Did Anybody's Pitas Turn Out To Be Good Clients? (Long)

Decorating By Panel7124 Updated 10 Oct 2011 , 9:08pm by SammieB

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Panel7124 Posted 7 Oct 2011 , 11:23am
post #1 of 7

Yes or not? And how do you handle them?

One of my clients makes me laugh (not in front of her). I don't know what her job is, but I'd guess something like manager-laywer-M.D-local politician.... Never had problems with her payments. It's her behaviour that amazes me. Always 'I'm so important-short of time-rich' approach. Then I get stuck with her 1,5 hour discussing a simple cake. I usually try to deal as quickly and as less often as possible with her.

I think she could become a good client payment, order-wise. Behavior-wise is questionable. But her cakes, even the smaller and simpler ones, are usually discussed at 'business lunches' icon_lol.gif in good restaurants (I can't care less) and rigorously in person with sketches and photos for inspiration. I told her clearly in the beginning that any of my time is worth 25/hour to me making or not making cakes (just to get rid of her). Her response? Ok, include any other charges in the coming cake price

She is quite nice and educated when we talk, but her e-mails are always slightly ironic ('are you able to do ? I dont think it would be enough Im sure everything can be executed exactly as I requested (even if she is asking for really non-suitable fillings or details or changing the details for the fourth time) type of phrases). I think there must be always some diplomacy involved in dealing with clients, more or less, depends on client. I dont have any problem saying directly if I dont want or cannot do something, dont have any problem treating this type of clients with subtle or less subtle irony and yes-no, can-cant do style or setting deadlines for the orders. So she is still manageable in some way. Just a border-line case.

Im not a baker by profession, have got a MA in economics and commerce, live alone with two small children. My main income comes from my other small private business and I consider making custom cakes as a paid hobby (regular, licensed, insured), as I find it creative. So I really do not depend on that part of income (she doesnt really know anything of all this, I didnt tell her).

Her cakes are usually quite demanding and creative, so I really enjoy making them and she appreciates the results but has ALWAYS something to say in the end, even if its only a small detail, doesnt really matter or has nothing to do with the actual cake. She also brought other clients to me. What I really dont like is how this type of people sometimes treat others - unless you are the US president.. and then maybe! they will show SOME respect. (By the way, Im not going to ask her about her profession even if I know she is DYING to tell me icon_twisted.gif).

If anybody has similar experience or other stories to tell, Id be curious to hear them. How do you handle your PITAs and did they ever become good and friendly clients?

6 replies
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BlakesCakes Posted 7 Oct 2011 , 10:24pm
post #2 of 7

I know a very famous baker who has just such a client. She's been a client since the baker was making cakes on the side in her tiny studio apartment nearly 20 years ago.

The client has never complained as the baker's prices have gone up, and up, and up. But, the client always wants face-to-face consultations and sketches and cakes for 7 people with NO LEFTOVERS icon_eek.gif
Quite honestly, the baker just doesn't have the time anymore for a cake that will top out at $150--and she's the type who feels guilty for charging so much for such a tiny cake.

So, a few years ago, she decided to tell the client that due to the increase in her business, there would be a $500 minimum for ALL cakes, no matter the size and that sketches would be an additional fee.

She was sure that the client would either find another baker--who, in their right mind, would pay $500 for a 7 serving cake???????

You guessed it............the client never flinched. She said, fine, and continues to order 7 serving cakes.............The baker now feels well compensated for her time & has decided that it's not her role in life to worry about the client's choices or finances.

I don't have an actual client like that, but if I did--AND I really wanted to do the cakes they were asking for--I'd tack on a lot of $$ to compensate me for my time, effort, and PIA factor.


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Elcee Posted 7 Oct 2011 , 11:38pm
post #3 of 7

It's not a client, since I don't have a business but I did a wedding cake for a coworker of my husband's (the hay bale in my pics) and I had never met the bride previously. She drove me nuts with emails. I have 39 emails still in my inbox from her and that doesn't include my replies and the miscellaneous few I've deleted. All the emails were consistently polite, there were just a lot of them icon_smile.gif. After I had their cake all planned out, they completely changed the design, from a sombrero and a Colette Peters style cactus to the hay bale and cowboy hat.

