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Brides flaking on my tastings. - Page 2

post #16 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar View Post
 

With everything so accessible online, to-go and fast these days, the brides who are in their 20's have been raised when they can get everything right away, and they don't like to be told they have to wait. I don't think it has anything to do with the time of year, it's just that these young'uns have different expectations than older people do. (and I include myself in the "older" category at the ripe old age of 48.)

 


It's the only thing I could think of that would have changed suddenly in the last several months: "It's always been fine, but I'm noticing a real resistance to anything "inconvenient" for these people these past few months."

post #17 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar View Post
 

As far as people not calling until the last minute goes, you do need to stand your ground on that. But I hear you with the "I want it and I want it now" mentality that's taken over. With everything so accessible online, to-go and fast these days, the brides who are in their 20's have been raised when they can get everything right away, and they don't like to be told they have to wait. I don't think it has anything to do with the time of year, it's just that these young'uns have different expectations than older people do. (and I include myself in the "older" category at the ripe old age of 48.)

 

And for the tastings, what I've started doing is giving people the option of a free open house appointment, where they can come and get samples between certain times, and only have one other person with them. So this weekend I'm doing from 2-4 on saturday for 6 people, and from 1-3 on sunday for 7 people. That's less time it will take for me, and I'll give them the option of having the samples at the office or sending them home with them. I got some little solo lidded containers to put the samples in.

 

Then I have paid individual appointments, which are $20 each and last half an hour. I've had three people schedule those already, so I guess it's not as off-putting as I thought it would be. There are a bunch of other people in this area who have started charging for appointments, though, so I think that people are starting to expect that.

 

I'll report back after tomorrow afternoon when I do the open house for the first time to see how it went. I'm hoping that they don't all show up at the same time, but if they do that will save me from having to go over the spiel multiple times, too.

Yep, that is the big fat wall I am running into. "I want it now, but I shouldn't have to actually work at it." And some bakeries can oblige. I cannot nor will I. 

For the past year I have been doing a tasting evening open house type thing at a local hotel. Free of charge, a buttload of flavors, come and go as you please, I am there to answer questions and book. If they can't make it, they could do a paid private tasting. Again, I want to make sure there is a free option. 

1. People love the free cake. 

2.People don't love the "it's not JUST about me" thing. They come and they eat, and then they try and set up a "private tasting" for later. Um, no this IS your tasting. They want BOTH. 

The booking rate at these events was about 30-50%. GREAT feedback, just no commitments. My conclusion was that although people like the option of free, they don't feel they are getting the personal attention they want. The "experience" wasn't quite right. And since baby is on the way and I will now have 2 kiddos and no hubby at night and the booking rate was way too low to justify the effort, I went back to the one-on-one format exclusively. The booking rate since Jan 1 is back up to 100%. (not a good segment of time, but I've had a LOT of tastings in the past few weeks!)

 

I know I could make a tasting event work with scheduled individual appointments over one day, etc. But with a new baby it just wasn't worth it. 

And now I'm back to "I'll talk to my fiancee and get back to you...." 

NOT. 

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post #18 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post


This is eventually what we started doing once we realized in-person tastings weren't adding a lot of value for us or for customers. Our "to-go" tasting package consisted of two cut up previously frozen unfrosted 6" rounds (cut using a round cookie cutter) in different flavors, and two plastic containers with different frosting/filling flavors. The cost was $30, with $10 additional for each additional flavor of cake or frosting/filling.

This is not a popular option around here. I tried it for a little while, but the booking rate was not very high. Again, markets vary and I do not offer allergy-friendly options so I am not in a niche market. 5 years ago half the bakers didn't offer tastings. Now all of them do, mostly free of charge. The Bakeries offer a "pick whatever you want out of the case" option and I simply can't compete with that given my menu. 

 

My marketing "pull" is a completely custom experience. BUT, people have to make an appointment, pick their flavors (supposedly!), and then make the drive. They do that because I have good cake, I delivered what is promised and I will sit with them at a tasting and watch them eat cake, listening to all their needs. Hence the reason that the tasting event wasn't working- I wasn't watching them eat the cake. 

