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Cake tasting cake and charging.

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

How do I handle tastings. In my city there are only 2 cake designers.  I am one.  The other one does not charge.  The other designer undercuts the cake price by about half what the going rate is in our area.  I do not charge for cake tastings and I make a lot of cake for tastings but book only a few orders.I honestly don't know how she makes any money with what she charges.  I checked prices with 2 high end bakeries in the next town over and decided to be competitive at $3.50 per slice for wedding cake.  Customers rave about my cake and they even ask for seconds.  I give them seconds and spend about an hour talking about their design and details.  I make 6" cakes so the customer gets a feel for a real cake, as apposed to just making cupcakes, and then cut them one small slice and have lots of leftovers.  Everyone wants a cheap cake like from Wal-Mart or Costco.  When I quote them the price they always say "Well how come so much?"  "I can go to Wal-Mart and get  a wedding cake for $150.  My prices are competitive with the people in the next two towns over and I have even had the cake from the others and everyone says my cake is better.  On average I have been making  4 different flavors of 6" cakes for two flavors at tasting and do 2 tastings on the weekend.  It's getting expensive to make cake and not book orders.  After discussing the details and before I give them the final cost I tell them my policy only guaranteeing the date available once they make a deposit and we discuss all the details upfront like delivery, set up, all the design details, flowers, etc.  Then the price comes and they always choke.  For instance I had a consult for a wedding cake to serve 150 people and the cake alone was 525 @ $3.50 per slice.  Then there was a set up fee and they wanted to rent my fountain which is $40 and the delivery fee was $50 because I was having to drive 35 miles one way to deliver.  (There are very few cake designers in our geographical area of 1million residents.  When they saw the price of $652 with all the details and tax they said hmmm, we were hoping it would be about $250 total and that they would need to think about it.  I am friends with the other designer and I called to ask her point blank what she does in that situation and she said she doesn't have that happen to her ever.  People just taste her cake and are willing to pay her $1.75 price.  She has booked about 22 cakes for this summer and I have 3. What do other people do?  I am considering charging $25 for tastings and if they book I will apply that money to the order.  Nobody in the area charges.

 

Any and all ideas are appreciated.

 

Thank you. 

post #2 of 15

maybe be more up front when they book the tasting appointment about pricing and budgets--at this point you don't have anything to loose--but people can still be difficult aka brick headed about cakes

 

'so you're thinking 150 servings, at my base price that's $525--is that within the realm of possibility for your budget?' but still they will book a consult and nearly pass out when you say it again-

 

another thing i do--instead of a tasting--i make as my gift to b&g two cakes that i deliver with the cake--all boxed and ready to go--two 5" cakes--one for 1st anniversary and one for honeymoon--often the b & g don't get to enjoy the cake so they get theirs 'to go'--and this is a gift--to be granted at my discretion--only once i did not deliver it--payment problems--no gift for you! ;)

 

i use either cake scraps from leveling or use leftover batter--easy to pop out a couple 4 or 5 inchers

 

so you might want to offer something like this in lieu of the so far unprofitable cake tasting

 

just because you're getting married you are not suddenly an expert in cakes/cake flavors --i never liked the idea of a tasting because i'm not interesting in peeps critiquing my cake flavors--no thank you--i'll put my forty years up against your ten minutes any day--besides i'm not changing anything even if they don't like it--and pretty much everybody can distinguish vanilla, chocolate, lemon, strawberry, carrot, banana etc.

 

i hate tastings ;)

my cookies are prettier than your cookies because this is the second time i substituted my opalescent sanding sugar when i ran out of sugar to make the batch ha!

 

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my cookies are prettier than your cookies because this is the second time i substituted my opalescent sanding sugar when i ran out of sugar to make the batch ha!

 

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post #3 of 15

You probably need to start screening these people out before you ever meet with them. I don't set any appointments up unless we both have a pretty good estimate of what their cake is probably going to cost. 9 times out of ten, when we meet, we are just getting specifics down, and I'm collecting money that day. I could never afford to have blind appointments and free cake grabs like that. Nuh uh! 

 

 

Get the event date first

Get a guest count

Get a general idea of design

Figure out a general quote even if it means calling/emailing back

Then when everyone is on the same page, you can set up an appointment to BOOK the date. Yes, be that forward, "When would you like to come in and book this cake?"

