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Contracted Wedding Cake Decorator

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hi y'all.

 

I recently applied for a pastry chef position at a local caterer and I didn't get the job but the owner offered me a part time contracted wedding cake decorating position.  I'm a VERY new business and I feel like this would definitely drive up my client base/give me more opportunities to decorate but I'm just curious if this in a normal thing.  Have any of you guys done/heard of stuff like this?  I'm meeting with the owner this Friday to discus the position and I have no clue if she's going to have it all planned out or if we're hashing it out together.  Any words of advice or good questions for me to ask?

 

Thanks!

Steph

post #2 of 26

could be a very nice and lucrative position

 

so you would be decorating at her location?

 

i hope she can provide:

  • a dedicated area tha'st neither too hot from the catering cooking nor too steamy from the dishwashing--especially for decorating time
  • you need a nice big table--sometimes a problem on fridays is a busy place
  • room in the walk in for cakes where onions and garlic cannot prevail
  • you'll wanna use plastic boxes for walk-in storage and can serve double duty for delivery caterers of course load their walk-ins to the roof on the weekend and the cakes need that protection
  • who's gonna deliver--typically the decorator needs to do this for obvious reasons if you have a suitable vehicle--and you can so deliver a ton of cake in a sedan --no need for a minivan-
  • in this regard there's really no need to split the delivery charge--it should all be yours due to the need for your expertise and the costs/risks of the transport--if you can negotiate that
  • as far as wages go--? --hourly or by the cake--how fast are you? is her baker baking the cakes or is that all on you? so many variables

 

hope all goes very well--would love to hear how it goes if you want

 

i might think of something else--gotta go hit the pool--

the only way to see the rainbow is to look through the rain

 

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the only way to see the rainbow is to look through the rain

 

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post #3 of 26

Another thing...determine what you want/need to do your job successfully.  For example, now that I have a sheeter, I would never work for anyone who didn't have that piece of equipment.   That, for "me" would be a deal breaker.  

 

Normally the work "contracted"  relives the owners from many "employer" responsibilities and puts a lot of responsibilities on you.   You may have to buy everything and they will reimburse you.   Ask lots of questions.

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 #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by CONFECTIONERIE View Post
 

Hi y'all.

 

I recently applied for a pastry chef position at a local caterer and I didn't get the job but the owner offered me a part time contracted wedding cake decorating position. 

That seems a little shady to me. It doesn't seem like there really was a position for employment. Instead they want an independent contractor to avoid the costs of employment.

 

But that's fine, since you wrote you already have a business. I'd definitely go for it. Isn't it just being their wedding cake provider? What it seems like is they want a wholesale source to buy wedding cakes from. I'd take it as long as you keep your prices profitable and don't let them negotiate the heck out of things so your on the losing end of things. Turn the situation around and see them for what they are and negotiate accordingly.

 

As a wholesaler now, you need to make sure you base your pricing on them purchasing in volume. If they only buy a couple wedding cakes from you per-year they shouldn't get a great deal from you.....or it won't be worth it to you. You should be going to the negotiating table with a bigger list of demands than them. Write up your list and stick to it.

 

Good luck!

post #5 of 26

And make sure he knows the difference between an independent contractor...and employee...As Stitches, many employers hire "contactors" to avoid the "employee" rules & fees....BUT try to treat you as an "employee".    You are in charge of your hours, dress code, taxes, etc.    Check out the all the rules to being an "independent contractor".

 

Sounds like a "sweet" deal!  Good luck and let us know how the meeting goes.

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 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
 
  • you need a nice big table--sometimes a problem on fridays is a busy place
  • room in the walk in for cakes where onions and garlic cannot prevail
  • you'll wanna use plastic boxes for walk-in storage and can serve double duty for delivery caterers of course load their walk-ins to the roof on the weekend and the cakes need that protection
  • who's gonna deliver--typically the decorator needs to do this for obvious reasons if you have a suitable vehicle--and you can so deliver a ton of cake in a sedan --no need for a minivan-
  • in this regard there's really no need to split the delivery charge--it should all be yours due to the need for your expertise and the costs/risks of the transport--if you can negotiate that
  • as far as wages go--? --hourly or by the cake--how fast are you? is her baker baking the cakes or is that all on you? so many variables

 

These are all awesome questions to ask!  I'll definitely add these to my list!  I feel like this will probably be the first meeting of several to gather all the variables and then write up an actual contract.

 

Quote:
 

That seems a little shady to me. It doesn't seem like there really was a position for employment. Instead they want an independent contractor to avoid the costs of employment.

 

But that's fine, since you wrote you already have a business. I'd definitely go for it. Isn't it just being their wedding cake provider? What it seems like is they want a wholesale source to buy wedding cakes from. I'd take it as long as you keep your prices profitable and don't let them negotiate the heck out of things so your on the losing end of things. Turn the situation around and see them for what they are and negotiate accordingly.

