From the seasoned professional to the baker just breaking into the business, Norman Davis offered sage advice for wedding cake consults and contracts at this year's National Capital Area Cake Show in Washington D.C.
Here are just a few tips he offers:
- Rather than a deposit, require a "non-refundable retaining fee" and state it as such in the contract.
- Require a "guaranteed number of guests," and allow for an increased number, but not a decreased number. You don't want to lose out on time and materials that you set aside and could have been used for another client.
- Know your competition, and remember they're also your colleagues. Have a backup plan if for any reason you can't fulfill a wedding cake order. And if, for any reason, you have to call on another baker to complete a wedding cake order, give that baker the full fee. "Giving the order to someone else is better than having a bride badmouth you," Davis says.
- Don't be afraid to tout your successes. Any competitions where you have placed counts you as "award-winning." You never want to lie, but you also don't want to sell yourself short.
- Never, never, never do a wedding cake for free. Even if you're just starting out, giving away your product does nothing but devalues you and your cake.
- But don't be afraid to take advantage of any newspaper or television opportunities. Even if you don't get immediate orders from it, "It's still feathers in your cap," he says.
- Shop your competition, and welcome secret shoppers into your shop, as well. Know what others do well and what you do better than the best (and where you can use some work). Remember to be respectful when shopping the competition. Don't waste their time during peak wedding season, and don't set them up to realistically expect an order.