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Frustrated, might change my tastings policy .... ugh

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
So I know this topic has been beat to death here already, and we really NEED one more thread on it, right?

I am working with a bride that really is resisting the cake tasting fee. I don't think the fee is unreasonable, and it does weed out the wishy washy "lets get some free cake" clients. However, I don't think anyone else in my area is charging a tasting fee. While I don't "need" the her cake business, I would like to have it, even though the cake will be small (appx 50 servings).

My policy has been $20 tasting fee for up to 2 cake flavors (any flavor on my menu, custom made for them at a mutually convenient time), and that fee applies towards the purchase of a cake of $150 or more. Otherwise, they have paid $20. As with many of us here, I am a small operation, not a large bakery with many samples available in glass cases. I have resisted freezing samples in advance, because never freezing a cake is part of what sets me apart from the competition.

I am contemplating freezing mini cupcakes in advance for brides with cakes less than $150. That, or changing my policy altogether and eliminating the $20 fee if brides choose from flavors that are already made up. I hate losing cakes over "Free Tastings", especially when I have tried the competitors cakes, LOL! Every bride that has tried my cake has booked. Every time.

Would love your opinions! Thanks!
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post #2 of 36
I only give tastings to cakes over $300 and limit my tastings to 2 cake flavors and 2 buttercream flavors. I won't even offer tasting for cakes below that amount. It's not worth it even if they paid $20. They can always purchase my smallest tier. I haven't had any complaints yet.

I don't freeze cakes either but I do freeze the batter. So when I need one or two servings for tasting, it's easily done and it tastes fresh.
post #3 of 36
I think freezing cupcake samples would be fine. It's a good way to use up leftover batter from previous orders. I always have the 5 basic flavors (lemon, carrot, chocolate, butter, and white) that most clientele seem to order in my freezer in 4" rounds. I offer 2 for free. If they want to sample specialty flavors such as pink champagne or pina colada for example then they can order a 6" cake for $20. Not all bakers waive the tasting fee even if they book the order.
post #4 of 36
We offer to-go tastings only, consultations are done over the phone and via email. For $30 you get up to 3 cake flavors (may or may not be frozen depending on stock) and 3 frosting or filling choices, cakes are unfrosted and cut from 6" rounds with a cookie cutter, and frostings/fillings are packaged in separate deli containers. Additional flavors of cake, frosting, or filling are $10 each. The cost is not applied to future orders, but anyone is free to order the tasting package.
post #5 of 36
Cakeitgood , what size are your 2 Custom made flavor cakes.I dont usually sell cakes but 2 custom cakes even and a face to face consulation for a mere $20 then putting told a wedding cake . Is that worth your ingredients and time? It wouldnt be to me.

If I ever start selling wedding cakes just from reading all these suggestions I would freeze left over batter and bake cupcakes fresh
. Its like someone said so they get an idea of your baking skills not a flavor sampler. And like Indy Deb said she
doesnt turn on the oven for less than $50.
post #6 of 36
In my business (small teaching studio and cake shop) we sell the 6" cakes in whatever flavour they wish to try (choice of fillings, buttercream and/or fondant) for $20.00. Many people ask about tastings this year...but we can't afford to turn the oven on to make free cakes. It has not been an issue at all. Some brides use the cakes at a dinner party with their wedding party to critique!
post #7 of 36
Is she the only one so far that has had a problem with your tasting fee? If everyone else has been fine with it, I wouldn't necessarily change your policy just because one person is being cheap.

However, it is worth considering that none of your competition charges for tastings. Thats the reason we offer free tastings, because no one in our city charges for them (That I know of). That could be why she is resisting, because she can't understand why you charge.

Ultimately, you have to decide what works best for you, regardless. But again, if charging a small fee has worked fine up to this point, you may want to just stand by your policy and let this bride decide how much it means to her.
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post #8 of 36
Last year I had a woman ask for 8 different flavor combinations to taste test. Gimme a break. 8!!!!!! I made 4 and didn't want to do that. Some people have no idea.
post #9 of 36
Unless the majority of potential customers that you come into contact with find your policy unacceptable and decide not to do business with you for that reason, I wouldn't change it.

Despite what some customers think, as small business owners none of us make up policies just to be jerks icon_smile.gif, there are very specific business reasons for each policy we have adopted. Sometimes those policies will preclude someone from being a customer but every customer is not a fit for every company (Range Rover has a policy of charging $70K for the SUV I would like, therefore I choose to drive a Honda Pilot.) icon_biggrin.gif

Best of luck!
post #10 of 36
It seems like it's always the people with the smallest cakes who want the most for free...

