The cake business is a fantastic business to be in! Not only is it someone’s birthday each day of the year but people get engaged, married, have baby showers, christenings and anniversaries. There are also religious and seasonal celebrations throughout the year to look forward to as well, so the demand is always there. Not to mention competitions, display cakes, taste testing and design consultations… phew enough to make you feel shattered?!
Whilst this is the positive aspect of setting up a cake business, and being very busy throughout the year, it also requires you to be an organised and forward planning person/business. The main question that everyone wants to know is “How many cake orders can I take on?” In order to do this we all have some kind of strategy that works.
Here’s how I plan ahead.
Over the past few years since setting up my small cake business I have learnt the hard way of how to have a balance with my love of baking and my love of family life. I am sure many of you can sympathise with the late nights and at times being so exhausted you question why you’re doing this job? Well stop for a minute and think before you reach this critical point.
Take a step back and look at your portfolio. Reaffirm your skills, talent and love of all things cake related, and have a read my tips.
Tips To Help Plan Ahead
- Take a look at your pricing and be realistic about past work. How much are your cakes are really worth? As a cake decorator I think we are all guilty of second guessing how much people are willing to pay verses its actual worth, based on ingredients, time, box, ribbon, boards, delivery etc.
- Once you charge a fair price for your work you are on the road to cake business success! It means that you can be more realistic about the number of orders you take on in a week. Remember, less is more in terms of quality and being a happy cake maker.
- Plan ahead with wedding orders as these are usually worth more.
- Attend well marketed wedding fairs in your local area or in the nearest large town. This is a great way of capturing an interested audience and chatting face-to-face with potential customers and other businesses.
- Offer consultations to couples as it’s a lovely way to get to know the happy couple and often their families.
- Offer discounts at the beginning of the year to engage people and get them thinking about the year ahead.
- Set aside a budget for social media marketing and target people getting married, engaged, and interested in wedding related businesses.
- Ensure that your website is performing well and reaching people who are searching for ‘wedding cakes’ on Google.
When it comes to birthdays I am pleased to say that I have a large loyal customer base giving me repeat custom (like most cake businesses). However, capturing these orders can be tricky as you don’t want to assume people will order year on year.
To help solve this problem I’ve opted for a subscription system via my website to encourage people to list key dates throughout the year. I then email them a month before the date to remind them to place order. Again, this has been really helpful with planning my diary each month and also ensures that loyal customers are not turned away due to my lack of availability.
In terms of all the other celebrations throughout the year such as Valentines, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, school leavers gifts etc, I now create a limited choice of themed cakes. I do this roughly one month before the event and advertise these via social media sites and email. This gives people an opportunity to place an order in advance and helps me plan ahead.
How many cake orders can I take on?
Finally, the real challenge is determining how many orders you can comfortably take on without the quality being effected or your own sanity. My personal method is to make a note in my diary of the orders and then a note of what day I intend on making the decorations, baking and decorating. This then allows me to see how many more hours I have left in the week to take on additional orders.
The trick is estimating how long each part will take, this comes with experience. However, even the most experienced cake maker can get caught out with what seemed like a straight forward cake turning into an all nighter! Try and keep a couple of days free in your diary to keep a good work-life balance.
I would love to hear from other people in the cake business as to what they do in order to “plan ahead” and keep a good work-life balance? Please leave your comments below.