How In The World Do I Compete?

Business By KellyAnne1284 Updated 9 Aug 2007 , 2:04pm by mommicakes

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KellyAnne1284 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 4:53pm
post #1 of 55

I know this is talked about all the time, but I just called my local Walmart for the first time to price out a wedding cake to feed 120 people as I've had a customer request who's budget was way too low for me and I was just curious as to what Walmart was charging. Drum roll please......$138. How the heck am I supposed to compete with that? *sigh* How frustrating.

*edit* Price quoted at Walmart was for basic cake and buttercream (obviously) and cascading 3 tiers. Blew me away.

54 replies
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snarkybaker Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 5:03pm
post #2 of 55

You don't. Don't get in a race to the bottom. Let people willing to eat a Walmart cake buy them there. You will never win over the " it's just cake" crowd.

I think it's crazy to spend $4000 on a dress that you can only wear one day...I mean, it's just a dress, but people do it all the time. Similarly, there are people who WILL value your work. You just need to find them. Chances are, they are not your family or your neighbors. Trying to make a living selling cakes to them will make you crazy, since they will all think they deserve a $150 cake for $25.

Move on to the next bride. icon_wink.gif It will get easier!

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yh9080 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 5:14pm
post #3 of 55

You DON"T compete! Wal-mart buys volume so they can sell cheaper. And they don't do customized cakes. Customers have a limited selection in flavors and designs to choose from.

There is no way that I, a home baker, can compete. I cannot buy in bulk, so there is no possible way I can match their prices. Heck, I'm thrilled that I have a Sam's card and can buy 7lb of conf sugar for $4.00 but that is about as far as it goes.

MY customers get personalized service from me that goes far beyond writing "Happy Birthday Suzie" on the cake.

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leily Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 5:15pm
post #4 of 55

The only way to compete with wal-mart is:

1) Buy frozen cake
2) Only offer white cake since that is all you can order
3) Buy premade frosting in a bucket
4) Only allow your decorators about 2 hrs to decorate a cake (if you have a nice manager)
5) Don't deliver
6) No fillings either, only buttercream between the tiers
7) Only offer cakes in either 2 or 3 tier with a limit of about 8 different versions of a wedding cake.
icon_cool.gif Only offer two serving size options (one is in the 80s and the other is closer to what you were looking at)

Otherwise don't even pay attention to wal-mart they are not trying to sell to the same market we are.

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havingfun Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 5:23pm
post #5 of 55

funny Wal-Mart tale: I am making a wedding cake for a friend of my daughter's. The groom's grandmother is paying for the cake: 10" chocolate, 8" white, and 6" chocolate. Handmade daisies. I priced her $125 (friend price and she has no mother in the picture icon_sad.gif . )Grandmother said the price was TOO much and told her to go to Wal Mart. Well, she did, and as noted above, all white, 3 tier, was $138!! HAHA icon_razz.gif icon_razz.gif They went back and told grandmother she was sticking with me. icon_wink.gif That is one time I was glad to beat Wal Mart!

Grandmother wrote a check for $100.

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Shaela Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 5:24pm
post #6 of 55

You don't need to... I used to feel terrible if I couldn't accomodate someone and would lower the cost to them to do it! No more! My time is worth something and so is what I know! To heck with Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam's and anywhere else that sells cakes!!! We are talented! We are artists!!! Go us!!!!

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lisasweeta Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 5:59pm
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Why would you want to compete with Walmart? You want people who value what you do.
I'm just starting out and there is NO way I will underprice. I make luxury cakes. Period. There are plenty of bakers in my area that charge less than I do, but many are bakers that use box mix and powdered sugar buttercreams, which, don't get me wrong, is fine. But, it's not what I do.
I bake from scratch, my ingredients are premium, and more importantly, my time and artistic vision are not cheap. I've had people pass on cakes because of my pricing, and that's fine. People think I'm nuts because when you're starting out, you should "take anything you can get".
However, I'll build the business I want, not the business people think I should have because I don't fit their budget.
Actually, txkat said it best in old post...
You can decide to be a Honda or a Jaguar.

I'm definitely a Jaguar. And you know what? People will pay for it.

Don't compromise yourself or your art. Ever.

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CakeEscape Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:17pm
post #8 of 55

im new at cake deco but ive never seen a b.c. icing without p.s. what else would you use? Im intrigued thumbs_up.gif

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southaustingirl Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:17pm
post #9 of 55

Ditto to what everyone has already said. There's all kinds of people out there.....some will pay tons of money for a cake just so they can say they did, some will recognize and appreciate quality and pay for it and others won't.

Don't sweat it!!

