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Sooo, undercutting doesn't hurt the industry, huh? - Page 4  

post #46 of 110

True...not everyone knows what their options are!

Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
post #47 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakefat View Post
 

 "There's NOT enough to work to go around! Any market can only bear so much competition before it's oversaturated. And when the competition is oversaturating the market AND charging ridiculously low prices just to get business, it devalues the market as a whole."

 

so true!

 

There are tons of shoddy cakes being sold here, mainly advertised on FB groups. Most look like a blind kitten made them and without a doubt they are severely undercutting the legal cake makers. It's sad but so are their cakes, usually. but it does devalue the entire market. 

 

A blind kitten! That's both sad and hilarious! :smile:

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeesKnees578 View Post
 


I'm OBVIOUSLY not a business expert, but isn't this comparing apples to oranges?  Target to Abercrombie?

Not everyone is competition.  Do you consider Walmart or Blind Kitten Bakery your competition? 

Blind kitten cakes are OK for people who don't prioritize cake, or appreciate the art and skill, or have the budget to purchase a fabulous cake.  They gotta eat something for dessert!

If people DO value quality and skill and have the budget, they will seek out the appropriate cake maker.

 

If I am way off base - as I usually am :) - please, someone, help me see the light.  In the nicest way possible.

 

Definitely, and we don't concern ourselves with people who are clearly not our target market. I really don't care that this lady wasn't willing to pay our prices, we just say "Next!"

I just wanted to bring attention to the fact that undercutting DOES make a difference. I've seen so many people come on here and say that their charging a fraction of what other cakers charge is no big deal and doesn't hurt the industry at all, when in fact it does. I'm NOT talking about anyone on this thread, and I'm NOT talking about charging a little less than the storefront does. I'm talking about charging $50 for a shaped cake that would take hours of work and probably more than $50 in ingredients cost to make. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AivaCake View Post
 

You'd be surprised.  I have so many friends who would consider themselves "cake snobs" now because of me LOL.  Before, they'd see some shoddy wilton cake and think "OH HOW CUTE!!!" but now that I've shown them real works of art, they think 'Ugh, thats not cute, its lumpy, is that edible paper??".  I seriously am starting to think part of our profession is educating people! haha 

Yes, this! We have turned our friends into cake snobs too! But before we started making cakes, they would look at those cakes and think they were great too. It takes time to educate people on what it possible, and on what actually goes into a custom cake. 

Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
post #48 of 110

But not everyone can afford a great baker!! And that's fine. Sure, I could make and sell ugly cakes right now for cheap cheap cheap. But I am not doing that because I know what my time is worth, and I have to say, I don't want cheap attached to my name. I have a class at the CIA next week, I bought the Wilton cake videos from craftsy, I spend money on dummies, I make at least two cakes a week that mostly get thrown out. I read someone here the other day say, "How does that help? The garbage can doesn't care if I have straight lines." She is missing the point. That practice is for ME!!! I care. I spend hours doing and redoing, and still...I would not even give them away. 

 

I am doing a big cake for a friend next month, no cost, and I am already practicing. I am making the bottom layers this week, torting, filling, stacking, smooth buttercream, and then the birch cake BC design. If I use the SMBC I will use for the real cake, my husband will eat it. If I use the crisco creme I practice with, into the garbage with it. I will not even give it to someone. Nothing wrong with that buttercream if you use it and are known for that taste, but my niche is going to be all natural, mostly organic, so into the garbage with no regrets. I am old enough to know that the way to learn is to read, study, watch, ask questions, and practice, practice, practice. No shortcuts. I do think I will learn this more quickly than  my metalsmithing or pottery, but that is because I already have some of those skills, and this has a lot in common with them, especially pottery. So I figure in 6 months to a year my cakes will look much, much better than now, and I will continue to improve.

 

So I got off the point, which is that the lady making crappy cakes - well, that isn't going to be me. The local bakery sends out blind kitten cakes. I either want her customers to see my cakes and see the difference, because they are paying top dollar, or others who appreciate the effort that goes into a beautiful, delicious piece of art. 

