Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I am happy to share her blog article!
Friday, July 8, 2011
This type of thinking is more common than anyone cares to admit. Many folks get their mind locked into a certain era in time and their vision of what pricing trends are today are blocked by their wall of yesteryear's thinking. Plus, as we age, time seems to stand still. I remember a few times when I have referred to something that happened during my high school days ... then I have to pause and remind myself that was (gulp!) 35 years ago!
A friend of mine who is a realtor tells me that the hardest client she has when it comes to selling a house is an older, retired couple who just can't believe their house is worth THAT much money. If they bought the house for $20,000 forty years ago, they figure they are doing well if they can sell it for $40,000. My realtor friend says the hardest part of her job is convincing them the house is worth $110,000. The couple's idea of pricing is blocked by the wall of yesteryear's thinking.
What I shared with my caker friend is a little of my own history.
In the late 70's/early 80's, I was charging 75 cents a serving for wedding cakes. that included delivery, set-up, AND I'd stay and cut-n-serve it! Someone told me back then they had a relative in another state that was charging (gasp!) $1.25/serving!! I remember saying, "Wouldn't it be great if I could charge $1/serving!" And I think we ALL did it on the side back then! (health license? you needed one of those? No kidding? Huh! Whadda ya know!)
So .... an 8" round 2-layer cake that serves 24 at 75 cents/serving = $18. but .... since I didn't know much about proper pricing structures back then, I probably charged $12 or $15 for it.
In 2006, I was charging $1.75 for cake and $3.00 for the cake package: cake, plates, forks, mints/nuts, punch/cups, tablecloth, delivery, set-up, cut-n-serve, clean up and tear down. Within a year or 18 months, I was up to $3.50 just for the cake. doubled the price after I became educated about current cake pricing trends and a few good lessons on how to develop a proper pricing structure.
Yes, things HAVE gone up that much. In the 70's we all gasped when gas went up to oh my gosh 36 cents a gallon! We thought for sure gas rationing was coming with the price so unbelievably high! McDonalds used to have a commercial showing a guy counting his coins and ordering a hamburger/fries and coke ".....and we give you something you dont' expect .... change from your dollar!" You could get a whole meal AND change from your dollar!! Now we feel lucky to get ONE THING for just a dollar.
I sold little quarter sheets for $8 back then. The infamous "star" cakes (Wilton shaped pans) I sold to my friends for $12 or $15 because they had so many colors and were so much work. Today, if I got desperate enough to make one of these, they would have a price tag of $35 or more.
It's hard to imagine we actually made money back then. But we did. My husband worked a factory job and during the 1970s recession he was lucky to work 4 or 5 months a year. My cakes paid our rent.
As we age, we like sharing stories on how much things cost us 'back in the day' (don't even get me started on the price of a Hershey chocolate bar today!) but we also have to remember that these are stories, not pricing guidelines etched in stone, never to be altered or adjusted to meet the costs and inflation of today.
That's what my caker friend needs to remind her mom ..... that mom's pricing was probably just fine in 1972. But forty years later, things cost just a little more!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
People, however, aren't that smart. People will continue to do what they've always done with the thought of "if I keep doing good, then the cheese will be there."
People don't seem to realize that the cheese they are pursuing can get moved. People don't realize they have to change their routine and they can no longer follow the "but we've always done it this way" kind of thinking.
While there are so many examples to cite, I'm going to use just one as an illustration: social media.
Social media (facebook, twitter and many others) have changed the way many of us live our lives and make our shopping choices.
Long gone are the days when the business owner had control of the message being disbursed about their business and product through traditional newspaper, magazine, radio and yellow pages ads. Today the message is being disbursed by customers and it's being disbursed quickly and immediately.
Long gone are the days when the message was put out there just to be read and then discarded. Electronic postings and messages last for infinity. The messages are more than just a message. They are interactive. The customer is pulled into the business through online contests, instant messages about the daily special, feedback on the product of the day, etc., making the customer feel that they are not just a customer but that they are actually part of the business.
Change can be hard. It can be confusing. It can be fun. It can be exciting. Sometimes change can make us feel like we are taking a step back, but it's about the whole journey. It's about knowing the demographics of the market, who the business is trying to reach and how that market can be reached.
Here is a great article by my friend Tony Fannin, President of "Be Branded", talking about marketing and how today's customer uses technology in their decisions:
"What the Google Generation Can Teach Us About Brand"
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
She was clear that she intended to reimburse the bank for the cell phone payment. That was her error and she was owning that. But my daughter and her dad were confused on why a payment was made on a closed account?
