Spending Too Much Time On Quotes

Business By punkin240 Updated 3 Jun 2016 , 5:51pm by Apti

punkin240 Posted 23 May 2016 , 8:35pm
post #1 of 9

I work in a bakery that does a lot of specialized cakes and customers want several quotes on different cakes. We itemize our quotes cake price, fondant fondant covering, fondant work, cake shaping etc. We can spend 30 minutes on a quote and may never get the sale. How do you quote cake prices without spending so much time? 

8 replies
costumeczar Posted 23 May 2016 , 9:01pm
post #2 of 9

What takes so long? I'm not trying to be rude, I'm really curious. If you have a good idea of how long things take to estimate work time, and can add things on based on a fee per item, it shouldn't take that long. Are you working up a detailed estimate for each thing? You can probably cut the time down if you look to see what's going on and streamline the process.

Jinkies Posted 23 May 2016 , 9:13pm
post #3 of 9

I agree, sounds like you are itemizing too much.  Customers don't care nor want to see cha-ching cha-ching for every little detail.  It's like shopping for a car that's advertised for $x.xx and finding out that only gets you the wheels.

Maybe come up with a base price that includes abc; then xy & z are extra.  That way customers have a general idea of whether or not they can afford your cakes up front.  Otherwise, you're just wasting your time and theirs, kwim?

punkin240 Posted 24 May 2016 , 5:49pm
post #4 of 9

I'm the office manager, so I don't actually do the quotes. But the decorater will sometimes quote 3 diiferent prices for one cake. IE all fondant work, buttercream with fondant decorations and all buttercream work. It's gotten to a point where we are getting 5 or 6 requests for quotes a day for specialized cakes. I'm just trying to find a way to cut back on the time it's taking to do quotes. Thanks for any advice.

punkin240 Posted 24 May 2016 , 5:53pm
post #5 of 9

Here's an example of one of our last quotes...

Cake Quote

Serves 15-20 people

*** Charges do not include extra charges for premium fillings or icings ***


1.   Snake Shaped Cake in Buttercream


Cake                                           $27.50

Deco Work                                  $60.00

          Total                                 $87.50


If you want scale detail, starts at             $15.00

          Total with scale detail starts at                $102.50 + Tax


2.   Snake Shaped Cake in Fondant


Cake                                           $27.50

Fondant Covering                        $17.00

Deco Detail                                  $60.00

Starts at                           $114.50 + Tax


3.   Snake Shaped Cake Covered in Fruit


Cake                                           $27.50

Fruit & Deco Cost                        $58.90

          Total                                 $86.40 + Tax


4.   10” Decorated Bug cake in Buttercream


10” Cake                                     $41.25

Deco charge depends on detail

and number of creature                     $25.00 – $37.50

          Total Starts at                   $66.55 – $78.75 + Tax


5.   10” Decorated Bug Cake with Fondant Bugs


10” Cake                           $41.25

Fondant Bugs:

Leaves and Ladybugs         $8.00 Each

Slugs                                $12.00 Each

Snails                               $17.00 Each

Spiders                             $17.00 Each

Beetles                              $20.00 Each

                                            + Tax

jgifford Posted 25 May 2016 , 3:36pm
post #6 of 9

Is it possible that a lot of these quotes are for other decorators checking your prices? How many of these are face~ to face? Do you give quotes over the phone? 

I agree that streamlining the quote process would help, but making sure someone is going to actually order and not just wanting a price would help as well.

costumeczar Posted 25 May 2016 , 4:40pm
post #7 of 9

That's way too individualized. First, take all of the quotes that you've done before and combine them so that you have the cost of everything in one place. Then come up with a price for each cake that would be the minimum for that cake design so that people aren't nickel and diming you by saying "take off one slug please."

You need to get an order form and have people fill it out. Have it so that they choose what they want BEFORE you work up a quote for that, and don't provide multiple options for each cake.

So do it like this:

Cake design form, please circle one option for each of the following:

Cake theme---Snake---Bugs---Whatever else 

Cake covering-- Buttercream---Fondant 

Level of detail in decorations (more detail has a higher labor fee) Regular---More detailed

Type of filling--- Basic---Fruit---Premium (includes liquers and ganache)

Number of servings needed (some cakes will have a minimum serving count based on design)________

Desired Budget_______________

I put in the premium thing just to indicate what you would think of as premium, that could be different, but you get the idea. Also, add a budget so that you can look at that and see if the person is being realistic about what they're asking for. If they want everything premium and 100 servings and have a $50 budget, you don't even need to do the quote. That would be a conversation with them saying that you can't do what they're looking for within their budget, and that it would realistically be in the $$$ range. Then let them decide to change some of their options or go somewhere else.

Basically, try to automate as much as you can and have the customer narrow down what they want before you even start on it.

cakebaby2 Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 7:17am
post #8 of 9

I agree, budget discussed first every time. My business was in floristry I'm a hobby baker and its pointless doing quotes till you establish what they are willing/able to spend. You must have a base price in place before you turn on the oven /order the flowers/material whatever your business is in. It can be done really nicely with a smile but it wakens people up and is business like which in turn gives them confidence that YOU know your business.

I dealt with brides mostly who had visions of pew ends, garlands, centerpieces, trailing bouquets and fully decorated venues in out of season peonies or orchids when what they could afford were carnations and 'mums. No shame in setting them straight early doors and coming to a compromise or sending them to Tesco's for cheap flowers. 

Apti Posted 3 Jun 2016 , 5:51pm
post #9 of 9

Disclaimer:  I do not sell cakes

However... I was in the business of medical equipment sales for 30 years.

Thank you for providing a sample quote, that is enormously helpful to enable forum members to make suggestions. 

Find out BEFORE the quote is prepared:  how many servings?   what is the budget?  That quote is  WAAAAAY too involved.  Use the template provided by costumeczar. 

If this was a real quote for a cake that will serve 15-20 people, you probably lost the sale AND lost valuable business income by wasting 30-40 minutes of staff time (in the red about $20-$50, depending on what you pay the person doing the quote). 

That quote is NOT customer-friendly.  Customers don't know and don't care about details.  By providing that level of detail, all you are doing is losing customers AND losing money for the business by sucking up expensive staff time on useless endeavors.

Customer walks in and says:   "I'd like to get a quote on a cake that looks like a  snake (python, rattlesnake, generic snake)?

2.  A "ballpark", verbal quote should start like this: 

Your bakery:  "How fun!  What kind of snake?  How many people will be at the party?  What is your budget for the cake? [or -- How much are you planning to pay for the cake that looks like a snake?"] 

Customer:  "I want a yellow python.  There will be between 15 and 20 people at the party.  I was planning on spending about $50 for the snake cake."

Your bakery:  "I'm sorry.  Our basic 8" round cakes start at $45.  A custom cake made in the shape of a python  would begin at approximately $150 and the prices would go up from there depending on the level of detail.   We can however, provide a basic 8" round cake that serves 20-24 people with a buttercream snake design on the top for $50.  Would that work for you?    (THEN EMPLOYEE SHUTS UP!!!!!!!)

At this point, the customer is either going to order a cake after negotiating more affordable options or walk away. Minimal staff time is lost.

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