Pricing And Mini Rant

Decorating By nanefy Updated 5 Apr 2011 , 11:40pm by June_m

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nanefy Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 2:14pm
post #1 of 14

Hey guys,

I'm just taking the foray into a cake decorating business. I've been making cupcakes for a couple of years and have started making celebration cakes/wedding cakes. I haven't made a huge amount of stacked cakes, however I am improving with every single cake. Anyway, everyone loves my cakes, I get rave reviews but my issue is that people just have NO CLUE how much work and skill goes into making a cake. Everyone assumes that because they can buy a store bought cake for about £10 that the two tier BASIC cake you're offering for £120 is outrageous! Firstly, I make all my cakes from scratch - I only use genoise (I don't do novelty or shaped cakes so I can get away with using genoise), that is soaked in simple syrup using compound flavourings (which are not cheap), it is then filled with swiss meringue buttercream then covered in ganache and then Massa Ticino fondant. My whole ethos is that I want my cakes to be as amazing inside as they are outside. I only use the best ingredients I can find (where possible) and I flat out refuse to use hydrogenated vegetable fat and I HATE standard buttercream - I hope I am not offending anyone, but to me it's my worst nightmare. A lot of people I know who don't like birthday/wedding cake have changed their minds after tasting my cakes because the SMBC is so much lighter and less cloyingly sweet than a standard BC and in my area, I don't think there is a single cake decorator who uses SMBC/IMBC so people are generally surprised when they taste my cakes because IMO SMBC is a lot like a whipped cream, very light and sweet and not at all sickly. Anyway, my point is that, there is a lot of skill that goes into making cakes and I price accordingly.
So long story even longer, I've had a couple of people extremely interested in buying my cakes after tasting them, then when they find out the cost, you'd think I'd just killed their dog! I had someone the other day ask for a white chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream to serve 30 people, so I quoted either a 10" single tier for £60 (basic cake) or if they wanted a 2 tier cake that it would be a 6" and 8" and would cost £120 - this is the standard pricing in my area - anyway they decided to take 12 cupcakes at a cost of £18!!!!! I have no idea how they intend on serving 12 cupcakes to 30 people!! So they clearly think that my cupcakes are over priced too! What gets me is that my cupcakes ARE actually a lot less expensive than the competition. Someone in my area is charging £3 per cupcake (to my £1.50) and they are nothing to look at (and they use trans fats etc).
What annoys me is that they marvel at the cakes, agree about the skill involved etc, but then expect to pay £10 for a 2 tier cake, with gum paste flowers etc. I know that a lot of people think 'its just cake' but it's fricking not just cake!!! It's about 30 hours work at least, not to mention the cost of ingredients.

Anyway, I'm standing my ground, I'm not going to sell myself short and I'm not going to undercut the local competition, because I don't think that's ethical - there is enough business to go around and I would NEVER want to put someone else out of business. I mean, there are local businesses who make cakes cheaper than mines, but then they only do two flavours, vanilla and chocolate, they only use cake mix and they use a buttercream with trans fats. Don't get me wrong, there is a market for that, but that's not the market I am aiming for.

Anyway, this was mainly a rant, but also wanted to know what other peoples thoughts were on the issue?

Thanks for listening icon_smile.gif

13 replies
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June_m Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 8:46pm
post #2 of 14

I think it depends on the area and today's economy. Not many people can afford £120 for a 2 tiered 6"& 8" cake. My basic for genoese for a 10" and 8" is £50. I'm only new to the business and have only been registered for 2 months. Today a friends mum asked me to make one of my cupcake bouquets that holds 9 large and 7 small Cupcakes and thought £20 was too expensive lol x

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wiggler Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 9:20pm
post #3 of 14

Hey Nenefy
I am new to all this and my decoarting skills are nowhere near as good as yours . One thing I know however is my cakes taste great . I use the best of everything and its so expensive ! I dont sell my cakes , I just give them away as presents but I m somtimes asked by people who have seen them would I make one for them for a Christening or whatever . They always seem to be shocked at how much it would cost . I did a sugar craft course recently which by the way was total rubbish . The only thing I did take from it was my tutor said you can only make money making wedding cakes . Other than that here in Ireland people arnt willing to pay !