The bank told her they didnt' show the account was closed. They grilled her about about if she had "really" closed the account and repeated a number of times that they didn't show the account closed. My daughter was firm that she had closed the account and evidently the processing wasn't completed on their end. She told me she felt like she was being accused of trying to scam them, when in reality she was in the bank's office within minutes to get the mistake fixed.
To the bank's credit, they did waive the fee and did close the account (this time). But the point to this post is what they didn't do. Never once, during the phone call or the face to face conversation, did the bank clerk or the bank manager ever say, "Gosh, I'm sorry this happened."
As consumers and as business owners, we understand that "stuff happens." We understand that paperwork gets lost in the shuffle, system glitches happen, and simple mistakes take place. I've heard it said and I've said it myself many times, "The measure of customer service isn't how you are treated when you buy the service. It's measured by how a problem is resolved after the transaction."
My daughter made a mistake. She owned up to that mistake. She called the bank immediately and said, "Gosh, I'm sorry this happened." She wanted to make sure the bank was properly reimbursed. And she wanted to know how a payment could be issued from a closed account?
The bank made a mistake. They didn't close the account properly. But they refused to own their mistake. They didn't apologize.
A good business person will validate the customer's concern and tell the customer, "I'm so sorry this happened .... let's see how we can resolve this with you." A really good business person will also add, "Thank you." Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to resolve it with you.
A customer who has a problem should allow the business the opportunity to correct the problem. Given that opportunity, the business should use all of their good customer service training and knowledge to validate the customer's concern and take all reasonable (key word: "reasonable") efforts to correct the problem.
A simple "I'm sorry this happened" will go a long way toward avoiding a negative impression of any business. And it would have eliminated the need for me to point out the obvious in this blog.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Here is the cake as it was carried into the venue. It all fit on one large baking tray, making it easy for me to carry it. The baking tray is lined with a rubber, no-skid material (sometimes referred to as shelf liner ... can be purchased at any Dollar Store or Walmart), to prevent the cakes from sliding around during transport. Notice the supporting dowel rods are already in the cakes.Once inside, I stacked the three tiers. Since the dowel rods were already in place, it was a simple matter of just setting each tier in place:Wrapping the ribbon around the base of each tier took just a couple of minutes.Then it became a simple matter of applying the daisies, which were made from fondant ahead of time in the shop, around the cake. From the time I walked into the venue to the time I walked out (which included unpacking my cake tools, clean up, and then packing up again) was around 15 minutes.
Friday, April 29, 2011
As many of you know from reading my posts, I am a big fan and advocate of wedding and event planners. When the wedding date was announced, I was a little surprised and found myself thinking, "How are they going to pull off a royal wedding in such a short time?"
Well .... they did it. And they did it in spectacular fashion!
The details, the invite list, the security, the secrecy, the transportation, the street closings, the timing. Executed like fine clockwork with pomp and circumstance fitting for a future king.
Wow. My congratulations and admiration to all of those behind-the-scenes people who make events like this happen!
While many American brides won't have to worry about details at this level, there are still numerouis details that need handled for a wedding to take place.
So again .... brides, I strongly encourage the use of an event/wedding planner. Even if its just Day Of services, you won't be sorry! You are "Queen for a Day", so allow yourself to be taken care of so you can enjoy your celebration with family and friends!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Since that first sample shipment, I've tasted other variations made by others and I always end up comparing them to Jill's version. So far, there's been no real contest. Cake Bites by Indy Cakes is a clear winner!
Cake Bites can be ordered from Indy Cakes in Indianapolis, Indiana, through the website www.indycakes.com/cakebites.html
Photo from http://www.indycakes.com/
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I am always promoting my 60% Rule to brides (see article in this blog) but I also encourage other wedding vendors to use this rule to help a bride stay in budget so she can afford the things she wants for her wedding.
I had a fellow cake artist share with me the story of a bride who had a $600 budget but she wanted a cake that was going to total $1000. The cake artist was telling me she wanted to help this bride but just couldn't drop her pricing by $400.
The solution is an easy one.
Turns out this bride had invited 300 guests and was figuring 250 would show up. With my 60% Rule (60% of those invited will actually show up), I figured she'd have about 180-200 guests at her reception.
First I told my cake friend, "She only has to come up with $400 to get the cake of her dreams. Assuming she's getting her dinner for only $20 a person, that means she has to trim her invite list by 20 people (20 people x $20/each = $400). We're now in an attainable number range. Somehow, it seems easier to rule out 20 guests than it does to come up with $400!
But ... back to saving this bride $1000.
