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Blown away by this customer...I'm at a loss for words, which doesn't happen often!

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
I have had customers tell me that their quote was not what they planned on paying for a cake...OK, fine.  Thank you for considering me and have a nice day!
 
So I get a request yesterday from a girl who's fiance is going off to the Marines.  SUPER commendable.  She needs cake for 150.  I have her a quote for a 3 tier cake plus a layered sheet to serve her guests ($480), or two layered sheets of which the bigger one would be decorated - I typically don't do sheets, but thought I would make an exception for a future Marine - ($400).
 
Those are two expensive so I break it down and she said she wants the $130 layered 9x13 serving 65 because they are having a bunch of other desserts - I go with the wedding size servings bc I make them about 4.5" tall.  That's only $2.00 serving.  I told her not to worry about the design and I would like to surprise them both and that I wasn't charging additional for the design as it would be a Thank You for his service.
 
THIS IS THE REPLY I GET:
 
"okay do you have sheet cakes or half sheet i know you have sizes but i dont know what those sizes are, comparing to size i dont want a tiny cake because when were trying to represent the marines it will look weird i really want to go with your company because you seem like you can blow this out of the water but your pricing is quite up there. "
 
At $2.00 a freaking serving......and no design charge.....REALLY????!!!!!
 
Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth!  I was planning on surprising them with the 3 tier cake awesomely decorated....weeeellllll, not so much now!
 
I told her what the size was and how much it served.  I didn't think I was unclear.  So she picked the smaller cake and then came back and said she didn't want it to be small because it would look "weird".
 
And my pricing is quite up there....I think I will write up a full blown quote including my additional decorating time AND the fondant that I was going to have to cover it in because the SUPER awesome design I had in mind would require it be covered in fondant.
 
Just breathe.....
 
I want to respond all snarky and mean, but that is just bad PR.  I really wanted to help them.  I am guessing she is very young and naive.  I will probably just end giving them a gentle education.
 
This is the first time I have EVER been offended by a customer.  Never have I had such a bold, ignorant response.  I am totally feeling some of the previous rant posts of a similar nature!
Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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post #2 of 40
Thread Starter 

And that $2.00/serving was a gift, too....I normally charge starting at $3.00/svg for a cake being prepped for proper decoration.  Sheet cakes, I charge less because I don't worry about having PERFECT icing....only smooth, or a nice texture.

Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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post #3 of 40
I'm sorry you had that happen bees knees, it sucks when people are so completely ignorant of not only the work you are offering to do, but also of basic manners in their replies.

I will never understand why people think it's OK to tell you your talents aren't worth paying for. 'It's more than my budget' is fine. 'Your prices are ridiculous' is not!
post #4 of 40

Yep, she really doesn't know any better.

post #5 of 40
Thread Starter 

I'm still seething a little and I just don't know how to respond in a way that will make her understand AND not make her go tell all of her friends that I am a total (insert mean name).

 

My usual style is loaded with sarcasm, but I know that will not work here!

Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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post #6 of 40
If it makes you feel any better, my husband had to sit next to me whilst I replied to the person who asked me for a quote tonight to ensure I didn't vent my anger to her icon_smile.gif Mind you, at least your customer complimented you before saying you charge too much, so that's something...

My style also usually tends towards sarcasm - sometimes bordering on thinly veiled contempt, so I often write the whole thing out with exactly what I want to say, read it to myself, then delete and do a polite version for the sake of my business! It helps to get it out of my system.

I have started just mentioning how long it will take for a cake to be made when I get told prices are too high. For instance, 'X will do this cake for £20'. 'I'm glad you found someone within your budget who can do X hours of work for that price, and I hope your cake is lovely'. My hope is it will at least make them think for two seconds about the time involved!
post #7 of 40

Just a tip, when I am going beyond for a customer I always make it clear so that they will know.

 

"My cakes start at $3/serving but in honor of... I am offering you $2/slice."

 

However, I never discount anymore. It's just too frustrating because some people just don't appreciate what you're doing for them and I can't be bothered with the bad feelings. 

 

So, if, for example, I want to try a new decorating technique on a cake, I put it on the invoice, and then subtract it at the end. Even if it's free delivery. I don't want anyone to assume anything.

