“A big problem here in Ireland is Brides refuse to set a decent budget for their Wedding cakes but want high-end New York/London designer cakes as their preference.
Often double height tiers with high-end decoration. In a tiny small market they refuse to see those double-height tiers as being more expense & nothing more than a tier, therefore, they should be able to have this type of cake for very little money.
I have often tried steering them to the original decorators price – which in most cases will be 100’s of euros more than the price here and rightly so.
I just wonder have you come across this problem yourself?”
Sadly, this is a complaint I hear all the time and it certainly isn’t limited to Ireland. I’ve had my fair share of clients wanting a designer cake for a bargain basement price. Here are a few of the ways I learnt to deal with this…
Answer: Thank you so much for letting me know what your budget is. I would be more than happy to adapt the design accordingly.
We wouldn’t dream of walking into a Mercedes Showroom with a Ford Fiesta budget and expect to drive off in a brand new SLK. So why do people think it’s fine to try and haggle Cake Decorators down on price?
You are going to have to hold your nerve, here, and stick to your guns when it comes to price.
If they want to pay less, then they get less. FULL STOP! You will change their design to fit their budget. If they don’t want the design changed, then suggest they try other bakers in your local area or see whether someone from their family can make their cake.
Now, I know that some of you will be saying one of the following:
- Ah, but we’re a small market and there aren’t many customers.
- There is a lot of competition in my local area and I need to be competitive on price
- But there are hobbyists that will make these cakes for almost nothing
- But they can get a cheap cake at the supermarket
And my answer is the same to all of these points (and I want you to repeat this until you believe this!):
There is only ONE of you.You are the only person that can do what you do.You are the only person that has your eye (design) and your hands (creativity).If someone want YOU to make their cake they are going to have to pay YOUR prices.
Now, I’m not getting all WOO-WOO on you, but you do need to have confidence in what you do and what you charge. And you need to stick to your guns because dropping your prices, working yourself to the bone, and being paid a fraction of the minimum wage is not a sustainable business. You are going to burn out or give up on your passion.
Be ready to walk away from bad business.
Customers that don’t value your expertise are NOT customers that will recommend you.
Turning away bad business is good business.
Answer: You’re wasting money on cake you don’t need!
All couples have an eye on their budget, and none of them want to be told that they might be wasting money on something they don’t need.
A double-height cake tier is exactly that: two cakes decorated to look like one tier.
So, a double height 10″ tier will consist of: Two 10″ Cakes, separated by a cake card. The bottom cake is dowelled before both are decorated to look like one tier. Instructions are given to the wedding venue to cut the tier from the top down to the cake card (giving you roughly 42 portions). The cake card is removed and the bottom half is cut (giving you another 42 portions).
I know that some cake decorators charge by portion. Some charge by tier size. Either way, a double-height tier will affect the price. A three-tiered cake with double-tiers is effectively a six-tiered cake.
Answer: Yes! I can replicate that cake for your budget, but it won’t be real cake.
I don’t want to wade in on the Faker Caker debate that has been raging on over at Cakesdecor.com, but many of the cakes that brides see in magazines, bridal blogs, and on TV are ‘faux cakes’: A Cake Dummy/Block of Styrofoam which is decorated to look like a cake.
Offering a ‘Faux Cake’ might be a good solution for a couple with a tight budget.
Pros of Faux Cakes
- They can be made weeks in advance, and can fit around your schedule of ‘perishable’ cakes.
- Whilst the cost of a cake dummy isn’t that different to a ‘made from scratch’ cake, you don’t need to charge for your baking time.
Cons of Faux Cakes
- Couples can’t cut the cake
- There isn’t any cake to serve the guests
The wedding cake shown here was a faux cake (covered in hundreds of handmade, edible feathers). The cake was inspired and adapted from The Crystal Palace cake design by Paul Bradford. I was uncomfortable having edible layers separated by glass (the baubles were incredibly fragile) and therefore insisted that the bride had a faux cake (she then had cutting cake in the kitchen to serve her guests).
The couple pretended to cut the cake for photos (and not a single guest noticed that they didn’t actually cut it). Extra feathers were made for the cutting cake.
Here’s an idea: I have ‘rented’ faux cakes in the past where budgets are really tight. The cake dummies are decorated for the wedding. After the wedding, I collected the cake and used them as display cakes for wedding fairs. The couple got their designer cake, and I got a new display cake for exhibitions.
If you’re not exhibiting at any wedding fairs, you could also contact local bridalwear shops to see whether they would like a cake for their window display (in exchange for your leaflets, business cards to be held in the shop).
Consider working out the price of Faux vs Real Cake. The saving will depend on how much you charge for your baking time. Also, consider that a faux cake could be made in a quiet week when you are not booked to capacity (therefore allowing you to take on more business in busy times). If you do see the value in this, then turn it into a discount for your clients.
Your aim has to be on attracting customers to your business that care more about getting the cake of their dreams, than the discount they can negotiate. That doesn’t mean you have to charge a fortune, but it does mean you charge a fair price (and you earn a profit – it’s a business, not a hobby).
And whilst this is definitely a blog post topic for another day, it boils down to identifying your niche, having confidence in what you do, demonstrating your professionalism, and making sure you’re the highlight of their wedding planning experience.
You don’t make CHEAP cake.
… and can I let you into a secret? The more I put my own cake prices up, the less people haggled with me.