Newbie-Need Help With Pricing

Decorating By northwest35 Updated 7 Feb 2011 , 5:40am by indydebi

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northwest35 Posted 5 Feb 2011 , 3:54pm
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Hello, Can anyone help me on how to charge for cakes, is it by the size of the cake or by servings. I have always done them for family and friends and have recently been asked to do a wedding cake for someone I don't know and I have no idea what to charge. Thanks in advance , northwest35

6 replies
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Kiddiekakes Posted 5 Feb 2011 , 4:07pm
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It usually is charged by the servings...base price..any extras like fondant flowers,chocolate work etc is over and above that.Buttercream is usually less per serving than fondant.I charge $3.99 a serving for BC and $5.00 for fondant.Then I see how itnricate the design is and add from there.Take into account your boards...internal support systems etc...Geographic area plays a big part also as what may be the going rate in New York city cannot be sustained in a smaller market like Montana.

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leily Posted 5 Feb 2011 , 4:11pm
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here is a good thread on how to figure out pricing for your cakes.

Whether you charge per serving or size of cake it should be the same price total. TO figure out the price per serving you just take the total price for that cake and divide it by the number it serves.

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lynn1968 Posted 5 Feb 2011 , 11:50pm
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here in dayton, OH, one of the bakeries with a great reputation advertises a base price of $3.25 per serving for basic flavours, plus $1.25 per serving for fondant. they charge more for fancier flavours/fillings, but their site doesn't explain additional labour charges or how much they charge for gumpaste flowers. that seems to be negotiated during the consultation. i've seen some sites that give you their labour prices, which is pretty steep, although these are fairly high-end bakeries as i recall.

apparently, wedding cake servings are smaller than regular cake servings. how big is a regular serving? sorry, i forgot the wedding cake serving size.

i'd heard tell of wild stories of people getting their wedding cakes for $300-400. and with great decoration. and delicious. they left out flying unicorns, dancing rainbows and pots of gold, though, because i'm hard pressed to hear of any legitimate bakery with experience, decoration ability and taste that's not in the $1000 range. i'm tempted to believe the $350 wedding cake is by someone just starting out and definitely *not* owning a brick-and-mortar shop and the contract consists of a promise and a handshake. a lot of stories i've seen, too, tell of having a bakery decorating dummy cakes, just the top tier is real, and behind are several sheet cakes, which supposedly saves them tons of money. personally, i'm not going down that path with a customer, even if the math on it isn't as horrendous as i think it would be on first blush. low-balling yourself on prices is a long, difficult road to ruin. don't be afraid to ask for an appropriate amount for your services. i know times are tough and people are trying to save a buck, but that doesn't mean you have to be a charity, either. that said, no one needs to know if it's your first wedding cake. granted, you don't have the overhead a regular bakery has, so you can cut them a deal.

check out the prices of your local bakeries on their websites. they'll almost always tell you the per-serving prices (and what flavours they offer, of course), and that's a good start. charge what you feel is fair and reasonable, but be fair and reasonable to yourself, too, otherwise you'll have to put up with all sorts of people what think you'll charge half of what you should even when you open up a proper shop. then you're working twice as hard for half the price (which is the definition of an entrepeneur anyway, lol).

what i've learned from owning a trophy shop is this: there's a new business model. the idea is, and how i hate this philosophy from top to bottom, that you charge $30 for something that can be bought elsewhere for $10. you'll lose 2/3 of your customers, but your profit margin is the same if you only sell one item instead of three. actually, your profit margin goes up because you save materials, time and labour. does is make some kind of sense? yeah, it actually does. i think it stinks as a way to do business, but i see it every single time i check out the competition. not sure why i threw that out there necessarily, but there it is. icon_smile.gif

if you charge them, i would want around 40% deposit. some charge less, but that seems to be a good average from what i've seen. the lowest i've seen was 25%. you might find a good sample contract online, but if not you certainly can make one up yourself, just keep it simple and easily understandable for a judge to look at if it comes down to that.

oh, and to answer your question, i've yet to see a bakery that *doesn't* charge per serving on a wedding cake. that's probably why decorating dummy cakes might be such a deal? then again, i'm going to decorate styrofoam, i might as well decorate a real cake, huh?

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northwest35 Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 5:01am
post #5 of 7

Thanks gals for the info and lynn 1968 for the encouragement to not sell myself short. I have done that more than once on simple birthday cakes. I will meet with the bride and groom soon and I will try to post pictures of my first wedding cake.

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scp1127 Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 5:10am
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lynn, people don't buy things 3x market price... you sell none at that price. The operative words are "market price". That is the price and products are sold in a range based on relative value. It is a bad business move to assume people are stupid... they aren't.

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indydebi Posted 7 Feb 2011 , 5:40am
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charging by the servings is the same thing as charging by the size of the cake, since cake is measured by how many it serves. You can sell a 10" square cake for $150 ..... or you can sell it for $3/serving (50 servings x $3). Its all semantics.

Industry standard is 1x2x4" serving size. This is about the size of a folded over peanut butter sandwich. here are pics of cut pieces of cake to show you that they are not tiny and they are not paper thing:


because i'm hard pressed to hear of any legitimate bakery with experience, decoration ability and taste that's not in the $1000 range. i'm tempted to believe the $350 wedding cake is by someone just starting out and definitely *not* owning a brick-and-mortar shop and the contract consists of a promise and a handshake.

And of course the first question I ask is "how many people does it serve?" LOTS of place (including me when I had a shop) could do a wedding cake for 100 for $350. $10/serving (100 x $10 = $1000) is pretty much an outrageous price here in the midwest.

I get the question all the time of "what's the most expensive cake you ever made?" The question is all wrong since pricing is baded on number of servings, so the actual question should be "what's the biggest cake you ever made?" Obviously a cake to serve 285 will cost $1000 (at $3.50/serving)......just like a cake for 100 will cost $350 (at $3.50/serving).

To say someone had a thousand dollar cake forces the question of "did it serve 10? 100? or 1000?" before I'm impressed about the price

I hope your blanket statement about a bias re: the lack of skill based on the price alone on a cake was made based on a bad experience you had. Otherwise you pretty much just insulted a lot of folks on here.

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