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Consultation Fees

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone!

I have a bit of a dilemma about consultations. I used to only do consultations for parties of 125 or more and they are complimentary. I recently changed that to keep the complimentary consults but under that number I charge $25. I do consults after my store is closed and provide the customer with 8 flavor choices (they do not get to choose).

I have a potential customer who is wondering why I charge $25 for a consult but I don't exactly know how to respond without sounding like a cheapskate.

The reason I do it that way is because it doesn't seem cost effective for me to do a consultation for 6-8 dozen cupcakes when I have people walking in and ordering that many all the time. I feel like I would be encouraging everyone to get free samples from me.

How would any of you approach that subject with a customer?

Thanks!!

post #2 of 19

Do you reimburse the $25 if they book with you?  That's what I do.   My reason to charge is probably different from you as I don't have a shop...but you can tell her that you have so many requests for consultations, that in order to compensate your expenses for this...you must charge, but will reimburse it if they book the function with you.   My 2 cents.

Debbie - US Army (Retired) --aka "The Cake Sarge"

Good Cake Ain't Cheap! Cheap Cake Ain't Good!
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Debbie - US Army (Retired) --aka "The Cake Sarge"

Good Cake Ain't Cheap! Cheap Cake Ain't Good!
Reply
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Yes!! That's a great idea!!

I should probably have a minimum for price though. What if I get consultations for 3 doz cupcakes just because they know they'll get $25 off? I guess I'm thinking worse case scenarios but I'm amazed by people everyday with what they'll try to get for free :-)
 

post #4 of 19
If you have enough business you probably don't need to reimburse at all. The consultation charge is to cover your time and expenses for a one-on-one meeting, if they want to avoid the consultation charge they are free to just buy some cupcakes from your store.
post #5 of 19

You definately need some rules...that will work for your situation.  I am a little surprised that you don't left them choose their samples....I give my peeps 4 filling choices and charge $25.  I hate it when they choose a filling that I have to make specifically for their meeting....but it's the risk I take in order to secure the order.    

Debbie - US Army (Retired) --aka "The Cake Sarge"

Good Cake Ain't Cheap! Cheap Cake Ain't Good!
Reply
Debbie - US Army (Retired) --aka "The Cake Sarge"

Good Cake Ain't Cheap! Cheap Cake Ain't Good!
Reply
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarjones View Post

Yes!! That's a great idea!!

I should probably have a minimum for price though. What if I get consultations for 3 doz cupcakes just because they know they'll get $25 off? I guess I'm thinking worse case scenarios but I'm amazed by people everyday with what they'll try to get for free :-)
 

They wouldn't really be getting $25 off though, since they are paying that to you for the consultation and just having that deducted from their order later.  So I wouldn't worry about that :)

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennicake View Post

They wouldn't really be getting $25 off though, since they are paying that to you for the consultation and just having that deducted from their order later.  So I wouldn't worry about that icon_smile.gif
They are getting $25 off. If the consultation costs you $25 (including markup) and they end up placing an order for $200, you have sold $225 worth of products and services for $200.
post #8 of 19

I only do cake for fun but I have seen where most here will put the customer's deposit towards the cake if and only if they order from you. Otherwise they will not get any money back.

 

As for the 3 dozen cupcakes, I am surprised anyone would want a consultation for just cupcakes. They could come into your store and buy the cupcakes that is if you sell them in your store for them to try your different flavors. I am sure the others here will have better advice since I only do it for fun. Good luck.

post #9 of 19

I feel you - I didn't used to charge for consultations but I had a minimum order requirement for a consultation.  I realized I was turning down possibly getting smaller orders just because I used to feel they weren't worth my time.  I also realized that although I had a great booking rate, I realized that I was getting people that lied about their budget or servings of cake just so they can have the "bride tasting experience" and see what $15/serving cake tastes like.  So this year I started charging a consultation fee and got rid of the minimum.  I noticed my tasting requests have gone down for this year, but my booking rate has increased by quite a bit since those that meet with me are actually in the market for what I sell.

