Over Charging, Help!!

Business By SweetDesire88 Updated 7 Aug 2015 , 10:16pm by indydebi

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SweetDesire88 Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 3:27am
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Hi, cakers and bakers. 

I recently got a cake order cancelled. To be honest I'm a little upset. 

The cake order was for $425 specialty flavors of tres leches and extra cost for delivery (out of my area)

I'm asking for your opinion and for how much you would do this cake for.


Thank you.

28 replies
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Apti Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 6:57am
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"This is one of the most frequently asked questions by cake decorators when they begin to sell their cakes.  The simple but frustrating answer is that no one can tell you how much you should charge.  Setting a price structure is one of the most difficult parts of any business.  As with real estate, the price of cakes varies widely by location and is largely determined by your local market.  Finding the right price point requires research of your competitors' prices, and a solid understanding of your own costs."


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Gingerlocks Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 3:40pm
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Apti is right no one can give you an exact answer on pricing; there are a million variables that affect pricing. 

However, that being said $425 is not unreasonable for that cake you attached with the tres leches and delivery etc..the customer found a cheap cake lady, so try not to worry too much about it and don't take it too personally. 

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remnant3333 Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 3:50pm
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The best thing to do is call a baker in your area and tell them you want a quote for the same cake you are making. If it was tres leche then you would need to call a Latin American Bakery. This will give you a good idea of how much to charge.

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Rfisher Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 4:35pm
post #5 of 29

Don't be upset you got cancelled on. why not berelieved you are not the one working for below minimum wage for this bride?

did you get to keep any of the deposit?

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Gingerlocks Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 5:29pm
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Honestly; in my opinion and experience do not call a bakery to get a false quote. I've had this happen to me sooo many times, it's a complete waste of time for me. It takes a lot of work to write up a comprehensive quote and price everything out..you will only make enemies doing this; and in this business you really don't want to start doing that. On top of that everyone had different overheads and skill levels in your area...so asking a high end professional bakery with huge overheads and top of the line work is not going to give you an accurate idea of what you should be charging.

There is no easy way to do pricing..you need to do the work. You need to get down to work and price out to the penny how much it costs to make each of the batter's, butter-creams, fillings, fondants, etc...you offer and built a comprehensive pricing system for you. There is software to help you with this such as the Cake Boss software, but what ever you do don't take the easy road and call other bakeries for phony quotes, its just bad form. 

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SweetDesire88 Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 6:12pm
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OK got the wrong picture on it first time this is the right one.  All of the cakes were supposed to be one of my specialty flavors to be exact Pecan Tres leches, with filling of fresh strawberries and peaches cakes were to be covered in whipping cream. 

 The size of the cakes were to2 cakesof 8" 1 cake of 10" 3 cakes of 12" and 1 cake of 14". 

I told my customer that everything was going to be included stairs a dolls fountain and flowers. The flowers,doll and the stairs were for her to keep. But she was renting everything else. 

I have asked around the bakeries but the prices are super low and with pecan being so pricey And fresh strawberries and peaches it is difficult to give my cakes for the same price as the bakeries.  You guys know being a homemaker you have to charge your work your time and I guess everything everybody just thinks you just take it out the fridge and that's about it; let's be honest we all have to pay electricity Wash dishes clean up the area and gas.  It is hard for people to understand a home Baker.

I want to thank everybody for their opinions and yes they do help a lot thank you. 

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Pastrybaglady Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 7:06pm
post #8 of 29

I'm with Gingerlocks, don't call a bakery pretending to be a client.  You don't want people doing that to you.  Check out websites in your area for an idea of what they charge if you want to know.

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Webake2gether Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 8:22pm
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@Gingerlocks  And @Pastrybaglady  i was wondering how you can tell when someone is calling in for a phony quote or price shopping with no intent to order. I will soon be taking orders (legal commercial kitchen in my home) and I'm sure that once the line is open others will be doing the same to me. Any suggestions would be much appreciated :) 

As for the original post I know down to the penny how much something is going to cost me to make and how much I'll need to charge to not just break even. Once we set our prices we'll stick to them and not really concern ourselves with what everyone else is doing. Your not going to win them all  and quite frankly there are some I just won't want. I just hope that we weed through the ones we don't want really fast lol. 