 

Nancy

post #49 of 110
Would it be better if on your display of a 3D cake, you add, price starts at________, would that not eliminate a lot of misconceptions? :lol:if someone on FB asks, my response to that would be, see display and pricing in shop, or give her a business number to contact you.
post #50 of 110

Of course undercutting hurts the market, and there isn't enough work for everyone. It's my complete pet peeve whenever any wedding pro in this area starts in with the "there's enough business for everyone" song. What a load of crap. Here, I wrote this when a wedding planner was singing that song and I went off on her (she was scared) http://acaketorememberva.blogspot.com/2012/04/no-theres-not-enough-work-for-everyone.html  Businesses that undercut and underprice drag the market down and force people out of business every day.

 

It's definitely a multi-part issue, but the truth is that not everyone values cake. For most people it's something that you have at the party, and it doesn't need to be amazing and customized and expensive. There are other people who do value it and who are willing to pay what they know it will cost. Some people will understand the value when you "educate" tham, and for others the "education" just comes off as stupid, since they don't care. It's like someone trying to convince me that it's important to spend more money on this golf club instead of that one because this one has this that and the other feature. I don't care and I hate golf, so I'm not going to spend my money on that. I will spend more for things that do matter to me, but it might not be what is important to someone else.

 

I have plenty of friends who don't do cakes who I've talked about this with, and they all make the point that although they do understand why a cake would cost a certain amount, the standards that I have aren't their standards. One friend said that since the cake that SHE would make would be monkey-iced, crooked and ugly, anything better than would impress her. It isn't the general public that is the harshest ciritcs of cakes, it's other decorators, who can be real biotches when it comes to ripping other people's stuff apart. Most people would be happy paying $20 for a sheet cake with blue icing roses because they can't make blue icing roses. Even if that sheet cake is ugly in our opinion, it's fine for most people who put their priorities in other places.

 

The problem then becomes finding the customers who DO value what you do enough to pay a decent price for it. I had a customer today who was trying to pay me more than I quoted her because she was convinced I'm not charging enough (I am). She finally put a $200 deposit down on a cake and I'm going to give her the final total when I'm finished. She doesn't care how much it costs because she DOES value it. Most people don't, though. The $50 cake on facebook is okay for the masses. So sad...But people also think that Olive Garden and Red Lobster are "nice restaurants," so there are a lot of mediocre standards out there.

 

It just means that people who do custom work have to be better at marketing, which makes our job harder. But oh well, it's not going to change any time soon. The cake industry is bloated and wheezing right now, and it's not going back any time soon. So get used to having to be a marketer as well as a decorator, it's the new reality.

post #51 of 110

One friend said that since the cake that SHE would make would be monkey-iced, crooked and ugly, anything better than would impress her. It isn't the general public that is the harshest ciritcs of cakes, it's other decorators, who can be real biotches when it comes to ripping other people's stuff apart. Most people would be happy paying $20 for a sheet cake with blue icing roses because they can't make blue icing roses. Even if that sheet cake is ugly in our opinion, it's fine for most people who put their priorities in other places.

 

I think its shows like Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, DC Cupcakes, etc that have "educated" the general public on what custom cakes look like.  I'll never forget in 2009, my grandmother thought it was so silly that people were ordering tiered cakes for anything other than weddings.  Tiered cakes were for weddings and sheet cakes for everything else.  Now we have 3 and 4 tiered cakes being served at 1st birthday parties along side smash cakes.  Its either one extreme or the other.  People want to Keep Up with the Joneses because thats what they saw on TV but want to pay the Honey Boo Boo price!  I even see people on the Facebook for sale pages advertise themselves as "the decorator that can give you that cake that you see on cake boss or pinterest!".  Now we know who to blame! LOL 

Getting baked since 2009! ;)
Getting baked since 2009! ;)
post #52 of 110

Wise words CostumeCzar, and well explained.

~~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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~~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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post #53 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar View Post

 

I have plenty of friends who don't do cakes who I've talked about this with, and they all make the point that although they do understand why a cake would cost a certain amount, the standards that I have aren't their standards. One friend said that since the cake that SHE would make would be monkey-iced, crooked and ugly, anything better than would impress her. It isn't the general public that is the harshest ciritcs of cakes, it's other decorators, who can be real biotches when it comes to ripping other people's stuff apart. Most people would be happy paying $20 for a sheet cake with blue icing roses because they can't make blue icing roses. Even if that sheet cake is ugly in our opinion, it's fine for most people who put their priorities in other places.

