New Business Milestones: I Got My First Real Haggle

Business By lorieleann Updated 29 Nov 2011 , 3:54am by lorieleann

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lorieleann Posted 18 Nov 2011 , 11:31pm
post #1 of 17

I got my first haggler today. This couple had a consult for a four tier cake that would serve 130 guests. In fondant (14/10/8/5), in four different flavors and frostings even though the top tier will only serve 8 pieces in that one flavor, and with brush embroidery red roses all over it. Gave them their price for fondant per serving including an upcharge for the extra design time of doing the four tiers of brush embroidery.

oh, their wedding only had 30 guests at 9 a.m. on a sunday morning. They just want a big traditional wedding cake.

So anyway, i get a call from him today saying that my estimate is higher than they expected and what can I do to get the number down? I suggest that they downsize the bottom tier from a 14" to a 12" or have a less time consuming design, but he said they want the same cake and same design (just want me to compromise, not them). He brought up that the bakery down from his office said that my per serving price is high, and also that he knows it is a risk doing business with a 'start up' company such as mine--but they really liked me and would like to give me a chance.

Then he said that i didn't have to invoice him again, he could just pay in cash. A couple hundred now then the rest later (duh. i require a 50% non-refundable deposit to hold the date and the balance is due 30 days prior. No pay, no cake). I thought at first that he didn't want to have his fiancee know that he was haggling the price, and therefore didn't want to have me send a new invoice. But when I ran the scenario by a friend who has done advertising design for him, she read between his lines that he was suggesting to do the cake 'off the books'/without an invoice so i could quick cut the tax and not report the sale.

Even though this is a nice sized cake sale, i'm questioning getting into business with him--but i guess my service is pretty cut and dry. They will initial policies regarding the deposit, the final payment date and consequences for not paying.

I think i'll give him a new invoice with a lower priced cake based on a 12 inch bottom tier in the same design that fits more in his 'budget'?. As long as i'm doing everything on the up and up, that should be enough for doing business with someone who proposed shady practices. Plus, I'm a bit insulted that he thought he could mindtweak me into giving him what would be a $150 discount just because i'm a startup and another bakery supposedly said that i was priced high.

. . . or i could say that my husband just surprised me with a cruise for our wedding anniversary and i'm not available on their wedding date, and refund their tasting fee.

16 replies
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Price Posted 18 Nov 2011 , 11:52pm
post #2 of 17

Your 2nd option sounds like a good idea to me!

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costumeczar Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 12:06am
post #3 of 17

I hate hagglers, epsecially when they want something much larger than what they need... The price is what it is, so I'd go with suggesting the smaller tier also. If he doesn't like that then he can always go to the bakery that said your prices were high.

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Kiddiekakes Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 12:09am
post #4 of 17

I agree with the rest..Give him a new quote for the smaller cake and basically leave up to them to Take or leave it!!No haggling..The price is what it is...

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madcobbler Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 12:18am
post #5 of 17

I would send him the invoice for the 12" tier with the updated price. How about also suggesting doing a 3 tier cake such as 6", 10", 14" 0r 6", 9", 12" combo. Don't compromise on your price. Even if another "supposed" baker can do it cheaper it doesn't mean that they'll have a better design or do the same quality of work.

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cakesbycathy Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 12:31am
post #6 of 17

I would give him two options:
A) he can downsize to a 12" and his new price is $X or
B) he can keep his original design and his price is what you originally quoted.

Ignore his comments about other places doing it cheaper.
Tell him he is welcome to pay cash but for accounting purposes you are required to issue invoices to all clients regardless of methods of payment.

If he continues to haggle, tell him you no longer feel like this is a good baker-client fit, that you are refunding his tasting fee and wish him luck finding another decorator. He'll be back because the bride to be will probably kill him otherwise thumbs_up.gif

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AnnieCahill Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 12:32am
post #7 of 17

Then there's always the comment "well if the other bakery says my prices are too high then get your effing cake from them." LOL

Seriously though, send him another invoice and say the price is the price. It is your business so you run it how you want. Don't let people like that bully you into lowering your prices. And WTF is up with his comment about you being a startup business? Like you're just some fly by night decorator who's going to disappear the day of his wedding? See my first comment above. icon_wink.gif

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MimiFix Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 12:50am
post #8 of 17
Originally Posted by lorieleann

I got my first haggler today.