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twooten173 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:22pm
post #10 of 55

Well said lisasweeta (even though I use powered sugar frosting and dh cake)!

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snarkybaker Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:29pm
post #11 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by lisasweeta

Why would you want to compete with Walmart? You want people who value what you do.
I'm just starting out and there is NO way I will underprice. I make luxury cakes. Period. There are plenty of bakers in my area that charge less than I do, but many are bakers that use box mix and powdered sugar buttercreams, which, don't get me wrong, is fine. But, it's not what I do.
I bake from scratch, my ingredients are premium, and more importantly, my time and artistic vision are not cheap. I've had people pass on cakes because of my pricing, and that's fine. People think I'm nuts because when you're starting out, you should "take anything you can get".
However, I'll build the business I want, not the business people think I should have because I don't fit their budget.
Actually, txkat said it best in old post...
You can decide to be a Honda or a Jaguar.

I'm definitely a Jaguar. And you know what? People will pay for it.

Don't compromise yourself or your art. Ever.


icon_confused.gif icon_confused.gif icon_confused.gif icon_confused.gif icon_confused.gif

Wait a second here...I said I was the Jaguar of cake makers....you can be the Rolls Royce icon_wink.gif

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lisasweeta Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:44pm
post #12 of 55

Please....Just so nobody misunderstands me...I'm NOT putting down box bakers/ ps frosters!!! I'm merely saying that ingredient wise, they can absolutely underprice me, so I won't compete in that market. However it makes me nuts when you guys underprice yourselves too!!!
As far as talent is concerned, I think it's clear that people here are extraordinary. So figure out your prices, be comfortable with them and stick to them!!!

CakeEscape- I use Italian Meringue or Swiss Merigue buttercreams. (Mostly Italian)

Kat- That's cool! I'll take Rolls Royce!! icon_biggrin.gif
Edited to say, "Do you have any Grey Poupon?"

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countrycakes Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:46pm
post #13 of 55

icon_biggrin.gif I am requesting to be the Porsche please. Thank you. icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_biggrin.gif icon_lol.gif icon_lol.gif icon_lol.gif I am getting the same type of customers since Monday......I WILL NOT GIVE AWAY MY WORK. Period. I am not as talented as some of you, granted....but I work hard to make it be as nice as can be.Everyday, I continue to learn new things..and I will not do them for nothing. Period.

WE are sugar artists, hear us ROAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! icon_lol.gif icon_biggrin.gif thumbs_up.gif

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kathik Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:52pm
post #14 of 55

On a similar note, I went into Kroger today and asked how their wedding cakes "work". You pick from the book, order one month ahead and it arrives finished and completely frozen. icon_confused.gif Blech!! I don't want a frozen grocery store cake! How long has it been frozen? When was it made?

Just another reason not to compete with the grocery stores/Walmart stuff!
Kathi

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rosiecakes Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:55pm
post #15 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by leily

The only way to compete with wal-mart is:

4) Only allow your decorators about 2 hrs to decorate a cake (if you have a nice manager)




I did time in the WM bakery (defrostery) this was more like 20-30 minutes to do a wedding cake. Sheet cakes I would complete in under 7 minutes (icing and decorating). It was shortly after my divorce and I just needed ANY job that would feed my family so i comprimised my artistic integrity as long as I could stand it (9months was my limit) and I worked there. To their credit I did pick up speed and improve my writing, but I have since slowed back down somewhat, faster is not always better, but it helps when you are down to the wire.

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captrick Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 6:58pm
post #16 of 55

I agree, my cakes taste WAY BETTER than Walmart and the like...my icing is not greasy..I special order my ingredients for it, and my cakes are made to order. I do things that a bakery at Walmart won't/can't do.....Also, have you looked at some of the cakes offered up at these places???? A lot of them are sloppy and the icings are pre-bought. I take pride in my cakes because they represent me...someone doing it for an hourly wage may not care as much about that 1 of the 20 they're doing that day. And I deliver....they don't.

My time is money....like someone said before...I dont' turn my oven on for less than $25....you want crappy/cheap cake...go to Walmart....

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yh9080 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:00pm
post #17 of 55

I forgot two things in my previous post:
-depending on what kind of cake/design, I can't even buy supplies for what Wal-Mart charges for a finished cake. That includes cake boards/box
-my cakes are baked and decorated with love and you sure can't buy that!

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barbydoll8 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:02pm
post #18 of 55

I agree, you don't compete. Most people recognise Wal-mart, Sam's and Publix or any other mass market for what it is. Most people haven't been exposed to anything else either.

I know lots of bakers who offer to have customers who squawk about price to taste theirs and then taste Wally-worlds. If they want flat, tasteless cake w/ no pizazz then that's what they will get.

