Designs and consults

Having been in the business for a year now, I have come across a problem that is becoming more prevalent. I will have a customer call and request a quote. I will do a consult over the phone or through email because I am a home baker and work another job. I will sketch out a cake and give a quote., letting the customer know that the date is not theirs until I get a deposit. Then I never hear from them again or I will get the deposit and the order will cancel. I know people are free to shop around and unforeseen things happen but I feel I have just totally wasted my time. They could take my design to another baker or in two cases, I felt like this was a hobby baker wanting me to design and price a cake for them. Does anyone charge for this? If so how much? I was thinking about charging a fee to design a cake and should they use me, put that money toward the order. It wastes so much of my time. I just worry that I will run a potential customer away if I make them pay just to talk to me. How do you keep from having someone waste your time and let me know where your bakery is? Thanks in advance!!!

Lisa

http://www.Nonniecakesbylisa.com

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4 Replies

Michal Bulla ...

I’m not a baker, but I think that if they are interested in ordering a cake from you, they should pay the deposit before you make the design for them. Just my thought.

Xclusive ...

I feel your plight, have had quite some experiences like that too. Talk is cheap, design and time is not. Put in necessary checks and balances e.g they don’t have to pay to talk to you but once it goes beyond that – to the design stage; then a fee is required. The fee can be viewed as a deposit payment towards the cost of the cake.

Donna Tokazowski- Cake Hatteras, Hatteras N.C. ...

It’s your business, you are the boss. You get to set the rules.
I too work a full time job, other then baking. I have realized that time is money. And since MY time is so scarce these days, my time is a premium.
I now charge for wedding consults. I take that fee and should the couple decide to use me as the baker, I put it towards the price of the cake. Should they not decide to go with me, It goes towards the baking, mixing of icing, set up and clean up, etc…..
I have done too many complimentary ‘tastings’ and ‘consults’, only to get skunked in the long run. Not only was I out the ingredients and prep time, but I had spent about an hour, entertaining and feeding someone who never purchased a cake from me.
I do not hand over designs, personally. They are my planning drawings. Often, they are just quick sketched out line drawings, just so I have a direction of where I am going with the cake. Sometimes, I really have to get detailed with the drawing so I have it set in my head, which direction I am going with the cake. I keep these sketches in my personal sketch book.
Please don’t sell yourself short. I looked at your webpage. You are making some very nice cakes. I know what it is like to work a full time job, have a family and decorate cakes on the side.
Your time is worth money.
People can only take advantage of you, if you allow it to happen.
Good Luck!
Donna T.

Antonella ...

I don’t charge for a consultation but I do charge for tasting boxes…otherwise you just get people wanting to have free cake.
On the other hand, this is my full time job and I offer a design service only if they sit through an appointment with me and discuss what they need. My quote sheet clearly lays out terms and conditions regarding sketches and copyright and I have the client sign off on this. It’s only because I have been burnt where a caking friend showed me an email which included my sketch (before I started doing this) and the customer had stated that the sketch ‘was theirs’. I notified the would be client too and let them know that I knew whet they were up to and threatened them with legal proceedings. They apologised and stopped sending out my sketch! I learnt my lesson but then so did they.
I also know of other decorators who insist upon being paid for consultations first so it doesn’t waste time…