Price Shock!!!

Business By masturbaker Updated 16 Dec 2009 , 12:28pm by lchristi27

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masturbaker Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 8:34am
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Hello everyone! Just wanted to vent a problem I continually get... I live in Ohio and run a "cottage" bakery. I have been doing cakes for almost a year now.. I know the economy is bad and all, especially here, but I continually get people who say my prices are "ridiculous" or "that's just too high".... I actually lose buisness because of this.

I charge $2.50 per seving for buttercream cakes, $3.00 - $3.50 for fondant cakes and carved/3D cakes start at $4.50. I think my prices are completely reasonable and are comparable to other "cakers" in my city..

I've thrown every clever retort back at these people like, "go to a restaurant and try serving 30 people a slice of cake for $1 each and see how far you get"... and "Walmart has NOTHING on my cakes".. and "if you want custom made, quality cake you pay custom made, quality prices"...

also, I never claimed that a cake from me was cheap... in fact, I realize that it's expensive and not for everyone. But I refuse to work for less than minimum wage...

and now i'm just ranting.. but I'm wondering about other experiences that some of you have had.... Do you ever feel like you're overpricing?

I lose orders because of this and it makes me think that I should renegotiate the price.. so far I haven't and have stood firm on my price... but then I think.. hmm, I really could have used that money.

67 replies
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FleurDeCake Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 8:52am
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stand firm.... what we do is an artform.. and very hard work.... would you want to stand on your feet all day working for less than min wage at walmart...

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roweeena Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 9:03am
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I also use

"nothing good is ever cheap
and nothing cheap is ever good"


"if you want a beamer, go to a BMW dealer, if you want a ford check the trading post"

I tihnk people enjoy saying things like "oh you are so expensive" it makes them feel better about themselves. You just need to remember that... Its not about you, its their insecurities and nastiness.

And never discount your work just because they make you feel bad about earning some money from your career. We abolished slavery long ago, lets not go back to it.

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Bluehue Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 9:04am
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I agree - stand firm on your prices.

The reason people say *thats ridiculous* etc etc etc is because they have no idea or clue as to how to make a cake like you make - let alone construct it into something 3D.

And i occassionally use that line of *what restaurant would you be served a dessert for under $6.00 per serving.....or even $9.00 for that matter*
Not one around the area i live in - thats for sure.

Now that you have posted this thread, someone will walk in your door and surprise you with - *Please make me a cake - and yes, thats an excellant price for what i am getting* thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

Keep your chin up - people who appreciate works of art will soon appear at your door.

Bluehue. icon_smile.gificon_smile.gif

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ziggytarheel Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 11:51am
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I've read many times about depressed prices in Ohio and how difficult it can be, even with comparatively low prices to get people to pay your price there. I wish I had some great advice for you, except to stick to your guns and keep looking for folks willing to pay for what they get.

I did, however, want to mention something about the restaurant cake analogy. As a consumer, that particular explanation wouldn't work for me. When I go out to eat, part of the way that I always justify the expense is knowing that the price of my food is based on much more than the actual food itself. On top of the labor to produce the food, there are other salaries to pay (low as they may be), there is the lovely table and table ware, the dishwasher has wash not only the food prep materials but also my eating utensils, there are utilities to pay not only in the kitchen but the dining room, the dining room decor has a price, the extra large parking lot has a price, etc. This is why I pay more for their dessert in the restaurant. It does cost more to provide a pleasant place to eat my food than to take it home to eat it.

I say all that realizing that I would pay the same for take out (sans tip). Maybe no one else would think that way, but I do. I always think about that in wedding cake pricing threads, since the bride is probably paying separately for the place for people to eat, for the dishes they eat the cake on, for someone to wash those dishes, etc.

Not to take anything away from your original point or the many, many great justifications for your prices and the prices of others. Just the way my mind works and maybe some customers you might run across.

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DecorateMe Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 12:42pm
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If everyone could afford you, you'd be priced too low. You know you're priced right in the market when some people can afford you and others can't.