"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
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Birthday Cakes
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"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Reply
post #4 of 15

good stuff!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture View Post

 "When would you like to come in and book this cake?"

 

 

"morning or evening better for you?

 

weekend or weekday?"

my cookies are prettier than your cookies because this is the second time i substituted my opalescent sanding sugar when i ran out of sugar to make the batch ha!

 

Reply
my cookies are prettier than your cookies because this is the second time i substituted my opalescent sanding sugar when i ran out of sugar to make the batch ha!

 

Reply
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture View Post

You probably need to start screening these people out before you ever meet with them. I don't set any appointments up unless we both have a pretty good estimate of what their cake is probably going to cost. 9 times out of ten, when we meet, we are just getting specifics down, and I'm collecting money that day. I could never afford to have blind appointments and free cake grabs like that. Nuh uh! 

 

 

Get the event date first

Get a guest count

Get a general idea of design

Figure out a general quote even if it means calling/emailing back

Then when everyone is on the same page, you can set up an appointment to BOOK the date. Yes, be that forward, "When would you like to come in and book this cake?"

This is great advice!

 

I don't do tastings to 'see if clients like my cake', but for clients to decide on their flavours, budget is always discussed before hand.

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by scrumdiddlycakes View Post

This is great advice!

 

I don't do tastings to 'see if clients like my cake', but for clients to decide on their flavours, budget is always discussed before hand.

Right! 

"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Reply
"I can do that, because this is my sandbox and I've got the bullsh*% shovel." ~Dianne Sylvan, Author and Lunatic
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Birthday Cakes
(2 photos)
Reply
post #7 of 15

Whether a bride calls or emails, they have to get through my threshold questions before I make an appointment.  

When? (Make sure I'm not booked)

how many quests?  I only give free consults for weddings over 100 servings.   If they are less, I explain they can pay for a consult or forego it and design over email. 

Where is the reception?  Is it in my area?  Sometimes, they are calling from 100 miles away and I'm not delivering that far.  This also gives me an idea of budget.  If its in a church hall they aren't spending the same as a fancy venue.  

 

If they pass all of that, I book the appointment and send them a form to fill out.  They are allowed to pick a number of samples according to how large the wedding cake is.  The form requires them to to list their budget.  When I get it back, I make sure it fits into my pricing.  If its way low, I email them of the actual price for their size or style of cake.  I tell them that if they can't raise their budget, we should not meet (but I say it nice).  It does save us all some time.

 

I am very open with all my prices and even have a cake price estimator tool on the website.  I also list  a page of FAQ's that spell out number of samples, etc.  There is all the info so there are no guesses.   I make 2 layer 4" cakes for each sample.  They cut what they want and take home the leftovers for family to try.  It's a pretty good system.  I keep extra 4" cakes in the freezer and pull them as needed.  I write the flavor on the cake boards in sharpie.  

 

You aren't doing anything wrong with your pricing.  You are not screening upfront and that is setting you up for failure and that's making you doubt.  If you meet with people that are ready to pay your prices, they will book.  My only other suggestions is to roll all the set up and delivery into the pricing.  People hate being "nickled and dimed".   When I say I include delivery, they love it.  Check out my site for all of the details if you want to use any of this.  Let those brides get their crappy cake from the other lady.  You be the GREAT cake lady! 

post #8 of 15

There are a TON of bakers and cake businesses around here, so I don't book every appointment that I get. But I do screen people, and I turn down more people for appointments than I book. People do shop around a lot, and you're not guaranteed to book the cake at the time of the appointment.

 

I don't charge for appointments, but most people around here don't. I've heard that people are starting to charge, though, so I think the number of bakers is saturating the market and everyone's tired of the looky-loos. I don't plan on charging, but I do limit tastings to 80+ servings. I also do all of my appointments on one day so that I only bake once and prep once, and each appointment is only half an hour long.

 

In your case screening is going to help you a lot, but if the only other game in town is undercharging that much that's a different issue for you. You're going to need to start selling why you're different from other people it your area, without directly putting down the other person. Tricky.

post #9 of 15

I charge a fee for tastings and only do them for wedding cakes.  The fee gets credited toward the final cost of their cake once the order is placed.  The fee includes just the bride and groom and if they bring an additional people it's an extra $10 per person / max of 6 and this does not get credited.

