Free Cake Referral Disaster!!! Please Help!!!

Business By Cakefetishfashion Updated 2 Feb 2015 , 10:42pm by Norasmom

Cakefetishfashion Posted 1 Feb 2015 , 3:12pm
post #1 of 24

AI'll try to make this quick just wanted to get some opinions for you.

A year ago I had a client refer a wedding and two other orders. I was very appreciative and gave her a basic buttercream free 6" cake. She finally called to redeem/ordered the cake for her daughters tea party but wanted a tea pot cake topper and other fondant details so I charged her $15 extra she said she was fine with that and would pay when she picked it up. Well upon trying to arrange delivery the day before she became very difficult to work with I gave her several options that did not include a delivery fee and she had every excuse why she couldn't pick up the cake. In no way did she try to consider meeting me at the available times I gave her, so she said you need to bring this cake to me, I said yes I can do that but I will have to charge a delivery fee since you aren't able to meet me halfway. First she said ok the called back an hour later saying I'll just cancel the cake order since I don't have time to pick it up and you won't bring it to me without charging delivery. After going round and round I said I understand if you decide to cancel but I won't be able to offer you another free cake since I've already made this one for you. She became livid and said you are terrible I'll never order a cake again and hung up. So please tell me what could I have done different?? [IMG]http://www.cakecentral.com/content/type/61/id/3326618/width/200/height/400[/IMG]

23 replies
petitecat Posted 1 Feb 2015 , 3:48pm
post #2 of 24

I ask for a non refundable downpayment for cake orders and the balance for orders two weeks before delivery for party cakes, and one month before for wedding cakes. If it's a last minute order then it's full payment upfront. I would start charging up front for your business as well to prevent this happening in future! There will always be someone who will mess you around. Some people don't seem to take cake orders seriously unless they've paid up already.

 

Try and forget what this horrible woman did to you, start charging up front, and move on from this episode. All the best for future cake orders :) 

petitecat Posted 1 Feb 2015 , 4:02pm
post #3 of 24

And by the way, what a bloody miser of a woman to cancel the order for $15 plus delivery!! She's missed out on a lovely looking cake. What a fool.

Pastrybaglady Posted 1 Feb 2015 , 4:53pm
post #4 of 24

APeople think "free" should mean everything is without cost - not true! Do not offer free anything anymore. Offer a set sum discount on their next order or complimentary cupcakes and proceed as you would normally and collect your money before the cake is due then hopefully they will have their more usual customer behavior. "Free" puts people in a different head space.

Gingerlocks Posted 1 Feb 2015 , 4:58pm
post #5 of 24

Honestly, I don't think you could have done anything differently. You gave her a free 6"cake for the business you passed her way, you didn't give her free toppers, free delivery.. If she wants to act like that and throw a tantrum then that's not the kind of customer you want repeat business from. 

lkern777 Posted 1 Feb 2015 , 5:18pm
post #6 of 24

I'm sorry this happened to you. What a nasty person she is.

 

Going forward, if you want to offer a discount or a free something or other, give it to them in the form of an actual coupon that states what is included and what is not. Also include an expiration date. You can always extend the expiration date if they come up after it is expired and you like them, but that is up to you.

 

Save it in PDF form and keep it on your computer so that when they come back and say they lost their coupon you can provide it again if you so choose.

 

I also make the coupon customer-specific so they can't make copies of it or hand it over to a friend. If they want to give the cake to a friend, then that is their business, but they have to place the order with me, not the friend.

Cakefetishfashion Posted 1 Feb 2015 , 7:34pm
post #7 of 24

AThanks for the response and great advice. I'm in the process of reviewing and changing some of my policies.

costumeczar Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 12:49am
post #8 of 24

The only thing that you did wrong was to not say "please promise me that you mean that" when she said she would never order another cake from you again.

Norasmom Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 1:55am
post #9 of 24

Adorable cake!

 

In my industry, we read contracts all the time.  So, in a word, contract…spell it out before you turn on the oven.  At my company, we get invitations, perks and comps regularly for the promise of bringing in clientele, but often  there are "blackout dates" and other things spelled out in a contract.

 

 Even if you are giving something free, you need to add specifications.  Might be a good idea to say "offer is for basic buttercream only, excludes fondant.  Fondant is to be an additional $15 for basic design and $30 for custom design, delivery included (or not included).

 

I know you are frustrated, you worked hard. However, she sent you a referral for  a wedding and 2 additional clients, and I am going to assume your profits from those referrals added up to far more than $15.00 and the cost of your gas/time to deliver her cake.

 

You now may have lost the two clients and definitely have lost a bunch of other potential referrals.  You are running a cake business, a business based almost entirely on word-of-mouth and referrals.

 

The delivery situation is not what was upsetting her. She knows that she has referred valuable business to you and is wondering why there were strings attached to something you were doing to thank her.  

