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I need advice: how to deal with this customer/order

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Allrighty all you wise ones, I'm back here again needing advise.  This is a new situation for me so I'm looking on how to deal with this professionally.

I have received an information request via my website 3 months ago from a customer who needed a cake for the next week. Information request did not have enough information to provide a quote, so I responded with follow up questions.  Never heard back until 2 days ago with answers. Well, I am now totally booked, so I have responded back with that information. The customer is now not happy of why I don't have them on the calendar since they "placed" an order months ago.

Soooooo, do I just suck it up and do it anyways?  Stick to my guns?  Trying to figure out what's the best business/professional way to handle it.

Thanks you all,

P

post #2 of 11
If you have time to fit the order in I would still accept it with a rush fee added. If not, I would apologize for the inconvenience and politely inform the customer that the order was not confirmed (and no deposit or retainer was paid, if you require that) since they didn't respond to your request for more information.
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pebbles1727 View Post

I have received an information request via my website 3 months ago from a customer who needed a cake for the next week. Information request did not have enough information to provide a quote, so I responded with follow up questions.  Never heard back until 2 days ago with answers. Well, I am now totally booked, so I have responded back with that information. The customer is now not happy of why I don't have them on the calendar since they "placed" an order months ago.

Soooooo, do I just suck it up and do it anyways?  Stick to my guns?  Trying to figure out what's the best business/professional way to handle it.

Thanks you all,

P

If you are totally booked and cannot do a rush job, don't even consider it, even for a "rush fee". 

 

I agree with everything Jason said.  I couldn't find a link to any website you may (or may not) have to see if you list conditions for an order.  Many bakers have a statement on their website that the date is NOT held and NO cake will be made unless a non-refundable deposit has been placed by xxxx days prior to the final order. 

 

You did your due diligence by responding with follow-up questions.  Why would you even consider "sucking it up"?   Do you want the business?  Do you need the money?  Are you concerned that they will bad-mouth you? 

 

Being professional means that you learn how and when to firmly, but nicely, say NO.  Being professional also means that YOU must have clearly stated expectations on your website or in your emails.  I just googled this phrase:  deposit to hold cake date

 

You will see LOTS of different cake websites with examples of statements like this one:

"A non-refundable, non-transferable deposit is required for all orders. For Couture and Grand Event Cakes, a deposit must be made to secure the date before we begin the intricate design process."

O NOT hold dates and until we have accepted your deposit you do not have a reserved date/order.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you Apti.  I don't have any specific statement on my site like that, so I probably need to figure out how to  address that for the future, even though it has not been an issue before. I simply have "an information request" form that customers can fill out to check availability and receive a quote.  I don't have anything on the site that allows customers to actually place an order.  I guess, I'll need to come up with some additional wording for my form that specifies that filling it out does not mean order has been placed.

 

Why would you even consider "sucking it up"?   Do you want the business?  Do you need the money?  Are you concerned that they will bad-mouth you? 

 
Simply to keep the peace.  I am trully booked that week, and yes, I'm worried about any possible fall out. I don't know what will be best for my business and feel like I have to fulfill that order even though the order was never placed. I guess live and learn
post #5 of 11

I have a standard disclaimer in the signature of my email, it goes out with every email. It states that no date is booked until the deposit is paid. You might consider this route as well. Mine is in bold red letters under my contact details, I have that on my website as well, but most people dont read webpages it seems!

I also follow up with an email if I havent heard from them within a week, just saying that Im following up if there is any other info they need and also re-requesting any info I asked for in the 1st mail. If I dont hear form them after the 2nd mail its into my rejected folder icon_biggrin.gif

 

Only you will know if you can handle that order, maybe tell them that as it was a miscomunication, you would consider doing a simpler cake, if it will fit into your schedule.  How much trouble can this client make for you if you do decide to stick to your guns and refuse?

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apti View Post

 

 

Being professional means that you learn how and when to firmly, but nicely, say NO. 

 

 NOT hold dates and until we have accepted your deposit you do not have a reserved date/order.

Love that, and so true.