I do tastings all on one day back to back, so I don't have samples sitting around. I also don't have unlimited time slots to give to people who will be ordering $150 worth of cake and taking up free samples and my time that someone who will be ordering a larger cake could be taking.

So...I tell people who have smaller cakes that I don't do tastings for cakes that size. If they get snotty about it at that point in the process God only knows what they'll be like down the road. I had one groom call and ask me about a cake for 35 people. I had an open time slot for the following day, so I said why not, go ahead and come to an appointment. Then he said "Our parents will be in town, so that will be something fun for them to come to." I put a stop to that right away and told him that only he and the bride could come because a cake that size was like a birthday cake and I was making an exception for him to come to a tasting at all. Every extra person at a tasting is extra $$$ out of the profit from the cake, so forget it.
post #11 of 36
If she intends to buy a cake from you, then she has nothing to worry about with the $20 - it's going towards her cake anyway. If she's not getting a cake from you then you don't need to waste your time meeting with her icon_smile.gif

Maybe let her know that is she books on the spot you won't even worry about the $20 (IDK about you but that's what I do)
post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your responses! You have given me a lot to think about, some great ideas.

With no one else in the area charging for tastings, I have decided to be more flexible. I am working on a new policy of freezing mini cupcakes each time I make a cake for a client, and a bride can choose an additional flavor to be made up for a flat fee, which won't go towards the cost of the wedding cake. Will probably limit in person consultations as well, they take quite a bit of time and usually can be accomplished by phone or email anyway.

Around here, most of the brides that choose smaller cakes are coming in from out of town vs. "the budget bride". They are usually fun to work with, and I like to do what I can to accommodate them while not bending over too far backwards.
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post #13 of 36
First, I think you have to do what's best for yourself and your business.

That said - if no one else in your area charges for tastings I can see why someone would balk at having to pay for a tasting with you. You'd really have to have a convincing arguement as to why some one should schedule and pay for a tasting with you verses getting one for free. It doesn't matter that everyone who has a tasting with you books. You have to get them there first.

I look at tastings as a chance for the bride and groom to get an idea of my baking and decorating style/skill. My cakes are moist and delicious icon_smile.gif If you like my chocolate cake, you'll like my lemon. It's just as good but it taste like lemon.

My tastings are free and the bride gets to sample 2 or 3 flavors of whatever I have on hand. If she wants a specific flavor she pays for it. Up to 4 people can attend. It doesn't take a committee to decide on vanilla verses chcolate cake.
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Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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post #14 of 36
I LOVE the idea of freezing batter for tastings!!
I've learned so much from my mistakes..... I'm thinking of making a few more!
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I've learned so much from my mistakes..... I'm thinking of making a few more!
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post #15 of 36
[quote="costumeczar"]

I do tastings all on one day back to back, so I don't have samples sitting around. I also don't have unlimited time slots to give to people who will be ordering $150 worth of cake and taking up free samples and my time that someone who will be ordering a larger cake could be taking.

I do the same, I don't charge for tastings as long as it is a wedding cake order. Let's face it, the cake tasting is part of being a bride. I was a bride long before I was a cake decorator and it is part of the wedding process, I think it is expected and I wouldn't deprive a bride of that. I do also schedule them back to back because I don't like the idea of using frozen cake. It doesn't taste good and they are they to not just picking which flavor they like, but also judge the quality of the product. I don't use frozen cake for their wedding, so why would I have them taste it?

I also take a poll of what each of my brides especially want to taste, why not? I'm having to make the samples anyway, I might as well give them what they want (without it being unreasonable). I usually schedule about 6 tastings in one day, 1 hour each, and offer 6 different cupcakes at each tasting, all with different flavors of cake, filling, and buttercream. The only time I charge for a tasting is if it is not a wedding, or if they want to bring more than 2 people.

I have never to this date had a bride leave without signing a contract. People appreciate that you take the time to cater to them and give them an array of fresh samples. If you are willing to display that kind of quality and attention to just the tasting, they know you will do the same for their special day. Honestly, I just put myself in their shoes. If someone offered me a tasting of 2 flavors (that were frozen) and I had to pay $20.... I would probably keep shopping around til I found someone like myself.

Is it a pain in the butt, not really... especially if you bang them out all in day, then do it again in another 2 months.
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