 

She is not a miserable person, she was angry.  She needed some sugar, and when you argued with her, the sugar was gone.

costumeczar Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 2:50am
post #10 of 24

I agree with you to a certain extent @Norasmom, but she WAS being difficult regardless of how much business she had referred a year ago. I wouldn't give people free cakes to refer business to me anyway, but if I did offer a free cake I wouldn't be delivering it too. It sounds like the woman was being difficult hoping that she'd get a 6" cake that she hadn't paid for delivered to her, and there's a limit. No good deed goes unpunished...

Cakefetishfashion Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 4:34am
post #11 of 24

AYour right I may have lost her business and its definitely ok with me. This isn't the first issue with her ordering a cake but this one was the worst by far. I have referred many brides to a italian food caterer and unexpectedly they gave me two free family meals and when I redeemed them I didnt try to get over or hassle them for more than they offered. There's no doubt this was a good learning experience.

Cakefetishfashion Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 4:41am
post #12 of 24

[email protected] You mention strings attached? There were no strings attached I told her the free cake was just buttercream and she sent a picture asking for a more detailed cake, so at that time I told her there would be an extra $15 charge and she agreed. She was also aware that I charge for delivery from past orders and she always says no because she's always pinching pennies. So there were no surprises she knew up front that the she would need to pay for the extras she wanted.

Gingerlocks Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 2:25pm
post #13 of 24

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norasmom 

 

The delivery situation is not what was upsetting her. She knows that she has referred valuable business to you and is wondering why there were strings attached to something you were doing to thank her.  

 

She is not a miserable person, she was angry.  She needed some sugar, and when you argued with her, the sugar was gone.

I'm sorry but I think this woman is both an angry AND miserable person. It is unreasonable to assume that the OP should take this free cake to her and throw a temper tantrum like that when the OP would drop everything in her life to do this woman a favor. This is in fact a business and any good business person knows the difference between a good customer and someone you need to drop; they also know when to go out of their way to keep a good customer and when to stop. 

Norasmom Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 4:03pm
post #14 of 24

Gingerlocks, are you sorry because I have a point?  You just indirectly called me a bad businessperson, by making the assumption I don't know how and when to drop a client.  We drop clients all the time that have unrealistic demands. I assure you, I am not a bad businessperson.  I would not have been hired to do what I do if I were a dud.  I'm in the hospitality industry, I do negotiations.

 

What I mean here is that anger arising from frustration gets you nowhere in life, it just causes wars and high blood pressure.  Better to drop a client nicely, by either truly being too busy or using honesty.  Deliver the cake, but when a new request from the customer comes in, just tell the truth.  Say you cannot deliver the cake because last time you had a transaction with her she seemed unhappy and your goal is to deliver the highest quality cakes available within the parameters of a budget.  Spending time driving is not a good allocation of your time or hers…then you can refer her to someone else in the area as an act of goodwill.

 

I still believe she is not a miserable person.  How we behave and what we say when we are angry is not how we are as people.  Think back to a time you were angry and ask yourself…"Am I really an angry person who stoops to someone's level by arguing and getting my fondant in a wad?  Or am I the better person who calms a customer down and nicely brings her back into reality?"

 

Love and let love.

 

:-D

MimiFix Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 4:30pm
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Norasmom 
 

... anger arising from frustration gets you nowhere in life, it just causes wars and high blood pressure... How we behave and what we say when we are angry is not how we are as people.  Think back to a time you were angry and ask yourself…"Am I really an angry person who stoops to someone's level by arguing and getting my fondant in a wad? 

 

Nice distinction. Thank you, Norasmom.

Gingerlocks Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 4:38pm
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Norasmom 
 

Gingerlocks, are you sorry because I have a point?  You just indirectly called me a bad businessperson, by making the assumption I don't know how and when to drop a client.  We drop clients all the time that have unrealistic demands. I assure you, I am not a bad businessperson.  I would not have been hired to do what I do if I were a dud.  I'm in the hospitality industry, I do negotiations.

 

That's not what I said at ALL..not even a bit. I'm not "sorry" you have a point; not really sure what that means. I do fundamentally disagree with you though; this is a grown woman throwing a tantrum, and I for one have little patience for that sort of thing. 

Norasmom Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 5:30pm
post #17 of 24

Glad you have little patience for a tantrum.  Good idea not to throw them yourself.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cakefetishfashion 

@norasm You mention strings attached? There were no strings attached I told her the free cake was just buttercream and she sent a picture asking for a more detailed cake, so at that time I told her there would be an extra $15 charge and she agreed. She was also aware that I charge for delivery from past orders and she always says no because she's always pinching pennies. So there were no surprises she knew up front that the she would need to pay for the extras she wanted.


include that information in your original post.  We missed out on some critical information.  Still get all via email or in writing.  

Norasmom Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 5:36pm
post #18 of 24

Listen to Mimicakes.  She has written several books about the cake business.  There are some "tried and true" people still on CC, she is one of them.  Cake biz experience, life experience, business wisdom, decorating expertise and objectivity:  she's got them all of those qualities.

 

@K8memphis--you are awesome too.

MimiFix Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 5:49pm
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Norasmom 
 

Listen to Mimicakes.  She has written several books about the cake business.  There are some "tried and true" people still on CC, she is one of them.  Cake biz experience, life experience, business wisdom, decorating expertise and objectivity:  she's got them all of those qualities.