Offer for them to taste the difference between fresh and frozen. To see the differnce between "thrown together" from a pattern book and custom designed from ideas.

Don't appologise for being good, fairly priced and unique.

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snarkybaker Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:03pm
post #19 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosiecakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by leily

The only way to compete with wal-mart is:

4) Only allow your decorators about 2 hrs to decorate a cake (if you have a nice manager)



I did time in the WM bakery (defrostery) this was more like 20-30 minutes to do a wedding cake. Sheet cakes I would complete in under 7 minutes (icing and decorating). It was shortly after my divorce and I just needed ANY job that would feed my family so i comprimised my artistic integrity as long as I could stand it (9months was my limit) and I worked there. To their credit I did pick up speed and improve my writing, but I have since slowed back down somewhat, faster is not always better, but it helps when you are down to the wire.




Oh...and BTW when you are educating potential customers, you need to let them know that it is almost impossible to find a freshly made cake at any chain operation. Whole Foods....frozen, Hoity Toity grocery....frozen. For this of you in NC, even Southern Season gets in MOST of their bakery items frozen from elsewhere, and they get $40-$50 for an 8 inch cake. You are providing something unique, even if you're not shooting for the top end of the marketplace ( a la Colette Peters) and that service is worth something. Don't sell yourself short!

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authress Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:05pm
post #20 of 55

I'm always amazed that people don't get the difference. Some of these are the same peole who would pay $300 for a pair of Seven Jeans and not be caught dead in the $15 version from Walmart. Some will pay for quality/appearance/name, some won't, some can't. It takes all kinds. If everyone only bought the best, would it still be special?

PS. Can I be the Bentley of cakes?

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tiptop57 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:15pm
post #21 of 55

Here is the way I look at it

Walmart
Nordstrom

Velvet painting of Dogs Playing Cards
Pointy by John Singer Sargent

Keds
Manolo Blahnik

Dandelion
Rose

Focus
Nexus

Diamonique
Diamond

Fantastic Sams
Andre Walker, Oprahs stylist

Versace
Isaac Mizrahi from Target

Naugahyde
Leather

Rowboat
Custom Yacht

Hersey
Godiva

Casio Keyboard
Steinway

not better just something for everyone

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judylynnturner Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:16pm
post #22 of 55

I have one customer that I intentionally underpriced on. I did this because he is a local business owner and his wife runs a business in another town. They order at least 2 cakes a month from me and they are always big cakes (serve at least 80-100 each time). I underpriced with them because I get repeat business and overall, I have come out ahead. I don't underprice with anyone else. They know not to let anyone know what they pay me. I give a 20% discount to churches and youth group fund raisers. I live in a small community and being new here, I want to bond with my neighbors.

I have only had one person tell me what I wanted was too much. She didn't bother me at all. She want 2 cakes to serve 300 and a bride, groom, and cake cookie to give to each of her 300 wedding guests. She only budgetted for $300 for both cakes and the cookies!!!!! icon_eek.gif icon_surprised.gif I told her there was no way I could do a multi tier chocolate mouse with dipped strawberries for the grooms cake and her multi teirred strawberry filled cake with white chocolate strawberries. Besides, her wedding is in two weeks and she hasn't found anyone in her price range yet. She got so mad she said she was going to bake it herself. I wish her the best of luck...

Everyone on here is right--we run small businesses and can't compete with bulk market cakes. My hubby was very sweet and told me he had a birthday cake for me--silly me I thought he baked it himself with my stuff, nope he got one of those nasty little bulk market cakes! It was by far the worst tasting cake I have ever had in my life! People that want quality and not quantity will come to you... Good luck and don't worry about competing...your reputation will precede you and you will have plenty of business in the long run--don't compromise!

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melysa Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:25pm
post #23 of 55

wow! TWENTY minutes to decorate a wedding cake? sheesh.

i remember a posting a long time ago about WM wedding cake serving sizes and i dont know if this is fact, but the poster said they called walmart and asked the serving size. they were told it was 1" x 1" slice (sorry i dont remember the height, but i highly doubt walmart is going to serve a 4-6" high cake tier), not the average 1x2x4-6" wedding serving.

when preparing to make my first wedding cake a year ago, i was doing it to save some friends some money. when the cost of my cake supplies for 250, came to $360, i considered telling them to go to walmart instead for that $138 cake (though it would have been more since they needed twice that amount).

anyway, since then, i have SERIOUSLY learned many lessons. i bake everthing from scratch with really high quality ingredients. point being,as another said, i will never ever again, put myself in the same league as a chain store bakery.its not even WORTH comparing. i had a lady call me yesterday after ordering a cake a week ago and needed another one. she asked "are your cakes always so tall? i was expecting a very short one." there were also comliments on the taste, the quality ingredients and the appearance. these things set me apart. i always put fresh made fillings in, use IMBC with real butter, fruits, liquors, real vanilla, etc...i torte the cakes, i put my stamp on them for sure.

there's no competition. i've also learned that i dont want that kind of clientel. no thank you.

