So, I got contacted by a gal who wants a sweets table (VERY short notice) for her baby shower. She's someone's FB buddy, I don't know her, don't know anyone who knows her. This was last week. Basically I give her my number, we call and chat, and she wants an idea for a sweets table, based on her invitation design, colors and a couple of cake pictures she found online, so I tell her email me the pics and I'll reply with what I envision for her table.
Here's the first problem, I'm a little too invested in these things - I turn into a crazy lady and the artist comes out and sometimes I get realllly swept away with creative juices and in fact the project itself matters more to me and it leans toward being more of a passionate hobby than just making a few bucks... so anyway I come up with this insanely cool creative plan, some really cool accessories etc. I put my heart into it. I was SO EXCITED. She replies with tons of "!!!!!" and smileys, that she, and I quote, "LOVE LOVE LOVE this plan... can you do a candy buffet too????!!!" So I tell her of course, this time I was a little more vague but still accommodating as heck and trying to make her happy. I quote her pricing (super fair pricing- and this is the frugal mom in me saying that - not the artist) and tell her to please call me by x o clock tomorrow to confirm so I can get to ordering supplies in time since it's coming up fast.
I never heard back. Even after email/vm from me, where I tried to be super nice and helpful and like willing to work with her if there is an issue I'm not aware of or something. I'm pretty peeved. She was all "kiss-kiss-i'm your long-lost-sis" when we talked. I thought I'd learned to sniff out the wafflers, the scammers etc. Her exact words when we first spoke were "I had another baker but she cancelled on me and I just want the table to come out really nice" that along with the time crunch I didn't see this coming. I put mad effort into that plan, and I gave up some really creative SPECIFIC ideas that now I can only guess someone else will get forwarded to copy. Fabulous. I feel like an idiot. I'm having juicy revenge fantasies about showing up at her party and flipping over the sweets table lollllll.
I guess what I'm REALLY upset about is that someone else can take what I wrote and make something that is MY recipe and MY design/sketch... and get all the creative credit, oohs and aahs - future clients etc for it. This sucks. I'm mad at myself for giving up my ideas but I'm also not because I've gotten all the gigs I've had thus far by telling clients some fun, outside-the-box ideas - I mean what else are you supposed to do??
I'm also a little mad because darnit, I'm a person - not a big faceless company! I talked to you about your life and your kids, man. Don't just blow me off! I've never done that to someone so I guess i just don't get it. I'd seriously rather get a msg that says "I hate you and your stupid cake and I hope you die" than nothing. It's just crappy. Why are people so crappy?
Maybe you'll all laugh at me or tell me to get over it (I will, give me another week) but I could use a virtual hug and some wisdom right now. (I won't lie - some fellow imaginary table flippers wouldn't hurt either).
One lesson that was hard learned for me was to make an effort to keep an air of formality with clients. Not to sound cold, but I had more than one occasion of the same thing happening - you get enthused, and then never hear from them again. I offer a free general initial consultation and tell them plainly that alterations/more in-depth design requires a good faith deposit (usually nominal, about $25 or so depending on the type of order.) It has yet to fail me. Best of luck to you, that's such a crummy feeling.
y'know who doesn't want a good deal -- i 10,000 times would rather have a great deal like on a t-shirt, blouse or pair of shoes or something than buy it when it first comes into the store -- not just for the difference in price but for the good deal --the thrill of the hunt i guess --
i tell yah what kinda busted my bubble on stuff like this -- (30 years ago give or take) so my girlfriend was just starting out caking and i came over and helped her fill/stack/ice/decorate her first wedding cake -- during the night she says -- "someone quoted x amount for this cake can you believe it" -- i started thinking and i finally said " yeah well is it thus and sucha person?" and she's like "yeah" and i said "well yes i can believe that quote because it was my freakin' quote however it was not for this cake it was for a daisy covered loop dee doo adorned cake with bladeeblah and other stuff for a standing room only crowd of 50,000 (the exact details are a little hazy) -- so no i can't imagine that enormous price tag for this cake but yes indeed for the cake they first requested" dag nab it
so all that to say it's about money
Your problem is that your "passion" is getting in the way of your bottom line, and you're not treating it like a business. Read this first then come back here: http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-passion-for-cakes-can-be-detrimental.html
So if that made sense to you after you basically got too excited and did a lot of design work for free, take this as a learning experience and use it to retune your process. If someone calls and asks you for a consult about something like that you can offer a tasting appt or whatever it is that you do, whether for a fee or for free, however you handle that. but don't give out sketches, don't design anything that you hand over to the client, and realize that unless they've paid a deposit they're NOT a customer, they're just a person who's shopping around. If you have a portfolio of previous work that you can show people then show them that. Don't take your time to draw up plans for work you haven't been hired to do. And ESPECIALLY don't give people sketches or designs for free, because I can't tell you the number of times people have brought a sketch that was done by another baker to me at tasting appointments. People have no problem shopping those all over town.
