Next Blog - Kickbacks In The Industry - Could Use Some Help!

Business By FlowerGirlMN Updated 24 Feb 2008 , 12:44am by indydebi

FlowerGirlMN Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
FlowerGirlMN Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 5:26am
post #1 of 13

Hey all,

So, I'm getting a little sick of "we want to order from you, but if we don't use X bakery, we have to pay extra fees", etc. I'm ok if a venue is going to charge a cutting fee across the board, but getting together an exclusivity arrangement with a baker and charging fees for any OTHER baker is just wrong!

So, being the mouthy one that I am, I'm going to write a blog entry about the kickback situation locally. No names or anything.I'm just going to make my views on the whole situation clear (I don't pay OR accept kickbacks), and hopefully present some good food for thought. Brides being denied choice / "free market" for the biggest day of their lives, etc etc.

Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone has anything to contribute on the subjects of kickbacks, exclusivity, monopolies in our business, etc. I won't name you if you don't want to ("A baker from X state says.."). I'd love to have quotes from others!

Like the fondant article,I'll be ok with anyone linking to / using this. This has been a quiet subject for waaay too long.

Ya with me?

12 replies
MnSnow Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
MnSnow Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 5:43am
post #2 of 13

Personally I think that if they have to have no choice of who they want (the bridal couple) they need to shop elsewhere. I believe in freedom of vendor and choice, after all it is THEIR day.

I don't think there should be nor needs to be a monopoly on the amount of vendors a couple wants. They are paying for it.

Businesses that have to have exclusive vendors (IMO) are suffering from insecurity. I really don't want to bash any particular company or venue, but if it were me and I was paying the big bucks some of them are, I want who I want. Not who they tell me I have to have.

thumbsdown.gif on monopolizing

FlowerGirlMN Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
FlowerGirlMN Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 5:47am
post #3 of 13

You wanna know the best? I have a couple right now who is perfectly fine with paying the extortion fee, because the venue won't even let them meet with that baker OR sample!! WTH?

"Ya, you don't need to pay a fee if you go with this baker.. you'll have to trust us though, you're not going to meet with them OR have any idea if it's any good or not... but if you want to go somewhere else and actually have a say in your cake, you'll be paying US for the privilege!!"

mypastrychef Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
mypastrychef Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 6:12am
post #4 of 13


Why don't you repost this with a different title, maybe you'll get more responses. I want to hear what others say.
I know that is going on in my area. I've had some odd occurences.

And also have had people say if they don't use the reception hall that they would have to pay a cutting fee.

Some are covering for unlicensed bakers and one reception hall about 20 miles into the country refuses to let anyone else do the cakes but their own cake lady who does cakes from her unlicensed kitchen. (yes another baker told me she snooped and called to find out where they baked the cakes) crazy!


FlowerGirlMN Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
FlowerGirlMN Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 6:24am
post #5 of 13


I just changed the title,btw. Hopefully this'll help!

I SERIOUSLY question the legality of the local situation. If it's not outright collusion, it's damn close - and DEFINITELY anti-competition.

FlowerGirlMN Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
FlowerGirlMN Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 6:26am
post #6 of 13

Btw..unlicensed kitchens aside..

If a venue/catering company does cakes THEMSELVES, I don't have a problem with charging a cutting fee for outside cakes. That makes sense.

Locally.. I'm talking a catering company and a COMPLETELY separate cake company conspiring together.

PieceofCakeAZ Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
PieceofCakeAZ Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 8:43am
post #7 of 13

We also don't pay any kickbacks to facilities... mostly because I am not a fan of making less money. icon_biggrin.gif

I do have some food for thought.

Why are you writing this blog entry? What do you hope to accomplish? Realistically, what would you estimate are your chances of accomplishing that goal?

I'm asking because it is extremely likely that the only thing you accomplish is getting a bunch of reception sites and caterers pissed off at you.

Now since they aren't really using you, maybe no big loss... but I'll bet they know other caterers and other reception site managers... and I have found that just like cake people, these places talk. Also, people in this biz move around a lot. If you make trouble for one site and then their coordinator moves to a site that currently recommends you... you just lost that site too. Plus a few sites around here have a blacklist (companies that are not allowed to work events in the building) and then even if a bride is willing to pay the extra fees, you may be disallowed from bringing cakes there.

I'm just suggesting that you give it some serious thought, for the sake of your own business. In all likelihood, you will get a few brides mad at their sites, they will call the site complaining... the site will justify their position, the bride will accept their justification, and nothing will change. Well, except that everyone that works at the site will not be a big fan of yours... and they may make sure others know it.