And this won't be your last. I'm quite impressed with how well you're reacting. No rant or lengthy vent, you just laid it out clearly and rationally. I like how you've come up with two responses: Give them a quote based on a smaller cake; or (my personal favorite) you got a better offer.

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cupadeecakes Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 1:54am
post #9 of 17

I agree with Mimi - your response and post was very professional. You wl have LOTS of people wanting to haggle with you. Unfortunately lots of "bride advice" sites/blogs are all telling brides to go for the throat on haggling.

The ONLY way I drop my price is if they get less cake or I do less work; but I always tell them I am more than willing to work with their budget and give them all the cake they can afford.

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lorieleann Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 2:02am
post #10 of 17

thanks guys. I'm really torn on blacking the date out, or offering a smaller cake. He adamantly said that he wanted the "big cake", though i did send along the Clara French cake stand site and said that their cake design would be perfect for one of those stands and would have incredible wow factor if they wanted to go with a smaller cake on one of those stands.

The thing that makes me giggle about the 'risk factor' of a start up comment is that his own business went bust quite publicly a few years ago and there were more than a few people who lost money. I kinda wanted to say, "yeah, i heard the same thing about doing business with you..." but i didn't. icon_twisted.gif

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jason_kraft Posted 19 Nov 2011 , 2:16am
post #11 of 17

There are some cultures where haggling is standard operating procedure, so I wouldn't take it personally. We often get customers who attempt to negotiate (a few will occasionally include blatant lies as a negotiating tactic) but my response is always the same: you can have either your original order for the original price or a smaller/simpler order for a lower price, or you can find another bakery.

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tracycakes Posted 20 Nov 2011 , 7:22pm
post #12 of 17

I don't haggle. My prices are my prices and either you pay it or you don't. Now, if I have a good, repeat customer, I"m likely to give them a deal but because they are good customers. I'm not giving any kind of discount for someone that orders 1 cake from me and expects a discount.

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kakeladi Posted 20 Nov 2011 , 7:37pm
post #13 of 17

Since you 'are a start-up company' please don't start out by lying. Don't suddenly have something else come up on that date.
As others have said, give them options:
1) downsizing the cake (12,9.6,4 )
2) less expensive decorations
3) original quote
4) choose another decorator!

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cai0311 Posted 21 Nov 2011 , 8:08pm
post #14 of 17

Would you consider offering all the tiers not needed for cake servings (since they only really need 30 servings) out of styrofoam at a reduced rate? I know the decorating time is the same, but there is no mixing, baking, cleaning, cooling, wrapping, filling, covering, settling, making buttercream/ganache, icing... Faux teirs are less time consuming that real cake tiers.

I offer cake tiers at $3/serving and faux tiers at $2.25/serving. I have a lot of brides that would only have a 2 tier or 2 tier cake add an extra tier for the "look" of a larger cake and think they are getting a deal because the faux tier is not as expensive as real cake.

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Jennifer353 Posted 22 Nov 2011 , 3:17pm
post #15 of 17
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

There are some cultures where haggling is standard operating procedure, so I wouldn't take it personally. We often get customers who attempt to negotiate (a few will occasionally include blatant lies as a negotiating tactic)

This doesn't help with if you want to do the cake but just to reitterate what Jason said. My boss recently got married and was quoted 600 for his wedding outfit. He offered 300 to them, no invoice or reciept needed and the guy/shop accepted that, so obviously it does work sometimes. I wouldn't do it but I guess from the groom's point of view it was worth a shot.
The other stuff was just to make you feel unsure of your pricing, stick to your guns he sounds like a chancer!

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carmijok Posted 22 Nov 2011 , 4:05pm
post #16 of 17

Do YOU want to take a chance on someone whose business went bust as publicly as his did? I'm not saying the economy wasn't the reason, but keep in mind, he's probably still paying off creditors. I don't think I'd want to do business with this guy if he's already giving you a hassle at the very beginning. Red flag, baby! Stick to your guns!

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lorieleann Posted 29 Nov 2011 , 3:54am
post #17 of 17

Just a little follow up: I gave a quote on the smaller cake and basically said that considering the labor going into the cake, my first quote was fair. The bride got back to me and put down a deposit via card for the original cake. Just going to carry on business as usual. Except for the psychological undermining he tried, I can't fault him for trying to play the old school "off the books" card.

Thanks for the input and feed back.

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