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terrylee Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:26pm
post #24 of 55

YOU DON'T HAVE TO COMPETE WITH WALMART -

PERSONAL CONTACT IS GETTING TO BE A LOST ART IN A BUSY WORLD....AS CAKE DECORATORS WE ALL HAVE OUR UNIQUE TALENTS, AND WE CAN OFFER OUR CLIENTS THE PERSONAL TOUCH, ACCUALLY TALKING TO A REAL PERSON......MAKING THEIR CAKE A "ONE OF A KIND" ...., ESPECIALLY FOR THEM......

I ENJOY...AS I'M SURE A LOT OF US DO.....WORKING WITH MY CLIENTS FOR WEDDINGS OR ANY OTHER CELEBTATIONS.....

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KellyAnne1284 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:26pm
post #25 of 55

Let me just clarify....

This gal was very sweet. In no way did she tell me my prices were too high. She inquired about fall themed cakes, I sent her example photos with a price range per person, she got back to me and told me what her budget per person was, which was beliw mine....than i said I'd come down to her high end of the budget...but then realized I'd almost come close to LOSING money on the cake, so i sent an email revoking that statement (which I feel horrible unprofessional for)....and now I'm wondering...what to do....

I want every bride to have a beautiful, tasty cake. I know with this gals budget her options are probably going to be limited to Walmart or the grocery store...and...well, we all know how that will be. *sigh* I'm such a sucker.

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melysa Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 7:50pm
post #26 of 55

she may be nice..but everyone says they have a budget. alot of times peoples "budgets" for cake, are based on an uneducated, unrealistic number.

is she renting a reception hall?
paying for a caterer?
florist?
musician, band or dj?
buying a dress?
rings?
etc................................................

unfortunately unless you want to pay out of your own pocket for her to have a decent cake, you have to let it go. likely, she'll come back to you afterall. please, please, PLEASE dont lower your price. thats like highway robbery!

ok, i know that there ARE times when people really DONT have any money, and so the wedding is inexpensive but simple simple (i was one of those people). but i also cut out alot of the extras, invited only 30 people and did the majority of it myself. it was seriously a homemade wedding.

i hope this doesnt sound mean, but you cant let this become YOUR problem.

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yh9080 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 8:13pm
post #27 of 55

As Indydebi has pointed out many times, bridal sites & magazines as well as wedding planners tell all brides to tell the cake decorator that they "are on a budget" so we will come down on our prices.

Now that is not to say that there are brides who really do have a small budget but they do need to be realistic about it all.

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KellyAnne1284 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 8:19pm
post #28 of 55

I suppose at this point I'm just questioning myself. I mean, I offered to come down to $4 per serving as the cake will by fairly simple - fondant covered, maybe some ribbon and some autumn colored flowers - but...if the cake is that simple, is $3 per serving unreasonable? I don't think me asking for $5 per serving would be too high, which is what I would have asked for....but....am I wrong? Grrrr....so conflicted here.

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ashley87 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 8:24pm
post #29 of 55

Going along with bridal magazines and site putting ideas in peoples head--- I am getting married next may and so I check out the knot message boards. Someone said they couldnt afford the cake prices in their area, so someone told them to get a dummy cake and then have sheet cakes.

People think that a dummy cake will cost a whole lot less, but in reality, can cost just as much as a regular cake because it takes just as much work decorating..

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KellyAnne1284 Posted 8 Aug 2007 , 8:30pm
post #30 of 55

I went through that with a bride in the beginning of the week. She wanted a dummy cake nicely decorated and then sheet cakes (plain) to feed guests. I basically told her that sheet cakes don't take any less cake than a round or square cake does. Cake is cake no matter what shape it comes in. So, in essence, it would actually be MORE for her to do the dummy cake because she still has to pay for my art, time and work....plus the same amount of sheet cakes to feed however many people...the minimal decoration that would have to go on the sheet cakes...plus the added cost of the dummies for the tiered (which is VERY minimal, I know).

I don't think *most* customers are trying to get over on us....I just don't think they understand. They get the idea that a sheet cake is so inexpensive because of these damn grocery stores pumping out a brick of crap.....urgh.....I just can't even talk about it anymore. lol

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