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Saying no to business (start up)?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
So I'm just starting up my home-based business, specializing in custom cakes and cupcakes. (Yes, I have applied for all licenses, I'm an LLC, I have insurance, etc). Ok, end of legal disclaimer, back to the question... icon_smile.gif

I really want to focus on specialty cakes and cupcakes. I have no problems with sheet cakes - I eat them, they're yummy, and there's definitely a place for them. I just have no interest in baking the generic "happy birthday gammy" cakes. I don't want that to become the focus of my business.

A coworker called and asked for a cake for their grandma's birthday. A sheet cake, with a photo image. Pretty much the antithesis of what I want to be making. But I'm just starting out - do I do the order anyway? I hate to turn away business, but I don't want to start churning out photo cakes either. My business model focuses on the specialty/custom aspects of caking - not trying to compete with grocery stores.

This is not my full-time job and I don't rely on this income, so I do have some flexibility. I did send a quote, charging extra for the edible image and $2/serving charge (for a 2-layered, filled buttercream cake). I'm 1/2 hoping the high quote will just send her running to Costco. If she goes through with the order, at least I'll still make my profit.

Is this approach wrong? Should I just be glad for any business at this point? Or should I stick to my guns and what I want the business to be?
post #2 of 14
I never turn away business! I do however make alternative suggestions. Persuade her in the directin of at least the square or round cakes. Let her know she can pay a similar amount but get something even more fabulous!

I usually start with something like "is there any particular reason you prefer a sheet cake to a round or square?"

www.VeryDeliciousDesserts.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delicious-Desserts/207874222593145

 

It's never "just cake!"

 

You may get a cake for $way to little but you won't get this cake!

Animal
(4 photos)
 
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www.VeryDeliciousDesserts.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delicious-Desserts/207874222593145

 

It's never "just cake!"

 

You may get a cake for $way to little but you won't get this cake!

Animal
(4 photos)
 
Reply
post #3 of 14
Everything you've just said sounds exactly like me! I got a lot of those types of inquiries at first, mainly because after asking for a multiple-tiered cake with complete with all the bells and whistles they freaked out over the price and wanted something "simpler." I just tell clients that I'm not equipped to do sheet cakes because it wouldn't be fair for me to charge them more for a cake they could just pick up at the supermarket and there's no way I can compete with their prices.

I only want to make a cake I can be proud of. I don't want to dumb down what I can create just to satisfy the client's budget so I go looking for the clients who want to pay me accordingly. I should add that I have seen some fabulous sheet cakes which don't even fall in the "supermarket-type" category done by the likes of Peggy Does Cake and CorrieCakes but judging from what you said about the edible image photo, etc. the client just wants to save money.

I live in a small town and after about a year and a half I've built up a base of repeat clients who have referred me to their friends in our area and I've got more orders than I can handle. Since it's just me turning out the orders, sometimes I have to turn away business so that increases the demand even further which is a good thing.

I would just continue to make the types of cakes you want to make (even if you have to make dummies and photograph them) and eventually your work will shine through and people will want to pay you for them. Facebook is an excellent way to advertise and grow your business so if you don't already have a page exclusively for your cakes you should start one. Good luck!
post #4 of 14
There is a CC member that has lovely sheet cakes! Not your grocery store style sheet cakes, but high end beautiful sheet cakes - fondant covered, cute accents. I can't remember her tag name so maybe some one can chime with her name. If sheet cakes like her's were available like this in my city I would order one! Maybe you can use her style as an inspiration and create something similar and it would fit your business model?
post #5 of 14
I price sheet cakes at the same price I do regular cakes for. That's when I usually tell my client that they can be getting a more customized cake for the same price as a sheet cake. I don't mind doing them but I really specialize more in tiered and custom cakes and i don't really have the same talent as some other cake decorators (CorrieCakes) to fully transform a sheet cake into something magical. I also have a minimum ordering amount of $75 for celebration cakes so that in itself usually deters clients who are wanting something "custom" but inexpensive. This has worked for me because the type of orders I get now are for custom, tiered or sculpted cakes which is what I want. For the sake of business, I'd take the order but I'd also try and nicely steer them towards different design.
Fedra
Cake just happens....
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Cake just happens....
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post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by fedra

I price sheet cakes at the same price I do regular cakes for. That's when I usually tell my client that they can be getting a more customized cake for the same price as a sheet cake.