 

I don't necessarily get it, but I do know it's true. 

 

Oh and as far as productivity, when I am in the bakery (certified home bakery- commercial grade everything) I am 100% on target. When things are baking, I am mixing icing, fillings, etc. Besides the pain of this pregnancy, I am very efficient. But I CAN'T be efficient if I don't know the flavors someone wants!!!! And I know better than to break out the mixer a day before a tasting, waste batter and time just because someone can't get their act together. 

 

I think I'm just going to have to get better at hounding people. Sigh. 

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post #19 of 68

You might consider using language that creates a sense of scarcity, as in a shortage of spots left for tastings.

post #20 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenmat View Post
 

Yep, that is the big fat wall I am running into. "I want it now, but I shouldn't have to actually work at it." And some bakeries can oblige. I cannot nor will I.

For the past year I have been doing a tasting evening open house type thing at a local hotel. Free of charge, a buttload of flavors, come and go as you please, I am there to answer questions and book. If they can't make it, they could do a paid private tasting. Again, I want to make sure there is a free option.

1. People love the free cake.

2.People don't love the "it's not JUST about me" thing. They come and they eat, and then they try and set up a "private tasting" for later. Um, no this IS your tasting. They want BOTH.

The booking rate at these events was about 30-50%. GREAT feedback, just no commitments. My conclusion was that although people like the option of free, they don't feel they are getting the personal attention they want. The "experience" wasn't quite right. And since baby is on the way and I will now have 2 kiddos and no hubby at night and the booking rate was way too low to justify the effort, I went back to the one-on-one format exclusively. The booking rate since Jan 1 is back up to 100%. (not a good segment of time, but I've had a LOT of tastings in the past few weeks!)

 

I know I could make a tasting event work with scheduled individual appointments over one day, etc. But with a new baby it just wasn't worth it.

And now I'm back to "I'll talk to my fiancee and get back to you...."

NOT.

That's the part I'm wondering about, whether the "experience" will be enough for people or not. I'll see how it goes. The booking rate around here has always been about 30-40% anyway, there are just too many people in town doing cakes now, and there are too many willing to undercut and give free delivery etc. The cottage food law has built up enough that we're oversaturated at this point.

 

It's interesting watching other businesses in town and seeing what they're doing differently, too. There are a couple who have NEVER done certain wedding shows, but they're doing them now. Or people are starting to offer the discounts who never did before. I can tell that some people are scrambling for business, and when I talk to the ones I know they tell me about their financial woes. One well-known shop's owner hasn't taken a paycheck for three months, so things they are a'changing.

 

On the other hand, I started my online stuff a couple of years ago, and last year I did better financially than I ever have before, so there are ways to diversify. The cake appointments are the worst part of doing cakes, IMO. I hate them so much, but I don't enjoy selling, so it's like a bunch of blind dates one after the other where I have to convince people to love me, and I just hate that kind of schmoozing.

post #21 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by howsweet View Post
 


It's the only thing I could think of that would have changed suddenly in the last several months: "It's always been fine, but I'm noticing a real resistance to anything "inconvenient" for these people these past few months."

I don't think it's just been in the last few months, though, it's been building...It's hard to pick out one reason for anything, but people have been getting more demanding here for quite a while. I have a lot of people now who email me and tell me that they're coming in on this specific day at this specific time, and I have to write back and tell them no, you're not. I've seen an increase in that kind of "I'll tell you when and you will serve me" attitude. Part of it also could be the influx of cottage food and "hobby business" bakers who are willing to do whatever someone tells them.

post #22 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by howsweet View Post
 

You might consider using language that creates a sense of scarcity, as in a shortage of spots left for tastings.

 

True. I'm actually almost done booking tastings until May because of maternity leave. Which means it's even more crucial to book what I can right now and not come off as the whiney pregnant lady. (except when I'm on national cake websites....) 

