In many ways, cake consultations require you to gamble your time and resources on individuals who might not be reliable or serious about planning a wedding. Wedding cake consultation fees can counterbalance the labor and ingredient expenses and confirm that the prospective client has some level of interest in purchasing a cake. In addition, many of these businesses that require fees will deduct the scheduling price from the cake’s final bill. In turn, a wedding consultation fee filters out disinterested customers and encourages participating customers to follow through with purchasing from your business.
A wedding cake consultation comes with a risk — there is always a possibility you invest in a customer who might not have a significant interest in commissioning a cake.
“Someone would call and set up an appointment, then something would come up or they would book another place and they would never call to cancel,” says Marianne Carroll, co-owner of The White Flower Cake Shoppe in Cleveland, OH. “We would create these sampler platters and then they would just go to waste. The consultation fee is kind of a way to be a little bit more structured and to know what to expect when people are coming in.”
Consultations at The White Flower Cake Shoppe typically last an hour. A decorator will attend the consultation to illustrate different design options. After the consultation, the decorator will make a number of sketches of the proposed cake order to solidify an agreement on the design. It goes without saying that this demands a tremendous amount of labor and resources.
“For starters, [the fee] weeds people out who aren’t serious about wedding cakes,’” says Michelle Vining, owner of Cinotti’s Bakery in Jacksonville, FL. “If I’m going to spend my time with them, they need to be serious about coming in.”
Many bakers worry that a fee could scare off potential customers. While this is always a risk, Carroll says the number of bookings at White Flower were unaffected when they placed the $25 fee.
In many cases, the total cost of the cake dwarfs a consultation fee that goes toward a purchase. “In the scheme of wedding planning, $25 is really nothing,” Carroll says. “I think it would be different if we were charging $100.”
Most importantly, the fee reduces unnecessary expenses. Wasting time, energy and resources on something that doesn’t contribute to your bakery’s profit in any fashion is unfeasible, particularly in a struggling economy.