We have minimum prices for a reason…

A colleague of ours posted a frustration on her Facebook page that her bride and groom were trying to talk her down in price for their wedding cake and go below the bakery’s minimum, even though the guest list is small.  They were hoping that they would be able to help out “the little guy”.

Now with our colleague, she received an email explaining that this was a small destination wedding and because she could not fit within the minimum budget of the bakery, she was now “forced” to go to a second-class bakery for her wedding cake.

How does the business owner handle these kinds of situations?  I can only tell you how we handle them here at our own bakery.  Before our clients come in, they are prescreened over the telephone/email when we are booking their appointments.  We ask all sorts of questions regarding location, party planner etc… One of the questions I always ask is, “Are you familiar with our pricing structure?” This is my opportunity to inform the perspective client about how we price our cakes.  I tell them the minimum cost, and explain to them the more you add to your cake, the more the price will increase.  At this point I have done my part in educating the client about our pricing.

So now that same client is sitting at our table and still trying to talk us down in our minimum price.  We now have to explain to them how things are made.  For a quality product you have to pay at least the minimum price the baker is offering.   The kind of work we do is not what you typically find in a grocery store bakery.  We have skilled artisans that manipulate and sculpt things made from sugar.  If you want a handbag made out of cake my head chef carves this out of cake and skillfully covers the “hand bag” in fondant.  And that’s only the first step in the decorating process.  The crew still has to make all of the details that go on the handbag: zippers, handles, logos, hardware, etc.  These details also need to be dusted with edible colors to enhance their features.  This is an overview of only some of the steps in a very complicated process.  After the explanation, we take our clients back into the production room so they can see for them selves why our product is more costly than your average grocery market cake.

As our colleague will tell you, these kinds of encounters are very frustrating, as we are constantly educating our clients and fans of our work about our pricing.  This “couture” cake industry is still relatively new and we all have to do our part to inform the general public out there that there are now two kinds of party cakes: the ones from the grocery store or the one from the “cake shop”.

The cake on the left is something that you can expect from a grocery store bakery. The cake on the right is something that you can expect from a customized bake shop. (This was a cake that we made for my nephew's birthday.)

No one ever wants to offend the other party and everyone is always looking for a good price.  We as bakers do provide a service to the wedding industry and I truly believe that there is a bakery out there for everyone at every price point.

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8 thoughts on “We have minimum prices for a reason…

  1. Ah, but that’s a picture from the books at the grocery store, not actually one you’re likely to receive (quality wise). We all know how those usually turn out….Cakewrecks “What They Ordered, What They Received” anyone? 😉 Good post, well written.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. I have trouble getting across to some prospective clients why I can’t go below a certain price, and why my cakes are worth paying more for than something from a supermarket, but you’ve explained it very clearly so I shall now refer them to this post! Sometimes it’s best to turn down a commission than to devalue what we do. Thanks again, great blog!

  3. Unfortunately, this is 1 understanding many people still fail to grasp. As they ‘discuss’ about the price, time flies, party date creeps nearer and in the end they blame you if they can’t get a cake. They blame you that they have to ‘settle’ for a second class cake. Also, they think that the smaller the cake they need, the smaller the price tag as well. To them, it’s always ‘just bake and cake and slap stuff on it, how hard can that be?!’

  4. I often explain it to them simply, like this: My friend will spend about 30-40 hours on your cake, would you work that many hours for $150-$200? Most of the people get that straight away, when you explain about all the admin (oh the agony) …from designs to (constant) emails, calls, shopping, cake-making, hand-making the extra’s, covering boards, matching ribbons, they see it clearly and usually don’t have any problems. I think the hardest part is educating them about the effort and time, they tend to think it gets whipped up over night but once it’s been explained, they are happy to part with the money because they can understand it from their own point of view as working people/parents. Time and money is what people understand and I’ve never had anyone get gruff once that’s been explained. Some people genuinely can’t afford it so I direct them to a cheap bakery, later on (for a different occasion), generally they come back for a birthday cake and pay the price you ask happily. Most people should know that a Cark Artist does it for the love of the job, there’s not a lot of money in it and a lot of extra work goes unpaid, you very rarely get a thank you and you never get to see the look on the person’s face when they see it as it’s usually picked up by soemone else or delivered before the event, so it’s a labour of love for sure!

  5. I know nothing about the cake industry but appreciate the effort and hard work for quality. (and I love cake and icing!) I would imagine some of our “cake tv shows” make it worse for real bakeries because the average person watching one of those shows sees it done in an hour or 30 minute segment. Cut and edited for time slots and not actual time. So they assume what they see on tv can happen at their local bakery wanting it “whipped up” quickly for cheap.

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