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Collecting payment for a cake

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

I am in Ohio and am a Cottage Food business.  When I first started out six years ago, I would let people pay me when they picked up their cakes (most customers were friends), then I started asking for deposits (to cover materials/supplies I needed to purchase).  I let customers pay me by checks without worrying about it.  Over the years, my policies have changed, mostly because people have screwed me over.  One customer ordered a basket cake filled with fresh berries -- and about $20 worth of berries later, she decided she didn't want the cake after all, and it was already made.  Another customer wrote me a hot check.  Now, my policies are this:  upon ordering, a $50 deposit (or half the total, whichever is smaller) is due upon ordering to "hold" the date.  The balance of the cake is due one month prior to delivery.  If the order is placed on shorter notice, then payment in full is due (no deposit) 2 weeks prior to delivery.  If order is placed completely last minute, I only accept cash and it must be paid in full before one finger touches anything to do with the preparation of that cake.  For the first time, a customer complained about that policy.  They don't want to pay me until they see the cake.  To me, that sounds like a screw-over in the making.  She has seen my portfolio and oohed and aahed over my work and now she feels "nervous" about paying in full now (her order is on the 21st of July...today is the 9th)...since it's less than 2 weeks away, i told her payment in full was due now.

 

Is this unreasonable?  What are your policies?  Cottage food business and licensed business owners' replies welcome!

post #2 of 36

I have the same policy for wedding cakes and for small celebration cakes I require 50% upfront and the balance when they collect.

your policies are not unreasonable, and in any case even if they were, its YOUR business and you decide the rules. If the client is not happy with that its her choice to go somewhere else, but I'm sure she will find that most places has an upfront payment of some kind.

 

In my opinion she can accept your policy or go somewhere else.

post #3 of 36

Something I am learning as I go is every cake I do becomes a 1-3 cake generator from friends/relatives of the customer who ordered. There have been times I have cut someone a deal and don't you know the next several contacts will quote that price back to me. "You made a beautiful cake for so-and-so for  $xx.xx  I want the same price!" (but with twice as much of everything)

If you give in to this unreasonable request, a group of people may expect the same courtesy and you could have a problem. You know how well meaning situations turn into "she's a dishonest so-and-so".

 

So stick to your guns and just be gentle but blunt "This is a business and your order is for a custom made cake that cannot be sold to anyone else.  I can't afford to throw it in the trash if you decide you don't want it." If she balks cancel the order and throw her contact info in the round file. You don't need the stress that would come with her business.  

post #4 of 36

In walmart, you pick a cake and pay for it.

 

With custom work, you pay upfront. Her nervous position may be just ill informed. She is hiring you (with all the "oohs and ahhhs") for a commissioned art piece made just for her. Maybe a soft sell approach will calm her, but in the end, I agree with the pp... stick to your guns!
 

post #5 of 36

The way I do mine is if it is less than $100, payment in full before it touches the books, $100-200, 50% deposit at time of order and the rest at pick-up, $200 plus, $100 down and the rest 2 weeks before, unless it is last minute, then it is paid for immediately. The ONLY exceptions I make are for my very regular customers who order all the time. Stick to your guns, it could easily be a set up.

Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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Beginners, be sure to parrot advice and get your post count up as fast as you can. After all, it's not what you know, it's what people THINK you know.
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post #6 of 36

I agree, stick to your guns.  If you want cash up front for a quick order - then those are the rules.   You pay up front for buying from a supermarket or Costco.  (I know that you are purchasing there and then and can see the cake)  But provided the consultation has been done correctly and there are no misunderstandings on colour, message, size, shape etc. there should be no problem.  If customers are questioning the 'pay in full now' policy - you need to ensure that they are certain they are getting the product exactly as they wish.  Then there can be zero argument as to whether your cake was worth the price you have charged.   So to me - this is all to do with the original consultation and getting things clear by both parties.

post #7 of 36

Not the least bit unreasonable. People don't realize that the $300 cake they ordered can't just be re-sold to someone else if they change their mind at the last minute.

 

I require 50% within a week of booking, the other 50% 2 weeks before delivery.

post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsaun View Post

She has seen my portfolio and oohed and aahed over my work and now she feels "nervous" about paying in full now

I would totally turn this back on her. Why is she nervous? Is she worried you won't be able to execute?

