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How much for "this" cake and other silly questions

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have been decorating cakes for sometime and now have my own business here in Australia. It has taken me a while to come up with my prices but am getting more comfortable with them. What I am still struggling with and would just like to see how everyone else feels about these shoppers. I am a cake broker for a local cake de orating store and am always having people sending me photos of other people's cakes and wedding cakes and wanting to get a "ballpark price on X cake" this is insulting to me for a few reasons.
1. When I go to a doctor I have to pay to get his advice yet people think I should just volunteer a price
2. There are too many variables that cango into a wedding cake or any cake as we all know such as size, cake type, icing type, etc,
3. The few times I did volunteer a price their reaponse was " Oh wow, ABC cakes said it would cost X$."
Now when I bought my wedding cake I had to pay for my consultation with the cake artist that we went with and I had no problem with this. This was her job. I have made a letter that I email to people saying I will gladly give them my advice and a quote but they need to make an appointment with me and it cost $X. Needless to say that sends most of these people else where. So I feel I am losing business because of this.
How does everyone else handle this?
Thanks:-(
Lisa

I dream in buttercream!
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Lisa

I dream in buttercream!
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post #2 of 15

I guess I would ask myself, "are these the customers that I really want, anyway?"  I would rather a customer stay within their budget and get their cake from someone else than get a cake from me that they can't afford.  I don't want them asking for their money back with some reason they have conjured because they have overspent their budget. 

Good luck

"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing."
Benjamin Franklin
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"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing."
Benjamin Franklin
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post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well, I guess what I want to know too is how many people will give someone a "ballpark" quote for a cake without knowing specifics like real flowers, sugar flowers, size of cake, how many serves, etc. seriously. I have people sending me photos of cakes that are 3 tiers with Swarovski crystals and asking me how much for this cake then telling me they can get this cake for $200. I can't even get the topper for less than $100! This is where I am getting very frustrated.
Lisa

I dream in buttercream!
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Lisa

I dream in buttercream!
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post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
And I also ask people what there budget is and they say "IDK, just tell me how much this cake cost."
Lisa

I dream in buttercream!
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Lisa

I dream in buttercream!
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post #5 of 15

You are always going to get people who want a ball park number...these are called "Tire Kickers" and usually aren't wanting/willing to spend much on a cake anyways and are just looking to see who can qoute them lower..LET THEM!! ...Who cares if someone down the street is charging $200.00 for the same cake you would charge $500.00 for..Dollars to donuts they are lying to you to see if you'll come down...I wouldn't charge for quotes as like you said..they walk away before you get them in and I as a customer looking for prices...I would do the same thing...Quote really high and if they are truly interested they will honestly tell you it is too much for them and how can you make a cake similiar for less in price and be willing to work with you...

 

If every business online and elsewhere wanted $20.00 just for a quote...You won't be in business very long..It goes with the territory of owning your own business...A quote is just that....A ball park figure...You learn quickly and instinctively which customers are worth it and not wasting your time...JMO...:-)

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Mom to Mitchell 13 yrs and Delaney 11 yrs

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Busy Bakin Kakes For Kids!!!

Mom to Mitchell 13 yrs and Delaney 11 yrs

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post #6 of 15
If I'm ever vaguely asked for a ball-park figure I always overestimate it on a 'worst case scenario', and I never ever give a range since when they see "425-490 depending on ...." the only part that sticks is 425!
post #7 of 15

I guess I didn't quite answer the question you asked.icon_redface.gif  If the client sends/shows me a picture of a cake and wants to know what I charge, I will give them an estimate, and I try to lean to the higher end.  I figure I can always charge less in the end, but it would be difficult to charge more.
 

"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing."
Benjamin Franklin
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"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing."
Benjamin Franklin
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post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarzoemom View Post

I have been decorating cakes for sometime and now have my own business here in Australia. It has taken me a while to come up with my prices but am getting more comfortable with them. What I am still struggling with and would just like to see how everyone else feels about these shoppers.
 
I am a cake broker for a local cake de orating store and am always having people sending me photos of other people's cakes and wedding cakes and wanting to get a "ballpark price on X cake" this is insulting to me for a few reasons.
Are you asking here as a decorator or as a broker?

1. When I go to a doctor I have to pay to get his advice yet people think I should just volunteer a price
2. There are too many variables that cango into a wedding cake or any cake as we all know such as size, cake type, icing type, etc,
3. The few times I did volunteer a price their reaponse was " Oh wow, ABC cakes said it would cost X$."
Now when I bought my wedding cake I had to pay for my consultation with the cake artist that we went with and I had no problem with this. This was her job. I have made a letter that I email to people saying I will gladly give them my advice and a quote but they need to make an appointment with me and it cost $X. Needless to say that sends most of these people else where. So I feel I am losing business because of this.
How does everyone else handle this?
Thanks:-(

When one begins the contact with a potential customer by asking questions such as "date of event", "location", "size of party", "dietary requirements" then one places the contact onto some sort of rational basis.  The customer should then be told of the minimum $$$ of orders and deposit policy. If this is OK with the customer, then one takes the time to then ask "do you have a picture or a cake in mind?"

 

Some people do not need a cake designer.  They have a clear image of a cake in mind and they need a price range.  So you give them "price for base cake", "price for decorations", "price for gumpaste flowers", clearly stating the totals for their different options for their servings or requested size.

