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Questions for shop owners

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

We am looking to one day take the plunge and open our own shop, we do a small amount of cake now but nothing really big. I have a few questions for those own a shop or have real experience no offense to the home baker. 


1) As we do now we would do all the cakes from scratch, its more expensive but I feel the quality and PR are worth it. For those who do bake from scratch do you recommend a number of flavors it would seem if you offer too many then you stretch yourself thi. 


2) For scratch bakers what are you food costs generally at? 


3) How do you stream like your baking week, when do you bake, frost and decorate? 


4) What is your process for frosting cakes, I have found it more efficient to dirty ice all my cake get them in the fridge then finish ice them? 


5) One problem that as a home baker slows me down is such a small mixer, for those who have a larger mixer do you make a large batch of buttercream in the morning and draw off of it to add coloring through the day? 


6) How much of your revenue is made up of custom cakes vs. your bakery display items, is it a large difference or about equal?


7) If you have employees frosting cakes what do you find most efficient, one person ice only and another only decorates? 


8) How do you pay them and how much? I have seen some people pay straight hourly wages other per cake and a combination of both, what do you find gives you and the employee the best results? 


9) Thinking if we did do this we would be known for our scratch cake and fillings, we do a raspberry as well as a carmel mousse, in large batches in isn't inconvenient to make, would this be something built into the price of the cake or offer a cheaper one with just buttercream? 


10) Cake tasting how do you deal with them, I was thinking once every 2 weeks and the cost is $20 and if you order a cake it goes towards the deposit. 


I think thats enough questions for now once again thanks for your responses and sharing our knowledge. 

post #2 of 10
A lot of these questions will depend on your local market, what type of products you offer, and who you are targeting. Have you put together a business plan?
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

The questions were not meant to be asking what should I do rather  questions as to how other people run their business.

post #4 of 10

jason is right--i was going to try & answer some of these but a lot depends on your focus and personal preference, and the volume you generate etc.


are you a full bakery with all the trimmings or a cakery only or a breakfast/lunch & cake or a yogurt & cake or a candy & cake or a dessert bar/ wine & cake?


yes you use your mixers and ovens to their full capacity/advantage according to your volume


i fill my cakes then freeze--then at the appointed time I final ice and decorate--everybody does that different


sure you could have different priced cakes--but i try & keep from dinging the customer for every jot & tittle too


what is your focus?


define bakery display items

one baker's 'never ever do' is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
and in other news -- "never trust an atom they make up everything"


one baker's 'never ever do' is the next baker's 'i swear by this'
and in other news -- "never trust an atom they make up everything"


post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Once again this was almost a questionaire to people who own bakeries, I am not asking how I should do something but rather to ask questions about how others do things, take me out of the question as if I was interviewing, just asking how people operate their business and details just to get a feel. Bakery display would be something any person could come to your store and buy in the spot, not custom.

post #6 of 10

question 4 can be found in one of my threads.

post #7 of 10

1) scratch baker here as well. I do not think it is more expensive as the ingredient you still have to add to the mix mix are the expensive ones.  We offer a huge flavor list ( but almost all of those come off of our white cake.  We make one huge batch and portion off and flavor what we need to bake for that week.


2) 20%ish (just food cost)


3) admin work and sugar pieces mon and tues, bake weds, fill thurs, decorate fri, send out saturday (typically), off sunday


4) i dont crumb coat.  i buttercream them all then put all the orders in time order and finish.


5) yes


6) about 35% in store sales and 65% pre orders


7)  all 3 of us buttercream to completion, then break up the orders for decorating


8) Most of my employees are hourly (paid 1st and 15th) and I have one person who just comes in as needed and is paid on commission (but you still have to track their hours and make sure you aren't paying them less that minimum wage even if they are crazy slow). 


9) I charge one price for any flavors.  Fruit, booze, cheesecake, I don't care.  Just set that price high enough to cover all of that and also the customer doesn't feel nickel-and-dimed.  win-win. (of course the base price can go up based on decor)


10) cake testings are scheduled individually mon-weds 10am-4pm, cost is $35 which can be applied toward wedding cake orders (party cakes no)

post #8 of 10

Kory, your number ten made me think of angry cat-




Edited by howsweet - 3/3/13 at 12:38pm
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Exactly the feedback i was looking for thank you for your time.

post #10 of 10



I am currently in the process of opening my own cake shop. It is fairly small in size and I had a lot of the same questions a few years ago, prior to working in the industry. I have worked for 2 cake companies and I've learned a lot of what not to do.

To answer a few of your questions, I prefer to bake from scratch as well and I find that offering a variety of flavors is always good. However for my business a lot of the cakes start off with the similar bases and the fillings and frostings are were I tend to get creative flavor wise. The beginning of the week I will do a lot of my admin work and any gum paste or fondant work. I plan on baking in a span of 1-2 days, then filling on the Friday and decorating on Saturday morning. I wouldn't charge for consultations, it tends to draw people away. If you have a great product and a beautiful display or cakes, there should be no reason why 90% of your consultations should be leaving without a booking. Also I believe using cake mix would be easier but I have yet to try one that I actually like (if you have one that tastes reasonably good do tell) but for now I am sticking to scratch. Also, I would invest in an at least 20 qt mixer, using a kitchen aid is extremely time consuming and time is money. The faster and more efficient you are your business will be. I am no expert but these are just a few tips I plan on using for myself. Goodluck!

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