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Pastrybaglady Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 8:26pm
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You really can't tell from one call, but there are bakers here who say they keep getting calls from the same person but they have never placed an order - that's a red flag.

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Gingerlocks Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 8:38pm
post #11 of 29

@Webake2gether  it is much harder to tell over the phone but like @Pastrybaglady  said some people will cal for a quote over and over again and never place an order. 

99% of the time that I have found out it's a fake quote is when it's via email; either they use their real name and I have known that they are local cake ladies. But lately our local economy has become very depressed with the low price of oil; and suddenly there is this huge influx of people thinking they can make a ton of money doing "custom" cakes on the side. So I have been inundated with fake quote's lately. If they email, and they sound fishy search their name through facebook or google the phone number they give you. Sometime's you just get a feeling that something isn't right with a customer; and there's nothing wrong with double checking. 

Just last week I was talking to a local caking friend; she had a funny feeling about a quote request so googled the phone number and it was linked to a local Facebook page for cakes.

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Webake2gether Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 8:38pm
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Thanks for sharing!! I call around and get different quotes or estimates for different things (home repair etc) but never thought of calling around for a cake. I plan on putting a basic price list on our website and referring most people to that to begin with anyway so hopefully that helps some with the phony calls. 

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Webake2gether Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 8:50pm
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@Gingerlocks  We've had people email us asking for prices and we look them up like that because there are so many illegal at home bakers trying to turn other bakers in I'm not kidding. This one lady called me how she got my number I don't know because it's not on our facebook page and we clearly state over and over we are not taking orders currently anyway she was super shady sounding and my husband did a number look up but we didn't find anything. I have my suspicions as to who it was behind the call but I called my health department and told them people have contacted us and we are not giving out prices or taking orders because I'm certain people don't want us to open up for business. Other bakers who've got busted baking and selling illegally call in and report bakers in this area to get them in trouble and we weren't even doing anything wrong. Funny how people who are operating outside of the rules tattle on others doing the exact same thing. Brutal bakers here but thankfully there is one that we've teamed up with and she is super awesome but has seen the cut throat bakers in action too. It's sad why can't we all just operate legally and get along :) 

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costumeczar Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 9:56pm
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@Sweetdesire88...If that second one is the cake that you were going to charge $425 for, with all the stairs and everything included, then YOU'RE undercharging! And if someone is charging lower than that for the same cake, forget it, let them have the job so that they can make $2 an hour once all their expenses are taken out.

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a.velardez4390 Posted 3 Aug 2015 , 10:04pm
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I agree, $425 is not unreasonable for that cake.  I used to under price, afraid of losing business bc of prices, and I ended up realizing that if I have to under sell my work to get someone's business it makes it not worth the work. So from then on I set my prices and I'm firm on them and if someone thinks it's too much I don'tnneed their business,  they can go to Walmart lol

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Smckinney07 Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 8:07pm
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Definitely not worth your time for the work! As stated above, figure out your pricing before taking anymore orders & get a contract. Price out your recipes: How much does it cost to make an 8' vanilla bean cake (or pecan or whatever) then repeat for each recipe, your BC/fillings/fondant. Setup a spreadsheet so when someone orders you can multiply your batch (simply how I do it anyway). Figure in boards, boxes, everything you need to make that cake, think about taxes, overhead, etc. then figure out how much you want to make per hour after that. It's your time & skill that make up most of the cost. Again, just me, my opinion. 

Most importantly, I do NOT book a date w/ a deposit. They do not have an order finalized or fancy sketch without a deposit, then I require payment in full before I even start the cake. And I'm upfront with people about that, actually them knowing my base prices helps 'wean' out some people which saves time. Maybe post these things on your site as well as in your contract that you have them sign (I always go over this as well then write down the date for remainder due by...people can get overwhelmed with all the info). Believe me that no other vendor involved in the wedding is booking without a deposit/sometimes even full payment in advance (which is what I take if someone orders last min or if its a smaller order). Good luck, if someone doesn't want you to make their cake oh well, next...

