 

I laughed.  I also said that I thought the price was totally reasonable and if I was charging for the cake I would want something similar.  This was from a business and not a home based baker doing it for the 'joy', rather than a reasonable profit.  The cake was a 3 tier mud, covered in 'Maggie Austin' frills.  Simple to look at I explained, and not necessarily hard to execute, but time consuming.  I then pointed out how all the bits of fondant had to be rolled, cut out and frilled, and stuck on the cake.  I have done one of these and so was able to go through the process with him. 

 

Having no idea they had thought that it was just icing with a spatula or something pulled through it. Now that they know what is involved they can understand the price and are no longer shocked by it.  That is not to say that they can afford it but they are not complaining about the quote because they can appreciate the time and the work involved.

 

Half the battle, I think, is helping people understand the time involved and expertise involved.

18 replies
morganchampagne Posted 7 Aug 2014 , 6:18am
post #2 of 19

AI've had a similar experience. One lady just straight asked me why my cakes were so much more expensive (she wasn't being nasty either, she was generally curious).

mattyeatscakes Posted 7 Aug 2014 , 7:08pm
post #3 of 19

AAnd not just the cost. Potential clients (cake muggles in general) do not understand how much time and effort it goes to make a "simple" cake. I have had clients order a detailed fondant cake for the next day. Yeah... Good luck with that...MMF alone needs atleast 8 hrs to settle. And not everyone have ingredients laying around, some perishable filling ingredients cannot even be stored by bulk.

I told one particular client who wanted to order a very detailed baptism cake 3 days prior that i cannot do it as i am already booked for that day. I gave her the names of 3 other bakeries in our city. Hah! She said she already called them and they all required 4 weeks' notice to book a custom cake! Lol.. She got lucky though, a friend of hers made the cake. For $60! SMH :(

AZCouture Posted 7 Aug 2014 , 8:17pm
post #4 of 19

Giving the customers information and a little insight as to the processes and the reason for the cost is something everyone should be prepared and willing to do if asked, or you think it might be necessary without being asked. Its's easy once you've been in the game for awhile, and can read people whether you're looking right at them, or reading their emails. Some people you just know not to bother with, and politely thank them for their time, and get out. There's nothing wrong with a customer asking why something costs what it does. Don't you feel you have the right to ask a business what they're charging for a specific service when you inquire about their services? Wouldn't you feel put off if they hesitated or acted like you were bothering them, or God forbid, if they got defensive and acted like you were rude for asking? I'd go somewhere else, I don't care how good they were.

 

Now I'm gonna step up on my soapbox for a minute and be VERY unpopular with some people. That's ok, I don't say what I say to make friends, I say it to educate and better the reputation of this misunderstood and abused (by the decorators themselves usually) business.

 

I don't know when it became ok to post things like this on Facebook business pages, or websites. We get it, but to the general public, it just comes off as whiny and defensive. Period. *

 

*

 

 

I cringe when I see this sort of thing on a business page. If you're fed up with people complaining about the prices, or telling you the can get it somewhere else for half the cost, you have a bigger problem on your hands. You're probably already super cheap, therefore attracting people that are just shopping on price alone, and want to see just how low you will go. Or, you have decent pricing, but you're advertising and marketing to the wrong people. If you're selling upscale designer cakes, with flashy looks and great ingredients, and pay yourself thirty bucks an hour for your work, the garage sale groups and mommy clubs on Facebook are the last place you want to be. People buy used lawnmowers and extra diapers on those pages, not custom luxury goods.

 

Anyways....that's my rant about pricing and getting in a huff about it, versus calmly explaining your justified pricing and making sure you're not attracting the cheapos in the first place. I have more, but that's it for now. :D

pinchofsweetener Posted 7 Aug 2014 , 8:56pm
post #5 of 19

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

 

 

I cringe when I see this sort of thing on a business page. If you're fed up with people complaining about the prices, or telling you the can get it somewhere else for half the cost, you have a bigger problem on your hands. You're probably already super cheap, therefore attracting people that are just shopping on price alone, and want to see just how low you will go. Or, you have decent pricing, but you're advertising and marketing to the wrong people. If you're selling upscale designer cakes, with flashy looks and great ingredients, and pay yourself thirty bucks an hour for your work, the garage sale groups and mommy clubs on Facebook are the last place you want to be. People buy used lawnmowers and extra diapers on those pages, not custom luxury goods.

 

Anyways....that's my rant about pricing and getting in a huff about it, versus calmly explaining your justified pricing and making sure you're not attracting the cheapos in the first place. I have more, but that's it for now. :D

Oh my goodness. This last one is especially cringe-worthy. Who in the world posts something like that?  As stated, many of us know and understand the frustrations of having to explain why cake is so expensive, but to go to the lengths of writing all of that out is just ridiculous.  If I were a customer and saw that on a business page, I would most certainly take my business elsewhere just for the defensive, snarkiness of it all.  When you do something like this, you're almost certain to lose the "good" business along with the "bad".