 

Absolutely. We realize that many people who inquire about our cakes are probably not even visualizing the level of work we are when we are quoting a cake, and I'm sure they would be thrilled with the "ugly sheet cake". But we have come to the place where we are just not interested in doing any and every job that comes along, we only want to do the ones that excite us and make us feel like we are able to truly use it as a creative outlet, since that's what it is for us now. I realize (I know it ALL too well, been there!) that bakers who are trying to make a living doing this don't have that luxury. 

 

Everything you said, costumeczar, absolutely true. One thing I feel like we continue to struggle with is reaching the right demographic, that high-end customer who really does value custom work. We have them, but we also still get so many inquiries from people like this lady, those who want quality work but don't understand why it costs what it does, nor do they want to understand. 

Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
Before you ask- I'm licensed, inspected, insured, and all that jazz.
post #54 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar View Post
 

It just means that people who do custom work have to be better at marketing, which makes our job harder. But oh well, it's not going to change any time soon. The cake industry is bloated and wheezing right now, and it's not going back any time soon. So get used to having to be a marketer as well as a decorator, it's the new reality.

 

It doesn't matter if you are a cake decorator, or a hair stylist, or a doctor - every business and professional has to excel at marketing, or they (and their message) get lost.  But this isn't new - it has been that way forever.  But many people who have never been self employed or run a business don't find that out until they are in hip deep.

 

Liz

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

post #55 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by AivaCake View Post
 

I think its shows like Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, DC Cupcakes, etc that have "educated" the general public on what custom cakes look like.  I'll never forget in 2009, my grandmother thought it was so silly that people were ordering tiered cakes for anything other than weddings.  Tiered cakes were for weddings and sheet cakes for everything else.  Now we have 3 and 4 tiered cakes being served at 1st birthday parties along side smash cakes.  Its either one extreme or the other.  People want to Keep Up with the Joneses because thats what they saw on TV but want to pay the Honey Boo Boo price!  I even see people on the Facebook for sale pages advertise themselves as "the decorator that can give you that cake that you see on cake boss or pinterest!".  Now we know who to blame! LOL

Very true, and I think that we can also blame those shows for the influx of decorators in the market who think that it's so much fun to do cakes, and who have no clue how to price them!

post #56 of 110

My problem is not with the decorator (whether home based or storefront) who does subpar work and charges subpar pricing. Buyer Beware and all that. 

If someone charges less for less quality, I say then don't come crying to me when the cake falls over or looks monkey-iced or blind-kitten iced. The customer who sees that person's work and then still orders from them was never my customer. 

 

My problem is with the decorator who does quality work for an under-valued price. I am directly competing with that decorator who is willing to lose to win. There are not many out there in my area right now, but there are a few. And the CFL is coming up this way very very soon and I cringe to think how many more fairly talented decorators who can't get their business crap together will flood my market and bring all our businesses down with them before they crash and burn.  

 

And I am home based (licensed separate kitchen) and charge more than 90% of the storefronts in the area. I feel that although they have to order from someone without a parking lot, they know I am the only one handling their order, the only one accountable for their order, and the one who takes care of them from start to finish and that is worth something. 

life is short, get a cakesafe.
life is short, get a cakesafe.
post #57 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenmat View Post

My problem is not with the decorator (whether home based or storefront) who does subpar work and charges subpar pricing. Buyer Beware and all that. 
If someone charges less for less quality, I say then don't come crying to me when the cake falls over or looks monkey-iced or blind-kitten iced. The customer who sees that person's work and then still orders from them was never my customer. 

My problem is with the decorator who does quality work for an under-valued price. I am directly competing with that decorator who is willing to lose to win. There are not many out there in my area right now, but there are a few. And the CFL is coming up this way very very soon and I cringe to think how many more fairly talented decorators who can't get their business crap together will flood my market and bring all our businesses down with them before they crash and burn.  

And I am home based (licensed separate kitchen) and charge more than 90% of the storefronts in the area. I feel that although they have to order from someone without a parking lot, they know I am the only one handling their order, the only one accountable for their order, and the one who takes care of them from start to finish and that is worth something. 

