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How to handle wedding cake inquiries home based business...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I was wondering how other people in the cake community handle wedding cakes for their home based business? I have only done one wedding cake most my cakes are more special occasion cakes. I had an inquiry about my prices and have now been contacted about wanting to come see my store. I'm not sure how to handle it as I don't have a dedicated part of my home for my cake business and so I'm not really sure what to tell her about coming in to see my store. Any suggestions on how to respond or ideas on how you handle these type of situations. Thanks in advance.
Lisa
post #2 of 16
Bump.
I hope someone answers, I am also interested in the response.
I'm afraid of telling people to come to my house since there are a lot of crazy people out there.
post #3 of 16
well, are you licensed in your home? if not you're just going to have to tell the truth. and you are gonna get a lot of flack on here about that. but, the only way i do it for friends and family is meet at a nearby coffee shop to talk about a cake. nothing wrong with meeting up...you just tell them what you do and that you can meet somewhere or come to them. good luck to you.
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It's not "just" cake...it's my life!
WI State Representative for Icing Smiles...start 'Baking a Difference" today!
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post #4 of 16
I am a home baker as well (inspected and approved). When I receive inquiries, I meet them somewhere: library, restaurant, etc. My Facebook page states that cake orders are taken by phone, email or by appointment only. I don't invite strangers into my home ever...I work for an attorney during the day, and am very familiar with all the bad things that can happen. I am open about not having a store front and haven't had any problems.

Hope that helpsicon_smile.gif
Pam
Facebook: Pamela's Cakes & Confections

Pamela's Cakes & Confections is a home based business, inspected and approved by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Food and Drug Protection Division.
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Facebook: Pamela's Cakes & Confections

Pamela's Cakes & Confections is a home based business, inspected and approved by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Food and Drug Protection Division.
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post #5 of 16
I am always 100% honest about my home-based business. I tell everyone that I bake out of my house and why. It's not as simple as, "Why don't you open a store." It requires a lot of capital and a lot of investment that I'm not ready to commit to because I'm not certain that I could make ends meet month to month if I opened a regular business (not in my house). I have cake and cupcake orders every single week but I'm not making enough profit from this business to feel comfortable renting a space for $500/month plus pay for all supplies, ingredients, and utilities.
Then I tell them that I'm not licensed and why: The number one reason is because we can't afford to build a second kitchen to dedicate solely to baking. Plus, we rent our house so that opens up a whole 'nother can of worms. I do let them know that I am actively looking for a business space. Renting a commercial kitchen is also out of the question because the closest rental is 45 minutes away, my husband works weird shifts and we have 5 kids so most of my baking is done at odd times.
Generally, I know every one of my customers or the person who referred them. I usually do like to meet elsewhere but that's because I want a quiet place where my kids won't interrupt. With these types of customers I have an open door policy. If I'm home, they're welcome to stop by and see that my kitchen is clean, I don't have inside animals, etc. If it's a complete stranger, then I meet with them somewhere public (usually with my husband) and after a few meetings they are welcome to make a visit to see my house...as long as my husband is there.
post #6 of 16
This is not directed at the OP, as we don't know her circumstance, but the above poster.

It's always nicer when unlicensed bakers keep it to themselves instead of publicly instructing others on how to do it.

If you have no moral issue with working outside the law, take a lesson from other illegal businesses and lay low. Don't share on a public forum. Some of us really don't care for hearing about how you work outside the law in order to keep your money while we spent the money and complied because it is the right thing to do. I personally care about the example I set for my children, as they look to us to develop their moral code.
post #7 of 16
scp1127- I agree with you, with everything you said.
I too have an in home bakery. I built a seperate bakery within my home in order to comply with the laws, along with insurance and everything else it takes to have your own business.

When it comes to consultations, I usually meet people at Tim Horton's. This has worked out great with me so far although Tim Horton's can be really busy. So I am trying to set up with some local smaller coffee shops to have it there instead. Small business' working together. I do have people that come to my house to pick up product, but that is when I know the person or the person that referred them to me. Otherwise, I will deliver for a charge.
I have never had any problems with telling people that I do not have a store front. I have had several recommend that I get one, but right now and in the near future I do not want it. For me, this is a way to hopefully quite my full time job to be home with kids. Just need enough money for the fun stuff. Unlike others, I do not want it to get too big because I want to continue to enjoy what I do.
post #8 of 16
I think it helps to be up front, not skate around the issue.