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masterbaker4633 Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 8:48pm
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I agree with Costumeczar.....you're not charging enough and frankly, you will be better off. I know, the thought of losing any business is daunting. I myself, has had so many "price hunters" ask me what my price would be for this and that. Then, I find out they went with someone else who didn't do as good a job as I have done with them. How did I find out? They posted pictures on facebook...forgetting I was on their friend list. lol  But, that's ok. If you want a cake that looks like your preteen child did it then that's cool with me. I do quality work and I'm tired of people wanting to take the cheap  way out. If you don't want to pay me for experience, then yeah, go to Walmart or aunt Lou Lou. It is frustrating, to say the least. But, you have bills to pay, too and everybody seems to want a freebie these days.

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SweetDesire88 Posted 5 Aug 2015 , 1:04pm
post #18 of 29

I get what you mean with freebies masterbaker4633. When I started selling my cake I begin selling slices of cake. So people would try the different flavors I offered. I would get the "freebie customers", they would say first time free then I'll buy you some lol (freebie: never going to buy). 

Anyways follow up on the post. Yesterday I received a call from the customer (that canceled the cake) to ask if I could share my recipe. In mine mind I just wanted to hung up on her. I replied, I am deeply sorry I can't help you with that. And just hung up. Honestly, I lost count of how many people have asked for my recipes. 

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costumeczar Posted 5 Aug 2015 , 1:08pm
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"Could you share your recipe?" Oh my...I've had people ask me that too but it never ceases to amaze me how bold people can be. The person she hired to do that monstrous cake setup for less than $425 is probably going to show up on here soon, asking "I have an order for a cake coming up...Does anyone have a good recipe I can use? And how do you decorate a cake?"

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Webake2gether Posted 5 Aug 2015 , 1:21pm
post #20 of 29

@SweetDesire88  I've had friends call and ask me "what are you secrets and what recipes Do you use". I'm pretty tight lipped on my recipes and usually say the techniques we use may not yield the same results for you. I don't know about everyone else on here but I usually try a recipe once with no changes then make my own and sometimes piece 2-3 recipes together to create what works for me. I'm not really open to just sharing all that work and research to potential customers. Then how would we stay open? Or in my case ever open. I would never dare ask a baker as a past customer what their recipes are lol. 

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Pastrybaglady Posted 5 Aug 2015 , 4:56pm
post #21 of 29

My father in law always says, "You should always ask for what you want, the worst that can happen is they say no."  He asks for outrageous things all the time, but he gets what he wants often enough to keep doing it. He doesn't care what it costs the person, he's only looking at what he can get.  There must be many like him out there.

I like the story of the one baker who had a call and when the customer heard how much she got all bent out of shape and THEN asked for the baker' s recipe and to borrow her pans!'  People, seriously!

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jgifford Posted 5 Aug 2015 , 11:16pm
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I have no problem sharing recipes that I've gotten from the internet or that were given to me (except my mother's, of course).  If it's public domain then anyone can have them.  However, there are 2 little facts that I don't tell them:

1)  If I have tweaked the recipe to suit myself, you don't get that one.

2)  I've made the exact recipes as other folks (numerous times) and mine tastes better than theirs.  So go ahead and use the same recipe.  I guarantee it won't taste as good as mine. 

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masterbaker4633 Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 4:38am
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Ohmygosh!! I can't believe the nerve some people have. To actually ask for the recipe after they didn't want to pay the price for you to do it???!!! I have a friend that asks me for my recipes and I would oblige her until I found out she was making the items and trying to sell them herself. But, she cannot decorate a cake, but is always wanting me to do stuff for her at a discount. I tell her, look....I want to help you out, but I can't do it for free. I realize times are tough, but seeing as how you know how to cook, why don't you make it for (the person du jour). It sounds harsh, but I have to come to know how she is and the thresh hold that I will not cross. There is a saying that you can't be used unless you allow others to use you.