I am not one to mess with other people's business, but it might be time to check with your county if these businesses are registered, and with your town's zoning to see if their homes are zoned for commercial. I am renting a commercial kitchen when I even make for friends, and when/if I,start a business, I will put in the sinks, get a license, etc. I will probably report someone who,isn't playing by the rules. I never thought I would, but the things I need to be legal will cost me a pretty penny, and why should someone else compete with me and not play by the rules?
post #58 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by nancylee61 View Post


I am not one to mess with other people's business, but it might be time to check with your county if these businesses are registered, and with your town's zoning to see if their homes are zoned for commercial. I am renting a commercial kitchen when I even make for friends, and when/if I,start a business, I will put in the sinks, get a license, etc. I will probably report someone who,isn't playing by the rules. I never thought I would, but the things I need to be legal will cost me a pretty penny, and why should someone else compete with me and not play by the rules?

Never said they weren't licensed. Just underpriced. Again, there ARE decorators out there with talent, who for whatever reason, feel that if they make a little extra off their work then they are ahead and are happy. 

I am not one of those, but I do have to compete with them. 

life is short, get a cakesafe.
life is short, get a cakesafe.
post #59 of 110

General question - do you think that joe public actually notices a difference between a 'good' and a 'bad' cake?  Or is it just we decorators who spend way too much time fussing over a .5mm deep hollow in our buttercream?

 

There is a shop nearby which offers cakes and cupcakes at pretty cheap prices (GBP20 for a decorated cake.)  To me, the finish is very poor...but by all accounts, her business is growing!  So am I being overly fussy (because I spend hours trying to get the consistency of my ganache perfect before doing an undercoat), or does it really not matter to people?  I don't think I'm overly expensive, but I'm certainly not cheap either yet people don't respond from quotes.  Out of curiosity, I sent a good friend of mine a picture of what I would consider to be a poorly decorated cake a few months back (from a supermarket) and asked him what he thought of it.  He has seen my work.  All he said back was 'don't like the colour much'...nothing about the wonkiness, the lumpy sides, the 2" deep tiers, the sugar flowers that looked like someone had sat on them.  If he (as a 'knows a little more about cake than average joe') says that, then what do those really not in the know think??

 

sorry, this isn't meant to sound depressing and I have no intention of compromising standards but reading this thread (and it has to be said, having a very bad day!!!) is making me wonder...

post #60 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowflakebunny23 View Post
 

General question - do you think that joe public actually notices a difference between a 'good' and a 'bad' cake?  Or is it just we decorators who spend way too much time fussing over a .5mm deep hollow in our buttercream?

 

There is a shop nearby which offers cakes and cupcakes at pretty cheap prices (GBP20 for a decorated cake.)  To me, the finish is very poor...but by all accounts, her business is growing!  So am I being overly fussy (because I spend hours trying to get the consistency of my ganache perfect before doing an undercoat), or does it really not matter to people?  I don't think I'm overly expensive, but I'm certainly not cheap either yet people don't respond from quotes.  Out of curiosity, I sent a good friend of mine a picture of what I would consider to be a poorly decorated cake a few months back (from a supermarket) and asked him what he thought of it.  He has seen my work.  All he said back was 'don't like the colour much'...nothing about the wonkiness, the lumpy sides, the 2" deep tiers, the sugar flowers that looked like someone had sat on them.  If he (as a 'knows a little more about cake than average joe') says that, then what do those really not in the know think??

 

sorry, this isn't meant to sound depressing and I have no intention of compromising standards but reading this thread (and it has to be said, having a very bad day!!!) is making me wonder...

This is exactly what I'm saying...People don't notice the kind of thing that we tell ourselves is "critical" to a decorated cake. The number of people I've seen arguing that you have to decorate the board as well as the cake is one good example...People will look at that and say "oh that's nice" but if it isn't decorated it's only the cake decorators who notice and fault each other for it. The general public DOES NOT CARE about the details. If the cake is better than something they themselves could make, most people would say that it's really good.

 

thinking that you'll get more business becasue your fondant is a little smoother than that cheaper person's fondnt is a mistake most of us make. People aren't going to beat down your door to buy from you just because you met some standard that you have in your head. You have to go out and tell people why your product is better and worth paying for. That's the not-fun part of running a business.

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