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Doing all my research so I can do things right...meanwhile.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Recently my husband lost his job with the military. While overseas, I was content as a hobby baker. After I was asked to prepare 10 cakes for the Change of Command ceremony, I started thinking that I needed to step up my plans for making this a career I loved. Now we’re back in Atlanta and I’m working on my new business plan, doing some research on the local Cottage Food Law and trying to check out local pricing. While perusing the internet, I came across these ads on the “list” site that I will not name. I am all for people getting their start, I had to start somewhere as well. But I wouldn’t buy a cake from these bakers if my life depended on it. However, a lot of people are and will based on the sentence from the second picture, “If you are in need of a cake for a wedding, birthday, shower, etc. and don’t want to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a fabulous cake please contact me! I would love to create a beautiful cake in your price range.” When an offer is laid before you with promises of the “wow factor” cake with “value menu” prices, most will say yes (not any of my fellow CC members).

 

How am I supposed to compete with that??? I mean, I’m confident in my abilities but I know the aspect of saving money these days can be very appealing. Not to mention how they’re undercutting the local legal business. It’s just really ticking me off. We really need the income this would generate as our lives have taken a turn for the worst. We have a new baby girl (she’s the sunshine in all this darkness), hubby is hopping from job to job, we’re temporarily living with my mom and all of our possession are in jeopardy of being lost for good. We definitely cannot do without money. Not to mention that some of their customers I’m sure are suffering the consequences of this bakers.

 

FYI...prices for most of these bakers start at $25-$50...really, really??? The site was filled with "cheap" bakers listing years of experience and that they use only the finest ingredients.  Come on!  And yes those are real hot wheels on the cake.

Anyway, I just needed to vent and share…that is all. Thanks for listening!

Michelle

 

"The only thing better than a cake is two cakes"

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Michelle

 

"The only thing better than a cake is two cakes"

Reply
post #2 of 8
Well since you need the money you will really have to make sure that you are charging properly. It may ne hard in the beginning, but hopefully quality will set you apart and you can get a good reputation
Hey everybody! Check out google.com ! This is clearly an attempt to direct traffic onto that site and away from cake central. Because everyone knows you can only have one browser open!
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Hey everybody! Check out google.com ! This is clearly an attempt to direct traffic onto that site and away from cake central. Because everyone knows you can only have one browser open!
Reply
post #3 of 8

Basically the people who are buying cakes from the $25 cake lady are NOT your target customer anyway. These are people looking for champagne on a beer budget, your target demographic will be the higher income earners who wouldn't dream of being caught buying a cheap $25 cake lol! These people do exist, I've seen enough of it in the city (if you could call it that...) I live in, you just need to make sure you have that demographic in your region.

 

Stick to proper pricing tactics, make sure the quality of your cakes is a professional standard and make sure you don't market yourself as being for the budget consumer because custom-made cakes are a luxury product and hence our prices reflect that.

 

I hope all of my rambling makes sense lol!

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveMeBatty View Post

Basically the people who are buying cakes from the $25 cake lady are NOT your target customer anyway. These are people looking for champagne on a beer budget, your target demographic will be the higher income earners who wouldn't dream of being caught buying a cheap $25 cake lol! 

 

that's what I was thinking too.  Honestly I don't think you're suppose to compete with those type of bakers  and for those type of customers, they aren't and shouldn't be your competition.

 

It seems that the cake market in general may be over saturated though? I don't know..and maybe that is frustrating all by itself. 

post #5 of 8
Took words out of my mouth. Your customers are not on the list looking for cake! They are not in the "x community buy sell & trade."

I'm from Atlanta! I really miss it. I know it's changed since I left 10 years ago, but it will always be home to me.

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 #6 of 8

I don't know what the cottage food laws are where you are but you have to keep in mind the barrier to entry is relatively low especially when you can do it from home. Additionally, learning to decorate is becoming easier and easier with the wealth of information available free on-line and the ease of getting professional tools and equipment.  There will always be the low ballers out there, people that make their own cakes, and grocery stores--it's frustrating, but it's the reality of the market and you are very smart to think of these factors and plan accordingly. 

 

I'm in Virginia and there is literally a cake lady in every neighborhood, sometimes 2-3. More than that, most of my friends already had a go to cake person when I started. So ask yourself, what sets you apart other than price, that people will either switch to you or pick you over another decorator.  Do you have a particular style that is hard to copy or offer a unique kind of cake, can you somehow establish a cult following? Although I'm not a top decorator or anything, I was shocked at what my friends thought were really well done cakes. Quite frankly, end the end that's all the matters the customer is happy with what they got for the price. As decorators, we have a much higher standard than most of the general public. So a flawless cake isn't that big of a deal in the party cake consumer world. My cakes cost more, because I spend more time on them and charge accordingly, but not is not always a priority for the consumer. However, we all have to make a business decision to decide where on that spectrum we want to be, more production focused or designer cake focused. 

 

When you carve out your niche, people come for more than just price. When I decided to go into this business there where 4-5 bakeries around, retail and home-based that were in my niche (food allergy).  I'm still the highest in price (and I'm going to raise prices again in the Fall because my COGs are increasing), I don't even know how the others stay in business with their prices. They are much higher volume than me, so perhaps they get better deals from their distributors. I intentionally didn't invest a lot upfront, because I really couldn't gage if I could pull in the clients, but there was enough hope there to give it a try. I felt my skills in decorating were better than all but one competitor and I saw a lot of on-line forums that complained that the competitor was always booked so they had to make the cake themselves.  During my research I determined at best I could get 2-3 customers per month for the first year. The allergy market is tricky because a lot of people won't risk it and buy a cake from someone else.  Furthermore, I wanted to offer lots of choices for different food allergies, because I really believe you should be able to indulge to the fullest extent possible regardless of your dietary restriction. I knew that would scare a lot of people off, because I don't have dedicated equipment and everything is processed in the same kitchen.  I bought stuff as I went along and that has worked for the most part. I'm now growing about a year later, 3-4 orders per week.  I haven't done much in advertising, I've actually been lucky that I've had some features locally by those that were happy to find a place that caterers to multiple allergies. 