 

Jen

post #8 of 40
It's discouraging, but what can you do. You dodged a bullet, because you probably wouldn't have received any thanks in return for your generosity. I'm in a big military area, and some of the military people are super grateful for offers like that, and some are demanding and ungrateful. The actual enlisted and retired members, I've yet to meet one that isn't pleasant. It's usually the girlfriends and wives. Just Google dependapotamus, and you should get a clear picture of that. icon_wink.gif
"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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"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
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post #9 of 40
And I swear to God, if a single person interprets that as a blanket description of ALL military spouses....then, well I can't help that misconception.
"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)
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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 #10 of 40
Is that another "disclaimer" AZCouture? I did as you suggested and Googled "Dependapotomus" because I hadn't heard it before. I read that in the military world it's the equivalent of the c word or the b word. Odd to read that in a thread about somebody being offended by a bold, ignorant response.
post #11 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeesKnees578 View Post
 

I'm still seething a little and I just don't know how to respond in a way that will make her understand AND not make her go tell all of her friends that I am a total (insert mean name).

 

  • Her and her friends are not your target customer base, correct.
  • She and her immature brain are not functioning, she's in emotional overdrive, probably and you'd be talking to a brick wall.
  • I think that I'd stick to a normal business transaction, then throw in a little something- something extra on delivery - to display your patriotic enthusiasm and appreciation for the soldiers service.
  • Were you being emotionally manipulated by her, was it even ligit, were you being scammed into freebies. Maybe.
  • If you are at a loss for words, perhaps that is the perfect most reasonable response you can make.  You are a business professional after all. 
  • just a few thoughts.............. Keep making great cakes!!
~~We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman  
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~~We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman  
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post #12 of 40

She wants a custom cake but wants Costco pricing.

I wouldn't go into any kind of explanation.  If she can't afford you, she can't afford you.

I would simply email her back:

"I'm sorry I am unable to provide you with a cake within your budget.  I was already factoring a military discount into the price and the price I quoted you is firm.  I understand if you need to go elsewhere for your cake.  I wish you (and your fiance) good luck."

Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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post #13 of 40

I understand your frustration!  

 

My NEIGHBOR did this exact thing to me….LOL  I now know she is the cheapest human on the planet.  Fortunately, I don't need her business.  Actually, I didn't even make her the sheet cake, I told her I only make round cakes, which is officially true as of my last conversation with her.  She wanted a sheet cake because she thought I would charge less.  No way…and she thinks she can refer her friends to me, who are just as cheap.  So now I have told her I am all set, I don't need referrals, I have a very high-end customer base that keeps me busy. :-D

 

It is so nice that you were willing to do this for a marine.   We need to take care of our military.

 

My husband says good deed goes unpunished.  Might be true in many cases.  Won't keep me from doing good things, just will keep me on my feet about who the recipients are.

post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 

So I wrote her a VERY long email....go figure.  Me?  Wordy?  No surprise there if you read any of my responses to posts.  I considered deleting before sending several times but read over it many times and thought it was appropriate.  My only fear is that she DOES take offense and spouts her mouth to others saying how rude I was...

 

Here it is.  And, yes, I am keeping it just in case I need it again.

 

Hi, Gina,
 
Thank you so much for considering me and I appreciate the fact that you think I can blow this out of the water.  I am happy that you can appreciate my talents that I put into making my cakes the best they can be.
 
I am going to take this opportunity to explain some things to you since you believe my pricing to be “quite up there”.  Which I agree with you to some degree.  I am up there, but I am certainly not the highest and definitely not the lowest.
 
But here is why I am “up there”.  And I am just offering this as an explanation so you can see where I’m coming from. 
 
 
    I pay the same for ingredients that everyone else does at the grocery store.  No bulk discounts here.
 
    I put together every cake mix and batch of icing from scratch with quality ingredients...not mass produced mixes that are full of chemicals and fake ingredients.
 
    This all takes time and money...grocery shopping, utilities, clean-up, non-food items (boxes, cake boards, structural elements, etc.), ingredients, etc.
 
    I take time to sketch out designs, send out quotes, make shopping lists, etc.
 