 

As a wholesaler now, you need to make sure you base your pricing on them purchasing in volume. If they only buy a couple wedding cakes from you per-year they shouldn't get a great deal from you.....or it won't be worth it to you. You should be going to the negotiating table with a bigger list of demands than them. Write up your list and stick to it.

 

I met several of the other applicants for the actual pastry position but since I'm not classically trained (I'm completely self taught) they felt as though I didn't have the skill set for a commercial kitchen.  I brought in my portfolio of decorated cakes and since none of the other applicants can do cakes the "compromise" of sorts was the contracted cake position.

 

The wholesale point is definitely something to inquire about.  They do about 30 weddings a year so the biggest point of the conversation will definitely be pay rates and cost.  

 

Thanks for all the great input!  You guys have definitely given me a lot to work off of.  I'm also pretty young (I'm only 22) and I'm worried that I might get kinda bulldozed, for lack of a better term, if I come in with too many demands.  The owner of the catering shop used to be an instructor at the New England Culinary Institute, so sometimes I get really nervous around her.  I'll be on my A-game though!  But I'll be sure to let y'all know how it goes!

post #7 of 26
Good luck!
post #8 of 26

Ah.........more details do make all the difference. I'd like to retract several things I wrote now based on this new info. and update my take on the situation.

 

30 weddings a year is decent for a cater, also a cater who employs a full-time pastry chefs/thumbs up, plus they are a former instructor, again thumbs up. So I'd guess this cater is no dummy! I'm sure she's thinking things out right now to figure out how best to do this and I'd let her take complete control of the whole meeting and situation on Friday. Don't worry too much about getting bulldozed, you probably will be....if you weren't, than I'd think something wasn't right. This person isn't some idiot playing cater.  Try not to accept/agree to anything on the spot since you'll be nervous. It's perfectly o.k. and professional to ask if you can think things over, over the weekend.

 

The things that'd I'd focus on now would be how you can best work together really well with the new pastry chef. You'll probably will be working under their direction. That really is the best of all worlds (imo). That will keep the pc looking out for your product and wanting you there to do the cakes. They've got enough business for a pc you might be able to pick up extra hours assisting and in time they might hire you instead of doing the independent contractor route.

 

  • The pc will look out for the cake in the coolers, don't worry about that on Friday.
  • There won't be a delivery charge situation here.

 

Things that I'd now focus on are:

 

  • Who will sell the bride the wedding cake design? Will you participate in it? If not, what if they accept something your not able to do?
  • Pricing structure. But let them make the suggestion if it's hourly or per cake, or a percentage, etc....
  • Would there actually be a written contract with you? I'd be surprised if they signed any agreement.
  • Choosing when you work on the cake. You're not going to want to do it there during the heat of the day, if possible. It won't be easy to get a table to yourself and it could be really, really hot.

 

 

Sounds like this is a really good job/break for you, congrats!! This could open doors for your career. I don't think you'll gain independent cake clients from this but you'll build a great portfolio and gain a lot .......etc...

post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 

So I had the meeting today and it went well overall.  I was expecting the owner to have it a bit more laid out as far as what she wanted from me.  But basically she wants me to provide them with cakes, and then they'll tack on another $200 or so dollars onto my prices.  She wants me to provide her with a sample cake option matrix that she can factor the clients price onto for their catering menu, ie I make a three tiered buttercream cake for 100 people, sell it to the caterer for $400 and then the caterer sells it for the client for $600 (which includes delivery, cutting fee, etc).  And there will be upcharges for any "decor."  I won't be using their kitchen or their ingredients, but if it's a busy weekend (two+ cakes in one weekend) I have the option of using their kitchen after negotiating a fee, ie 10% off my selling price in exchange for using their kitchen, or if I need a special ingredient sourced they'll help me with it.

 

The caterer also wants me to focus on buttercream cakes, specifically Swiss buttercreams.  I have had VERY LITTLE practice with buttercreams so I'll really need to crank out a lot of practice cakes.  She also expressed an interest in having a portfolio accessible to clients so that they can see the options available.  So I guess that it'll be very "cookie cutter" so to speak.  Option A, Option B, Option C.  With custom upgrades available.

 

Thoughts?  Not sure how I feel about it.  I'm going to go through with it just 'cause I need the practice.  And the clients will know that I'm the one providing the cakes, I'll be able to have cards out at the actual venue, maybe even a cutesy little plaque or something.  The whole meeting took less than 15 minutes which really surprised me.
post #10 of 26

honestly doing cookie cutter cake for someone who will feed you their customers is a brilliant way to go--take it!