June M , How can you possibly make a profit selling a 2 tier cake for £50 , just wondering ? Seems to cost me nearly as much to make one ?

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nanefy Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 10:01pm
post #4 of 14

Hey, I totally agree with wiggler I'm afraid, I can't see that you make a decent amount of profit only charging £50, the fact for me is that cake decorating is never a monday to friday 9-5pm job, it's regular nights working on flowers and weekends delivering and setting up cakes, so in order for it to be worth my while, I can't just cover my ingredients and then a small amount for my time - my time is what is expensive! I'm still in the process of creating a costing spreadsheet so that I know the EXACT costs of a cake, but it's complicated because there are so many factors.
I have never taken a single class in my life and to be honest, unless I had the opportunity to a Planet Cake or Ron Ben Israel class, I don't think I'll bother. A lot of the sugar craft courses available in the uk (as far as I am concerned) are really pretty rubbish! (please feel free to correct me if there are some good ones). I have learned everything online and through practice - it probably takes longer than taking a class, but then I develop my own techniques which make my flowers etc different from others.
When people take their car to the garage, it's the labour that is expensive, so I feel it's the same with cake decorating. When I used to be an IT contractor, I was earning £24 per hour and there is far more work involved in making and decorating a cake!! lol.
Even if the majority of people can't afford my cakes, I'm not lowering my prices, I guess I'll just be working with a different section of the market place. There is a company in my area (I won't name names) who practically EVERYONE goes to for their wedding cakes, and they are very very good, however I have been told on numerous occasions that my cakes taste way better and they charge about £90 for a single 10" tier with nothing on it. Granted they have established themselves more than I have, but as far as I am concerned, I can only get better at what I do and can only gain even more experience, so I don't see why I should charge less than them. If people are really serious about getting a cake that tastes as good as it looks then they will find the money from somewhere to pay for it.
Anyway, hopefully I finish my pricing spreadsheet soon and then I'll know exactly how much profit (or loss lol) I am making icon_smile.gif

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June_m Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 10:27pm
post #5 of 14

I do make profit but I have only been decorating for 5 months. There is also a cake shop local and the owner actually has books out and her cakes are cheaper too so I wouldn't be able to compete against that. I have done classes and I love it! It's great being able to learn to do things professionally. X

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wiggler Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 10:45pm
post #6 of 14

June , please dont get me wrong . Your cakes are great , wish I had half the talent you have. I think you have to be selling yourself short charging so little for a cake , If a 2 tier cake takes you five hours to make your labour alone should be at least £40 ?

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nanefy Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 10:48pm
post #7 of 14

I don't think that classes are any more professional than professionals who share their knowledge online. For me, I can't justify paying exorbitant prices (and some of the courses really are extremely expensive) to learn something that I can learn from a book i.e. Alan Dunn or online (I get everything from the library lol - I'm such a skin flint). I guess everyone learns differently - some people like learning face to face, others prefer to just learn themselves and others prefer learning from materials, I prefer the latter.
So far by my calculations, for me to make a single 8" fondant covered cake at 4" high, on it's own cake card and then on a cake drum covered in fondant, with SMBC, coated with white chocolate ganache, ribbon to cover the sides of the drum, all in white i.e. no coloring in the fondant (and this is not including my time or electricity etc), it costs me on average £20 - this is a single tier, with no decoration. So this is not including things like delivery costs for my ingredients and consumables, the corn starch I use to roll my fondant out on, my electricity, my own time etc etc etc. I buy almost everything in bulk so it's cheaper so for me I literally would be wasting my time charging any less than I do.
Sorry, I'm not trying to be pessimistic and if you make a profit that's fab - maybe you get better offers on your ingredients than me, I'm not sure.
Can anyone else in the UK pitch in here, because I can't see how I could possibly charge any less than I do???? icon_sad.gif

