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Calling other bakeries for prices...

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 
I don't have my own shop but I often read advice given on here, just to learn new things. On pricing thread it is often suggested to find out what the others in your area are charging when you are doing the 'research'.

My current full time job is in the roofing business. We often get calls on our prices. You can tell those that own a house and want our services vs those that want a price so they can turn around and charge it to someone else. Of course those people don't identify who they are, but when they ask you questions using the 'lingo' you get clued in. Or when we say that we don't give estimates over the phone but we'd be happy to come out and measure 'their' house they quickly get off the phone.

It frustrates us, because we are a business that is going into it's 27th year. We are fully insured. Our crews are our employees year round, we don't go pick up labors for a day or two, taxes are removed from their checks and we pay our part and offer health insurance.

Generally those calls that we get seem like they are coming from the average joe that has decided he can get a few people together, go to Lowes for some shingles, and pay the people he uses in cash and pocket the rest.

Is calling and getting a price from someone else really doing the research or is it taking the easy way out? Why don't they figure out how much the singles are going to cost them, and how much the labor will cost and so on? I don't want to get in a legal issue here (don't we all love when we read that) but those that just want to be a roofer when a storm comes through or when they need some extra cash usually don't do the best work and do things cheaper because they don't have the over head we have. As we tell our customers, we aren't the cheapest out there, but we will be here when you have a leak or a problem with your roof.

So my question, if you made it this far, those of you that do have a business how do you feel about people calling you for price information. Not just a regular customer but someone that knows the lingo and seems like they are just fishing for a price.

Do you give them the prices and go about your business?

Do you call them out on it in some way and refuse to give your prices?

Would you be more willing to offer your pricing information if they were honest with you about who they were and exactly why they are asking?

I'm not really asking about the price per serving questions. More like a what would you charge for a 3d santa claus cake that serves 50 made from this and this pan and has these details or a what do you change for an 8in 2 layer cake that has been torted and filled with ganache and iced in IMBC and how much would that same cake be if you covered it in fondant and then if I added a bow? Someone using terms that 'cake muggles' usually don't know.

I'm just curious how the the advice to price around the people in your area is taken from those that have to answer those calls?
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post #2 of 62
My pricing is posted front and center on my website, so it's not an issue with me. Brides get NO surprises when they ask me about pricing, as compared to other caterers who give them a per-person-FOOD-price, but then add in all of the secret nickels and dimes.

Back when I would do comparison calling (and have my daughter help with comparison calling), we'd be VERY careful not to use lingo. we'd intentionally mispronounce fondant. BC was "regular icing". Piping was "that fancy wedding cake decorations". Words like torting, filling, 3-D, crusting BC, etc., were not allowed to be used. And we closed the conversation with "since I dont' know much about cakes, is there anything I SHOULD be asking about?", which usually resulted in the person telling me all kinds of stuff.

(Man, I really should write this stuff down sometime!)
post #3 of 62
Indy, YES you should write down everything about cakes and sell a book!!!

I know I'd pick it up.

About pricing, mine, too, is listed on my website. I get TONS of emails and phone calls and give every single one the same price (of course, based on their specific cake) and most of them never call back. Some might be price quoting for other businesses, or their own, or they just might be freaked out because they think they'll get a Duff cake on a WalMart budget. Who knows, who cares? I can't control who is calling.
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post #4 of 62
You could always start with just giving a base price. For example: buttercream starts at $3 and fondant at $4 per serving. If it's competition calling and you just give them a base price, they are gonna totally miscalcualte on their price quote and possible underprice at a loss to them.
post #5 of 62
I dont price over email b/c I get a lot of emails, and the time adds up. I have the minimum amount (and I just added this) average pricing based on a type of design.

If they are serious, they will come in for an appointment.
post #6 of 62
I not only call for prices, I hire " Bride spies" to go out and price my main competitiors at least once a year with a picture in hand to get a quote.
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Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
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post #7 of 62
I not only call for prices, I hire " Bride spies" to go out and price my main competitiors at least once a year with a picture in hand to get a quote.
Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
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Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
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post #8 of 62
I explain how I price the cakes, then give them an estimate, no big deal.

If I was going to be a spy and call people, I would ask "how much for a three-layer cake?" since that seems to be the way that most not-in-the-know people ask about tiered cakes! icon_lol.gif
post #9 of 62
If someone asks, I will provide them with an estimate. I would rather my competition ask than send "bride spies". Sending spies costs the competition money...the time they invest in your fake brides and the samples they provide for free just so you can get some info. There's nothing I can't stand more than waste my time and money on a competitor's spy. I've found that if you listen to your brides at their consults, they mention in passing what other bakeries charge without even asking them.
post #10 of 62
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies! I was just curious how everyone felt about it.

