Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How'd you arrive at that number?

Setting a Budget for your Custom Cake...

Sometimes I get a phone call or an e-mail from a potential client inquiring on a cake. They have very specific ideas about what they want and have the cake designed in their head from top to bottom. They know the colors, accent pieces, sculpted pieces, flavors, and they know what they want to pay.

So when my client calls I have some questions that need answered so we can get down to business.

- What is the date of your event?

- How many servings of cake will you need?

- Do you have a design in mind?

- Do you require delivery?

- What is your budget?
I want to elaborate on this one. Some people think it's a trick question. But it's not. There are many techniques and materials that can be used to get from raw cake and filling to finished piece of edible art. I need to know how much money you want to spend so I can choose which methods to use to get to your finished product. I need to know how much detail to include, if I can use fancier techniques like poured sugar, hand sculpted pieces, or possibly even purchasing special tools for your project. Do I need to employ a carpenter to build a frame for your cake? It's all going to play into your quote and that is why your answer is so important.

So, when you tell me you want a cake to serve 60 people and you want it to defy gravity, you want specific detail pieces (about 30 of them), you want sparkle, you want your guests to go "WOW", and you only want to spend $300.00. I need to know, HOW did you arrive at that number?

Let's get the facts.

Those shops you see on TV have a minimum order for custom cakes. One has a minimum of $1,000. And it doesn't matter if you only want to feed 25 guests. One charges $100.00 just to sit down, taste some cake, and talk to them about your design. No finished cake included in that price. And the per serving cost of a fondant decorated cake usually STARTS at about $8.00 a serving. But more likely will cost you about $12.00 - $14.00 per serving because we already know you want WOW factor.

So let's break it down. 60 servings of cake. WOW FACTOR. Budget of $300.00. That's $5.00 per serving. Which is the base price at my shop for a fondant cake. You know, where we start. (Remember those TV guys start at about $8.00) So HOW did you determine your budget of $300.00?

Did you research what custom cakes cost before you got that number? Or, is it how much you have to spend, it's a number that "sounds good", and really, it's just Cake and Icing! Right?! Let's nip this one in the bud. If it was JUST Cake and Icing, you'd have gone to the Warehouse store and picked up a sheet cake. You don't want cake and icing. You want mouthwatering edible art! There's a difference. And creating a custom sculpted/carved/designed piece of art work, requires talent, experience, time, materials, and skill. And that cost money.

So before you "decide" on your budget. Do a little research. Make sure that your budget makes sense. Make sure you account for what you are asking for. And be honest with your cake designer when they want to know your budget.

You see, you might not be able to afford a Carved 3-D cake of your fiance's dog. BUT you could afford a smaller tiered cake with a sculpted topper that looks like his dog, Rusty. There's a difference of about $300.00 or more in those two cakes. So keep that in mind. If your budget isn't reasonable for what you requested, ask your designer HOW you can still match your theme but get closer to the budget. And don't be offended if they tell you that you can't afford a custom cake. It's okay. I know I can't afford a Mercedes. I just buy the car I can afford. I don't try to tell the Mercedes dealer that he HAS to change the price of the car because I only have $15,000 to spend. He'd laugh at me.

So when you figure out your budget, make sure it is backed by a little research. AND make sure that the shop you choose has a gallery of photos that show they can pull of what you are asking. Don't be disappointed in the end because you didn't research in the beginning.

And have fun with it! Custom Cakes can truly be the centerpiece of your event. And considering it's art that you are paying for, they should be!

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35 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG, that was perfect! - have never seen it put quite so well EVER! I tell customers something similar to this all the time and I still get that blank stare. I would imagine its panic and confusion...lol... Thank you Stacey. Well said.:)

Debi Brim said...

While this is a very common topic in the wedding industry, this is the most well written explanation of the thought process I have ever read! Excellent job, Stacey!! I am providing a link on my blog to your article so together we can help brides become educated and be able to work within a budget that works for them!

Natalia said...

Fabulous article. I'm going to share this link on my FB page.

Danielle said...

I really like your Mercedes reference! Very well said, the whole lot.

Fran McGregor said...

There are cake artists all over the world who will read this and nod their heads at everything you say in agreement. It's a brilliantly written piece, thanks for sharing it

Christine said...

I recently read on Ben Israel Cakes site that they charge $15.50 per slice. Maybe people who aren't decorators think it is just as simple as making the chocolate cake grandma used to make? :O)

Anonymous said...

Very well said! I don't do edible art, but I do create the non-edible wall type and it is exactly the same. I think people fail to realise that when it is a hand made original, there is so much more involved than just going to a store and picking up something mass produced.
I have some who want to buy a painting that has taken me hours for less than the cost of the canvas. I think I'll use your ideas here next time I quote on a commission!!!!!
Rachel.

Anonymous said...

