I am so upset right now.
It has been one year I've been in business,m so far, last year I was able to get 10 weddings, pretty good number I think since I was nobody.
I had meeting with few wedding planners and wedding people from hotels in town to be on their preferred vendor lists.. But there are some that never replied my emails. They just ignored me.
I know they don't know me (even if I used to make cakes in the biggest bakery in town), but all I'm asking is 15minutes of their time to bring samples and show them my work.
I don't understand why some don't want to give me a chance.
I emailed and call plenty of times, nothing, not even a word "stop stalking me I don't want to meet you". Nothing!
Last wedding planner I had a meeting with, took several emails and calls, plus a reference from a florist.
I'm frustrated and upset. What am I supposed to do? Just show up at their offices with samples? Sending a box of goodies? Somebody please gives me advices!
The haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. You just gotta shake shake shake shake shake it off shake it off.
People are busy, don't worry about it too much. Give some love and attention to your other marketing strategies and post something on Instagram to soak up some yummy likes.
Find a networking group for wedding professionals to go to. even if you do get into these places with a box of samples, chances are they have their little favorites in town and they wont' refer you. getting to know people in a less formal situation often goes better for referrals.
I attend a Hospitality Group in town, we do breakfast once a month in different locations. I was abke to meet several people in this way but most are not the wedding specialists.
There is no wedding professional event to go to..
Would it be so bad just showing up at this guy office with a box of samples?
You could try, but you will probably get a very blunt reception, especially if you push to talk with them there and then. I am going to sound cold here but there are probably loads of people, just like you, all trying to get a meeting with the vendors so to them, you are just 'yet another' cake maker. This is, I fear, a problem with the huge rise in home-baking setups. I know it is hard to take but that's just the way it is. So, you need to look at another strategy. Many of the big venues have preferred suppliers who they have been working with for years and, like costumeczar said, they won't suggest you over them. Even if you are better. I have found that independent wedding planners are more receptive to calls, so maybe try them and get in that way. Also, if you have a delivery of a cake to a venue you want to work with more, make sure you offer them an EXCEPTIONAL service which makes you stand apart from the rest. Levae them a card and your contact details. You never know, if they are impressed, then you may get further next time. It takes a LONG time to build up these relationships.
I was also told by someone that one reason venues are not speaking with 'new' suppliers is because, with the ongoing cake price wars and the high number of people who either burnout or just quit, they think that we are not reliable. Which again, I understand...as much as it may be annoying.
Honestly, when I was trying to break into the biz, I STARTED a wedding vendors group. Find a few like minded small vendors and start networking. Somebody always knows somebody. I also devoted Fridays to dropping off cakes and business cards to vendors I wanted to work with. If I was doing it today, I'd also tag their Fb page with a "Hope you enjoyed the cake!" No sales call, no trying to get in to see anyone, just handed them a cake, said "Enjoy", here's how to find me later (cards) and have a nice day.
That vendor group is now the largest wedding show producers in my state. We/they decided to put on our own wedding shows so that we never had to pay a show fee. Brides get in free also. They became the best shows in town. They dominate!
I totally understand your point of view.
but let me tell you the whole story.
I used to work in that hotel for over a year, doing desserts for the restaurant.
After one year, I got the chance to buy a pre existing business, so I asked the chef to introduce me to the wedding specialist. He did but nothing came up.
after 2 months I got the business going one of the best cake maker in town passed away, so people started freaking out, who was going to make their fondant cake?!?! I raised my hand.. Best timing ever I would say.. Got in touch with few big hotels (about 70 weddings per season each one..) and got on their preferred vendor lists.
Actually I became the first preferred vendor of one hotel without even knowing it! Just got invited to a lunch with all the preferred vendors, and when I got there, there were one per category: one baker (me), one florist..
At that point, the wedding specialist said "if you are here it's because you are the first one in my list.. And I had this lunch to introduce you my new baker.. " I was totally shocked. Got in business for 6months and being so lucky to be at the table with people being in business for 10/15 years.. So long story short, I managed to have 10 weddings for last season, in 4 months.
so, every time I speak with someone (hotel people, wedding planners..) first thing I say is "I work with x from this hotel and x from this other hotel).
I also feel I have some advantages of my side: bigger flavor list, decorated sugar cookies, the only one offering dessert tables right now.
Besides the fact I worked for every bakery in town and know their products.
I just need to get in touch with this guy so I can prove myself!
I do network with some vendors, bring them some treats, one became a friend and I gotta say she is trying to help me, introducing me a very good wedding planner in town.
I also sent a box of decorated sugar cookies in October, to the hotel people I worked with last year AND gift baskets for Xmas!
I might send a couple of cakes around to those people that keep ignoring me..