    While I am not the most talented cake artist in the world, I do value my own time that it takes to create great designs.   Some of the cakes that I make take well over 10 hrs just to do the decorating.  I charge by the hour for how long I    
    know it will take me to complete the cake so that I can actually pay myself a decent wage, not just the leftovers after I pay for my ingredients (and all the other little things above that add up to more than you’d think).
 
    I do not work for minimum wage because what I do requires more skill than the average Joe off the street.   Often when you add up these cakes (time and ingredients) and divide what you charged by that number, you realize you only
    made $5.00/hr.  That isn’t worth my time.
 
    If I wanted to work for minimum wage, I would make cakes for a grocery store and just slap on the icing prebaked and frozen cakes and have no creative say in the regular, everyday, boring cakes that I would be required to pump out on
    demand that they sell for pennies (and it is the same price that most people think they should pay for a custom cake, as well).  I am not kidding you when I say those cakes get pumped out in less than a half hour...or very close to it.  So
    there is absolutely no comparison to a cake that took a half-hour and one that takes 10 hrs.
 
 
So when you tell me I can blow this out of the water and then go on to say that my pricing is quite up there, you are telling me that you think I can really rock a cake but you don’t value my time that I have put into making that cake rock.  I have tough skin and I could say it hurt my feelings.  It didn’t though, as I know there are few who know what all goes into well-made custom cakes, but I was a bit surprised (slightly insulted) by your blatant disregard for the value of my time.  I am truly hoping that you didn’t mean to come off that way.
 
To put it in perspective, if you go out to dinner with your family to a mid-level restaurant (Olive Garden, Red Lobster,etc.) and you decide to order dessert, you will pay about $5.00/person.  This is for a slice of cake that was most likely made in a factory by a machine.  Not handcrafted by an individual for many, many, many hours.
 
I understand that I am not in your budget and that is OK, but  my website specifically says that my party cakes start at $3.00/serving and may incur additional fees for design.  So the pricing that I gave you was already discounted and I was going to create a really awesome cake for no additional charges for the design....and the design I had in mind would have been at least another $150-200.00 (again, at no charge, in honor of your fiance and the commitment that he has made to this country).  Crazy as it sounds, there are people willing/able to pay it. 
 
With all of that being said, I don’t want you to go away thinking that I’m being mean or snotty or rude.  Much of my time is spend explaining to people what my job entails.  There will be people who appreciate it and have the means to pay for it.  There will be people who have the means to pay for it and they will think it’s outrageous.  I am not offended that some people think I am ridiculously priced, and to them I say...try and make the cake yourself.  It’s not as easy or as cheap as some think.  But I have built my business on repeat customers who truly believe that I am worth every penny they pay me.  I am very thankful to them.
 
As fate would have it, a family obligation has come up and I won’t be able to do anything, regardless if an agreement was made.  There are some other home bakeries in the area that you can try to contact if you don’t want to go to a grocery store.    www.grand-finale.com, www.coleyscakes.com, www.4sweetscakery.com, www.creativecakesbycathy.comwww.bonboncakery.com, there are others but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.   Otherwise, there’s Rito’s, Colozza’s, Michaelangelo’s, etc., these are store-front operations, so they may have more availability at this late notice.
 
So thank you for contacting me.  I, again, do not want to come off as nasty...I’m a really nice person, I promise you.  I just wanted to take a loooong moment to help you understand the work involved.
Take care, and I am hoping you will be able to find a great cake that meets your expectations within your budget.
 
My apologies,
Brooke
Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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post #15 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy View Post
 

She wants a custom cake but wants Costco pricing.

I wouldn't go into any kind of explanation.  If she can't afford you, she can't afford you.

I would simply email her back:

"I'm sorry I am unable to provide you with a cake within your budget.  I was already factoring a military discount into the price and the price I quoted you is firm.  I understand if you need to go elsewhere for your cake.  I wish you (and your fiance) good luck."


If I could have been so precise in my explanation, but I felt the need to go into huge amounts of detail that will bore the heck out of her.

 

Oddly enough, I gave her names of other cakers in the area and you were one of them!  LOL  If she calls you....RUUUUUNNNNN!   I gave her the names of people that I know charge more and less than me, but not too much more or less, so she knows i'm not off my rocker if she checks out some other people.

Aah, cake. . .the 5th food group!!
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