 

Thank you Norasmom. One of the bigger issues I see here, on Facebook, and other cake forums, is the gang mentality when someone posts a vent/rant. Others reply with their own inner rage and customers are not always treated with a rationality that's necessary in the business world. While venting can make us feel momentarily righteous, it's counterproductive to not only our mental health but also our ability to run a profitable business. 

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 6:49pm
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Norasmom 
 

What I mean here is that anger arising from frustration gets you nowhere in life, it just causes wars and high blood pressure.  Better to drop a client nicely, by either truly being too busy or using honesty.  Deliver the cake, but when a new request from the customer comes in, just tell the truth.  Say you cannot deliver the cake because last time you had a transaction with her she seemed unhappy and your goal is to deliver the highest quality cakes available within the parameters of a budget.  Spending time driving is not a good allocation of your time or hers…then you can refer her to someone else in the area as an act of goodwill.

 

This is a good point, and I agree. Admittedly, I don't know how far of a drive the OP was facing for this delivery, but I likely would have just delivered the cake without an additional charge. Yeah, it wouldn't be "fair," but I'm kind of a results-oriented person. At the end of the day, there are only two equations:

 

Deliver the Cake: $15.00  + positive word of mouth + continued customer (maybe) - time/materials and drive time = X

 

Keep the Cake: Negative word of mouth - lost customer - $15.00 - time/materials + drive time = X

 

How you value 'X' is up to you, but the second equation has a lot more minuses.

Claire138 Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 7:34pm
post #21 of 24

Quote:

Originally Posted by Norasmom 
 

Listen to Mimicakes.  She has written several books about the cake business.  There are some "tried and true" people still on CC, she is one of them.  Cake biz experience, life experience, business wisdom, decorating expertise and objectivity:  she's got them all of those qualities.

 

@K8memphis--you are awesome too.


Agreed.

costumeczar Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 7:59pm
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakefetishfashion 

Your right I may have lost her business and its definitely ok with me. This isn't the first issue with her ordering a cake but this one was the worst by far.

As we all bicker amongst ourselves about whether it's better to retain or get rid of clients, I think that people might have missed this point from the OP. The way that I read the original post was that this person had referred business once a year ago, she had taken a full year to try to get a free 6" cake, tried to upgrade the order without paying for it, then tried to manipulate the situation so that she wouldn't have to make an effort to pick the cake up but still expected another free cake. In my book, that's not a customer who you want to retain. Plus, if the people she refers are as demanding as she is, you don't want those customers anyway.

 

For the OP, I'd stop offering free cakes for referrals, it gets too complicated and it's not worth the aggravation. If I lost a customer like this I wouldn't worry about bad word of mouth, she'll find someone else to concentrate on and forget about you.

MBalaska Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 8:40pm
post #23 of 24

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cakefetishfashion 

I'll try to make this quick just wanted to get some opinions for you.

A year ago I had a client refer a wedding and two other orders. I was very appreciative and gave her a basic buttercream free 6" cake. She finally called to redeem/ordered the cake for her daughters tea party but wanted a tea pot cake topper and other fondant details so I charged her $15 extra she said she was fine with that and would pay when she picked it up. Well upon trying to arrange delivery the day before she became very difficult to work with I gave her several options that did not include a delivery fee and she had every excuse why she couldn't pick up the cake. In no way did she try to consider meeting me at the available times I gave her, so she said you need to bring this cake to me, I said yes I can do that but I will have to charge a delivery fee since you aren't able to meet me halfway. First she said ok the called back an hour later saying I'll just cancel the cake order since I don't have time to pick it up and you won't bring it to me without charging delivery. After going round and round I said I understand if you decide to cancel but I won't be able to offer you another free cake since I've already made this one for you. She became livid and said you are terrible I'll never order a cake again and hung up. So please tell me what could I have done different??

An essential element in the basic Heinlein philosophy; this is the first appearance of this acronym.

"Gospodin," he said presently, "you used an odd word earlier--odd to me, I mean..."

"Oh, 'tanstaafl.' Means ~There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.' And isn't," I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across room, "or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless."

"An interesting philosophy."

"Not philosophy, fact. One way or other, what you get, you pay for."

 

TANSTAAFL

Norasmom Posted 2 Feb 2015 , 10:42pm
post #24 of 24

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

As we all bicker amongst ourselves about whether it's better to retain or get rid of clients, I think that people might have missed this point from the OP. The way that I read the original post was that this person had referred business once a year ago, she had taken a full year to try to get a free 6" cake, tried to upgrade the order without paying for it, then tried to manipulate the situation so that she wouldn't have to make an effort to pick the cake up but still expected another free cake. In my book, that's not a customer who you want to retain. Plus, if the people she refers are as demanding as she is, you don't want those customers anyway.

 

For the OP, I'd stop offering free cakes for referrals, it gets too complicated and it's not worth the aggravation. If I lost a customer like this I wouldn't worry about bad word of mouth, she'll find someone else to concentrate on and forget about you.


Costumeczar you are awesome too.  Let's all go make some pretty cakes!!

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%