Good Luck!

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cylstrial Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 1:01pm
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I think that's something that everyone goes through. At least, there is a lot of it posted on here. And really, you don't want to take a cake and break even or make hardly anything.

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minicuppie Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 1:10pm
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I don't make excuses....just smile and thank them for thinking of me. A lot of times they will come back because I am just so darn nice. hehehehehe

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Deb_ Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 1:14pm
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There's always going to be those that can't or won't buy your cakes.

Heck, I go into Nordstrom's and get "sticker shock" when I pick up a scarf and it costs $450! but....there's a market for everything.

Just be patient, once your name gets known in the cake world and more people start eating your cakes, the business will come. It takes time.

Your prices sound great I wouldn't budge them at all. Your competition is not WalMart or BJ's, you are a custom cake designer.

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elvis Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 1:49pm
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I agree, stick to your guns. You don't want to be the best bargain in town. Plus, compared to a "real bakery", you are putting in a lot more individual hours. You are the baker, icing maker, decorator, dishwasher, clean up crew, scheduler, delivery driver, etc. etc. Not to mention that people with home based cake businesses also have higher utility bills. All of these things add up!

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-K8memphis Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 2:26pm
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It would be easier to relate if we could gauge your work -- got any pictures???

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__Jamie__ Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 2:30pm
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Nope. I have never ever felt like I underprice. I'm on the high end of pricing, but also produce a very elegant product. Usually, like this last weekend, I realized the next time I do a similar design, it will be charged out much more than this one was.

It's really ok to not make a cake for everyone who asks. I land about every 3rd or 4th request. And that's the way I like it. icon_smile.gif

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peg818 Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 2:48pm
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Well, i get alot of the your to expensive. So i tell them right off the bat that i'm not cheap right at the first request. I do everything i can to keep prices reasonable, but most of the people i know can't or wont pay me enough that i could ever make a living at this.

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__Jamie__ Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 2:52pm
post #14 of 68
Originally Posted by K8memphis-

It would be easier to relate if we could gauge your work -- got any pictures???

Yes---this. I would love to see some spectacular work and say you should be even it when that happens!

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CakeMommyTX Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 2:55pm
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Ah come on it's just flour, sugar and eggs right?

J/J don't throttle me, I agree with everyone else, stick to your guns, or your
The way I figure it is they don't want to pay my price then they are'nt the kind of customer I wanted in the first place.
Some people understand that quality cost more and those are the ones you want.

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kakedreamer1212 Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:02pm
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Stick to your guns masturbaker, I charge about the same thing. When I first started about 5 yrs. ago, I charged much less and stayed swamped all the time.....sound good? Not so much! I think ppl. found out they could get an awesome cake for very little money and I stayed so busy i could hardly keep up and was exahusted all the time, not to mention...broke. I finally found my senses and raised my prices. At first it scared me because it seemed like business almost stopped and I was second quessing my decision but so enough, it picked up again and I still stay busy but the pay makes it worth it and I'm not so exhausted all the time. There are ppl. who will buy and some who wont. Thats just how it is. I stopped saying yes to everyone. I kinda look at it this way..... when I go shopping for something and find the price is to high and I just cant afford it at the time, I don't expect the store to lower the price for me. I either buy it or I dont.

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__Jamie__ Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:02pm
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Originally Posted by CakeMommyTX

Ah come on it's just flour, sugar and eggs right?

J/J don't throttle me, I agree with everyone else, stick to your guns, or your
The way I figure it is they don't want to pay my price then they are'nt the kind of customer I wanted in the first place.
Some people understand that quality cost more and those are the ones you want.

icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif Yup...sugar, flour, and eggs! And absolutely, some people get it and some don't. And it's ok. icon_smile.gif

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tootie0809 Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:03pm
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I get a lot of price shock too, and my prices are right on par with other custom cake bakeries in my area. People just don't understand the work and time that is involved in making a cake. That's why I really, really wish on all of the cake shows that they would make sure to show the total price of these immaculate cakes that people are seeing. I think that would bring people down to earth a little bit on what to expect to pay for a custom cake. Just the other day I had a guy want a 3-D sculpted T-Rex dinosaur for his daughter's birthday, called 5 days before he wanted it, and when asked what his buget was said "well no real budget, but I don't want to pay like $100 bucks or anything like that for a cake." I laughed inside to myself, rolled my eyes (phone call), and politely informed him that my minimum for any 3-D cake was $150 and that this type of cake would be closer to $200-$250. He said he'd "talk to his wife and call back." People just don't understand.

