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75th Birthday Cake for a Handyman

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am about to pull my hair out.  For a week, a woman tried to contact me about doing a cake for her husbands 75th birthday, but kept missing me.  She didn't leave a message until Thursday, and requested I not call her back, because it was a surprise.

 

Well, we finally connected on Sunday.  They are inviting 50 people and the theme is black and gold.  No other direction, she just doesn't want a sheet cake.  Oh, and she wants to keep the cost to about $50.

 

Great.

 

Ok.  I can do a birthday cake in buttercream for under 35 for about that, so I take a look at some things.  I'll take a bit of a hit, but it will be okay.  I send a few ideas, and they are all shot down.  The daughter is the go between and she is one of those that has no idea how much things costs.  She sends me a 3D fondant cake of a grill and a man standing at it and wonders if it would be too expensive.  You think???  Then she suggests cupcakes with a small round cake (we all know cupcakes are WAY cheaper than a regular cake), and also a cake that is shaped like the numbers "7" and "5". 

 

I of course, do not have numeral pans, nor do I have the 4 tiered cupcake stand, and she would like to know if I could add handyman tools.  I don't have any molds of those either, so something else to figure out.

 

By the way, did I forget to say that this cake if for THIS SATURDAY?!?!?!?!?!?

 

I am about to just chuck this whole thing, but I am a softie.  I can't add a PITA tax because the price is so low already.  So my question for you all it this - Does anyone have any ideas??? I've looked at Pinterest, Wilton and Googled, but I can't seem to find something that wouldn't take a tremendous amount of time and materials. 

 

Thanks for letting me vent.  I feel better now!

post #2 of 9

I would do a simple toolbox. But I wouldn't do a cake for 50 people for 50 dollars. I'm sorry, I know that's not the point to your post but this cake doesn't sound like a good idea. You have people that are very demanding, don't want to pay, and have all these wild ideas about cakes that they cannot afford.

 

You can also cut cakes to the number that you need.Or maybe just ice cupcakes and arrange them in the numbers needed? It's a bit more cost effective.

post #3 of 9

Do not be a softie! icon_evil.gifYou will almost be paying them to take this cake from you. Just e-mail them back and say that its too late. These people will probably ruin your whole week if you take this order.

"'Tis an ill cook who cannot lick his own fingers."

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"'Tis an ill cook who cannot lick his own fingers."

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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Well, I ended up doing the cake.  I am such a softie!  But I really should have declined considering how I felt most of the week.  The client agreed to do the first cake I actually sent them Wednesday evening!  I was teaching class that night and the next morning, so I didn't get to bake until Thursday afternoon, and with a Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet that evening, I did not start on the cake until Friday morning. 

It did turn out well, and I did use fondant that I had left over from another project.  I think they were pleased, but I haven't heard anything else from them.  I was just hesitant to turn down a cake order because I haven't had one in so long and we could use the extra money.  Even if it is only a couple of dollars.  Lesson learned.

 

Here is the final cake.

 

post #5 of 9
For fifty dollars you basically gave this cake away. You did a good job but I am sure you did not make any money on this one.
post #6 of 9

Zero profit on that cake. Why did you even take the order if you need money? You sure didn't make any here. Besides, you undercut everyone else and that's just wrong.

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Godot View Post

Zero profit on that cake. Why did you even take the order if you need money? You sure didn't make any here. Besides, you undercut everyone else and that's just wrong.

 

 

i'm explaining here--not chewing~~

 

yes what godots said--and the reason it's wrong is because a lot of peeps keep their families fed by this business--need to pay the light bill--every month the light bill comes--buy two pair of soccer cleats in the same season because the dang kid's growth spurting--

 

then the customers are getting a pricey cake for pennies on the dollar--creates a disgruntled clientelle--looking for another sweet hand out

 

it undermines the entire industry--it creates sink holes in the cake-stratosphere

 

i'm not beating you up--i'm explaining for you and whosoever comes after you

 

everyone is entitled to think it is just them and it doesn't bother anyone else but it does

 

nothing wrong with someone wanting to sell $50 cakes to $50 cake clients

 

selling a fondanted two tier custom cake decorated to look like a stack of packages for $50 is flat wrong

 

please re-consider next time--thank you

read the ingredient label

 

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read the ingredient label

 

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post #8 of 9

That cake would've cost me almost $50. Before I "made" a penny.

Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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post #9 of 9

I don't even turn on my oven for less than $100!! 

About a year ago, a very close friend of mine's wife called me asking about doing a B-Day cake for their granddaughter. First, it was a half sheet cake with pink and purple trim and  "Happy Birthday _____" on top.  A couple days later, it was a full sheetcake.  The next day, it was a fully themed two tiered cake.  A couple days after that she added matching cupcakes to the order.  Three times, I set aside my time to get together with her to discuss details and three times she was a no-show.  Being close friends, I knew they couldn't afford to spend what I would charge.  She was expecting to pay just a little more than Wal-Mart prices (so, about $50).

Close friends...Best friends (hell, even my own mother for that matter), or not...at this point I realized that there was no way this was going to turn out good for anyone. I tried calling and kept getting her voicemail...so I finally just left a message to let her know I wasn't going to do it.  Of course, she was upset because it was a week before the party, but she'd been making changes up til then and still hadn't met with me at that point. 

Basically, you gave away a cake.  You may think you made $50 because that's what was put in your hand, but in reality, your cost for supplies was close to that much (if not more). I'm referring to all of your ingredients, any boards you used, the cost of gas/electric for turning on your oven and the lights in your kitchen, even if you wiped your hands on a paper towel (those aren't free either), your water bill because you had to wash your dishes or kitchen towels, and don't forget the wear on your equipment.  You might think that's crazy, but all of those things cost YOU money (and are tax deductible).   Since there's no way you got paid for your time / labor, then that also means that you work for free.  

People talk and word of mouth spreads.  They may get asked where they got the cake and next thing you know two more people want "free" cakes.  And yes, as they said above...it DOES hurt all the other decorators in the business.  It's hard enough to get people to understand why these custom cakes cost so much more than store bought without  having to explain why the other decorator in the area will practically give them away.  You're not only doing yourself a disservice, but you're doing a disservice to the rest of us too.

Come up with a MINIMUM price and stick to it.  My cakes START at $100 no matter how simple or small.  Also come up with a time frame for orders.  I won't take an order without 10 days notice. This gives me plenty of time to order any extra supplies I might need.  If a customer makes any changes after that 10 day mark, and I've already purchased supplies that I would no longer need because of those changes then the customer is charged that amount.  This is all spelled out to each customer at the time their order is placed.  

I'm not trying to lecture here, but you should be more assertive and confident that your work is worth more than $50.  I'm sure at this point you get it and have probably learned your lesson, so I'll step off my soapbox now...

 If your knee doesn't touch the pavement, you're not leaning far enough.

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 If your knee doesn't touch the pavement, you're not leaning far enough.

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