"Mrs. X, please help me understand what makes you nervous? Are you worried I won't be able to execute the design?" Then pause. Don't say a single word. Let her squirm a bit. Most people won't want to admit that. If she does, ask her if she would agree that you're a reasonable person. When she says if course, let her know that if there really was something wrong, you would of course refund part of the payment.

Bottom line no pay no cake.

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)
 
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post #9 of 36

She may be thinking that when the cake is finished she can find (imaginary) flaws and talk the price down.  Since your alternative would be to throw it away and get nothing, she may be thinking you will compromise, since any payment is better than none.  Don't do it.

I'd rather be baking!
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I'd rather be baking!
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post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts View Post

If she does, ask her if she would agree that you're a reasonable person. When she says if course, let her know that if there really was something wrong, you would of course refund part of the payment.
 

 

Ummm, I don't know that I would say that exactly.  To me, that's leaving the door wide open to her wanting money back after the fact.  "Something wrong" can get pretty loosely translated when the client is already suffering from buyer's remorse.

 

I would ask why her why she's nervous about paying.  If it's related to execution, do you  have any online reviews or previous customer testimonials that you could share with the client?  That might calm her "nerves" a bit.  Don't change your policies for this customer, they are not out of line.  I require 50% upfront / to hold the date and the remainder 90 days before the event.  Stay Strong!

post #11 of 36

Ive fell into the trap of giving friends & relatives discounts, then i have everyone thinking i do cheap cakes & favours for people. Definately learned my lesson now everybody gets a fair price worthy of what they have ordered. There has to be at least a 50% deposit and full payment before completion because the product is so unique.

    If you want a one off,handmade, custom designed cake, then you must be willing to pay for it!

    Otherwise get down to the supermarket.

You are doing the right thing.icon_biggrin.gif

Wizards first rule: People are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want it to be true; or theyre afraid its true.

 

Wizards second rule: The best intentions cause the greatest harm.

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Wizards first rule: People are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want it to be true; or theyre afraid its true.

 

Wizards second rule: The best intentions cause the greatest harm.

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post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 

Thanks, everyone.  I thought I was reasonable, and she is the first person to ever complain/question my policies.  After all, she wants her cake in 11 days!  I do have customer testimonials and comments on my Facebook page (which is how she found me), so I don't know why she is worried.  I wonder if it's that she can't afford it, and wants to split the payments.  I understand but I can't afford to NOT take her payment and have her balk and run and be stuck with a cake I don't want/don't need/can't sell to someone else.  I wonder if she impulsively ordered the cake -- but my fear is she could just as impulsively decide she doesn't want it after the fact!

 

I've been kind, and explained to her why my policies exist.  She's supposed to decide by Thursday. 

post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnson6ofus View Post

In walmart, you pick a cake and pay for it.

 

With custom work, you pay upfront. Her nervous position may be just ill informed. She is hiring you (with all the "oohs and ahhhs") for a commissioned art piece made just for her. Maybe a soft sell approach will calm her, but in the end, I agree with the pp... stick to your guns!
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scrumdiddlycakes View Post

Not the least bit unreasonable. People don't realize that the $300 cake they ordered can't just be re-sold to someone else if they change their mind at the last minute.

 

I require 50% within a week of booking, the other 50% 2 weeks before delivery.

Blammo.

post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 

And the drama continues. 

 

I sent her an invoice.  I ALWAYS send invoices by email.  She said my attachment "made her phone and her computer crash" and she can't pull it up.  I ask people to print them off, write in any corrections, sign the bottom (the "contract" portion) and return it to me with payment.  She said she can't print it til Monday and since she only has til Thursday to do so (because I have someone else waiting til then to see if I have a slot open up), she'll just skip it.  She said, "I thought I'd have more time to do this and I feel rushed."  Ummmm...well, you're the one who waited until 11 days before your child's birthday to order your cake...  :)  Ahhh...people...

post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 

She just let me know she just can't afford it...I'm so sorry to hear this, but this makes me glad I stuck to my guns.  I worry that what may have happened is that cake day arrived and she didn't have enough for the balance so she would have not picked it up.  :(

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