Just like humans, cakes come in all shapes and sizes—and each is incredible in its own way. As a bakery owner, the trick is figuring out how to give every patron the custom cake they have a hankering for. But custom cakes can quickly become complicated. There are too many combinations to count, with a world of flavors, frosting, decorations, toppings, and fillings. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that mistakes are common, and customers can leave upset with their final product.
How do you avoid catastrophe and keep your customers 100% satisfied with their cakes? With a streamlined custom cake ordering system! Here’s our guide to tracking custom cake orders and creating quality desserts every time.
Accuracy Is a Must
The most essential element of managing bakery orders is making sure they are accurate. You need a standardized way of recording orders to know exactly what to make and when to make it. This is especially true for custom cakes or other baked goods with upcharges for larger sizes and specialty flavors.
No matter how hard they try, front-of-house staff taking orders may not remember all the details of a custom cake order. Make sure your front-of-house team is familiar with your custom cake options and combinations. Then, input all the order details into your bakery ordering software. This program automatically upcharges for the correct items and takes the stress out of order entry!
Keep It Simple
Nothing makes the ordering process more of a headache than complicated systems. The thing is, ordering a custom cake is complicated. It will take some work and creative problem-solving, but developing a simple ordering system is possible.
For example, BakeSmart’s bakery software programs have many features that make the ordering process easier. Our system allows you to keep track of inventory (so you don’t sell items you don’t have), start an e-commerce platform, and integrate a point-of-sale interface.
Streamline Your Contracts
Before you start taking orders, you’ll need to get into the nitty-gritty of contracts. Bakery contracts are crucial to ensuring everyone understands expectations and knows the procedures for payment and delivery. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to jump through the hoops of a contract. But despite the incredible tastes and aromas, the baking industry isn’t perfect.
Contracts are mostly used for weddings and other costly orders, but it’s up to you how often you’d like to send contracts to your clients. In any case, you’ll want an airtight contract that covers all the following points:
1. Event Information
Start your contract off with a section that specifies event details and general information about the customer. It’s a good idea to list the venue’s address and mention where the completed cake should be delivered. Simply writing down “The Grand Hotel” probably isn’t enough. Add details about the exact room to leave the cake. Other essential elements to record include:
- Contact information for the customer, venue, event coordinator, and any other relevant parties
- Number of guests
- Time and date of delivery
2. Order Details
Nowadays, everyone’s looking up the best cakes to order online, so your customer probably has some unique Pinterest-style ideas. And as you might expect, your cake contract will thoroughly explain the requirements for each cake. Be as specific as possible. If a dispute arises between your bakery and the customer (we hope this never happens), you’ll be able to point them to the contract and show that you delivered what was ordered. Mention the following details on the contract:
- Number of cakes
- Number of tiers
- Preferred colors
- Cake flavors
- Type of icing
- Frosting flavors
- Relevant food allergies or dietary restrictions
3. Rates and Payment Methods
This part is an absolute must. One section of your contract should be devoted to the numbers. Keep an itemized list of costs associated with each cake. Not only does this show the customer where their money is going, but it also keeps your staff on track. Being transparent about your rates also increases trust between you and the customer, hopefully earning their repeated business. Luckily, creating this list is easy using our bakery management software!
Once your itemized list is complete, outline the payment schedule. When is the deposit due? How much is the deposit? Will you give refunds if the order is canceled? All of these points should be covered in this section of your contract.
4. Terms and Conditions
No one likes answering constant “what if” questions. Nevertheless, addressing these concerns in your contract can save you a headache in the long run. Use the terms and conditions section to outline what happens when the unexpected occurs. Let the customer know what you won’t be liable for, including damage to the cake, allergic reactions, and last-minute cancellations. Consider answering these questions somewhere in the contract:
- What if the venue changes?
- What if the date changes?
- What if the customer doesn’t like the product?
- What if the customer wants a different design?
- What if the customer asks for a refund?
Have a Conversation with Your Customers
Your contract can take care of the heavy legal lifting, but it’s always essential to have a conversation with your customers. Set clients up with a cake consultation, where you can learn more about their needs in person. Here are a few ways to maximize your conversation:
1. Work Through the Order Form
During this consultation, you’ll explain the dos and don’ts of the cake ordering process and give your customer a run-down on how to order online. Custom cakes can be a significant investment, so it’s crucial to help them get their order right the first time. Discuss the online submission process and invite them to a tasting before making their final order.
Some bakeries prefer to collect online orders before meeting in person. No problem! With state-of-the-art bakery ordering software, you can alter the process to your liking. If you’d rather the customer submit their online order before the consultation, include an option to say, “I don’t know.” After all, a prospective customer may genuinely not know their custom cake preferences and want to consult with an expert.
Beyond that, make sure the order form is comprehensive. Leave no stone unturned and no detail unaccounted for. Allow your customers to specify the number of cakes, style, budget, date, number of guests, flavors, shapes, and more. Using our small bakery management software, form creation is a breeze!
2. Pay Attention to the Details
When it comes to custom cakes, the devil is in the details. As your consultation progresses, be sure to get all those little details out of your client. If you’ve already had them fill out an online form, you may have a head start. Here are a few questions to get into the specifics of what your customer wants from each cake:
- How much room will you have at the venue for cakes?
- How much time will there be to set up the cakes?
- What temperature is the venue?
- Do you want additional sheet cakes in the kitchen?
- Will the cake topper be frozen?
3. Bring All the Relevant Documents
Whether you’re planning a wedding or another special event, the process can be stressful for various reasons—ensure your bakery isn’t an added stress to the client! Be sure to bring all the essential information your customers will need to know. Show them popular flavor and filling combinations, cake serving charts, and other elegant options. While some clients have it all figured out, others will appreciate your help!
Nothing Beats the Real Thing
While you might use dummy cakes in your bakery to show off your decorating skills, consider letting customers try the real thing! Now, we’re not recommending giving out endless free samples, but we suggest letting clients who are further along in the planning process taste the real deal.
Instead of baking whole cakes just for a tasting, bring a few cupcakes for snack-size samples of popular flavors. If you’d like to charge for a tasting, consider applying the fee to the overall cost once the order is placed.
Get It Done with BakeSmart
No matter how you slice it, organizing custom cake orders is a challenge. But fortunately, it’s no challenge that can’t be conquered with the help of BakeSmart. Our industry-standard bakery business software was designed with your needs in mind. With just a few clicks of a button, you can design your very own cake ordering system that caters to even the pickiest clients. Plus, BakeSmart’s bakery management systems come with a 30-day money-back guarantee! There’s no reason to wait—schedule a demo today.