As many wise and wonderful CC'ERS have made me realize, I'd rather do 1 or 2 $500 cakes a month than 10-20 $50 cakes. Not everyone can afford a custom cake. That's okay. Even I can't afford to pay for a custom cake, but I sure am glad I can make a darn good one myself. Some people will balk at you prices and some will gladly pay up. You get both kinds, so be happy for the ones that pay what you are worth and let the ones who think you are too expensive find a cake within their budget at the supermarket.

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kaat Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:05pm
post #19 of 68

It happens everywhere in every business.
Instead of a "witty retort" which won't win them over - show them the VALUE in what you do.

Yes, it is a lot of money and it's (I'm) worth every penny.

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HarleyDee Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:09pm
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People will pay for what they want. It may take a little while for the spendy clients to realize that you exist. But people really will pay for quality and uniqueness. Don't back down, because then people will always second guess you.

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Nellical Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:31pm
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Don't charge less. You will end up giving the product away...lose money. That is not what a business is about. We, women particularly, tend to under rate ourselves and our work. How long does it take you to make a cake? I don't mean just the decorating.

How long does it take to bake the cake, from the moment you start pulling ingredients out of the pantry until it is cooling and you are washing the bowls and pans? Never mind going to the store to buy the ingredients. And how much time does it take for you to make the fillings, buttercream, fill icing bags, all of that?

I did a cake last week at home for a friend that took 25 hours to make, after I counted how long it took to make the modeling chocolate, then all of the figures I made of modeling chocolate, made the ganache, made the buttercream, baked the six layers for the three tiers, and all from scratch. Then assembling the cake, strawberry shortcake on the bottom and chocolate with chocolate mousse filling and ganache on the top two tiers. Then I decorated it. The only part not made from scratch was the fondant since I prefer Satin Ice. I caught a break on rolling the fondant since I had the bakery sheeter at home to roll it out. I only charged a nominal fee since the guy is a friend who has had a rough time of it lately but there is no way I could make a living if I charged lower than $5 per serving once our bakery gets open next month. I charged way less than that for this cake but it is the last time, I will not make that mistake again. In fact, the restaurant three doors down from our new bakery charges $6 and $7 per serving of dessert. I am seriously considering charging more, like $6/serving to start or a minimum flat rate for any cake, extra decorating elements and labor costing more.

We are almost done with the construction of our bakery and in front built a fancy cafe where people can come in for coffee and dessert. The local area is wealthy. If they can afford multimillion dollar houses, they can afford $6 or more per serving of a custom cake. If you go to Charm City Cakes website you'll see that their minimum is $1,000.

I know it is tough out there for some folks but 90% are still working in most of the country and if we start backing down on price while our costs continue to rise, we only hurt ourselves. If you have a really good product, you should get paid a fair market price. Let the few clients who would complain drift away. The ones who can afford it will come. Believe in yourself and continue to make a better product each time and you will succeed.

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smab109 Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:35pm
post #22 of 68

I am in Ohio also and run into the same problem. There is another woman in the Akron area who charges $1.50 per serving!! Oh, she adds one more dollar for fondant. Very maddening and frustrating to see someone undercharging like that. (Oh, and cupcakes for $10 a dozen!)

Just stick with your prices - I'm sticking with mine! Not letting the competition or customers tell me how much I should make!