Can I ask a daft question...why do you want to meet this this one guy in particular? If you are the preferred supplier for several hotels already, why not continue to work with them and then it's this other guys loss? If this is your first season and you already have had 10 wedding cakes, next year will almost certainly be bigger. Make sure you can handle that. You don't want to end up being the preferred supplier to loads of places only to have to turn them all down when they come to you because you have too many orders.
Also, if I put myself in the other party's shoes commercially, I would not necessarily be pleased if the first thing I heard from you was 'I work with X, x, and x.' Especially if they were my competition! Name dropping and references are important but ultimately, I want to know what you can do for me...not for everyone else. But maybe that's just me.
Snowflake. I had the same reaction. If you tell me you work with X, you'd better be sure I like X. Otherwise whatever I find objectionable about X applies to you too.
well why not?
I mostly do wholesale with coffee shops and grocery stores, so profit is not huge. Retail is the way, and I want to focus on weddings since I don't have a store front.
Also, I have employees, many bills..
Saying "I work with x and x" I mean hey if they have trust in me, why not you?!?!?
No, saying "I work with X and X" means that if they're jerks, so are you! That's how wedding people think. This one won't work with that one because that one was rude to this one once, so if you try to promote that you're in with that one this one wants nothing to do with you, etc etc. @Snowflakebunny23 and @leah_s are right, that's not the way to promote your services.
I know a bunch of wedding vendors here since I've been working in the field for 17 years, and they all have something against someone else. I was talking to my friend who does wedding PR yesterday and we agreed that you have to have a flow chart to keep track of who's nursing grudges and who they won't talk to so that you can avoid mentioning their names in front of people. And to be frank, there are vendors who I won't work with because they're in bed with certain jackasses I don't like, so I'm no different in that regard.
Wedding business is very clique-y and incestuous. People have their little groups and close ranks frequently. You have to present yourself with what you can do for them, not what you're doing for other people.
'I mean hey if they trust me, why don't you?'
Well, what if I don't think 'they' were very good? I will think that you aren't very good either? This actually happened to me a few months ago. I met another cake designer who was telling me all the 'people' she had worked with and she listed a few hotels. They are ok hotels, sure, but they weren't the local Ritz. Then the last one she mentioned, I had been to a wedding there a few months before...and it was shocking. The service was dreadful, the staff were rude and the food was horiffic. OK, I already had my own personal opinion about her and her cakes but her saying that this was her best relationship made me think that her service leval/food quality would have been on par with theirs. i.e. pants.
From a competition point of view, if you are making the cakes for my competition, why would I want you to be working with me too?? Commercially you are a risk as you will hear about the events they have in passing conversation and you are helping them make money. xx
I just have to interject that I wish Americans used the expression "pants."
So if I understand correctly - you are already on several preferred vendor lists but you want to be on this one specific hotel's list?
Consider yourself lucky you are on the lists you are already on. There is so much competition out there, people easily have many bakers they can choose from for their cakes. If this guy isn't interested in meeting with you and you have made multiple attempts then move on. Otherwise you risk getting a reputation for being pushy.
Concentrate on providing the best service you can for the hotels you DO work with so they will continue to refer you.
Coming from a sales background here (MUCH better at sales than baking), I say call him every 6 months and send a follow-up email. Don't call any more often than that, he is a distant prospect and it will take some time to get on his preferred vendor list. Once per year send a small token. He may not be ready to bring on any more vendors or he may be considering you but won't call back until he needs to. Or something is going on in his perusal life. Keep yourself on his radar, but keep it a distant radar. You don't want to intrude too much. In the meantime, focus your energy on the people you know you can speak to, because time is money and as a baker you should focus your energy on positive contacts for definite business.
Norasmom nailed it! She offered excellent advice. Concentrate on pleasing the customers you HAVE now and make yourself indispensable to them so they will ignore any other bakers knocking on their door asking for a meeting. TheItalianBaker you are coming at this from a Baker/Decorator perspective, NOT a salesperson perspective. Find ways to make your existing clients better profits and less work. They will love you for it.
I was in medical equipment sales for 30+ years. Sales and marketing is difficult and stressful. It takes years for some (and never for others....) to learn about the basics of Features and Benefits (or... Features vs. Benefits). During my years in sales, I typically sold many products that my competitor's also sold to the same group of clinicians. So why was I the dominant salesperson in my geographic area? Because I learned to write fabulous, nearly perfect, Letters of Medical Necessity that are required for insurance to pay for my medical products.
The doctors LOVED me because I saved them a ton of paperwork--all they had to do was read, agree (or make minor changes) and sign the letters. Yes, my equipment and clinical knowledge was also excellent, but it was the benefits I offered (less paperwork) that kept those clients dedicated to me.