I Undersold Myself...should Have Charged More!

Decorating By Trixyinaz Updated 14 Nov 2008 , 3:02pm by -Tubbs

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Trixyinaz Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 6:27pm
post #1 of 22

I **know** what I need to charge, but I get all flustered when asked for a cake that I forget to add in all the time it takes to do the extra stuff and then I end up short selling myself.

??? So when someone asks you for a cake that includes fondant accents or anything out of the ordinary do you tell them you will get back to them with a price quote or do you tell them it will cost $xxx on the spot???

I've been doing it on the spot and that's where I get myself in trouble and short sell. I feel so pressured to give them a price immediately after they ask without giving myself enough time to actually digest what they want and how much time it will take and add in the extra material. And that's when I make mistakes like not charging for my time or the extra detail or the fondant pieces, etc. Is there anything wrong with telling the customer that you will get back to them by such and such time with a firm quote?

As an example, I was asked to do The Scream cake. She decided on an 11x15 sheet cake for 35 ppl, torted and filled with The Scream on the top of the cake. It was pretty funny b/c the pictures she emailed me were pictures from Cake Central icon_lol.gif. But, all of them were done with fondant and she wanted buttercream. So I quoted her my $2.50 per serving price (for a total of $87.70.) But I never added in the cost to "paint" the cake. Total time spent on this cake was just over 10 hours (which includes shopping time and cleaning). I needed to charge more like $4.50 per serving....so once again, I short sold myself b/c I was afraid to tell them, "Let me work up your request and let you know by end of day what it will cost to do your cake."

And since I have you here, do **you** think $4.50 per serving for my THE SCREAM cake would have been a fair price? Just in case I get another order for a Painted cake (which by the way was a super fun cake to do)

21 replies
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muddpuppy Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 6:46pm
post #2 of 22

I know how you feel! I feel like I'm always under cutting mysefl! There seems to be this overwhelming pressure at that moment!! Am I over charging? Are they going to say no? Am I accounting for everything?! It's the worst part of my day. You have a good idea, telling them you'll get back to them... maybe I'll try that too.. icon_smile.gif

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Trixyinaz Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 6:59pm
post #3 of 22

Hi muddpuppy! I am so glad to know that I am not alone. That is exactly what's going through my head also. So very frustrating. I am sure that once I get comfortable quoting it won't be so bad, but until then I need to learn a new way of quoting so I'm not pressured and under sold.

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chefbarbie0513 Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 7:12pm
post #4 of 22

Hello, I am very new to charging for cakes also. I NEVER give a price on the spot. I have to either look at the picture or come up with my own design. I usually tell them I will get them a price and or ideas with a day or two. I havent had anyone complain about this.

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kellymarie Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 7:13pm
post #5 of 22

It is absolutely not unreasonable to get back to them!! Just make sure you do it promptly. I feel the same way, and so i mostly deal by email, because i have bigger "cake balls" that way icon_lol.gif Then people can't sense any insecurity and put you on the spot or take advantage.

take an email or phone number and offer to send them a firm quote in 24hrs or something. Then they can take it or leave it icon_smile.gif

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Katie-Bug Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 7:15pm
post #6 of 22

I sometimes do the exact same thing!!

Like the other day, I had a meeting...one of those kinds icon_mad.gif , anyway I ws so frustated that I forgot to add on the cost of a fountain!! icon_mad.gif Now, do I call her back an telll her or do I just write it off and eat the cost...making nothig on the cake?? I don't really like either option!

I am learning never to give them a price till I really look at it!! I am also working up a ne wprice list for the first of the year. On the list I am including notes about the extra little things!! Maybe I won't forget then!

It's hard to price yourself. Everyone is in different areas, different levels, just different. We each have to find a place where we are comfortable an go from there. thumbs_up.gif

I forgot to look at your cake, I am going to do that right now!

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KKC Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 7:16pm
post #7 of 22

I tell them that I will get back to them with a quote....i hate when people put you on the spot like that. I had this one client come to my house and ask how much for a cake and i told her that I need to get back to her with a price once i get into the shop..do u know she pulled out a calculator for me and asked me to calculate the costs icon_confused.gif I told her it wasn't that simple because I could be giving her the wrong price and that if she give me a few more hours that I will have her price. I don't really like pushy clients but her husband and my husband work together so i dealt with it.