Just my .02

Best of luck with whatever you decide.

mypastrychef Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
mypastrychef Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 9:16am
post #8 of 13


you are just too smart!! Good advice.

Make your blog positive and fun so many people will return to your site!
Come to CC when your ticked off. thumbs_up.gif

everybody get back to work! icon_lol.gif

FlowerGirlMN Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
FlowerGirlMN Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 12:58pm
post #9 of 13

I have actually given it a lot of thought... and I actually have some local caterers agreeing with me and looking forward to the blog entry.

I have the basic idea of how it'll go, and realistically.. the only ones it'll piss off are already NOT going to be sending me any business anyway. When I was a bride, I was subjectted first hand to the strongarm techniques that one major caterer uses. I'm pretty strong willed and argumentative, and even *I* caved in to it.

I've been thinking about doing this for almost a month now. I've checked with a bunch of different types of vendors I know (even venues and caterers), and have come across nothing but support for the idea.

indydebi Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
indydebi Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 1:40pm
post #10 of 13

I agree that if they have their own on-site caterer, that being required to use that caterer is not out of line. If you dont' want to eat Olive Garden's food, then don't go to Olive Garden, but O.G. isn't going to let Appleby's come in and cook for you. Logical.

I agree if they have their own on-site caterer, who may or may not do cakes, that charging a cake-cutting fee is not out of line. They are not making any profit on the cake, yet they are expected to provide the plates, forks, cutting service, serving, clean up and pay the dishwasher to wash those plates. THere is a cost involved in that (and did I mention they are making no money on this cake?)

I "can" agree that not permitting certain vendors in a facility can be logical. If they've had a bad experience with a vendor, or a vendor doesnt' follow their rules, etc. (I know one place that will not permit bartenders from a certain place to come into their facility because he's had too many bartenders from there show up without proof of license or proof of liab insurance. So his attitude is "if you can't get your act together, then you're not coming into my place.")

Hubby has had this conversation with a guy who is part owner of a camp-like facility, who uses one caterer exclusively. You can use another caterer but costs you an extra $500. Hubby questioned this with him and was told "If you use someone else, we dont' get our cut." Hubby asked him, "Do you know how much business you've lost because of that policy? What if I think your caterer's food sucks?"

I also know of places where I can get on their preferred vendor list anytime I want .... I just have to pay for the privilege. One place charges $300 a year to be on their list AND a Kitchen Use fee each time you're in the facility. So the term "Preferred" vendor has lost of kinds of real meaning to me. (And I will not pay to be on a list! I will pay kitchen access fees, but I will not pay to be on a list!)

I conceed that some of it is how it is addressed. Many places charge a kitchen use fee .... I dont' have a problem with it. I AM after all using their equipment, soaps, utilities, etc. I just tell the bride what it is and add it to the invoice as "XYZ Use Fee". Brides are fine with it. Most of these are around $300 in this area. So you can think of it as a "Kitchen Use fee" or as a "You're using another caterer" fee. Symantics. Marketing.

Whether they are called Use Fee's, Useing Another Caterer Fee, or Kickbacks, I tell the bride about the fee HER facility is charging me and why it will be on her invoice (see my Terms of Agreement where brides are required to pay all fees imposed by the facility). If she doesn't want to pay it, then she can negotiate it with the facilty.

But I think brides today are much more savvy and they are taking more control over their wedding and their budget. Which is why I have a page on my website of "Reception Sites" .... places brides can have their reception and use the vendors of their choice.

If the exclusivity is a big problem in your area, I suggest you also start researching the area and start listing facilities where a bride can select her own vendors. When folks are getting married, lots of times they have NO IDEA where to have it, how to find a bartender, etc., so any info you can suggest they will find VERY helpful.

This can be the good "positive spin" on your blog, that was mentioned earlier .... not a list of places that are restrictive, but a list of places that DO permit free choice of vendors!

FlowerGirlMN Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
FlowerGirlMN Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 2:10pm
post #11 of 13

LOL,I wasn't planning to list the vendors that do it, just talk about the practice in general!!

cakesbycathy Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
cakesbycathy Posted 23 Feb 2008 , 4:47pm
post #12 of 13

Actually, I think indydebi's idea to list the reception sites is a good one! It is a positive example plus you may get more business as a result!

indydebi Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
indydebi Posted 24 Feb 2008 , 12:44am
post #13 of 13

In case anyone is interested, here is my page where I list the sites. I try to give contact info, too, to make it easier on the bride.

Quote by @%username% on %date%