 

So when people ask why I charge I say it covers the cost of the samples and our meeting time, which will be credited back if they choose to book.  It's only $20 so I'm still loosing money, but not as much as I used to!

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for the valuable information!!

I understand the fee being applied to the balance now too :-)

Weddings are less than 10% of my annual sales so if I have 3/4 consultations a week during peak season, it is not worth it to me to allow customers to choose their flavors. We have over 70 of them since we can make almost any cupcake flavor into a cake flavor.

I have people ALL the time asking for a tasting/free samples because they are "thinking about ordering 2 dozen next weekend".

I politely tell them they are welcome to purchase as many as they'd like to try out.

I don't go into a restaurant and ask for a bite of steak because I'm not sure if I want to order a whole one! haha

Thanks again :-)

post #11 of 19

LOL, yes I won't do a consultation for someone wanting to order a 6" birthday cake, even with the $20 consult fee.  That's very true!

post #12 of 19

Wow expecting a tasting for 2 dozen cupcakes. People have some nerve. Thanks again cake tv shows.

 

I think it's important to emphasize that the cost covers your time when explaining it to your customers. 

elsewhere.
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elsewhere.
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post #13 of 19

This drives me nuts! I don't do wedding cakes, only celebration cakes and cupcakes and I get asked all the time about tastings. I finally implemented a policy of charging $25/tasting (tasting is a dozen cupcakes in a max of 3 flavor combinations) and only for events of 75+ servings. If they book, the $25 is deducted from the total.

 

I had someone email me back and forth for 2 weeks about a baby shower cake for 40 people. Finally nailed down specifics on design and price and I get the "when do we schedule the tasting?" Um, we don't. You're buying a $150 cake, lady. I politely explain that I'm not a large scale commercial operation and all cakes are made fresh to order - i.e. I don't have a display case I can pull from so I have to make a special batch of everything just for you. In the spirit of generosity I offer to forego my typical ordering minimum of 2 dozen cupcakes and sell her a dozen. "Great, so do I pick the twelve flavors or do you make suggestions?". Seriously?!? I'm going to make 12 different batches of filling/frosting/cake for you? Did you not see the "everything baked from scratch specifically for you" message I just sent? I mysteriously received another booking that weekend and was no longer available :)

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracyaem View Post

This drives me nuts! I don't do wedding cakes, only celebration cakes and cupcakes and I get asked all the time about tastings. I finally implemented a policy of charging $25/tasting (tasting is a dozen cupcakes in a max of 3 flavor combinations) and only for events of 75+ servings. If they book, the $25 is deducted from the total.

 

I had someone email me back and forth for 2 weeks about a baby shower cake for 40 people. Finally nailed down specifics on design and price and I get the "when do we schedule the tasting?" Um, we don't. You're buying a $150 cake, lady. I politely explain that I'm not a large scale commercial operation and all cakes are made fresh to order - i.e. I don't have a display case I can pull from so I have to make a special batch of everything just for you. In the spirit of generosity I offer to forego my typical ordering minimum of 2 dozen cupcakes and sell her a dozen. "Great, so do I pick the twelve flavors or do you make suggestions?". Seriously?!? I'm going to make 12 different batches of filling/frosting/cake for you? Did you not see the "everything baked from scratch specifically for you" message I just sent? I mysteriously received another booking that weekend and was no longer available :)

 

LOL! 12 different flavors. While it's possible to add a flavor here or there, I can picture you going bonkers trying to make those! 

post #15 of 19

in my shop, people can book a tasting for an event of 100 servings or more. my samples are a full sized cupcake and they can choose 4 samples to try. they pay for the full sized cupcake just like anyone coming in off the street would pay for. If they book with me for their event, they will receive that $ back towards the order.

 

but yes, it doesn't make sense to give them a $25 consult fee credited back if their complete order is only going to be for a couple dozen cupcakes or a smallish cake. then they'd be getting the thing nearly free!

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