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Katie-Bug Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 7:17pm
post #8 of 22

Wonderful cake, I think you did an excellent job!!! thumbs_up.gif

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sweetisome Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 7:19pm
post #9 of 22

I actually do that often, ask the customer to let me get back to them on a price, especially if it's an odd or unusual request (you know I have to do the mental gymnastics for) No on ever seems to mind....but I still constantly undersell myself...I've made beautiful cakes that have actually cost me money icon_cry.gif

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stephaniescakenj Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 7:26pm
post #10 of 22

There's probably nothing wrong with telling them you'll get back to them. I know a few times I've gotten calls to do a certain type of cake where I need to research an idea first so what I usually do is get all the pertinent information, servings, flavors, sheet or tiered, etc and then say, well let me think about some ideas for a bit and I'll get back to you. One thing that I always say I'm going to do but have yet to do so is ask the dreaded budget question... so my little "skit" should be something to the effect of, what is the date, how many servings, what type of cake are you looking for, what flavor, what kind of decoration did you have in mind and what is your budget for this cake. get all the answers... and then say, "Ok, I think I have everything I need. Let me brainstorm some ideas for you and I'll get back to you with pricing and design. Do you have an email address or would you prefer I call you back?" I always like to email so I have everything in writing. then we you do respond, have a few options, the cheap one, midgrade and high end.
All that being said, I have never once gotten through a phone order without kicking myself as soon as I get off the phone! So you are most definitely not alone! As far as pricing, I have no clue but it was a great cake!!!

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KKC Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 7:28pm
post #11 of 22

I think that some customers feel that you should already know your prices. I don't think they realize that you have to calculate expenses, labor etc...they may feel that we should have our prices memorized..just a thought!

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TexasSugar Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 11:15pm
post #12 of 22

I always tell them I will get back to them with more information and a price. If they tell me they need to serve 20 people I will outline two or three cakes in that serving range and the prices of each. Giving them the options of how much they want to spend.

This is the best way to make sure you do not underprice yourself, because you have time to do the math and figure out the best price for that cake.

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Trixyinaz Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 11:24pm
post #13 of 22

Thanks everyone for sharing your tips. Yes, Kivia, that's one of the reason's why I feel I have to give a price quote when they call. I don't want them thinking I don't know what the heck I'm doing. But knowing that almost all of you do it, I don't feel so awkward doing it myself.

I am going to work out a script and practice it so I know what questions to ask and then let them know I'll get back to them. I have started asking what their budget is (thanks IndyDebi) and can you believe the 2 that I've asked so far both have said, "Well, I'm not really sure." What do you say after that?

I have to get better at sketching cake designs so I can offer a couple different price points when I provide them with qoutes. And, I kinda want to get away from a "starting price" as people don't really know what all is included and just assume you can make the world for $2.50 per servince. I'm contemplating on putting something like, "since designs vary from one cake to another, a quote will be provided to you upon determining the number of guests you want to serve and the design you want."

And thanks Culinarycreations for the nice compliment on my cake.

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Karema Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 1:37am
post #14 of 22

You are not alone. I do the same thing. One day I a guy call and say he wanted a heart shaped cake chocolate and how much was it. I got so flustered I could hardly think. I was like hold on let me figure out a cost and was fumbling for a calculater then was adding with my fingers because I couldnt find it and was so nervous that I finally gave him a price and as you know he never called me again. I felt like an idiot. I lost that sale because I didnt expect the call and didnt have anything like price list or anything near me so I had to go to my computer, go to my brochure, then fiqure out how many servings a heart shape has and then multiply by how much I charge per serving. I've got to get my stuff together and quick. Next time I will have a list of questions ready ask them and tell them I will call them back. period.

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indydebi Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 2:10am
post #15 of 22

I think you (and everyone else who goes thru this) needs to really REALLY evaluate themselves and ask WHY are you so 'afraid' to tell them "let me get back with you." Why are you afraid of that phrase? What's the problem? Why is it an issue? Why are you flustered because you don't have EVERYTHING right there right then right now?

A handy reply to those who intimidate you into giving a price NOW is "$1000." When they register shock, you can explain "well, I COULD get back to you later with a more accurate price, once I have some time to put the numbers together, but if you want a price now, then I have to quote you a price that I KNOW will cover my costs. Or you can give me a day or two to work up a more accurate price for you." icon_twisted.gif

I've done this in my life in corporate america. We had a client ask for a quote and we no-bid the item because we chose not to make this product anymore. He said we HAD to give him a quote beause he needed 3 quotes for his boss. I said, "ok.... tell you boss that it's $1000 per powercord." (our average price for a cord was $2-$12 range). The gasp at the other end was funny! I said, "You needed a quote ... you wouldn't accept our quote of "no-bid", so if you accept whatever quote we give you, then it's going to be worth our while."

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Trixyinaz Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 3:13am
post #16 of 22

Karema - don't feel like an idiot. I often do for various reasons. We can all practice the "let me get back to you with a quote." on each other.