AZCouture Posted 7 Aug 2014 , 10:17pm
post #6 of 19

AI see that mostly on the pages of people that are really low priced, ironically, and crank out Disney cakes all day long when they're not busy having giveaways for the latest fifty newest fans. In other words, people who decided to toss up a Facebook page one day and "go into business" with little regard for actually conducting good business. ;)

AZCouture Posted 7 Aug 2014 , 10:23pm
post #7 of 19

AAnd I've suggested numerous times that we start a role playing thread, where people can practice replying to requests and handling customers that are tricky, etc. Like post an email and see how others would respond, word for word, see what is considered acceptable by the most people, see what wouldn't be acceptable and [B]why[/B]. I think that would be incredibly helpful along with [@]cazza1[/@]'s idea here. I'm in!

SweetOutlaws Posted 7 Aug 2014 , 10:53pm
post #8 of 19

Yes, the general public needs to understand how much work goes in to decorating cakes.It's amazing how a lot of people think, even the simplest cake can be done in a day, but there is so much work, planning, etc. that goes into the finished product.

 

I'm glad that after you told the person how much work that went into the cake they wanted, and the reason for the cost, hopefully more people one day will understand.

Bunny0410 Posted 8 Aug 2014 , 12:38am
post #9 of 19

I still classify myself as a student baker, so I charge pretty resonable prices and even then I still have people baulk at the $$.

 

Here is an example of when consumers think cake baking is easy, quick,cheap and anyone can do it.

 

Here is the cake they would not pay for:

 

 

Here is the cake they could just do cheaper than me...

costumeczar Posted 8 Aug 2014 , 2:23am
post #10 of 19

I wrote this in response to that same diagram, I think, so it's been around for at least a couple of years. This post also contains my comment to the union guys, which was the only time I had an entire group of peple understand what I was talking about at once. Those diagrams aren't done for customers, they're done for other decorators to get all huffy and feel united against the sheap customers out there...It's easier to complain to other cake decorators on facebook than it is to get people to understand our pricing. http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2012/06/clients-dont-care-how-long-it-takes-you.html

Apti Posted 8 Aug 2014 , 6:57am
post #11 of 19

I agree with CostumeCzar:  Clients Don't Care How Long It Takes You

(or how hard it is, or how long it takes, or how much equipment you must have on hand, or any number of other things involved with cake decorating )

 

Here is a reasonably good "blog" article by Michelle Green, that attempts to explain why a few succeed and many do not succeed.

 

http://www.thebizofbaking.com/2014/01/you-and-beyonce.html

 

As stated at the beginning of the blog entry:  "Of course product and raw skill come into it, but overall the people who responded overwhelmingly sited business skills as the key difference between success and failure."

 

I also agree with AZ Couture, when business skills are used to appeal to the appropriate market segment, the need to "explain your prices (like the "How Much?" example above), are considerably reduced into manageable proportions.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 
 

Giving the customers information and a little insight as to the processes and the reason for the cost is something everyone should be prepared and willing to do if asked, or you think it might be necessary without being asked. It's easy once you've been in the game for awhile, and can read people whether you're looking right at them, or reading their emails. Some people you just know not to bother with, and politely thank them for their time, and get out. 

 

and

 

...If you're fed up with people complaining about the prices, or telling you they can get it somewhere else for half the cost, you have a bigger problem on your hands. You're probably ...attracting people that are just shopping on price alone.... Or, you have decent pricing, but you're advertising and marketing to the wrong people.

 

cazza1 Posted 8 Aug 2014 , 12:55pm
post #12 of 19

AZ why don't you start off the roll playing by being a typical difficult client.  I don't have a business and I would be blunt to the point of just saying NO so I am not much use here.

Norasmom Posted 8 Aug 2014 , 1:06pm
post #13 of 19

Once I had a customer ask for gumpaste roses on a cupcakes.  She is a very nice person, a friend of a my sister.  I simply told her I would be happy to make them but that those are "time consuming" and she immediately understood that would mean expensive.  I didn't go into details, I simply offered her less pricey options.  

sweettales Posted 9 Aug 2014 , 7:41am
post #14 of 19

Good morning fellow cake friends, 

 

I will love your opinion on dealing with the following matter. Is 3:30am and I am so upset, I can't sleep.

 

Last year, I spoke with a country club about wholesale prices on wedding cakes. We finally came to an agreement that I will charge a certain price per slice, I had a verbal agreement  and also an email confirming that my studio was going to be providing cake for them. They even asked for one of my dummy cakes as they did a photo shoot of their new ball room and my cake is showing on their website. 