Indy, you should write a book, especially with all your anolgies you give! I'd definetly buy it.
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post #11 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by MCC

If someone asks, I will provide them with an estimate. I would rather my competition ask than send "bride spies". Sending spies costs the competition money...the time they invest in your fake brides and the samples they provide for free just so you can get some info. There's nothing I can't stand more than waste my time and money on a competitor's spy. I've found that if you listen to your brides at their consults, they mention in passing what other bakeries charge without even asking them.



But market research is more than just " price quotes". For example, in one round, I found out that a pretty well known home decorator around here charges an extra 3% to use a credit card. That is against Federal Law. In another, I found out that a decorator that is recomended by a big venue close to me will give a bride a dicsount if she returns her used sugar flowers, which is against health codes. Some are charging "stacking fees" or my favorite, one even charges a "preservation fee", and by that she means that she charges $25 to bring a box for the top tier and saran wrap so the venue can "preserve the anniversary tier".

These are things you wouldn't necessarily found out by calling, but they will help you figure out why another may be cheaper.
For example If I quote a $500 cake...Say cake for 80 ( $400) plus some extra design work in the way of sugarflowers.

Competitor number 1 may quote her $450, but charge her for delivery and then the extra 3% fee..she is in reality more expensive than me.

Number 2 offers her $50 to return her flowers, at which point you need to ask the bride if, perhaps those flowers were in someone elses cake, and maybe they shouldn't have been...


In any case, understanding your market is a lot more than getting phone price quotes. Maybe you need to do it. Maybe you don't. I am of the mind that knowledge is power.
Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
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Scratch bakers of the world UNITE !!
Inrideo ergo sum ~ I snark therefore I am.
Cake or Death?......Cake Please!
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post #12 of 62
snarky, those are amazing stories. I am still laughing over the "preservation fee"! icon_lol.gif

I created an excel worksheet entitled "Here's Why You Should Price Compare", where I make a list of catering they would order, then list my charges and what another caterer charges. The other-caterer-charges were obtained from my personal internet research ... prices and fees posted right on their website.

My catering package is $18.75. Their catering package is $14.95. For a wedding for 100, a $400 difference is a lot of money to anyone. On the surface, I lose this booking.

But ..... ! by the time we add in all of their nickel and dimes that I don't charge, my catering for 100 guests ends up being over $1500 cheaper than the other guy! icon_eek.gif I am not kidding.

And that's why I coined the phrase: Never ask "how much does it cost?" ALWAYS ask "how much do I have to write the check for?"

There's a BIG difference in those answers!

And this is why snark is on my short list of "people I admire".
post #13 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by niccicola

Indy, YES you should write down everything about cakes and sell a book!!!

I know I'd pick it up.




I second that!!! thumbs_up.gif
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post #14 of 62
I don't have a problem with people calling and asking my prices.

Jen icon_smile.gif
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Jennifer Dontz - Traveling sugar art teacher
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NOW SHIPPING!!!! CYMBIDIUM ORCHID / IVY DVD!
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post #15 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by snarkybaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCC

If someone asks, I will provide them with an estimate. I would rather my competition ask than send "bride spies". Sending spies costs the competition money...the time they invest in your fake brides and the samples they provide for free just so you can get some info. There's nothing I can't stand more than waste my time and money on a competitor's spy. I've found that if you listen to your brides at their consults, they mention in passing what other bakeries charge without even asking them.



But market research is more than just " price quotes". For example, in one round, I found out that a pretty well known home decorator around here charges an extra 3% to use a credit card. That is against Federal Law. In another, I found out that a decorator that is recomended by a big venue close to me will give a bride a dicsount if she returns her used sugar flowers, which is against health codes. Some are charging "stacking fees" or my favorite, one even charges a "preservation fee", and by that she means that she charges $25 to bring a box for the top tier and saran wrap so the venue can "preserve the anniversary tier".

These are things you wouldn't necessarily found out by calling, but they will help you figure out why another may be cheaper.
For example If I quote a $500 cake...Say cake for 80 ( $400) plus some extra design work in the way of sugarflowers.

Competitor number 1 may quote her $450, but charge her for delivery and then the extra 3% fee..she is in reality more expensive than me.

Number 2 offers her $50 to return her flowers, at which point you need to ask the bride if, perhaps those flowers were in someone elses cake, and maybe they shouldn't have been...


In any case, understanding your market is a lot more than getting phone price quotes. Maybe you need to do it. Maybe you don't. I am of the mind that knowledge is power.




Love it, love it, love it! Gotta admire ya! thumbs_up.gif
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