 

Nonetheless, it takes sometime to build a substantial client base, often times a couple of years.  I know you all are in need of the extra income, but you have to plan for the time it takes to reach your goals. Some places grow overnight, but it may take a lot of capital in advertising or just luck. My best advice, realistically determine how much you can bring in and the timing of it and then decide if you can live like that. Compare it to getting another type of job and the expenses that would go along with that (like childcare, etc) to help you determine what direction you should take. 

 

Just my two cents and good luck!

post #7 of 8

I am up in Gwinnett and as everyone else has said, step away from the "list."  I only go there every now and again to make sure my pictures have not been "borrowed" and placed on there anywhere.  However, you do need to google or bing the decorators in your local area and check out their websites and pricing.  Keep in mind, the new Cottage Food regulations is bringing out all types.  Now, do not get me wrong, I bake under the CF regs, however, I was established in a commercial kitchen before they went into affect.  

 

In the metro area, you have to step up your game.  Not only will you have to make beautiful/wow-um cakes, it is a necessity to market yourself.  Create a beautiful website.  Take flattering pictures of your cakes.  Order quality business cards.  The people looking on buy/sell/trade lists for cakes are NOT the ones you want to work with.  You want people that spread your information word of mouth, find you on google or bing, etc.  

 

Also, I am finding many of my customers are looking for cakes that look great as well as taste great.  Make sure your recipes are up to scrutiny.  Many times I hear that their last cake was beautiful, but tasted horrible.  I even heard that TWICE about a high-end event location in Midtown.  

 

You want the customers that know quality decorating work and quality baking and are willing to pay for it.  Those people are not checking list sites for cakes.  

There are times when I think I can help. Other times I think, given an already shallow gene pool, I am doing more for humanity by just letting go...

 

www.brendabakes.com

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There are times when I think I can help. Other times I think, given an already shallow gene pool, I am doing more for humanity by just letting go...

 

www.brendabakes.com

Reply
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you all so much! I know this is a saturated market.  I'm thankful for all the free information I've had access to but I do realize, it's free to all. You all are right, I don't want the $25 customers...they will probably be more trouble than it's worth in the ordering process. I'm just concerned about the ones that would normally be my market but realize they've gone over budget for the big extravaganza. Now they look to the list for a quick fix. But that's out of my control and I will push on. I've been doing a lot of practice/ advertising cakes and sending them to my mom's job, hubby's job and a few other places. I'm advertising that my products are coming soon. I'm aiming for the higher end of my target market. The people that think as I do. I would rather pay a higher cost for a quality product than get an inferior product for cheap. I'm definitely working out my niche. I don't want people to just think that they can bring in a picture of someone else's cake and say replicate. I will take elements and give credit to the inspiration but it also needs to say "uniquely done by Michelle", not copied by Michelle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts View Post

Took words out of my mouth. Your customers are not on the list looking for cake! They are not in the "x community buy sell & trade."

I'm from Atlanta! I really miss it. I know it's changed since I left 10 years ago, but it will always be home to me.

Awesome! I knew there was a reason you are one of my favorite Cakestars. Yes, it's changed since I lived here as well. Still trying to regain my bearings after moving away in 2004.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brenda549 View Post

I am up in Gwinnett and as everyone else has said, step away from the "list."  I only go there every now and again to make sure my pictures have not been "borrowed" and placed on there anywhere.  However, you do need to google or bing the decorators in your local area and check out their websites and pricing.  Keep in mind, the new Cottage Food regulations is bringing out all types.  Now, do not get me wrong, I bake under the CF regs, however, I was established in a commercial kitchen before they went into affect.  

 

In the metro area, you have to step up your game.  Not only will you have to make beautiful/wow-um cakes, it is a necessity to market yourself.  Create a beautiful website.  Take flattering pictures of your cakes.  Order quality business cards.  The people looking on buy/sell/trade lists for cakes are NOT the ones you want to work with.  You want people that spread your information word of mouth, find you on google or bing, etc.  

 

Also, I am finding many of my customers are looking for cakes that look great as well as taste great.  Make sure your recipes are up to scrutiny.  Many times I hear that their last cake was beautiful, but tasted horrible.  I even heard that TWICE about a high-end event location in Midtown.  

 

You want the customers that know quality decorating work and quality baking and are willing to pay for it.  Those people are not checking list sites for cakes.  

It seems that borrowing of pictures is a big thing as well. I'm currently planning on watermarking my pictures from now on. Although, I would love to be a fly on the wall when they are duplicating a cake, especially when they're trying to figure out how something was done. I don't want my watermark to be the photo though, so I know people are crafty at still finding a way to use pictures with watermarks. Some just crop it out.

 

The testers of my products are definitely giving me great feedback. So I know I'm putting out a quality product. Not to mention I'm constantly on CC asking people to pick apart my decorating so I can make the necessary corrections.

 

Again, thank you all so much!

Michelle

 

"The only thing better than a cake is two cakes"

Reply

Michelle

 

"The only thing better than a cake is two cakes"

Reply
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