 

I've found this weeds out the serious buyers from the tire kickers and keeps them from bringing the world with them to eat free cake.  Plus, should something happen where the order gets cancelled or whatever, I've got the tasting fee (and non-ref deposit) to cover my costs.

 

Over the years I've conducted my tastings in many different ways - from cupcakes, to offering many flavors, to allowing them to select flavors they want to try and struggled to find a format that worked, it seemed like most often they'd pick one of my top three flavors or go with something complete different than what they where trying.  Last year (after reading things here on cc) I changed to just offering my three most popular flavors (sometimes I'd throw in another) and that seemed to work just as well if not better than anything else I'd tried and it certainly was a lot easier on me.  

post #10 of 15

Yes, I agree with the other posters.  You need to screen your potential clients better.  I too always ask about venue, servings, design and budget.  I'm very up front with them about my price per serving.  I never book a tasting until they have a venue picked out.  This does two things for me...shows me they're serious and it allows me to price out delivery at the tasting so they have a total estimate.

 

It sounds like you offer too much cake for your tasting.  Remember, this is a "tasting".  I offer 6 cake samples that are 2-3" square and a variety of frostings and fillings for mixing a matching.  These are usually made from cakes of the week or month.  I freeze them for up to a month so I have them readily available for tastings.

 

I offer free tastings for 100 servings or more and $25.00 fee for less than that.  I do apply the fee to their cake order once it's booked.  I everyone's feed back gives you some good ideas and hopefully you'll be able to weed out the less serious brides and clients.  

post #11 of 15

I really feel sorry for that baker who has to bake 22 wedding cakes at $1.75 per serving!  OMG!    You are not out of line...you are attracting low-end brides and you need to figure out how to weed them out. 

 

I think your problem is less in the tastings and more in how do you market yourself.  Let 'cheap-o depot' over there get all the Craigs-list  brides and you turn your attention to a more savvy bride market.

 

How are you promoting yourself?

If I am ever on life support, unplug me...

Then plug me back in.  See if that works!

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If I am ever on life support, unplug me...

Then plug me back in.  See if that works!

Reply
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have a website and advertising around town. A banner at a localFamily entertainment center. I did have a booth at a wedding show in the big city near by and that worked. I booked 6 weddings from that. I am also the Quinceanera cake lady in town. It's all coming along. When I sat down and reviewed my calendar i realized i have turned away a lot of cake orders due to summer activites with our family. I turned away 3 wedding cakes in June b/c i have to be in NY that week. Plus another 8 b/c of family camping, a get away werkend with my husband, a family reunion, and a cruise to Alaska that my parents are paying for and taking 30 of us kids, spouses, grandkids family friends, etc. so I don't think my business is as slow as I had thought. I currently have 12 orders from April to Dec. and my phone is still ringing.
post #13 of 15

You can also skip the fuss over prices.

 

At the first contact, ask for the event date, location, number of servings AND THEIR BUDGET.

 

Not enough $$$ in their head for your fair price?  Just email back and say "you can't help them, sorry"

post #14 of 15

i actually don't ask what the budget is right off the bat.  Maybe it is going with my dad too often to buy a car, but it feels wrong to me to 'show my cards' to someone who has the power to adjust the price of what I want.  I appreciate my customers feeling the same way.  

 

I will however ask them the size cake/servings they want, the rough design (plain buttercream finish, fondant hand painted?) ideas and then give them my base price range with a ballpark of any extras they would want (i usually go a bit high to CMA).  If they are surprised or want to talk price in more detail, then I will ask what price range they wanted to stay within, and then offer some options that would maybe be an option.  I always try to be respectful of what they want to spend and I feel by letting them make the decision of whether or not I am in their budget it is a bit more tactful than asking and then informing them that I don't do cakes for the number they just said.  I also have my base prices on my website, and I think that that helps in informing potential customers as to what the minimum a cake is going to cost before they even contact me. 

post #15 of 15

I don't ask for their budget but I state what my prices "start" at.  If in their description it seems like a small cake then what I say is "I'd be happy to do your cake and I am available for your date.  My cakes start at $150.00 and $4.50 per serving.  Prices increase from there depending on design and flavors chosen".  This way they can determine if you're in their price range.

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