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Claire138 Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 7:48am
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For me the problem with giving recipes even before I started in the cake business is that people do not use the same brands which a lot of times can give a  different result and that ended up with me being accused of especially leaving some of the ingredients out or they try to modify what you've already tried and tested etc. Now bc I run a cake business I'm happy (although sometimes uncomfortable) with saying no. Many years ago I gave my marble cake recipe to a good friend who kept asking me for it. I was then invited to a party for her son and she kept pressing me take a slice of one of the cakes which I eventually did (I'm not a cake eater, never have been) Anyway, I took a bite which was dry as can be (it looked very dry too which is also what put me off tasting it) & my friend says to me "well, do you like it"? I said nicely that I did but as she knows I'm not much of a cake eater. She looked all triumphant and said  "it's your marble cake recipe (you can imagine my shock) but I changed it. I diluted the orange juice by over half with water to save on the orange juice and you see? even you can't taste the difference".... What could I say?

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costumeczar Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 12:30pm
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@Claire138  , my sister in law is like that.  When I married my husband I unknowingly encroached on her "turf" since she always took great pride in being the baker of the family (she likes to make bread.) My husband's family had long ago been trained to let her get her way since she'll have a giant hissy fit if she doesn't, so I just said fine, go ahead and bake stuff when we get together less work for me, whatever...

She'll make a cake and do the substitutions for applesauce instead of oil, carob for chocolate, etc., then force me to eat some. When I choke down the dry loaf and manage to swallow the lump she starts in with "How is it? how is it?" and acts all triumphant when I politely tell her it's fine. So nasty...I told her the truth once and she's put me on her black list of people to hate because of it. Which is probably better, since she probably won't try to make me eat her heinous cakes anymore.

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Claire138 Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 12:56pm
post #26 of 29

@costumeczar  Haha! I've a sister in law like that but thankfully we live an ocean apart although she did snub me by my dads birthday bc I made the cake and she has suddenly decided she can decorate cakes (how hard can it be, she watches CakeBoss) So she wouldn't talk to me all weekend which was no loss.

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Webake2gether Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 2:23pm
post #27 of 29

My inlaws (the women) all seemed threatened by the fact that I could bake and they made it like a competition between us and them weird right?? I just  want to bake I don't care about what your doing lol. They kept sending each other all these recipes and "creative" Pinterest ideas on FB  and always said we should make this a family business between all of us we could be great (they make everything with premade products nothing from scratch no thanks) my husband said it is a family business between my wife and I and for our boys one day that doesn't include you guys. Needless to say there has been some much needed separation from them and all their drama. I would never bake for them we were always too busy anyway. It's one thing to have friends that are like that but when it's your relatives it's worse. Once they find out we're opening up for business soon I'm sure theyll come out of the wood work again lol. I see no contact orders happening. They are sooo much crazy drama it makes us An emotional wreck and I get  physically ill from the stress they create. Sounds like a lot of bakers have similar situations glad I'm not alone :)

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-K8memphis Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 3:37pm
post #28 of 29

yes in-law drama is so very traumatic real -- don't forget you'll have more in-laws entering your life soon when your kids get married -- bottom line best advice -- keep it as sweet as possible -- grin and bear it srsly -- you can't change them of course -- you can only control/change/adjust your response -- and no response is often best --

and the grin and bear it part -- do that now while your kids are witnessing first hand how to deal with in-laws and filing it away for future reference --

best to all

edited to say -- not that this ^^^ is earth shaking news to anyone -- i'm just saying when you get there and this and that happens and you go oh man shoulda done that different when i had the chance...anyhow i like the way my daughter (a therapist) says it, "please humor my psychosis" 

we just need a lot more of that to go around everywhere -- humor me/humor you but it ain't humorous ahahahahahaha

and apologies to op for straying off topic -- please humor my psy..... ;)

*Last edited by -K8memphis on 7 Aug 2015 , 4:00pm
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indydebi Posted 7 Aug 2015 , 10:16pm
post #29 of 29

In my early caking days (long before internet), I could tell those calls that were competitors.  They asked about a cake big enough to get my attention with a date so far out that of course they wouldn't need to talk or book soon. Their questions were filled with too much cake-lingo, i.e. for someone pretending not to know what they were doing, they sure knew the insider info and terminology to use!

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