Hi to all my fellow cake peeps,
I own a beautiful cake studio in the Orlando Florida area. I have been opened for almost a year and have come across this issue.
Any suggestions on how to break in with wedding planners and caterers?
It seems like it is a huge clique going on with just one or two cake shops being used by the majority of planners. it is been nearly impossible for a new person on the block to break in to any preferred list or referals?
One last question? Are wedding planners or caterers getting a referal fee? in general terms.
Thanks for any and all post to this thread.
In my area planners generally do not get referrals fees. Well one or two do.
Have you had a private open house with cake and plenty of champagne for the planners?
I have a question on my website survey page asking how important was a "Preferred Vendor List' when they are selecting their other wedding vendors. I've not gotten many responses yet (it's a relatively new survey question), but so far it's running about 70/30 in the "not important/important" responses.
Also know what kind of "preferred" list it is. There's one venue in town that I can get on their list anytime .... anytime that I'm willing to pay the $300 fee to put my name on the list. Forget them. I don't put a lot of stock in a "preferred" list that you can buy space on.
On the positive side ... many venues just need you to contact them, get them the required paperwork (copy of license, certificate of liability insurance, find out what their rules are, etc) so they can refer you. That's what I did with one place and the reason I set it up with them is because a bride booked me and then said, "You need to contact this place ... they have some paperwork you need to fill out before you can cater there." But she booked me BEFORE it was all set up.
Another venue that I'm in ALL the time ... I just popped in one day and left some of my cards with the lady in their office and asked her to refer me to brides/clients looking for cakes and catering. THE NEXT DAY, I got a call from a bride who said, "I haven't looked at your website yet.... the lady at (this place) just handed me your card and I'm in my car driving home right now.....I'll check the website later, but wanted to set up an appt with you." (Dang! I should have dropped those cards off MONTHS ago!)
leahs has a great idea with the open house for planners. Another great way to meet planners is at a PWG (Perfect Wedding Guide) meeting. you don't have to be a member to attend. I met 2 planners at the very first one I attended and I've gotten a few thousands dollars worth of business from them in less than 2 months.
Have you had a chance to be in bridal shows yet? These shows are not just for meeting brides .... this is where you connect and network with other wedding vendors ... where you exchange your cards with them ... where you get to know them and build a relationship. When I'm in a bridal show, I ask my brides "Have you found a photographer yet? No? You might go around the corner and see Bob ... tell him Debi sent you!" I had a call last week from a wedding planner who called me because I loaned her a pair of scissors when she was setting up her booth!! She needed a $900 cake.
I do not pay "referral fees" to planners or any other vendor. Only one ever asked about it. Everyone I work with works on the scratch-each-others-back philosophy.