Scarcity usually creates demand, but when the baker is the reason for the scarcity because she's taking time off, I would think that makes couples nervous. They want to think I will be available for them at all times, whenever they need to hold a hand. I'm being very careful not to blame my condition for not being able to provide service. What a balancing act...

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar View Post
 

 The cake appointments are the worst part of doing cakes, IMO. I hate them so much, but I don't enjoy selling, so it's like a bunch of blind dates one after the other where I have to convince people to love me, and I just hate that kind of schmoozing.

 And that would be why I love you.....

 

That's exactly how I feel. I don't suck up to anyone. And unless I'm on stage, I don't like the song-and-dance. 

 

But everyone has a part of a job that they hate so they can get to the good part, right? 

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post #23 of 68

This is a wonderful example of one person's always is another's never.

 

For me, and my target client, the personal touch and experience is very important.  You want to taste my cake, you gotta meet with me.  The one thing I hear clients and planners say over and over is how much they enjoyed working with me and could really trust me.  Almost every single review mentions the wonderful consultation.

 

Different markets and different target audiences will react differently.  The struggle, as a business owner, is finding the one that works for you!

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 #24 of 68
Quote:

Originally Posted by jenmat View Post

 

Again, I want to make sure there is a free option. 

 

1. People love the free cake. 

2.People don't love the "it's not JUST about me" thing. They come and they eat, and then they try and set up a "private tasting" for later. Um, no this IS your tasting. They want BOTH.

 

The booking rate at these events was about 30-50%. GREAT feedback, just no commitments. My conclusion was that although people like the option of free, they don't feel they are getting the personal attention they want. The "experience" wasn't quite right. And since baby is on the way and I will now have 2 kiddos and no hubby at night and the booking rate was way too low to justify the effort, I went back to the one-on-one format exclusively. The booking rate since Jan 1 is back up to 100%. (not a good segment of time, but I've had a LOT of tastings in the past few weeks!)

 

If you are booking 100% of clients who want a private consult, and only 30-50% of clients who attend the free tasting, I would quit worrying about having a free option, and streamline your private consults.

 

There is no value in "free".

 

Liz

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

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Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

Reply
post #25 of 68
I've been considering changing my tastings, other bakers have been doing the 'open house' type but I worry about losing that one on one time with clients. Not that we don't exchange a few emails or calls before but 9/10 times if someone comes to me for a tasting I book the order.

I didn't charge for tastings in the beginning and I ran into lots of issues-people just coming for free cake, asking for several flavors, and a few missed appointments. Switching to an open tasting, I wouldn't charge, but I worry I'd have to start weeding out people who aren't especially interested.

I limit the number of people and flavors with the option for additional flavors $10/each & I'll wrap up any extras if someone can't make it. I don't mind the schmoozing though, not that I'm a hard sell, maybe it's my sales/customer service background.

I have a sketch pad, my portfolio, a notebook full of different tiered cake examples, paint chips, a faux slice of cake cut to size, cake dummy's if they need visuals for size, etc.
Is this excessive? Lol, I suppose it's working for me so why bother changing. Oddly enough, there aren't many decorators in my area that offer consults & tastings.

Perhaps, taking a credit card number would help, even if you don't charge just to book the private tastings. If someone thinks they'll get charged regardless it might be an easy motivation for them to get back to you quicker. Or simply say, if I don't hear from you by (date) then the flavors are up to you. I do hate calling people for reminders or payments, thankfully it's not something I run into often.

When are you due?
post #26 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar View Post
 

I don't think it's just been in the last few months, though, it's been building...It's hard to pick out one reason for anything, but people have been getting more demanding here for quite a while. I have a lot of people now who email me and tell me that they're coming in on this specific day at this specific time, and I have to write back and tell them no, you're not. I've seen an increase in that kind of "I'll tell you when and you will serve me" attitude. Part of it also could be the influx of cottage food and "hobby business" bakers who are willing to do whatever someone tells them.

 

That's why I was trying to think of something that would be related to the last few months since the OP gave that timeline for seeing the change.