Here's a <virtual hug> for ya! That does suck. You, obviously, have to have a general idea of what the design will be to give and agree upon a price but any drawings or specific design should wait until you get the deposit.
When a client calls you, they should have seen an example of your work and know what you are capable of. They should not need a specific drawing or design to want to hire you. An architect doesn't design a building for someone and give them the design for free.
Use it as a learning experience-get your non-refundable deposit before you do all that work. And, as someone else said, they are not thinking of you as a friend so don't think of them as one, it's business. Sometimes it's hard to separate the business man/woman from the artist/enthusiast but you gotta do what you gotta do.
I haven't been in your spot but I have had people email me to see if I can do a cake for a specific date and I answer yes and ask for more info so I can give them a price.....crickets. Hadn't even given them a price yet and never heard back from them. Now I'm watching my email waiting for their response which never comes. I do wish people at least had the common courtesy to send a quick email stating thanks, but I'm no longer interested, geesh.
Costumeczar is absolutely right; in fact I find the people with the biggest 'passion' for cakes are the ones who quit after a year or two; passion will get sucked out of you pretty quickly when you invest huge amounts of time and effort into customers who don't actually end up making an order.
You need to keep it formal with your customers and not get quite so involved; you are a business and need to present yourself as such; which will help keep you from getting over invested in a project and hurt if they don't place an order.
and ps on my post upthread -- so not only did they blow me off i wound up doing their cake for free hahahaha -- what am i laughing about
I am really sorry about your frustrating experience CuppyPuppy, you've voiced what many of us have or will experience at one point or another. But I have to say, I sure did enjoy reading about it ... you had me rolling. Do you have a blog? I'd love to follow.
Cuppy Puppy ~~ Listen to CostumeCzar. Channel your inner Costume Czar. Repeat after me: CostumeCzar rules. Handle the next 10 client requests as though YOU are CostumeCzar, and remember these initials and tape them ALL over your home/phones/work area/forehead:
*What would CostumeCzar do?
Now, you want to be REALLY, REALLY, REALLY bummed out about being blown off? Try interviewing people for a rental. We're talkin' huge cake money amounts, folks, like $1,800 every 30 days the home is not rented, so you are REALLY invested in getting someone that can actually pay the rent every month and won't set up a meth lab.
I was babysitting my niece one day and had about 35 interested phone calls. I did phone interviews and talked about family, pets, sick family members, you name it, we talked about it. I'd hang up and make a giant X on the name/info on my note pad. My niece says, "They sounded really nice! Why can't you help them?" I explained why a credit score of 312, 2 alligators, 3 large dogs with a biting history and a criminal history gets an X.
Same with cake quotes.
fwiw i used to use cz as initials for costumeczar and while it works upon reflection it's really 'cc' i also used to use 'costumeczarina' which is also pretty cool -- all that to say yes great advice apti and cc
ps we had a meth lab and a meth lab bust two doors down kid you not -- sitting eating lunch and a string of policemen dressed in black wearing bp vests and carrying very large weapons go snaking past my window in that direction...
Thanks for the advice, everyone! :) You guys are awesome. K8memphis - OUCH on doing that cake for free lol
Jinkies - the architect thing made sense, big time. thank you!
Nancylou - I get asked that a lot?- If I did ever have a blog - it would have to be called "Lemony Cupcakes - a Series of Unfortunate Baking Events" in order to stay true to life... lol *sigh*
I love it! I think it would be so therapeutic for the rest of us going through similar situations. With your gift of writing we could giggle our way through instead of crying or pulling our hair out.
Meanwhile, on the business end of things, like the others said, Costume Czar is your go to person, she really has some informative articles.
Warm hugs to you.
If I've learned anything in the last 6 months and I'm not even open yet is to never to expect your doing the order until they invest some money in it. I bake for friends and family (while kitchen construction is going on) but I'm learning a lot about how the business side works before we take orders from the public. I too can get wrapped up in the excitement of things but I learned people often have bigger wants than wallets. Your price may be completely fair and reasonable but not in her budget. With new clients I'm going to assume every call I get is just them checking prices until I get confirmation and a deposit. So I will invest very little the more personal things become the more likely the business side will go out the window. It wasn't for nothing though we all go through things that makes us better and more prepared for the next time.
K8menphis...girl you need to be on TV! I swear you're way too funny and you bake to boot:) I actually scroll looking for you comments cuz you always make me laugh.
thank you, norcalh, however i have the perfect face for radio --
if laughter is the best medicine i hope i saved you a couple aspirins --
I agree NorCalHiker ... and she's really on a roll over in "ruffles with 5 petal cutters"! But with K8Memphis, you have the added bonus of learning sooooo much. (Hey Kate) ...
thank you, nancylou, you're very sweet -- hope all is going splendiferously
(yeah, nl, whassup, gf...)