I suggested to my cake artist friend that she should educate the bride on the 60% Rule and show her that she can reduce her expected head count by about 50 people. This will save her much more than the $400 she needs for the cake. Reducing expected headcount by 50 people means she will also save on the following:
7 fewer tables to rent (8 guests per table) at $7/table = $49 saved
50 fewer chairs to rent at $3/chair = $150 saved
50 fewer chair covers at $3 each plus 50 fewer sashes at $1 each = $200 saved
50 fewer dinners to buy at $25 each (assume $20 each plus the mandatory tip and service fee) = $1250 saved
50 fewer appetizers to buy at $12 each = $600 saved
50 fewer on the bar tab at $16 each = $800 saved
50 fewer favors to make/buy at $3 each = $150 saved
Total saved so far? $3199
And I saved it in about 3 minutes, without breaking a sweat. AND ..... the bride didn't have to compromise on any of her foods or selections.
I have said it over and over: Getting control of the expected headcount is THE Number One method to saving money and staying inside a wedding (or any event) budget. Vendors can also use this to help a bride see that she can afford the things she wants when she's not paying for the guests who will NOT show up. (Pssst! And RSVP's do NOT work. For 30 years I have ignored RSVP numbers and went with my 60% Rule. My 60% Rule was always more accurate!)
I can't tell you how many brides were thrilled when I showed them how they COULD afford the chocolate fountain once they got their headcount under control. The bride spent less than she anticipated, got more than she expected and I made a bigger sale.
This method is a win-win for everyone.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Cabe also gave me an honorable mention in her blog about my regular column in Cake Central magazine.
Cabe is a fabulous cake artist and I enjoy reading her blog entries. Please visit Cabe's site for some fabulous ideas and information!
Friday, January 28, 2011
Start with a base cake, already doweled and ready to receive the upper tier......
I pick up the upper tier, supporting it with my hand and the icing spatula .....
I bring the upper tier over to the bottom tier.....
I lower the front of the upper tier into place on the lower tier. The reason I lower the front of the cake is so I can keep the spatula at the back of the cake, so if there are any errors, those will be in the back where the photographer won't see them!!! (and they are more easily fixable.)
I remove my hand from under the cake while there is still room. The cake is now being supported by the spatula. This works well for larger tiers, too.
Using the spatula, I lower the upper tier in place. I leave the spatula in place until I check the position of the tier, making sure it is centered properly. If it needs moved, LIFT the tier with the spatula. Do not scoot or push the tier without lifting it as this can cause the dowels to shift and become unstable.
I use a slight, almost imperceptible lift as I pull the spatula out from under the upper tier.
I'm not concerned with this slight marring of the icing that happened at the last second when pulling the spatula out. It will be covered with the border.
The final cake has a nice border to hide any mistakes made during stacking, then adorned with Buckeye candies.
This was a cost saving idea we came up with for the bride, who had wanted a groom's cake with Buckeye candies but she had a tight budget. We just combined the idea onto her wedding cake!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
If you're in the baking business or just interested in baking, I highly recommend signing up for the e-newsletter from Baking Buyer. There are always interesting stories and information in the newsletter!
Thanks to Joanie Spencer for using the story!!!
If you would like to share your cake disaster story, send it to us for consideration.
"A bride saw my City Skyline cake...and ordered one for her wedding. The groom was a fireman so she wanted flames coming out of the buildings with a plan to set a small toy firetruck by the cake. The cake turned out great; the red-yellow-orange buttercream icing flames were a great accent on the chocolate building sillouettes.
I had two deliveries that day. At the first delivery, which was a quick in-and-out delivery, I carefully parked the van to make sure the skyline made of chocolate would not be affected by the sun coming in the window. However, the first delivery, which was to take about 3 minutes, ended up taking 10-12 minutes due to some extra decor the bride wanted on the table. In that short time, the sun had moved ever so slightly, and one corner of my city skyline was melted. I raced back to the shop with no idea of how to salvage this. I cut off the melted parts of the buildings with my exacto knife. Then inspiration hit me. I added more icing-flames to the damaged buildings and headed out to deliver.
When I arrived at the venue, the staff marveled at the cake. I quickly drew their attention to the damaged buildings and told them, "Since the groom is a fireman, I took my lighter that I use to light candles and melted some of the buildings so they'd look like they collapsed in the fire. What do you think? Does it look real?" Well, they thought I was a GENIUS!!!
Saved by an inspirational moment during a point of panic!"
Thursday, January 20, 2011
As I've written before, it is not uncommon for a baker to charge for a consultation or tasting. (http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/search/label/consultation ) The baker incurs some expense in supplying various cakes, fillings and icings for the consulation, plus the "lost opportunity costs". Some bakers charge this fee, some don't. Some apply it to the order if the cake is ordered, some don't. It is one of the items I encourage brides to ask about as they make appointments.