This. You don't need to turn away business, just price it high enough to make it worth your while. $2/serving is actually pretty low for a custom sheet cake.
post #7 of 14
.......fedra wrote:I price sheet cakes at the same price I do regular cakes for. That's when I usually tell my client that they can be getting a more customized cake for the same price as a sheet cake..........
This.......

I agree with the above posters.
On pg 3 of your photo gallery you have a very nice pkg(?) cake. Guide your customer to something like that.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the replies!

I did hear back from the customer, she brought up budget concerns and asked about a one-layer sheet cake (no filling) so I sent along a new quote. So guess I'll be going to Wegman's to print up a photo and making a sheet cake this week.

And I hope I didn't offend anyone saying I didn't want to make sheet cakes. I think you all know what I meant. I realize there can be fabulously decorated sheet cakes, I just don't want to do the standard photo cake with 3 roses in the corner (which is what this will wind up being).

Back to baking...!
post #9 of 14
I think the other name you're looking for is Thanh Thanh. Wonderful sheets cakes!

I ask why they want a sheet cake and let them know my price is the same whether it's square, round, or sheet.

Be careful here: if you really don't want to do sheet cakes and you sell a few that are beautifully decorated (you know what I mean, right?) then the world may be a path to your door.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheatize

I think the other name you're looking for is Thanh Thanh. Wonderful sheets cakes!

I ask why they want a sheet cake and let them know my price is the same whether it's square, round, or sheet.

Be careful here: if you really don't want to do sheet cakes and you sell a few that are beautifully decorated (you know what I mean, right?) then the world may be a path to your door.



This ^
"But, but on your website there are photos of some sheet cakes. What do you mean you don't do sheet cakes?" icon_lol.gif

I try to accept only jobs that fit the business image I want to build and project. So I've had to turn down sheet cakes or copyright infringement cakes if the customer insists that's the only option they're willing to consider.
post #11 of 14
You didn't offend me when I read your post. I fully understood your position. I have a really good friend who wants lovely big wedding cakes but because she was doing lots of edible print cakes over the years and only a few big cakes, she just keeps getting more requests for those edible print sheet cakes. Sometimes I wonder if the reason she can't get big 3, 4 and 5 tier cakes is because she does a huge number of edible sheet cakes and character cakes. I wonder if her customers align her brand with what she really doesn't want which are the edible print sheet cakes.

I only had requests for and did two edible print sheet cakes in the three years of my business. I prefer to steer my customers in the direction of a custom-designed cake rather than a print-off. I can't offer affordable printed cakes anyway because of my overheads. The market price here is too low (I wouldn't even make minimum wage) for printed cakes to make financial sense for business longevity but if you are now starting off you might want to take on jobs that over the years later you won't need to. Just MO.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Oh, don't worry - this cake will NOT be going on the website!

I was told photo cake, with white roses, happy birthday message, and "lots of rainbow colors". Good lord, I am having a tough time thinking of a design that won't look awful. My wonderful husband reminded me everyone has different tastes and I need to give them what they want, even if it's not my style.
post #13 of 14
Lots of rainbow colours? Piece of cake.

Mix them up in pastel shades and load a large pastry bag with them in vertical columns. When you pipe simple shell borders, you will get the desired rainbow effect.

FYI I did sheet cakes when asked, and sometimes that was the only way to make the design. I steered my portfolio away from them. I got orders for tiered cakes because the people had heard good things about my sheet cakes.
post #14 of 14
I do mainly wedding cakes but every now and then I'll do a sheet cake for a groom's cake or something like that. I charge the same for those as I would for a round or a square tier. Usually people who are looking for a cheap birthday cake don't want to pay for that, but if they're looking for something that actually tastes good they will pay for it. It just depends on what they're shopping for.
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