I am in Ohio and am a Cottage Food business. When I first started out six years ago, I would let people pay me when they picked up their cakes (most customers were friends), then I started asking for deposits (to cover materials/supplies I needed to purchase). I let customers pay me by checks without worrying about it. Over the years, my policies have changed, mostly because people have screwed me over. One customer ordered a basket cake filled with fresh berries -- and about $20 worth of berries later, she decided she didn't want the cake after all, and it was already made. Another customer wrote me a hot check. Now, my policies are this: upon ordering, a $50 deposit (or half the total, whichever is smaller) is due upon ordering to "hold" the date. The balance of the cake is due one month prior to delivery. If the order is placed on shorter notice, then payment in full is due (no deposit) 2 weeks prior to delivery. If order is placed completely last minute, I only accept cash and it must be paid in full before one finger touches anything to do with the preparation of that cake. For the first time, a customer complained about that policy. They don't want to pay me until they see the cake. To me, that sounds like a screw-over in the making. She has seen my portfolio and oohed and aahed over my work and now she feels "nervous" about paying in full now (her order is on the 21st of July...today is the 9th)...since it's less than 2 weeks away, i told her payment in full was due now.
Is this unreasonable? What are your policies? Cottage food business and licensed business owners' replies welcome!