 

Yes, hobby business bakers will do even 24-48 hour turn around. I hate to think what kinds of customers this encourages. My very first real order ever was for a professional basket ball player. They wanted 24 fancy cupcakes for the next day.  I whipped them up and delivered them. The next time they wanted to order,  when I couldn't do a 48 hour turn around, it was very rudely explained to me that they expected people to jump through hoops and there were plenty of other people who would.

post #27 of 68
Thread Starter 


When are you due?

I'm due in March, but my daughter was born at 34 weeks and spent some time in the NICU. Not super early, but early enough that I'm considered high risk. So the unknown of when this new baby will actually make her appearance is super fun to this Type OCD personality! So I will have a large chunk of tasting season that I can't book people. Which means that the flaky brides mean more than they usually do. Does that make sense? 

I offer pretty much everything you mentioned at the one-on-one tastings, and they would never know I hate the song and dance when they are actually meeting with me, thank goodness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by liz at sugar View Post
 

 

If you are booking 100% of clients who want a private consult, and only 30-50% of clients who attend the free tasting, I would quit worrying about having a free option, and streamline your private consults.

 

There is no value in "free".

 

Liz

The current booking rate is based on both free tastings and custom tastings, all one-on-one. 30-50% was the booking rate for the open house style that was not one-on-one. The ROI just wasn't worth the effort with the open house vrs the one-on-ones. I know one-on-ones will go back down to 75%, which was my previous rate, I've just had a good month, but 75% to me is a much more comfortable number where I can weed out couples that are not a good fit. At 30-50% I would need to take almost every couple who came my way. Not how I want to do business. 

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post #28 of 68
Yes, I know what you mean icon_smile.gif
I'm sure it's not easy trying to book around a pregnancy, let alone a high risk. I can just imagine how stressed you are!
post #29 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenmat View Post

Oh and as far as productivity, when I am in the bakery (certified home bakery- commercial grade everything) I am 100% on target. When things are baking, I am mixing icing, fillings, etc. Besides the pain of this pregnancy, I am very efficient. But I CAN'T be efficient if I don't know the flavors someone wants!!!! And I know better than to break out the mixer a day before a tasting, waste batter and time just because someone can't get their act together. 

My question was more about utilization than productivity...if you are on target with the number of orders and you are happy with your profitability on a weekly basis (and more importantly your monthly trend of profitability) then your current strategy is working for you even if there are some anecdotal adverse events. If not (and the tasting is the source of the issue) then you need to change your tasting process to better serve your current target market and/or adjust your marketing strategy to focus on different customers.

But you are absolutely right that if the one-on-one time spent with customers at tastings is a key part of your competitive advantage, a to-go tasting wouldn't be the right fit for most of your customers. But it could still potentially be an option, and could serve to highlight the value of your personal consult ($X gets you the to-go tasting if you already know what you want, but $Y gets you a customized sit-down tasting experience where we will develop your ideas into an amazing design just for you, etc.).
Edited by jason_kraft - 1/17/14 at 9:51am
post #30 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post


My question was more about utilization than productivity...if you are on target with the number of orders and you are happy with your profitability on a weekly basis (and more importantly your monthly trend of profitability) then your current strategy is working for you even if there are some anecdotal adverse events. If not (and the tasting is the source of the issue) then you need to change your tasting process to better serve your current target market and/or adjust your marketing strategy to focus on different customers.

But you are absolutely right that if the one-on-one time spent with customers at tastings is a key part of your competitive advantage, a to-go tasting wouldn't be the right fit for most of your customers (but it could still potentially be an option).

Ah, I see. I can't definitively say that the new changes versus the old system have been a success with only a month's evidence, but my gut tells me I am on the right track. The issue is not really my system, but the mind-reading required (anecdotal adverse effects). My crystal ball has become a little foggy lately. 

As Costume said, I am sensing a quickly changing tide as the new crop of brides pop up every year. She may have been observing it for years, but only in the past year or so has it made it's way to my neck of the woods and it's driving me CRAZY, working system or not. 

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