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wiggler Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 11:02pm
post #8 of 14

The one course I signed up for was totally rubbish. I learned more off my fellow classmates than the tutor ! I reckon she was about 75 . Up until when I took the class I was like you , learning on line etc. I wasted 100 on a few rubbish classes .My time spent on line was much more helpful , will be sticking to that now unless I hear of something better coming up !

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nanefy Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 11:14pm
post #9 of 14

Hey Wiggler, I am in total agreement. I had a recent very bad experience when I was taken on by a local company as a baker. The woman was a total and utter horror, a complete narcasist and was just a plain old bully. I wasn't sure about taking the job because I'd been on her website and her cakes were shockingly bad - and I don't say that lightly. Anyway, only lasted 1 day and 1.5 hours on the second day, but for the whole time I was there she kept commenting about how I could NEVER learn to be good by watching videos or reading books. She is going to Glasgow Calledonian University to learn sugar flowers and she has been going for a while and either she is just generally rubbish at roses and flowers or the class is teaching her badly! The courses are far from cheap and I have learned EVERYTHING online and that includes baking etc. Companies like you to believe that you MUST be classically trained in order to be good, but I'm sorry, that is an out and out lie. I actually take pride in the fact that I have learned everything without being 'trained'. My cakes speak for themselves and I am confident in my product. Sorry for the rant, but I get riled up when I think of that nasty piece of work constantly trying to put me down in order that she could feel good about the shocking cakes she was selling.

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June_m Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 11:14pm
post #10 of 14

The courses I go to are £45 everything included and you take it home, the same cake on another website was £125? Id rather spend the £45 and make it myself. I will be increasing my prices once I feel I have the skill to
Do so, I'd love to charge more but then reality is if people are going to pay £100 for a 2 tier basic cake they would want it perfect and I'm not at that skill yet. Where as I charge small get te business and for now It means more practice.

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June_m Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 11:21pm
post #11 of 14

I'm in Glasgow an never heard of them doing courses lol. One cake shop I go to they were advertising for a cake decorator but they had to be fully qualified. I have looked into doing the pme courses to get the degree but it's alot of money and you have to provide everything as well.

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nanefy Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 11:22pm
post #12 of 14

I can understand where you are coming from, I just would hate to think you are under selling yourself. We can be our own worst critics and I think it's better to be slightly overly confident than under confident because then you are more likely to sell yourself short.
I've seen some SHOCKINGLY bad cakes that sell for about the same price I charge and I am not kidding when I say that I'd be embarrassed to even allow those cakes to be viewed by my fiancée let alone a customer! I've had a look at your cakes and they are excellent - I think you should be charging more, and I reckon that what you think is not perfection in your eyes, would be perfection in the customers eyes.
However I know how nerve racking cake decorating can be and I used to grossly under sell myself because I felt bad charging people what the going rate was, I just decided that if I wanted to make a decent salary I had to get over it and charge what I do now - it was hard, but I coped icon_wink.gif lol

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nanefy Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 11:25pm
post #13 of 14

It might not be at glasgow cally, as I say, the woman I worked for was totally full of herself and regularly lied to make herself look good - she said specifically it was a university, however it's more likely it was the Glasgow Met College (just googled it).

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June_m Posted 5 Apr 2011 , 11:40pm
post #14 of 14

I think I will have to reconsider my pricing it's so hard trying to
Judge how long something will cost until I've done it so I so undercharge. I am getting better tho at refusing cakes because they think my prices are too high. Hopefully this time next yr I will be at a good standard, for 5 months I've gotten pretty far, I know someone who is really busy but her work
Is shocking yet she gets the customers.

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