This post is all about the things I wish I would have known prior to becoming a baking business. I will be completely honest about my pitfalls and how I’ve corrected or am still correcting them.
First and foremost, pricing. This is just a basic run-through of what all you need to take into account. There are so many great programs that will help you through this whole process. If you’re uncomfortable talking about prices then you better get over it, quick. People want to know prices before they know anything. They d on’t want to know the many delicious flavors and fillings you offer. They just want the price. Then, they’ll get into the rest. If you’re spreadsheet savvy, you are one step ahead of me. If not, like I said, there are many great apps and programs that will help you. Figure out your overhead expenses (rent, utilities, insurance, etc.). Once you’ve got that broken down into a monthly amount figure out your cake supply expenses. If it’s being used for your business, add it in. Break that down into a monthly amount. Then on to the ingredients. You’re going to first need a total on all of ingredients together. Then, you can break it down by recipe. Now you need to decide how much you’d like to be paid per hour, per task. All of this will ultimately be added into one, and that will be your final, price per serving when giving quotes on your baked goods. Know your worth! If you know that you have an amazing product, be proud of that! Don’t let anyone talk you down on your prices. Can you go into any legitimate business and haggle down prices? I hope not, otherwise they’re not making any money. For every client that says they won’t pay, another one will.
Second, find yourself a specialty. Would you like to be known for gorgeous, intricate wedding cakes? Would you like to make amazing, gravity defying cakes? Maybe you would just like to offer cupcakes and cookies. There’s no need to be the Jack of all trades. Be known for something and be the best at it. Do a lot of research and hone your skills. Practice as much as possible and don’t be easily discouraged. I’m not saying that you can’t offer a wide variety of baked goods. There’s nothing wrong with that, just also have a specialty. Give people a reason to seek you out. I’ve honestly switched gears more than once. What that taught me was that there are certain things that give me so much more joy than others. Also, if there are things you’d rather not offer, don’t. This is your business and you make the decisions.
Third is customer service. Kindness and patience will take you far. I think this is just a general life rule. Attitude can affect everything. Have you ever had terrible service somewhere and then recommended someone else go there? I haven’t. On the other hand, maybe you went somewhere and the people were truly kind. I’m willing to bet you’ve been back there, and even told others to go. I always try to go above and beyond for my clients because I believe it’s those people that will keep you in business for the long run.
Before paying to do any trade shows or events do your research. Most often the booth will cost you money. Your show cakes are an out-of-pocket expense, as well as all of the décor for the booth. Check the stats on the prior years of the show. If it’s a venue’s first show, you need to decide if it’s worth the risk. This is where I can weigh in on an experience I had. I was doing some work with a venue. I really hadn’t worked with them for long but it wasn’t a completely terrible experience so far. They were doing their first bridal show. I was very excited about it and booked a booth. Everything was great and they said they were excited to have me there. They told me there was going to be about 150 brides attending. This didn’t seem too low to me because it was my first show and I don’t live in a huge city. I’ll just be completely honest and say that once everything was paid for, (the booth, décor, cakes, etc.) I spent well over $1,000.00. That doesn’t include the hours upon hours I spent working on my cakes. The show was a complete blow out. There were 48 brides that attended, but most were just there to see the venue. The venue never told me they were handing out bags to everyone that included whatever the businesses wanted to add to it. So of course, nothing was added about my business. The people that worked at the venue (that were previously so sweet and excited for me to book my booth) were either rude or just avoided me altogether at the show. I haven’t done any more work for that venue and honestly, would decline to if asked. Remember what I said about customer service? It means a lot.