 

I might even call instead of email so the client can hear the sincerity in your voice.  I would do my best to politely explain that you have a finite (or limited) amount of time in which to create each order.  Accepting an additional commitment would lower the quality of all including the one they want.  

www.VeryDeliciousDesserts.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delicious-Desserts/207874222593145

 

It's never "just cake!"

 

You may get a cake for $way to little but you won't get this cake!

Animal
(4 photos)
 
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www.VeryDeliciousDesserts.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delicious-Desserts/207874222593145

 

It's never "just cake!"

 

You may get a cake for $way to little but you won't get this cake!

Animal
(4 photos)
 
Reply
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pebbles1727 View Post

 I responded with follow up questions.  Never heard back until 2 days ago with answers. 

Never mind about the deposit or statements on your website, they made NO attempt to contact you with necessary information.

 

As far as I am concerned, that is NOT an order.

 

I would email politely, starting with forwarding your emailed request for more information and her very late response.  I would say that because there was no answer from her, there was no order.  Please do this in writing but you could follow it up with a phone call if you like.

 

I have to say that there is no reason to worry about fallout.  People who don't answer email have only themselves to blame.  If you have made the mistake of using Facebook for your business, then make sure that you can delete any negative comments.

post #8 of 11

I don't think you have to worry about any "fall out" from you refusing to take the order.  You will have to worry about "fall out" from all the cakes you have due that week if you take another order (knowing you are already booked) and can't finish something or run late.

 

I would call the person  - phone calls allow the person to hear the concern in your voice/no room for misinterpetation from reading something wrong in an email.

If you don't have their number, then just email them appologizing for any confusion but since they didn't pay a deposit or sign a contract, the order was not considered place.  I would also tell them that since they didn't respond to the questions you emailed them, you figured they went else where for their cake.  Had they responded to the email (in a timely manner) the details of how to place an order would have been discussed.

 

Don't wear yourself out becuase these people procastinated.  But I would begin sending out, in all emails, a statement that an order is not placed until deposit/contract is completed.  Updating your website to include this is a good idea too, but people don't always pay attention to the fine print (or bold print) on websites.  But having the terms clearly stated in an email you know they received is an easy way to point to the condition if they claim they didn't know.

"who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?"
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"who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?"
Reply
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakingIrene View Post

Never mind about the deposit or statements on your website, they made NO attempt to contact you with necessary information.

 

As far as I am concerned, that is NOT an order.

 

 

Thank you, that summurizes my feelings.  The information request did not have the size, flavor, or theme listed, just that someone was looking for a cake for a specific date. I had nothing to go on to provide the quote. How would I know that they actually want to place an order or can even afford the cake?  I receive numerous requests, many of them do not end up being orders, whether it's because I'm already booked or cake is out of their budget.  I don't chase after customers, I assume that everyone is an adult and is capable of following up to make sure that their order is in.  If I am to call Publix or even Walmart and ask them if they can do the cake for specific date, and then hang up, I cannot possibly expect for that order to be ready when I show up?  Well, I'm not Publix nor Walmart, I own a custom cake business that books up weeks and sometimes months in advance.  Not my fault. Thank you for letting me vent, LOL. That's my feelings, but in business I'm trying not to act on my feelings, so I responded to the customer explaining of why the order is not on my books, but considering the miscommunication, I offered to still work her in.  I still requested all the information I need in order to be able to provide the quote and finalize the order.  And now, once again, no response. Will see if or when I get it.  If I don't hear from her before tomorrow, I will send another e-mail giving her the deadline, and will go from there.

post #10 of 11
At this point the professional thing to do would be to call the customer. If no one answers, leave a voice mail and give them 24 hours to call you back.

Some people are better with answering email than others (and it's possible your email was filed under spam by mistake) so you need to know when to switch to the phone.
post #11 of 11
The thing is, this isn't a customer or an order, it was an inquiry. Don't feel that you need to keep the peace, there's no war here...in the future just make sure that people are clear that they need to pay you in advance, or whatever your policy is, but don't let her push you into feeling guilty and doing the cake if you're booked up. She dropped the ball, you didn't.
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