I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm good, but I'm not THAT good.

Can you make this cake feed 200 people?

It never ceases to amaze me how some people believe that they can get something for nothing. Most of the time, I just gird my pastry loins and get on with it - like the time a lady came for a consult, told me the price I charged was too high, and left. That's fine, I understand completely, what with mortgages and petrol prices and whatnot. Cake is not an actual life necessity (well, you and I know it is, but not everyone else is on board yet.)

Except that then she called a few days later, to say that XYZ bakery on the other side of town would do it for $50 less, so would I be willing to meet their price?

In a word? NO.

I bet you're wondering why I said no, over a measly fifty bucks - when we all know that my current goal in life is to build up the Three Sweeties empire. So here is why: a) I price the way I do for a reason. Does she want me to use $50 cheaper ingredients? Spend $50 less time on making her cake gorgeous? I'm guessing not. b) If I did it, she would get a fabulous cake from me. She'd then tell all her friends about how fabulous I am, AND about how I can be "negotiated" on price. I'd end up with a whole crowd more clients who want something for nothing...and those are clients I really don't need.

They say that 90% of your profit comes from 10% of your clients...and I'm guessing those are the clients who don't negotiate.

But I digress. This past weekend I had two clients who really tested my entrepreneurial nettle.

Client #1 wants a cake for her 21st birthday. It has to include: 1) A Latin theme, 2) An elegant Hawaiian/tropical feel including hibiscus, palm trees and possibly some fresh fruit, 3) A fairy princess castle, 4) All or at least some of the Disney Princesses, especially Jasmine and 5) she'd also like a sunset or at least the bright pink/orange colours of sunsets. Oh, and it needs to feed 150 people, be 3 tiers, and be under $250.

Yeah. Not going to happen. I came up with a good idea for the themes, but couldn't do it for the budget she had. Is she kidding me? At $250, she's talking about less than $2 per person. People, you spend more than that on your daily weak skinny soy latte with 2 sugars.

Client #2 wants a wedding cake for 60 people (enough to serve at the wedding, AND box it up and give it away, so basically 120 servings), and she wants to keep the top tier for their first anniversary. She is utterly convinced that she needs the bottom tier to be NO BIGGER than 8 inches square. Apparently she read somewhere that you determine cake servings by the size of the pan x the size of the pan. Therefore, in her twisted logic world, her 8 inch square should feed 64 people.

Yes. Well. When I suggested that perhaps those 1 inch x 1 inch servings might be considered a bit, ahem, small, she said she didn't want to go much bigger because people would think "they were being too wasteful." Sweetcheeks, it might be wasteful to have a lot of cake, but it's seriously TIGHT ASSED to not have enough for everyone. Actually, I think it's almost impossible to actually cut cake pieces that small...unless you are using a precision laser cutter.

When I suggested having an 8 inch fake second tier (common practice for wedding cakes), and making a bigger bottom tier, she told me it was weird to have "fake stuff touch real stuff." Can you imagine an 8 inch square wedding cake? It would have no chance of feeding all those people, and no chance of looking like anything other than an afterthought. I'm seriously considering telling her to go somewhere else - because I don't want the reputation as the "el cheapo cake maker," either!

...and the kicker? She wants it "as simple and elegant as possible", but it has to be in metallic blue and baby pink, and have hearts piped all over it. Plus ribbons. And wedding figurines.

Sometimes, you just have to shake your head and hope like hell these people run the other way. I fluctuate between my usual people-pleaser Capricornian self and my self-obsessed Capricornian self in wanting to help them...but not wanting my name associated with the product they end up with.

That said, I love my job. These kind of requests combined with the crazy comments people have made over the years about my triplets truly make me think that I've got a book inside of me somewhere.


Claire - Matching Pegs said...

He He He, working with the general public. Where do these people come from.

Client 1 sounds like your basic design client, who doesn't understand why you let the designer do the designing. Or perhaps she is a bit like a programmer, building a website, and just adding lots of bells and whistles. I remeber those programmer types back in the good old days when we worked together. They used to say, you are an arty type, can you make this look pretty :-). In a word, no.

Annie Welch said...

Aaaah! You mean people like that are all over the world? Not just in the U.S.? God help us.....we can never escape! I tell you, I DO NOT miss clients like that! When I do get them, I have a list of other bakeries at the ready so I can tell them where to go.....in so many words......