BUT, the Monday following the wedding she left me the nicest voicemail, complimenting the design and the taste and telling me how much their guests loved the cake. When I followed up with an email to thank her for the message I mentioned that I didn't get any pictures of the finished cake and she promptly sent me the ones in my gallery. Two months later, she sent me another email telling me that people are still talking about the cake and that it was the best wedding cake they had seen and tasted.

Just last week she emailed me again with professional pictures that her photographer took. Through all these emails and messages after the wedding, she has offered to give me reviews and references if I ever do go into business. In all honest, all the compliments make me glow a bit icon_redface.gificon_lol.gif

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Panel7124 Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 12:48pm
post #4 of 7

Thanks both for your stories! Rae, I really enjoy reading all your posts. The story is amazing. You're right, there should be some compensation at least for PIA/PITA factor, so I raised the per serving charge for this lady. Her next cake is due this Wednesday - she already changed the design and servings twice, but I'm baking right now, so no changes anymore. She wanted 15 party servings two tiered cake icon_lol.gif . So I told her the minimum I can do will be 25 serv. She was ok with this. I also started to charge for her phone calls icon_wink.gif (they are usually not less than 10 minutes...). BTW, how a 7 serv. with no leftovers cake could be cut? I can imagine the round one, but the square or rectangle one...?

Elcee, your hay bale cake is wonderful! The hat and flowers seem real. It's really a long way from a sombrero or cactus cake. icon_lol.gif With 39 e-mails you are a way ahead of my PITA lady thumbs_up.gif . The most important thing is that your patience brought fabulous results and excellent reviews to you and you fully deserve them!

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robinmarie Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 1:08pm
post #5 of 7

I hope more people post their stories. These are fun to read. So far I haven't had any of these type customers, but I haven't had too many customers. Hope that changes real soon. Just started my little buisness since Texas just passed the cottage law.

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Panel7124 Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 8:27pm
post #6 of 7
Originally Posted by robinmarie

I hope more people post their stories. These are fun to read. So far I haven't had any of these type customers, but I haven't had too many customers. Hope that changes real soon. Just started my little buisness since Texas just passed the cottage law.

robinmarie: don't worry, they will show up icon_smile.gif Wish you good luck and all the best in your new business!

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SammieB Posted 10 Oct 2011 , 9:08pm
post #7 of 7

I have a short story, though it's from my previous job as a sales consultant. I sold high end plumbing, lighting, and appliance products. Now my county has several high end neighborhoods, but back then it was one of the first million dollar houses I'd worked on. She would import the tackiest things from Italy, France, Germany, etc... but always insistent on getting the cheapest price out there. So here I am, 4 months into a job with her, and it's my 6 mo. anniversary with my now husband (ya know, when you're 23 you still celebrate those things). He had a big dinner surprise for me at home, but was running late. So he calls my store, finds out I'm with Iris, and while I run to the bathroom has a coworker tell her to keep me there late so he can get set up. She got a little too excited and kept me there with increasingly dumb questions for over an hour. At which point I got home and my husband had my dinner in the microwave and was caught offguard when I walked in the door. I can see the humor now, but then I was pretty annoyed.

So anyway, I end up working with this lady for almost 2 years, nearly in tears every time she calls. She wants that $1300 faucet for $750. She wants me to personally install her seven shower doors for free (which I did install, but I made her pay me for them). I spent hours at her house, correcting plumbing repairs since she refused to pay good money for a custom plumber. I spent hours fixing her frame work because she refused to pay for a good framer. It got to the point where I literally ran if I saw her in public, had a mini panic attack, then when leave wherever I was pretty much immediately.

But in the end she gave me more referrals than any other customer in my 8 years with that company, paid more of my commission than all but 2 of my other customers, and now goes to church with my in-laws and she adores my children. She always hugs me when she sees me, introduces me with rave reviews to her family and friends, and still sends me Xmas cards from time to time. Once her house was finished and we were out of business together, she became the one of the sweetest people I'd met in a while. However, if I were still selling and she were to build another house we'd have to lay some serious ground rules, b/c it would not be worth it to go through all that again!! icon_smile.gif

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