A quick statement that lets the client know that you are licensed and insured and comply with all local health codes is a one sentence explanation that will put the person at ease.

I have a full commercial bakery on the first level of my home. It has a separate entrance and a consultation area BUT I still have to direct people to my home. On the "About Us" page on my site I have photo of my house. This is very important because with no sign, people do worry about going to the wrong house. People will feel at ease if they have more to go on than a house number that may be hard for some people to see.

I also have photos of my license and my insurance policy framed on my wall on my site. It may not be up now because I just got a new one and I can't remember if I uploaded it, but you get the idea.

If you are a legal home baker, you can go a long way to separate yourself from unlicensed bakers and establish yourself as a serious businessperson.
post #9 of 16
When I started I wasn't licensed, either. The reason is that my state didn't require it. I just up front told them exactly that. I booked quite a few orders before I got licensed, so while I did lose some, I was still as busy as I needed to be.

Now I'm licensed and I do have a room that is dedicated to working on my cakes, though I bake in my home kitchen. I also keep my dining room, which is right inside the front door, clean and ready to receive people. However....I never allow people to stop by unannounced. I explain very sweetly that I am appointment only, and tell them when I'm available to meet with them. No, I'm not doing 3 or 4 wedding cakes every single weekend. But I don't want to be, either.
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post #10 of 16
In my county, my requirements are that if I make under a certain profit margin, I do not have to be licensed. I can sell my baked goods anywhere in the county as long as they are marked, "Produced in a non-licensed kitchen"
I'm not working outside the law, I am following the law as it pertains to me.
post #11 of 16
I too, am also just starting my business. I rent the church kitchen, paid for the license, took the food safety courses and paid for insurance. If you cannot operate inside the law, perhaps you are not ready to be selling cakes to John Q. Public yet.

I don't have a problem with the home baker that makes cakes for their friends and family, but I do have a problem with the home baker that sells to the public without forking over the loot and towing the line that I do. I don't mind losing a gig to someone who makes a better tasting, prettier cake than mine. But, if that person didn't have a license??? THAT would irritate me! Besides, in my state, it's the law that anyone selling food has to be licensed and operate out of a licensed kitchen.

Besides, it's much safer to you, as a commercial cake artist, to cover your bases. What if you underestimate how much cake you need and the bride sues you for ruining her wedding? What if someone gets sick from eating your cake? I know I certainly don't have the money to even be represented in a court of law, let alone have to pay any damages!

I am not trying to be snotty by any means, please don't take it that way.
post #12 of 16
I have a home-based wedding cake business, and I tell people who ask where my shop is that I work from home, I'm licensed, and the health inspector comes to my house and always tells me that I'm the least of his worries.

I share an office with some other home-based wedding businesses that I use for consults, and I don't have clients come to my house to inspect the place. Sometimes people come over to pick cakes up but for the most part I deliver everything.
post #13 of 16
I work in a cottage law state, and never EVER invite anyone to my home. Ever. Not just as a matter of personal safety, but as a way of drawing the lines between personal and professional. Additionally, there are plenty of scam artists out there who might assess your home to see how much they can get out of you if they make up a good enough story.

Even if we didn't live in a very rural area, we would still not allow in home consultations. Up until we rented a small space inside of a local bridal shop, we would meet clients at Starbucks, or even outside at the park! But now, we have a consultation room to bring clients into.

If you don't have access to a room at the library, local coffee shop "nicer" fast food restaurant, or community center, try asking local small businesses how much they would charge you to rent their conference room on an as needed basis for x number of times per month. Start with the wedding related businesses.
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post #14 of 16
I first talk to my potential clients to be sure they seem to be actual customers, then I make sure they understand my prices, and then I invite them for a constulation/tasting. I live in a very rural area, I make sure they understand I operate under the cottage food law (no perishable foods, etc), and if they ask, I let them know I am insured. My small town would not tolerate me taking my business to a coffee shop or fast food place simply because we don't do that here. Also, my city code allows me to have up to two vehicles parked at my residence for my business.
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post #15 of 16
For wedding consultations/tastings I meet clients at a local Panera and/or coffee shop to discuss everything with them. I also meet clients during a local event at which I am participating. As already mentioned, I NEVER invite any clients to the home.
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