Cake Decorating Community - Cakes We Bake

I had an upsetting experience with a cake client this morning and thought where better to talk about it than with fellow cake people, lol. I had a last minute order from a coworkers daughter this past Wednesday night due this Saturday morning. I, being a glutton for punishment, agreed to do them. She wanted 2 cakes. One football cake, decorated with frosting for a smash cake for her son and one spongebob cake for her daughter. I was given creative freedom with the spongebob. She didnt care if it was fondant or frosting. Whatever I wanted to do and just let her know how much when she got them. No problem. I did fondant and made the characters with the exception of Spongebob because he was the candle. Even airbrushed it. When it came time for pickup/delivery she was complaining of the price and wanted a breakdown of each cake. She had ordered custom cakes before that weren't as much as mine. Its bothered me all day. I worked till 3 am to finish this cake, on top of working my regular job and taking care of my 3 year old son only to be given a hard time when it was done. She sent her Mother to pick them up and I thought I wouldve heard something from her saying how much she liked the cake or even a thank you like most people do and I haven't heard a thing. Its so discouraging to not have your work be appreciated. If people only knew how much goes into their cakes. Just needed to share with my cake people. :)

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did you receive payment?  your post doesn't say that you ever even got paid.

 

So sorry to hear of your bad experience! Did you quote a price for her before she had the cakes picked up?  I always give a quote to clients before I start baking.  Occasionally the customer then comes back and says it's too expensive, whereupon I offer a cheaper alternative.  Every now and then I get an order cancelled because the customer doesn't want to pay the price.  Doesn't feel good to lose a customer, but then again, I don't want to gain a reputation for doing cakes at ridiculously low prices.  Even with these experiences I still have so many requests that I am turning people away each week, because I simply don't have time to do more!

 

By quoting, I ultimately avoid getting a disgruntled customer at something I spent hours and hours baking and decorating.

 

Hope this helps! :)

 

 

I did recieve payment. I usually do quote before I start baking and told her I would call her back the next day with a price and she said no, just charge me when I pick them up. She even said to charge her more because of it being a last minute order. I don't need people like her either. I have enough business without all that headache. She wants to order a large cupcake later in the month and I'm going to tell her I'm too busy. I guess its a lesson learned.
I don't blame you one bit!  The truth is, if you can't respect yourself, then how can you expect anyone else to respect you!  Look on the bright side, these customers from hell are the minority;)

Hi there.....

 

I've had simiar incident before too!  Dont feel bad, you will always get these crummy customers....

 

I have made a point to write down my quote to the client and they have to confirm it.  I do not do any baking until the client has confirmed it in writing.  So no issues thereafter with what they are getting, design, flavor etc etc....saves a lot of hassel !! Hope that helps!!

I've been running bakeries for 15 years, I've been decorating cakes for 5 years and if there's one thing I've learned it's that you can't avoid every mistake.  You can't read a customer's mind.  Be as clear as you can with a customer and your pricing structure,  and if you decide to do things you haven't specifically discussed, to add the unexpected be prepared to do it for free.  

 

I have two basic price schedules for each size cake:

Standard decorating includes an inscription plus, two flowers on an 8" and one additional flower per larger size, or streamers and confetti.  

Custom decorating? Charge for everything!  If they want you to match a specific color, that's custom decorating, drawings are custom decorating, swiss dots, special borders, any time the customer wants something on the cake to look a certain way charge for it.  Extra flowers are $0.50 each, fondant figures $5-10 each. Don't give your labor away for free!

 

You get these crazy customers who call 50 times with changes to their order.  I tell them if I think they are going to far, you know which orders this apply's to, like when you can say to a customer I don't want to do this cake because I'm pretty sure it's not going to look the way you're imagining it, and know that every other bakery in town is going to laugh them out the door when they try to place the order there One of my favorite lines to use when a customer balks at a price, or when they don't like the work I've done do to some subjective miscommunication ("That doesn't look like navy blue to me," or the like) is, "Ok, if you don't want this cake I will be thrilled to keep it and put it on display in my case so my other customers can see it."

 

Another thing I like to do if I'm worried about over charging, or whether I'm going to look bad if I refuse to make an order, is to call a couple other bakeries around and pretend to try and place the order with them.  If they laugh in my face I know I'm on the right track.