Your absolutly right Stacey,but the question remain how can we convince clients,they still argue the asking price..

rosesen said...

Great read, love the sheet cake reference!

kissmecakes said...

I couldn't have put it better myself. However. There are some unscrupulous people out there who lift images belonging to other cake makers and try to pass them off as their own work, so browsing through galleries and portfolios is a bit of a minefield occasionally. Reputation and recommendation is priceless. Thankyou for posting. A brilliant piece.

Clare-maree said...

Very well said Stacey! I have people go quiet when I tell them $175 for a fire engine cake with working lights and siren that took 14 hours to make... I could have easily charged $300!! I have shared on my wall and my page =)

Rachel Taylor said...

Awesome Article! Start a Paypal donation fund so every cake decorator across North America can pitching $1.00. Then get this published in every bridal magazine there is. BRIDES NEED TO HEAR THIS!

VillageCakeLady said...

Gotta Twitter this!! Brilliant read!!!

faithy said...

Excellent said!! I totally agree with you full heartedly! I'm also going to share it on my FB! :D

Stacey - Truly Custom Cakery, LLC said...

You guys are all so sweet. You are going to make my head swell, well, let's be honest, you already have! he he he But thank you! I truly appreciate your kind words. The only unfortunate thing is that the decorators and shop owners ALREADY know this information. The challenge is to get it into the hands of the clientele. Thanks for sharing it on your pages and for the ego boost. :) Happy Baking!

Mark Kingsdorf said...

LOVE IT! You hit the nail right on the head!

Anonymous said...

AMEN, Sister!

Anonymous said...

I am an not a professional decorated, but have made a few cakes! I have learned not to give the cake as a gift as it costs so much more than I would spend on a gift! This was a VERY informative blog and you should publish it in a bridal or party planing magazine!

Jennifer @ The Hudson Cakery said...

Amazingly well written!!! All cake shop owners owe you one for this great post!!!

Betsy said...

OH, I needed that! I've been feeling bad that I quoted a doctor's wife $5.50 a serving for a 3D sculpted grooms cake to serve 150 and she hasn't spoken to me since! You would have thought I was attempting to rob them. Thanks. I'll get over it now and get back to work.

Saz said...

Wow, great read! Thanks for putting it all into perspective!

http://www.buttercup-bakeshoppe.com

Jess said...

Stacey - WOW! I know I've said this before, but I'm so happy for you that you've found your "thing." A well written post, and while it still is painful for a "layperson" to pay $$$$ for a cake that's going to be eaten, your article helps put the pricing into perspective. Thanks and prayers for your continued success!!

Karen said...

You've explained budgeting a cake better than anyone ever has! I know I will be referring to it again and again. Thank you for a job very well done!

Ultimate Cake said...

Thank you thank you thank you! Now - if only the clients would read and take this to heart!

kathy said...

by far the BEST explanation ever!!! I too have come across this situation and its hard because you dont want to insult your client because you want them as your client, but where do we "draw" the line where we are not insulted ourselves?! THANK YOU for the best way to say it!!! I will be posting on by FB page!!!

Anonymous said...

Me for one thinks this should be printed off n framed right next to my consultation table so clients can read it!!! can you make it into a fridge magnet maybe??? lol, well said!

Anonymous said...

Noice!!!

Essence Cakes said...

Well said, caker sister!

Sara Amrhein said...

This is a great post and I don't think its only valid for cakes, but rather for all things custom and handmade. I make one of a kind jewelry and people just have no idea as to what goes into making a piece of art, yet they want something no one else has! Thank you for writing this, it gives us all confidence to defend our work!

jenny-lu's said...

BRILLIANTLY SAID!!! I am borrowing this thank you!!!!!!!

Caseys Creations said...

what a great read....and confidence booster! there is soo much more that goes on than people realize. its very disheartning when people don't believe the "cake" is worth that. from one cake artist...thank you!! www.caseyssweetcreations.blogspot.com

Ellie said...

OMG! I'd paste the whole text at the very top of each contract, every client'd read this before asking silly questions.... I simply love the bit "And don't be offended if they tell you that you can't afford a custom cake. It's okay. I know I can't afford a Mercedes. I just buy the car I can afford. I don't try to tell the Mercedes dealer that he HAS to change the price of the car because I only have $15,000 to spend. He'd laugh at me. "...this is so-oooo true!!!

xxx, love, ellie

Oma Duck said...

This is so true!!! I immediately follow you! Bye Tina.
if you wnt to have a look at my cakes
http://tortedafavoladiomaduck.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

This is so brilliantly written!!! I'd like to write something similar on my own website, but I don't see how I could say it any better. I'll just link back to your page. Great job!

Ammor Weitling said...

Very well said.. would love to post your blog on my FB wall, if its ok with you? Would love to spread the word and educate people.