Custom cakes can potentially be a large investment for your customers. Bakeries often conduct a consultation for wedding cakes, but that’s not always the case. Any cake that will have a lot of details surrounding it would benefit from a consultation.
There is some debate among bakers whether a tasting or consultation should come first. What you don’t want is to have endless tastings that don’t result in business. Narrowing your customer base by collecting the most amount of information (and perhaps charging them for your time) is effective. Clients will come to you with varying degrees of expectations and knowledge, and every bakery has their favorite way of conducting the process.
Online Submission Form
Some bakeries find that an online submission form is very helpful to gather initial information before they ever meet the prospective customer in-person. These forms can offer details that will shape your consultation, tasting, and can save time.
If you choose to provide a custom cake online submission form ahead of a consultation or tasting, make sure you ask for basic information like:
- Wedding theme or style
- Rough budget
- Number of guests
- Basic cake preferences like flavors, colors, shapes, and decorations
Be sure to give the submitter the option to say, “I don’t know.” Maybe the customer has a picture of the exact cake they want to recreate and knows everything they want, but a more likely scenario is that a customer knows some, but not all of what they want. They want to consult with you because you have the expertise.
Whether you’re using an online form as a replacement for your consultation or in addition to it, be prepared to ask and get asked more questions. If you’ve gathered the basic information with an online form, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty:
- What temperature will the venue be kept at?
- How much time will you be given to set up the cake?
- Will the top cake be frozen for the anniversary?
- Do they want all the servings on the cake or some sheet cake in the kitchen?
For the most part, your cake consultations will be with a bride and groom for their wedding cake. Ask all your questions now when you have the bride’s full attention… you may not have that chance again.
While each baker conducts their consultations a little differently, it can be helpful no matter what to provide a printed cake serving charts and popular tier combinations. With so many great options, it can be overwhelming for your customers. Make it easy for those who have never ordered a custom cake from your bakery before.
The key to tastings is to not undervalue your bakery’s time and effort, which is why many bakery managers charge for a consultation or tasting. This will help weed out people who aren’t committed to seeing an order through. One way to take the sting out charging your custom cake taster is by offering to apply the nonrefundable tasting fee to their custom cake order.
Another tip for tastings is to bake cupcakes instead of offering a slice of a whole cake. With this approach, you can still showcase your flavors and save on resources. Some bakers allow the customer to take home a sample of the cake or cupcake. Many people are more comfortable making a decision after they’ve had time to think about it or talk it over with someone other than the baker.
Whether custom cakes are your bakery’s bread and butter or just an occasional snack, a solid consultation reassures your customer that you’re a professional and their cake is safe your hands.
BakeSmart can help you keep on track so you can continue to deliver beautiful and memorable custom cakes while maximizing your profits.