Indy - I have a fear of rejection...I feel if I can give an answer quickly, then they can't reject me...then when all is said and done, I am left without being paid for all of my time. And the funny thing is, I do purchasing for my company and I have no issue waiting a day or two for a quote when I need one. So, this is something I have to work on. I will definately tell the next customer that I will get back to them with a quote. Do you sketch out designs for your customers?

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indydebi Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 3:18am
post #17 of 22
Originally Posted by Trixyinaz

Do you sketch out designs for your customers?

Never .... the closest I get to sketching is the excel drawing I do just to show sizes, etc. I've attached one so you can see how non-artistic I am! No bride has ever asked for one either.

And Trixy .... here's the hole in your theory. Even if you give them a price right away, yes, they CAN still reject you. So the solution to your fear is very flawed.

So .... now that you know it really doesn't fix your fear, you should be able to easily change your response! icon_biggrin.gifthumbs_up.gif

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kimblyd Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 3:47am
post #18 of 22


I thought your Scream cake was awesome, it was a work of art girl! icon_biggrin.gif

You definitely should have charged more, at least up there in the fondant price range. It's not your average cake and you did a wonderful job.


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sweetisome Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 12:26pm
post #19 of 22

indydebi, you're so funny! But I agree with you. I've been doing this for about 8 years now and I'm still just a "hobby for profit" little operation out of my home. People tell me all the time that I don't charge enough for my cakes. I feel uncomfortable asking for more money than I would be willing to pay for a cake ( of course I can pay for them my self now icon_cool.gif ) . If I couldn't make my own cakes, I would be a walmart shopper for sure. icon_redface.gif But I do have to say that I nearly always tell people that I will get back with a price in a day or two. Although I have started asking them for a budget so that I don't plan some elaborate fondant covered masterpiece to sell for $45...(done that!!) It always helps to have some base figures for people too. You can say "well... a base cake for that many people will cost about??? then depending on your decorations it will be more....Tell me what your looking for and then I can give you a more accurate idea of cost in a day or two" This way you've satisfied the customer with a "ball park" price and you give yourself a little time to figure.

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Trixyinaz Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 1:58pm
post #20 of 22

Debi - I know my way of thinking is flawed....seriously flawed....so I know there is lots of room to improve. I am going to start with the next order. And, I love your drawing in excel. I like how you laid it out....simple, clean and easy to read.

Sweetisome -


You can say "well... a base cake for that many people will cost about??? then depending on your decorations it will be more....Tell me what your looking for and then I can give you a more accurate idea of cost in a day or two"

I love that! This sounds perfect. And when someone says they don't have a budget, your above comments will be GREAT to get them thinking of how much they want to spend.

Thanks again guys. SOmetimes just asking the obvious (even though it isn't so obvious to the person asking) really puts things into percpective and builds confidence. I want to do this, but I want to do this right....thanks again!

Kim - thank you for the lovely comment on my cake. Yes, I should have charged more. With the advice I've gotten here yesterday, I will no longer be misquoting people and losing money (my time).

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KHalstead Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 2:09pm
post #21 of 22

it's amazing what a difference a state makes!!! I live in Ohio and I would probably charge around $40.00 for that cake.....$30.00 for a buttercream iced 11x15 and probably an extra $10.00 to paint it!! That cake looks amazing by the way. I pretty much have a set price for things like fondant, fondant accents, etc. If less than half of the cake has fondant it's considered an accent (so like polka dots or a fondant ribbon, or even fondant pearl border) and I charge $0.25/serv. for that. Covered in fondant (meaning half or more of the cake has fondant) is $0.50/serv. but I have different prices for single layered cakes than tiered cakes. Because most people around here would fall over dead if I charged an extra $17.50 to cover a 10" round in fondant. But usually I can give people a pretty good ballpark figure on the spot! Right now I don't charge any extra for things like fbct's on buttercream cakes, but I am charging a minimum of $5.00 per modelled figure (regardless of how small) and the same for plaques on cakes.

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-Tubbs Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 3:02pm
post #22 of 22

It helps to have a base-price, so that you can give customers a very rough idea of what their cake might cost. I say, buttercream starts at $2.50, fondant at $3.00. Let me work out the size you'll need and what the extras will come to.

Don't forget, there are lots of people who have NO CLUE what a cake should cost. I've done it myself - gone shopping for something unfamiliar, been quoted and thought 'You know, you could have told me $30 or $300 and I wouldn't have any idea whether that was reasonable!'

It helps to have a ball park idea left with the customer - that way, when you call them back with the actual quote, they won't pass out!

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