 

You should have a fixed "price for base cake" that depends only on the size for a fixed type of cake and icing.  Customers do not consider that the chocolate cake you bake today should sell at a different price than the identical chocolate cake you bake tomorrow.  Does your business price a plain sheet cake at $3.00 per 50-gram serving and a plain round cake at $5.00 per 50-gram serving?  Then there is something about the price structure that does not  make economical sense.

 

It is the price for decorations that sometimes has to be explained. 

 

If you wish to ONLY accept orders with a paid consultation, say so up front.  You will then not waste time on people with other budgets in mind. 

post #9 of 15

I understand why you feel it is an insult but there are plenty of businesses that operate by offering free estimates or free price quotes.  For instance most, if not all, insurance agencies (in the U.S.) provide price quotes without the customer having to pay for it.  Indeed the doctor is doing more than offering advice, their "service" is in the diagnosis and prescription of medicine to address what is ailing you--they are not making the medicine.  It is likely many see your service as the goods you will provide not the price quote.  Certainly other businesses do not provide free price quotes and if you want to charge for that service then many will likely look elsewhere.  But then you have to ask yourself are these the kind of customers/clients you want anyway?  As to losing business they are not lost customers.  Their reactions indicate they are looking for low prices thus your request for them to book a consultation with you is not losing you business as they never would have booked with you even without your request for a consultation.  

post #10 of 15
When people contact me for a wedding cake and want a ball park price I always give them one. It is a ball park price so it is subject to change depending in the specifics and I make that clear. I have a start price for buttercream and fondant covered cakes. I just tell people "buttercream iced cakes START at $4 per serving but things like sugar flowers and detailed piping will have an additional design fee".

I would hate to contact someone for a general price and be told I have to pay them to tell me. I would be running to another bakery. Why would I chance spending money with you only to find out you are over my budget?
"who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?"
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"who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?"
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post #11 of 15

you mentioned the pictures in particular

 

are you getting disappointed about not getting to do the cakes in the picture?

 

about people not understanding what it takes/costs to produce a cake like the ones in the pictures?

 

it's an occupational hazard

 

i once was helping a friend do her first wedding cake

 

it was the wee hours of the morning and she was saying how much this other baker quoted these people for their cake and how outrageous it was

 

blablabla

 

i started thinking about it and i said--hey is it thus & such people?

 

i said hey that was my quote and it was not the cake we just made it was bladeebla fancy schmancy cake

 

it's just inherent in the business

one baker's 'never ever do' is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
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one baker's 'never ever do' is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
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post #12 of 15

Maybe this is a cultural difference (I am in the US) but to me this is part of the job and I don't see anything wrong with it.  I don't see why you should get offended about people inquiring how much a cake could cost to see if they can afford you.  If I got the impression that you were irritated or frustrated at having to provide me with a quote I would take my business somewhere else. 

 

It's sort of like calling a salon and asking how much does a manicure cost.  I'd like to know whether or not I can afford to go before I spend my time and gas money to go there only to find out I shouldn't have gone in the first place.  Or calling the doctor to ask how much it will be for an appointment because I have a cough.

 

You should already have a per serving price and then a general idea of what your "extras" will cost, such as gumpaste flowers.  That way you can give a general quote but make it clear that the final price of the cake could be higher once the design, flavors, etc.  are finalized.

 

And you need to tell "ABC Cakes" to stop giving out quotes for you.  It's also possible the person is just saying that thinking you will give them a cheaper price.
 

Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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post #13 of 15

it's tantalizing to envision the potential to create a certain juicy cake

 

but basically

 

you gotta kiss a lotta frogs

 

just part of the process

one baker's 'never ever do' is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
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one baker's 'never ever do' is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
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post #14 of 15

If I started charging just to give quotes, I definitely wouldn't have any customers! Everyone wants to know a ballpark price before they commit, including me when I shop :)

 

When customers show a pic of a cake and ask for a price, I respond back with my base price ("cakes start at $x/serving") or if it's possible I will give additional info depending on the cake they showed me ("based on this design, I estimate this cake would be $y/serving"). I always include the disclaimer that their actual price will depend on several variables (# servings, final design, flavors, etc). I usually have 2-3 emails back and forth before I send out an order form with an actual price just so I can nail down the specifics and give the best quote possible. By that point the serious customers have been weeded out from the window shoppers.

 

A lot of customers see the first email with the range and never respond. Big whoop - I've wasted 2 minutes typing an email. But I don't think giving that general range is a big deal. Some people honestly don't know how much a cake goes for and aren't trying to scam you or waste your time, they just want to know if your cakes are $100 or $1000. A very reasonable question.

 

And if people come back and say "I can go elsewhere for cheaper", let them go and don't give it a second thought! Unless it's a brief moment of pity for the caker stuck losing money on the deal :) If you're truly comfortable with your pricing then this will not bother you because you know that to make the cake will cost so much in time and money and it's not worth it to make it for less. It's not about getting orders, it's about getting profitable orders!

post #15 of 15

It also sounds like you only want to work with people who aren't concerned about a budget (as in money isn't a problem, they can pay whatever the cake costs without thinking about it).  If that's the case, then you are going to have a very small pool of clients that might be interested in your services.

Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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