 

 

I received the following email from a bride:

 

"Hi Elizabeth, Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. We had originally planned our wedding for September 27th, 2014but due to a unfortunate family situation we were forced to reschedule to October 3, 2015. With that said we did a cake tasting at Jacques Pastries in Suncook, NH in early January. We were going to be adding a package and a cake from there was included. However, since leaving there I was never blown away with the design and felt like the gentleman rushed us a bit. So now that we have more time I have been looking around more and have fallen in love with your cakes and designs. We have decided recently that we are going to forgo the package and get a cake from a place that I really love. I have a lot of different ideas and a semi vision but wasn't sure if you would suggest us to come in soon or wait a few months, closer to our wedding. Any suggestion would be appreciated"

 

 

Now, at this point I was pretty upset, but still tried to see if I could turn this whole thing around with the country club. I wrote to them asking what had happened, I told them about the agreement, the emailing showing that we had an agreement  and how my cakes have great review on yelp, wedding wire, Facebook etc. I told them my work had been featured on wedding blogs etc, etc and this is the email that I got from them: 

 

"Hi Elizabeth

We did discuss and taste your cakes which were fabulous, but never said for sure that we were going with you for that.

We were in the process of checking prices and your price per piece was too expensive for us to put in our package.

Being said whoever does not go with our package is free to go to anyone else and I do tell people about you as well.

Sorry If you got the wrong impression but we found someone that fit our package, price wise.

Thank you!

 

Have a Great Day!

 

Nancy Woods

Event Manager

 

Now, I was offering a cake slice at $3 per slice for buttercream cakes and I felt that I was undercharging at that price, making a profit, but not the margin I make when selling to the public. I was hoping to make my margin bases on quantity from them. 

 

Now,  my studio is not even 2 miles away from this country club, they are sending their brides over 1 hour away for a cake tasting, this bride is not happy with their service and my blood is just boiling knowing that my cake is showing on their website. I think I need to cool down just a bit :) 

 

How will you guys deal with this matter. Part of me feels like asking them to take my pic off their website, but I feel that if I do that, they may just tell brides that my cakes are not allowed in their premises or something nasty like that. Part of me feels that I should ask them to consider that this business is also all about service and long time relations etc, etc and that at the very least they should include me on a prefer vendor list so that we may have a chance to wow their customers. 

 

 

Please let me know what you guys think. 

costumeczar Posted 9 Aug 2014 , 12:15pm
post #15 of 19

A

Original message sent by sweettales

Good morning fellow cake friends, 

I will love your opinion on dealing with the following matter. Is 3:30am and I am so upset, I can't sleep.

Please let me know what you guys think. 

Welcome to the world of weddings and backstabbing and getting it in writing. An email doesn't constitute a contract, and there's really nothing that you can do. I know the other bakery and they do a lot of volume, so they can probably afford to give the country club a low rate, which is all the club cares about. He also has a fairly well-known name in the area, so that probably played into it to a certain extent. If people can go outside of their package and hire bakers they like then you'll still get business from them, and truth be told, the venue managers refer to people outside the packages all the time. If you keep the venue manager on your side by being gracious about this and not pushing it you'll still get business from them, and you'll be able to charge what you need to charge.

I would email the manager back and tell her that you understand their decision, and that you look forward to working with any clients they have who choose to go outside the package. Most brides do not go into a venue and accept a vendor package without making changes, and it's been my experience that a lot of the brides who come to me are subbing out vendors from packages. Don't burn any bridges, is what I'm saying. If you weren't making as much money as you wanted from them you're not going to want to match whatever price Jacques was offering, so it isn't worth arguing it and making the venue manager's job more difficult. In the interest of future referrals, that's the last thing you EVER want to do!

-K8memphis Posted 9 Aug 2014 , 12:24pm
post #16 of 19

Ait seems their ability to negotiate a low enough price has resulted in jacques bakery knowing the price is too low hence the consult was hurried and the design did not wow her -- so this is all to your advantage -- it confirms you priced right -- plus you have a fraction of the expensive delivery charge Jacques is eating --

I say keep it sweet -- you want the leftovers from Jacques -- I just hope your cake on the country club website is intricate enough to make them strain to reproduce it for the package price --

hang tight -- let the market work this out for you -- you don't want their business if it's not priced right

-K8memphis Posted 9 Aug 2014 , 12:51pm
post #17 of 19

Awell I said Jacques knows the price is too low when what i meant is that it seems they are aware the profit margin is slim -- I mean it could have been just an off day for the consult but lower than three bucks a serving plus a two hour round trip is not a deal I'd want to offer

sweettales Posted 9 Aug 2014 , 2:18pm
post #18 of 19


Thank you guys, I am glad I woke up early this morning to talk with my Cake Central friends, instead of sending an email that probably would have hurt me in the long run. Wow, this business can be really hard!

costumeczar Posted 9 Aug 2014 , 3:30pm
post #19 of 19

Quote:

Originally Posted by sweettales 
 


Thank you guys, I am glad I woke up early this morning to talk with my Cake Central friends, instead of sending an email that probably would have hurt me in the long run. Wow, this business can be really hard!

It's very political.

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