Working from home can be very rewarding in many ways. But it can also prove a challenge in certain situations. One of those being how to conduct a wedding consultation.
I remember the first time I had a request for a wedding consultation. I was positive no one would want to be inconvenienced to come to my home for the appointment. I live in a rural area about 7 miles from the nearest town and for whatever reason, when you mention “County Road” as part of your address, people who live 10 minutes away begin to get a little freaked out.
I was wrong though.
I also wasn’t sure how people would feel about meeting in a house. In the beginning of my caking days I (foolishly) thought customers wouldn’t take you seriously if you didn’t have a storefront.
Come to find out, that was wrong too.
I tried several ways of conducting consultations and finally settled on holding them from my dining room in my home. It truly is the best option for me, and I’ll explain why in a bit. Perhaps though your home is too small, too cluttered, too noisy, under construction, up a steep mountain– whatever the reason, you sometimes just need another location to hold a consultation. Let me give you a few other ideas to consider when your home just isn’t the right place.
Option 1: Find a Quiet Local Business
This is the first option I explored when I began holding consultations as a home baker. I met with the customers in one of two places in my town. I met with a few couples at a local ice cream shop. Of course I called ahead to see if it would be okay. In this particular situation I was allowed to bring in samples so long as I made a purchase from the shop while I was there. Not too difficult!
I also met with a few couples at our McDonald’s.
I know, this sounds really unprofessional and kinda strange.
But you first have to take into account where I live. I live in an area where you don’t have many options for meeting with someone. Also, our McDonald’s is actually brand new and is very nice. It’s also quiet during non rush hours and offers free wi-fi. No one was offended or put off by this. As a matter of fact, I have seen several business meetings of different sorts being conducted on many occasions while I’ve been in.
What it comes down to is this; if you’re wanting to hold appointments somewhere other than your home, be sure you take these things into consideration when deciding on a place:
- Wi-Fi access
- Quiet/Comfortable environment
- Get permission/Check for stipulations
- Confirm you may bring samples
- Large enough work area for laptop, forms, cake guides, etc
Some location ideas may include:
- Local Library with private meeting space
- Bank with private meeting rooms
- Coffee shops
- Outdoor park/meeting space
- Community buildings/rooms
- Photography studio
As a side note; if you find an ideal location to hold your consultation, but it does not allow for you to serve your samples during the meeting don’t fret. Pack your samples for your clients to take home with them. You can even schedule the samples to be picked up at a different time if need be. There is no reason the sampling must be done at the same time as the consultation.
Option 2: Hold the Appointment in the Customer’s Home
This may seem like an odd option, but people love being catered to. At one time I made this an option for my customers, however I never had anyone choose this. When given the choices the customers always chose either my home or a public place, whichever I was offering at the time.
Even though I never had anyone choose this, it is still a viable option. You can neatly pack up your laptop, wedding worksheets, servings guides, and other supplies to take with you to their home just as easily as a coffee shop. People tend to be more comfortable in their own homes so there may be many people who like this as an option.
Option 3: Hold the Appointment in Your Home
As I mentioned before, this is the way I personally choose to hold consultations.
When you hold the consultation in your home the customer is able to see exactly where their order will be made. This alone will give many clients peace of mind. It tells the customer you are trustworthy enough to show them your workspace and you have nothing to hide.
It’s also very convenient for you as you won’t need to pack up any supplies or end up leaving something important behind. You’ll also have access to all your tools and supplies, allowing you to show the customer different pan sizes or cake dummies to help them visualize their finished product.
Be Professional When Meeting At Home
I was afraid my customers wouldn’t take me seriously if I conducted a consultation from home, because I was under the wrong impression a storefront was needed to be considered professional.
I then realized no matter where you operate from, you can appear to be as professional as you’d like. If clients didn’t see you as professional they wouldn’t be asking you for a consultation. They wouldn’t be trusting you with such a great responsibility as their wedding cake.
I realized it’s your attitude and your way of doing business that makes you professional, not where you conduct your business. So lay aside those fears and don’t be afraid to invite customers to your home for a consultation.
There are a few things to consider when holding the appointment in your home though. While I don’t necessarily recommend giving them a grand tour of your home, you really should prepare as though you will.
- Be sure you clean every room the client will be able to see.
- Have a spotless kitchen.
- Do not have any pets inside, at the very least have them put away.
- Have a large enough workspace so that you may bring out cake pans or cake dummies.
- Treat the space like a business office and don’t get too comfortable; be fully dressed in appropriate attire and do not do things like cooking dinner or performing chores, etc.
I mention cleaning several times. I have seen a few forums where decorators ask if it’s unreasonable to have a messy kitchen when they have a client over.
Yes it is.
When you have an appointment with a client you should do everything in your power to not be in the middle of a working kitchen.
That’s the entire reason for making an appointment. So you can prepare and be ready to present your best. You should have the kitchen cleaned as well as you can possibly manage.
If you were to order an edible item, especially one as important as a wedding cake, you would expect it to come from a clean kitchen. Obviously your kitchen will become messy while you work. That’s a given. However, it’s very off putting for a client to see that your kitchen starts out or stays dirty.
It’s another thing entirely if a client pops in to pick up a cake on a busy workday and sees you in the middle of decorating several cakes. As I said, it’s to be expected that a working kitchen will be a messy kitchen.
I also mentioned having every visible room clean. I feel like this is self explanatory, but let’s talk about it anyway.
Just as your client wants a clean kitchen, they’d like to see that your entire home is also tidy. When you’ve made an appointment there’s no reason to not have a tidy home when your client arrives. If your home isn’t tidy it tells the customer you don’t take sanitation and cleanliness seriously. Even if your kitchen is spotless, it’s still unnerving to the customer to see a filthy home. They will not be comfortable in a messy home and you won’t be comfortable hosting them. It’s too distracting for both parties.
You now have 3 viable options for where to conduct a wedding consultation as a home baker. I’ve also created a free printable checklist to make things easier to remember when you are searching for the perfect location. The next article in this series addresses how to conduct the consultation itself. It discusses cake sample limitations, policies/procedures you need to have in place for holding the consultation, and deposit requirements.
How about you? Where do you hold your wedding consultations? Let me know in the comments!
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