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cupcakeatheart Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:38pm
post #23 of 68

I think your prices are right on. Value and quality will always back up your price. Plus the first time you go down on price will be for that one customer who tells all her friends and then they will call wanting the same price...slippery slope. But it can easily go the other way..stay to your prices and get that client who feels they got a good deal, who tells her friends about the awesome show-stopper you made and then you're making amazing cakes at a price that will make you a profit

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Nellical Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:45pm
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Originally Posted by elvis

Not to mention that people with home based cake businesses also have higher utility bills. All of these things add up!

Sidebar: this might be true in some parts of the country but not so here in Florida. My electric bill for an empty bakery these last two months has been $200 a month to keep it airconditioned for the construction crew. Some days they didn't need it and the weather has been only in the upper 70's most of that time. I can only imagine what it is going to be like once we add the gas service for the ovens, add the three door refrigerator, the hot water heater, the two door freezer, doing laundry every evening, the dishwasher, the two pastry cases in the front, lights on all day, and other electrical appliances. Then we have the $200 per month just for the phone and internet.

Overhead is expensive any way you slice it so factor that in to yor pricing!

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Rylan Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:53pm
post #25 of 68

I agree with everyone, just stick to your prices.

Many customers who doesn't know about cake wouldn't really know how much time and money goes on a cake--especially when you are running a business.

Before I discovered cake decorating, I would be one of those who would be shocked with $2 a serving. Now that I know how it goes, I understand.

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Jopalis Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 3:58pm
post #26 of 68

also depends on what size your slices are.

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costumeczar Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 4:14pm
post #27 of 68

If someone says something like that to you, just reply "I'm sorry that I'm out of your budget range. Please feel free to call me in the future if you need a special custom cake that you can't get anywhere else." Then say goodbye and hang up.

Or this: "My cake isn't too expensive, you're just cheap." icon_twisted.gif Well, maybe not.

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Love2BakeCakes Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 4:34pm
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Blessings Masturbaker

Recently my fiance saw that something was bothering me ... he could tell by the look on my face. My father was able to pick up the same thing via a phone conversation I had with him the same day. I explained to them that I was concerned that maybe my price for a cake that a client was requesting was too high because she was backing out of the agreement.

They both told me to never sell myself short to a client especially when I know the work that I put into my cakes. They reminded me that clients don't know the true value of the effort that gets put into the cakes that they order. I can't speak for anyone else ... though I am sure others would say the same ... but a lot of love goes into the works of art that we create. We do our best to get our designs as close to perfect as we can.

My fiance and my father told me ... If a client wants to back out of an agreement, then that is not the client for you! You know the quality of what you do and you know the effort it takes to do it. You know in your heart that you are genuine and honest with everything you say to the client and everything you do to your cakes. So stay true to yourself and to your work. And as my fiance and my father told me ... "don't sell yourself short! Clients always want to keep as much money in their pockets as they can."

(And by the way, the client ordered the cake and was ready to give me $40 more because she thought she ordered a larger cake. I reminded her (via her contract) she backed off of the larger cake and ordered the smaller version. So now, not only did she get a quality cake that she loved, she also got a cake decorator whom she sees is honest and true to her work!)


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Mike1394 Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 4:37pm
post #29 of 68

Yeah yeah yeah keep your pricing. Look if you want to lower your prices fine. There is ALOT of $$$ sitting in that slot above wally, and below sticker shock. Go after it if you want it. Your volume will go up, so will everything else, including your work load. What you don't want to do though is offer them a stunning cake at bottom of the barrel prices.

There is nothing wrong with offering a respectable product at a fair price.


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Kitagrl Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 5:00pm
post #30 of 68

I've had some think I'm reasonable...some who don't comment at all but calmly pay the price...and some who never call back and think I'm unreasonable. I think that means I'm probably about right.

Once in awhile I'm tempted to lower prices a bit to get more orders...on the other hand I want to be well paid for the hours I let my little ones stare at the tv while I do cake. Eventually your "rich customers" will tell their "rich friends" and you'll get more business. thumbs_up.gif

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