 

I'm sorry to hear this. I usually tell my customers up front the cost of the cake. One customer bailed at the day of delivery. Up to that time, I've been speaking to her about the design she wanted. I called her delivery day and she said that someone was suppose to call me to cancel. No one called me. Why didnt she call to cancel. I've only spoken to her all this time. I was so mad. She was a referral from someone else. I told them that I would never make another cake for her. Lesson learned. I was stuck with a cake, but it didnt go to waste, it was my granddaughter's birthday anyway, so it went to her. But, next time, tell them up front what your price is. So they wont expect anything else at delivery time.

I am so sorry about your ordeal. I have gotten into the habit of when I get an order, no matter who it's from I always give them an estimate of how much time the cake will take to make, from shopping, baking it, making the decorations to putting it all together.  I then let them know the expense of ingredients to the fact that I have to buy cake boards, boxes, etc.. Then they get the price. This way there are no surprises for them.  Customers need to be educated, then they appreciate you a little more:)  I hope this helps for future orders.

 

Diana

 

 

I frequently black-list difficult customers and refuse to take their orders again. People don't seem to get that this isn't a "Customer is always right" kind of business. For one thing, lets be real, it's cake and icing people! How perfect do they expect it to be. For another, most weekends I have to turn business away, why should I take an order from a customer who I know is difficult instead of one from a loyal customer or even a new customer? Really, people seem to forget that there is an obligation on the part of the customer as well.

Agree with all that has been said.  Especially educating the customer,  giving details like diana nishimoto mentioned. Then there are no surprises, and the customer knows how much work and product go into the cakes. 

It really does save heartache and aggrevation.  The more details, the more understanding of cost is realized. 

 I  had one person tell me they could "do it themselves" for that price, which I replied, be my guest. If they call back, (they did ), I am instantly busy. Keeping a   Blacklist is also a good idea??  I have a few I would never do a cake for again. I am strictly a hobby baker, which sometimes I think is worse.  Because it is my hobby people assume, you do it "just for fun".   Ah, nope, it works like this, I make your cake....you pay me.

Hobby bakers have even more to lose because you have to lay out the money for all your ingredients and if the customer doesn't buy the cake you're stuck with it, if I was in that situation I would insist on payment up-front when they place the order. At least I'm using stuff I have on hand anyway and I know I can scrape the inscription off and sell the cake to a last minute customer who will be thrilled to get it.

Blacklist is a good idea. People need to know that being unreasonable isn't going to get them what they want in the future, also it doesn't hurt to make your business seem more exclusive. If you are so busy that you can refuse an order then your stuff must be amazing, ergo they will be less picky and happier to be lucky enough to get a cake from you.

I get these customers all the time who say, "I could do that myself for less money," or, "I could get this cake at the supermarket for half the price." I say go ahead, either they'll be back, or they'll be happy with the frozen garbage the supermarket is selling them in which case they probably aren't the right customer for me.
I totally agree!!  I get customers who cringe when I tell them the cost.  I always tell them they get what they pay for, and the type of work I do for their cake they are not going to get from Costco or Safeway!!  I tell them those bakers are putting out 20 or mores cakes in an hour and that i devote 8 plus hours on one cake so it's a deal!

JJ Becker said:
Hobby bakers have even more to lose because you have to lay out the money for all your ingredients and if the customer doesn't buy the cake you're stuck with it, if I was in that situation I would insist on payment up-front when they place the order. At least I'm using stuff I have on hand anyway and I know I can scrape the inscription off and sell the cake to a last minute customer who will be thrilled to get it.

Blacklist is a good idea. People need to know that being unreasonable isn't going to get them what they want in the future, also it doesn't hurt to make your business seem more exclusive. If you are so busy that you can refuse an order then your stuff must be amazing, ergo they will be less picky and happier to be lucky enough to get a cake from you.

I get these customers all the time who say, "I could do that myself for less money," or, "I could get this cake at the supermarket for half the price." I say go ahead, either they'll be back, or they'll be happy with the frozen garbage the supermarket is selling them in which case they probably aren't the right customer for me.

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