Selective Booking

Business By leta Updated 7 Nov 2014 , 9:58pm by Dayti

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leta Posted 6 Nov 2014 , 1:00pm
post #1 of 12

I'm now booking wedding cakes for June of 2015  (and May, etc) .  In this busy time, I know I will be turning down a few or more brides.  I don't want to take cakes on a first come first served basis, because I'd rather take 2 cakes of 150-200 servings (per weekend)  than 3 or 4 cakes of 100 servings.  4 consultations, 4 deposits/balances, 4 deliveries is just too much for me.  I'd like to see my family sometime during the month, amiright?  


Am I crazy?  I don't want to offend brides, but I want to have a life AND maximize my income when demand is high.    Other times of the year I will have a policy of first come first served--minimum of 100 servings.  Any suggestions?  Maybe I $750 minimum on those busy weeks, (even if they want a smaller cake)?  


I can't make every cake.  But I put a lot into the baking as well as decorating.  Turning down business is something I've had to start doing, now I want to be a bit more strategic. Or is this just too rude to put to brides? 


What are your opinions?     Any suggestions? 




I haven't posted photos here lately, but you can see examples of my work:

11 replies
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Dayti Posted 6 Nov 2014 , 3:39pm
post #2 of 12

I would say that you could increase your minimum spend. Even if they want a smaller cake, if they know that they have to spend $750, those that really want to, will. I don't think you should tell smaller wedding cake brides that you are booked if you are not - just explain about the minimum order $$. 


All this of course if you are absolutely positive that you will still see orders for that amount and above, otherwise if you take none of the $500 - $600 orders you could potentially run the risk of having $0!

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jenmat Posted 6 Nov 2014 , 4:14pm
post #3 of 12

I have dealt with this issue in the past. I was doing a ton of weddings, but some of the cakes were little two tiers and because of deliveries and setup timing I had to turn down huge weddings. Totally stunk. 


Not a ton you can do to guarantee that someone better won't come along, but I did set a minimum. In some ways it has helped because I can weed out high-maintenence low-pricetag brides, but it still doesn't cure it completely. I am also one of the only ones in the area doing a minimum and it has definitely ticked people off. At wedding shows I have heard brides take a look at my sign (in my portfolio, not front and center), and say "Can you BELIEVE this?!!" and walk away. Even people who will definitely be spending more than my minimum get bucky and don't like being told they have to spend a certain amount. (even though they have minimums for venues and caterers....) 


BUT I haven't changed it, because I haven't figured out how to weed them out more efficiently and maintain professionalism. "I'm open on your date but I'm keeping that spot open for someone who wants to spend more than you." doesn't cut it.


The other option is to just ask their guest count and say you're booked if it's below a certain numbers of guests. But if they call an entire year ahead of time, that may ring hollow. 


I don't know, just thinking while typing, lol. If anyone has a better solution, I would love to hear it too!!

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cakebaby2 Posted 6 Nov 2014 , 4:23pm
post #4 of 12

Well Leta I would say you can afford to be selective those cakes are beautiful. raise your minimum  order price, the savvy brides wont let some dollars get in way of a stunning cake x

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johnson6ofus Posted 6 Nov 2014 , 6:38pm
post #5 of 12

A prime summer weekend booking date does deserve a "premium", no different than the venue that charges more on Friday night than Wednesday night. 


I do think that is "fair" and a reasonable business practice. 

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cakeladywalker Posted 7 Nov 2014 , 4:04am
post #6 of 12

AHi there, just wondering if you just do cakes on side or full time?

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leta Posted 7 Nov 2014 , 5:53pm
post #7 of 12

Yes, this is my business.  I have a shop now for about a year and a half, so I have rent and other expenses.  This last year was my first full year of figuring out my limits, building word of mouth, advertising, etc.  I put a lot into the baking as well as the decorating.   I've pulled lots of all nighters, worked many holiday weekends, and I'm trying to find that sweet spot where I have enough work to pay the bills but I'm not killing myself--which I'm more inclined to do than to turn down orders.  I want to enjoy my job and my life too.  I'm setting aside some weekends for family things. I'll do a huge bridal show in January, and I booked 20+ cakes from that last year.  I also just started advertising on the Knot, and I'm getting regular inquiries from that.  The last small open house I went to, every other bride had a June or May wedding.  So I will be turning down brides for those dates.  Economically, I'd rather turn down the $500 order than the $1000.   The consultations, the emailing, the deliveries, final payments, getting stands returned, are like a thousand paper cuts, sometimes when I really need to buckle down to the actual cake baking and decorating.  I have limited fridge space, and no employees, so scaling up in volume is not really going to be an option.  


I really would like to have 2 large cakes on those busy weekends instead of 3 or 4 smaller ones.  I spend most of the day delivering, and there are so many final touches needed, it's hard to get it all done.  


I appreciate ALL your feedback!

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cakeladywalker Posted 7 Nov 2014 , 7:05pm
post #8 of 12

ADid you build clientel starting at home or just straight to bakery?

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BeesKnees578 Posted 7 Nov 2014 , 7:35pm
post #9 of 12

Is your per serving price already at the top of what your market will tolerate?

If not, consider upping that price a little?  Maybe that will weed out some of brides just wanting a small cake due to budget restraints.


Also, the overall price minimum is a great idea, as others suggested. 


Or maybe you could do a "serving minimum" that magically matches the lowest price you are looking to book.


        i.e.  100 servings x $7.50 (just for ease of math!) = $750. 

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costumeczar Posted 7 Nov 2014 , 8:37pm
post #10 of 12

I looked at your website and the first thing I'd do is eliminate the kitchen cake option. When you do that you're making more work for yourself at a lower profit. If you have to bake a 6-8-10 and a sheet, or a 6-9-12 and no sheet, you've eliminated mixing, baking and decorating time, not to mention boards and effort. If it's a difference between 80 servings at $5 plus 20 at $3, or 100 at $5 with less baking time and materials cost (boards and boxes) it's obvious which one is better.


I'd also raise the price of your cupcakes to at least $3 for plain and $4 to start for decorated ones, since they take as long to decorate as a cake, and they're a pain in the butt to move around for delivery and setup.


I've seen people say that the smallest tiered cake they'll make is XYZ size, so that isn't unheard of. Or put a minimum dollar amount. I do a $200 limit on all tiered cakes and $200 for any 3-D cakes. I'm doing a vodka bottle cake in a couple of weeks for 10 people and they're still paying me $200 because that's my minimum. Generally that would be around 20-24 servings, but for that kind of thing the least of your worries in pricing is the actual amount of cake there is.

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leta Posted 7 Nov 2014 , 9:15pm
post #11 of 12

Wow!  All good points.  I can see I came off a bit whiny and it's better to just be professional and get real about pricing instead of baking "resentment" cake.  


BeesKnees, I'm pretty comparable and a little above most of the cakes in the market, but there are some who have enough referral business to not advertise, and I'm not sure what they're all charging--a lot of them are the $4-5 range.  I will say that the taste and ingredients of my cake are above most other cakers.  Only one other baker that I know of offers a meringue buttercream.  


I don't like to nickel and dime brides and I'm up front with pricing, etc, and that helps my booking percentage.  All your ideas go along with that philosophy, so thanks!


cakeladywalker, I'm going to respond to that, but I've got to get a couple cakes ready to deliver tomorrow : )

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Dayti Posted 7 Nov 2014 , 9:58pm
post #12 of 12

AJust for the record I don't think you sounded whiny at all. Better to try and set yourself (and your customers) some ground rules now than wait and THEN be resentful of not being able to say no to people!

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