 

constantly doing custom cakes has the potential to eat you up and leave you fried and crusty--a little burnt around the edges--not in all cases but it is not uncommon--and you still get to do some custom work too with the upgrades--awesome--

 

the biggest issue is communication--being sure you get the right details relayed back to you--

 

you can get real fast & efficient doing this which obviously are vital skills

 

congrats

the only way to see the rainbow is to look through the rain

 

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the only way to see the rainbow is to look through the rain

 

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post #11 of 26

I love when people come back and tell us how things went, thanks.

 

I'm totally with K8, I think this is a GREAT opportunity. Your totally free to be your own business with-out having to go out and find clients.This exactly how I sell cakes to country clubs, I wish I had dozens of clients like this!! It's the easiest way I make money! If you want a sneak peak at how I've got this set up message me. Occasionally I'll have questions about the cake order, but so far it's never been a problem. I get the orders well in advance all by email, so I can spot any problems ahead of time. The "problems" are usually just clarifications where they haven't gotten all the details from the client.

 

I can understand your hesitations because your still pretty young (22).....but this really can be a great thing for you. 30 weddings a year averaging around $500. each pays your overhead on your business and it leaves you mentally  and physically free to pay attention to developing more business. This is a gift, imo.

post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis View Post
 

honestly doing cookie cutter cake for someone who will feed you their customers is a brilliant way to go--take it!

 

constantly doing custom cakes has the potential to eat you up and leave you fried and crusty--a little burnt around the edges--not in all cases but it is not uncommon--and you still get to do some custom work too with the upgrades--awesome--

 

the biggest issue is communication--being sure you get the right details relayed back to you--

 

you can get real fast & efficient doing this which obviously are vital skills

 

congrats

 

Thanks for the input!  It's extremely helpful to hear what more experienced decorators have to say regarding this situation.  I think the plan is to make a portfolio of the options and then when custom upgrades are requested I would actually be present during meetings/discussions with the client, which would definitely help eliminate any big communication issues.  I did some research on Swiss buttercreams today and I plan on making several practice cakes/cupcakes so I can get the hang of it.  Thankfully this is all planning for next wedding season so I have some time to get the technique down.  Thank you for all your helpful input!

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stitches View Post
 

I love when people come back and tell us how things went, thanks.

 

I'm totally with K8, I think this is a GREAT opportunity. Your totally free to be your own business with-out having to go out and find clients.This exactly how I sell cakes to country clubs, I wish I had dozens of clients like this!! It's the easiest way I make money! If you want a sneak peak at how I've got this set up message me. Occasionally I'll have questions about the cake order, but so far it's never been a problem. I get the orders well in advance all by email, so I can spot any problems ahead of time. The "problems" are usually just clarifications where they haven't gotten all the details from the client.

 

I can understand your hesitations because your still pretty young (22).....but this really can be a great thing for you. 30 weddings a year averaging around $500. each pays your overhead on your business and it leaves you mentally  and physically free to pay attention to developing more business. This is a gift, imo.

 

Thank you so much!  This clears up A LOT of my hesitations!  Being so new to the business and in a relatively "rural" area there aren't a lot of resources that are easily accessible to me and this thread has helped me see the bigger picture.  I'll probably be messaging you in the future Stitches.  I'd love to learn more about your process and maybe once I have my cake matrix made you might be able to take a look at it for me?
 
Thanks to everyone who participated in this thread!  Much appreciated!
post #13 of 26

Go talk to an accountant before signing on for this to see if it does fall into the realm of a contractor. There are all kinds of restrictions on employee vs. contractor, and a lot of employers hire people as contractors because they don't have to pay employment taxes the same way so it's cheaper for them. I'm not even going to try to tell you whether this situation is legit as far as being a contractor goes because I'm not an employment attorney.

 

I do know that it only takes one fail in the criteria for the IRS to say that you've been misclassified. Here are some links: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Employee-vs.-Independent-Contractor-%E2%80%93-Seven-Tips-for-Business-Owners

 

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1779.pdf

post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar View Post
 

Go talk to an accountant before signing on for this to see if it does fall into the realm of a contractor. There are all kinds of restrictions on employee vs. contractor, and a lot of employers hire people as contractors because they don't have to pay employment taxes the same way so it's cheaper for them. I'm not even going to try to tell you whether this situation is legit as far as being a contractor goes because I'm not an employment attorney.

 

I do know that it only takes one fail in the criteria for the IRS to say that you've been misclassified. Here are some links: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Employee-vs.-Independent-Contractor-%E2%80%93-Seven-Tips-for-Business-Owners

 

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1779.pdf

 

 

good call, kara

the only way to see the rainbow is to look through the rain

 

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the only way to see the rainbow is to look through the rain

 

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post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by CONFECTIONERIE View Post
 

 

........"The caterer also wants me to focus on buttercream cakes, specifically Swiss buttercreams"...... 

confectionerie: If you make 30 a year.  You'll be an expert in no time at all, no worries.  Best wishes.

 

[ ps: Interesting.......buttercream making a comeback. ]

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~~We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman  
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