In another article, I shared how my brides have told me that my higher-than-the-competition per-serving price can end up being cheaper than the "cheaper" place. (http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/2009/10/lowest-price-isnt-always-cheapest.html )
As a bride does her comparison shopping (which I strongly encourage), she needs to take careful note of the various fees/charges that may apply and add them up.
Here's the story I want to share:
A client canceled a consultation appointment when she found out there was a $10 charge for the consultation, giving a reason that the competing bakery did free consultations. This competing baker's pricing was also higher per-serving than the first baker.
Let's do some theoretical math to see how this works out and to illustrate what a bride should look for.
Client is looking for a cake to serve 50 people.
Baker A charges $3/serving plus a $10 Consultation Fee.
50 servings x $3/serving = $150 + $10 consultation fee = $160 total cost.
Baker B charges $3.50/serving and consultations are free.
50 servings x $3.50/serving = $175 total cost.
It is costing the client fifteen dollars more to get the "free" consultation.
It is a given that the bride/client needs to also consider the taste of the cake, the quality of design and execution of the work, and not just the price per serving or not just whether a consult is free or not.
Baker A tells me that she charges the $10 consult fee because many of her clients know what they want and order their wedding cake via email or phone. She does not want to just add in the cost of the consults into the base price because she does not want to charge extra to those who do not need the private consulation appointment. It is how she keeps her expenses covered and her pricing fair to all of her clients.
When planning a wedding, people seem to forget how to "Do The Math" (see this blog article where I discuss that: http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/search/label/Do%20The%20Math ) and this article is to show why it is important to always, always, always ask questions and keep track of the details.
They add up and can sneak up on you!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Over the past few days, I've managed to get into more than a couple of conversations about color and color combinations. This article is to touch on the basics of color, while understanding that color combinations are infinite and complicated.
In cake world, brides and clients have many color requests to match the theme, the dresses, the cardboard cake plates. These are usually not a problem and the cake designer can blend colors to create the masterpiece for the client.
However, I've come across some questions that hinge on "the basics" and so I thought I'd offer this primer in color combination.
One person asked, "How do I create blue?" Blue cannot be created. There are three primary colors from which all colors are derived. The three primaries are red, yellow and blue. These colors cannot be created. They just "are".
Another situation that comes up is "My black (or grey) looks green (or sometimes purple)?" Theoretically, when the three pure primary colors are mixed, we get black. I say "pure" because there are different grades of color and pure colors are usually only found in laboratory settings. When you and I mix the three primaries, we get something close to black.
But why does it look green? Here's a list of the color combos:
Yellow + Blue = Green
Yellow + Red = Orange
Blue + Red = Purple
Yellow + Blue + Red = Black
So if your black icing looks green, that means you have a lot of yellow and blue and you are short on red. The ratio of color is out of balance. Add a tiny touch of red to balance the colors.
If your black icing looks purple, that means you have a lot of red and blue and you are short on yellow. Add a tiny touch of yellow to balance the colors.
The base color used can also impact the color. If someone wants to tint some chocolate to a red color, remember that since red is a primary color, it cannot be created. Adding red to a brown chocolate makes a brown-red color ... not a pure red.
I make a cookie that has a butter-powdered sugar filling. Making a blue or a red filling is difficult because of the yellow color in the butter. Adding red coloring to yellow butter will give me orange, so I have add a LOT of red to the butter (and usually the best I can get is pink!) Adding blue coloring to yellow butter will give me green, so I have to add a LOT of blue coloring to the butter. Keep the base color in mind when mxing colors.
Color can be complicated but if the baker keeps in mind that all colors come from red, yellow and blue, it can be less stressful.
Knowing what you have (in the color mixture) can let you know what you need (to get the color desired).
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
A question asked frequently ...... FREQUENTLY...... in the cake world is "How much should I charge for this cake?"
It's not a simple question. Most bakers struggle with coming up with a good pricing structure that works for their business. There are SO many factors to consider: cost of ingredients, overhead, labor costs (most bakers overlook this because they fail to factor in their time as an expense), skill value and more. Even what part of the country a baker is in can be a factor. New York wedding cakes have a higher cost base than, let's say, one I would make here in Indiana simply because I can rent a shop much cheaper in Indiana than what a baker would have to pay in New York, making my overhead much lower than the NY baker.
One of the best articles on this topic is from my friends at Cakeboss Software for Bakers. Here is the link to their article. If you are a new baker who is just setting up a pricing structure for a new business (or an "old" baker who struggles with pricing in general!), I'm sure you'll want to print out this article and hang it next to your desk area for easy reference!!