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Do you normally (physically) meet with clients for small orders?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I understand tastings and design consultations for weddings and/or large parties. But is it normal to meet with clients over a 30-50 serving shower or birthday cake? I feel like I can send some pictures of designs and go back and forth easily over email/phone so why do we need to meet? Maybe I'm being overly sensitive since this is a side business for me and everyone wants to meet during the weekdays when I'm at my full-time job.

 

I've made it clear on my website (and have reiterated many, many times in email response) that tastings are only for 75+ servings and if they would like a sample they can place an order for a smaller cake or cupcakes. But some people still insist on meeting without the tasting. What's the saying "time is money"? I don't feel like wasting 1-2 hours pitching a potential $100-$200 order. Especially going through the hassle of trying to coordinate the meeting. During the week is bad - work and 2 kids, and on weekends I'm caking and delivering. Sure, I can carve out some time (and do for larger orders) but for small ones it just seems like it's not worth it.

 

Just curious what others (particularly home bakers) do in this situation.

post #2 of 11
The majority of our business is birthday cakes in the $50-100 range. The only time we see these customers in person is when they pick up the cake or answer the door for the delivery, everything else is done via email.

We've had a few people who insisted on meeting us before placing an order, I can only assume that they were apprehensive about ordering from a bakery without a retail storefront. The meetings with these customers would last 5-10 minutes tops and were mostly about how our business works as opposed to designing a cake. If a customer wanted to meet in person to work on a cake design I would probably charge $30/hour for design consultation services, this would be non-refundable and would not apply towards the final order.
post #3 of 11

I always called customers.  Then an evening appointment only if necessary (for a wedding cake).

 

But please remember that Cottage Food states permit "inspection" of kitchen.  So you need to post your EVENING hours on your website, that may help.

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by BakingIrene View Post

But please remember that Cottage Food states permit "inspection" of kitchen.  So you need to post your EVENING hours on your website, that may help.
There are several states that only require inspections in the case of a customer complaint, in which case it would be scheduled in advance with the inspector. So you may not need to post any hours at all on your web site.
post #5 of 11

I always tell people who want to meet with me to design a smaller cake - "my schedule is really erratic - let's start the design by email first and see where we get, if we need to pull the trigger on a face to face then we will"  Then I go ahead and start sending them some inspiration pics to start the design process.  I'd say that 90% of the time this heads off the need for a face to face meet. 

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Toptier - thank you, great suggestion!

 

This issue has nothing to do with my kitchen or its cleanliness. I am fully legal and inspected - have a nice little certificate hanging up. PA does not have drop-in inspections, only annual scheduled visits (which has nothing to do with customer meetings). I don't believe any states require customers to inspect your kitchen.

 

My concern is about time and scheduling. With working full-time and having kids, most of my caking is done in the wee hours and on weekends. Not exactly great times for meeting with people. I will make efforts to have early evening/weekend hours available for large orders that I think will be highly profitable. But on a cake that I'm planning to spend 2 hours on and make $50, I don't think a consult is necessary or worth my time.

 

And I would NEVER post evening hours on my website. I get enough crazies wanting to stop by. Posting hours would make them think it's a free-for-all!

post #7 of 11

I only do design or consults for orders of $250 or more.  If someone wants to meet to talk, I will tell them that I usually work out details with the smaller cakes over the phone or via email.  I offer to take a deposit in person if they want, and I also refer them to my Yelp, Wedding Wire or Facebook page where customer reviews are able to be read. If they still have an issue with booking with me without having a face to face for a $150 cake then I probably am not the designer for them. 

post #8 of 11

I recently added this to my F.A.Q. section on my website because I HATE consultations.  I thought surely no one would be crazy enough to pay $60.00. However, two "crazies" have paid for consultations for cakes that were less than $100.00 icon_biggrin.gif

 

Q.Do you do tastings and consultations?
A. I no longer do wedding cakes so tastings and consultations aren't usually necessary. If you feel that you need a consultation the fee is $60.00/hr. and includes three cake flavors. Amond or vanilla, chocolate and one flavor of your choice. Tasting/consultation usually lasts about 1.5 hrs. Appointment is necessary.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibrations View Post

I recently added this to my F.A.Q. section on my website because I HATE consultations.  I thought surely no one would be crazy enough to pay $60.00. However, two "crazies" have paid for consultations for cakes that were less than $100.00 icon_biggrin.gif
Good for you...one thing I've learned from targeting an area that includes some very upscale demographics is that chances are, someone will pay for something even when you think you've priced it out of reach. And for $60/hour, I'd be happy to do as many consultations as people want. icon_smile.gif

I don't necessarily think it's crazy though. If a well-to-do customer is having a relatively small party but has no idea what to get and is more comfortable working face-to-face, that consultation is well worth the price to them. And if you just tell them "no consultations" instead of offering a price, they will move on to the next business and take their expensive tastes with them.
post #10 of 11

I actually very rarely have people that want a consult for a smaller order.

I do all my consults on Tuesdays, kind of a random day, but I refuse to do anything work related on my two days off, and Wednesday - Saturday are my busy work days. My consults don't last more than 15 minutes, tastings are allotted 30 minutes. I will usually have a few set up, so I don't mind doing an extra one for a smaller order, providing they aren't expecting an actual tasting, if so, I have a set fee for that.

They don't get it discounted if they order from me, it simply covers the ingredients and my time.

 

I'm kind of a hag when it comes to scheduling, they come to me, when it is convenient for me. Of course I word it much nicer than that, lol.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hmmm.... me thinks I need to add wording about "consultations" to my website as well. I swear, I spend more time tweaking my FAQs to head off these types of annoyances than I do updating pics and actually promoting the business.

 

And you're right Jason, some people will pay regardless. But as long as the price is right on our end, I suppose we shouldn't complain :)

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