How do I handle tastings. In my city there are only 2 cake designers. I am one. The other one does not charge. The other designer undercuts the cake price by about half what the going rate is in our area. I do not charge for cake tastings and I make a lot of cake for tastings but book only a few orders.I honestly don't know how she makes any money with what she charges. I checked prices with 2 high end bakeries in the next town over and decided to be competitive at $3.50 per slice for wedding cake. Customers rave about my cake and they even ask for seconds. I give them seconds and spend about an hour talking about their design and details. I make 6" cakes so the customer gets a feel for a real cake, as apposed to just making cupcakes, and then cut them one small slice and have lots of leftovers. Everyone wants a cheap cake like from Wal-Mart or Costco. When I quote them the price they always say "Well how come so much?" "I can go to Wal-Mart and get a wedding cake for $150. My prices are competitive with the people in the next two towns over and I have even had the cake from the others and everyone says my cake is better. On average I have been making 4 different flavors of 6" cakes for two flavors at tasting and do 2 tastings on the weekend. It's getting expensive to make cake and not book orders. After discussing the details and before I give them the final cost I tell them my policy only guaranteeing the date available once they make a deposit and we discuss all the details upfront like delivery, set up, all the design details, flowers, etc. Then the price comes and they always choke. For instance I had a consult for a wedding cake to serve 150 people and the cake alone was 525 @ $3.50 per slice. Then there was a set up fee and they wanted to rent my fountain which is $40 and the delivery fee was $50 because I was having to drive 35 miles one way to deliver. (There are very few cake designers in our geographical area of 1million residents. When they saw the price of $652 with all the details and tax they said hmmm, we were hoping it would be about $250 total and that they would need to think about it. I am friends with the other designer and I called to ask her point blank what she does in that situation and she said she doesn't have that happen to her ever. People just taste her cake and are willing to pay her $1.75 price. She has booked about 22 cakes for this summer and I have 3. What do other people do? I am considering charging $25 for tastings and if they book I will apply that money to the order. Nobody in the area charges.
Any and all ideas are appreciated.