Wednesday, 18 January 2017

How to Charge For Cakes? How Not to? I Price my Corporate Cake. Too Much? Too little? You Decide!

How do we do it?  Price those cakes?  There are plenty enough pointers all over the net to  suggest that we shouldn’t under-charge for our cakes, cupcakes, sugar figurines, gumpaste flowers or whatever else we produce and sell, but since the actual prices are rarely shared, pricing a cake correctly  is harder than it seems. I can only think of one cake-maker, who stated the exact prices he charged for his beautiful cakes on his website, loud and clear, and I felt a bit sour on his behalf, because I thought that his beautifully designed cakes, both wedding and celebration, were worth a lot more.  
Is pricing a matter of supply  and demand or is it our general modesty at pricing our hard work fairly, that is the problem, simply because  making them often also happens to be our artistic outlet, and so is already seen by us as gratifying, before the pricing even began? Muddy waters is, this cake pricing…

I’m afraid, I can’t offer the ‘one fits all’ pricing solution here, in this post,  either.  Instead, here’s my personal account of pricing a corporate cake, in this picture below.

So the guy ordering this cake phones up.  Initially, he seems hesitant.  Admit it, it’s supercute when guys are trying to place cake orders. They just breathe in and want to be done with it.  “Message from our newborn son saying he loves his mommy, please”,  “It’s our 50th anniversary and I want it to look...well...very romontic...” “You’re 18 now but will always be my baby... will this fit on the cake?”  Total tear-jerker, get out of here!

He has a sketch of the cake he wants in graphics, in fact.  It’s a first one on  me. As we speak, he also emails me the picture of  the same cake previously done by another caker and  tells me the price which that cake maker charged. It’s a new one on me, too!  Theirs is the kind of price I would have asked for  in my first year of trading. Not a lot. He tells me that he likes my website and wants me to better the cake. “That cake was well received and very tasty,  but we want a step up.”  I take a good look. They used some factory cutters but also custom cut outs for the logos. It’s not a very confident cake, yet not a bad cake, not bad at all.  The guy does want many logos on the cake, that’s for sure. Sometimes subtlety is a cheaper way to go around for buyers,  but of course, it applies to weddings much more than to corporate orders.

I say to him,  ‘Well, I can better it. The10" cake of this design will cost £100.00’

I don’t have a policy about pricing unusual orders.  Instead, I have this slightly hippy way of visualising the paycheck and imagining myself with it.  Do I see myself happy or ever so slightly resentful of own bad judgement? Bad judgement does happen, largely, when I don’t go with my gut feeling.  The most common excuse to myself is, or at least was,  ‘Well, it’s gonna be a good practice.’ If you anything like me in thinking like this, you are kidding yourself, practice and undervaluing your own good work it two different things completely.

There’s a pause.  Then my buyer says.  ‘Ok.  It’s a bit more than our budget. But ok.  Can you pick up some flowers on the way, by any chance, for about £30.00?”  
I gather,  he’s used to dealing with ‘value added service’.  Whichever way, though,  he seems agreeable with my quote, if not 100% happy with it.

I pick up his flowers in my local flower shop.  It’s run by a lady in a wheelchair.  She’s nice. Nathan and me have bumped into her few times, on the rare occasions when we had some childcare to set us free for the evening.  The flower lady must like the same bars, or is it that we don’t have that many bars in our neighbourhood? Anyway.  She gets around and reminds me of her nice flower shop, while at it.   
I sit the flowers next to my cake, wondering how it is that you can just look on and on a beautiful flower arrangement, and not get bored, more like hypnotised.  

The flower lady,  myself, and the guy, we are all happy now.

I drop off the cake.  I don’t do many cookies that involves filling out shapes with runny Royal Icing so it takes me longer than expected to do that bit adapted to cake, but that’s fine by me,  I just need to get quicker at it.

He calls me the next day to say that the cake was nice. He’s subtle about it, not like when girls  order, they are generally more excited about cakes, just like I would be: cakes do get me very excited. I like looking at them, eating them, offering them as a treat...

My buyer asks me if I would do another of the same cake for their other office.  It’s a bit outside of my usual delivery range. I’m not willing to drive further, yet, I’m happy with the pay.  I my mind, at least, this means, I got my cake quote exactly right, totally spot on.  He offered me another job, yet didn’t  try to convince me too badly, which probably means, he feels about the same.

‘If nothing on Google, check Instagram’  I suggest readily.
I don’t really know why I’m so keen on Istagram. But I feel I made friends with it, with other sugarcrafters I met there. I guess being in the same boat , professionally or by hobby has something to do with it, because who else would I talk to at length  about the intricacies of making things out of sugar? Picking up and dropping the conversation at my own pace?  No one I know in my non-virtual reality pops to mind.

And so we are. £100.00 for this cake.  Delivery near London.   Too much?  Too little? Just right? What do you think? What would you charge?

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