Now that you have decided where to hold your wedding consultations, and prepared your policies and procedures, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.
Preparing samples and discussing/recording the order.
In this installment I will walk you through how to prepare samples, what to have present at the consultation, and information you should discuss during the appointment.
How to Prepare Samples
When preparing samples for the consultation you want to do it in the most efficient, neat, and cost effective way possible.
Option 1: Make single layers of cake to be cut into slices.
It isn’t necessary to provide the client with an entire full size cake for sampling. A general practice it to provide just a typical slice of cake.
You can create a good size slice using one single cake layer. To do this you will bake a single 4″ or 6″ layer of cake. Then cut the layer of cake either equally in half or into thirds. After you’ve cut the cake you will layer it with the designated filling and stack the slices onto one another. Once it’s filled take a piping bag or icing spatula and apply buttercream onto the top (and sides if you’d like) of the cake. If the cake will require fondant, you can roll out a piece of fondant to fit the top of the cake slice and apply it after it’s iced.
Once the cake samples are finished being filled and iced set them neatly onto a decorative tray pretty plate, decorative tray, or individual serving platters. Just be sure to use nice servingware and not old, worn out items or paper plates. You want it to be presented as nicely as possible.
Option 2: Make cupcakes.
Another way to create samples is to use cupcakes. I don’t just make a cupcake and put icing on top, I turn it into a mini layer cake as well.
To do this simply bake a full size cupcake, remove the wrapper, slice it in half, fill it, and then put it back together. Once it’s filled you can pipe buttercream onto the top of the cake and place it onto your serving platter.
Option 3: Serve individual cakes separately from the fillings and icing.
This option can utilize either of the first 2 options with making a slice of cake or cupcake. Rather than putting the cakes together though, you can lay out each naked cake slice and provide small sample bowls of the fillings and buttercreams.
This allows the bride to taste several variations of cakes without making extra samples. She can try a bite of cake with each filling and buttercream option, greatly expanding her options.
What to do with the leftovers?
Being a home bakery you will want to try to ensure you don’t waste any product. You will want to do the best you can to make money from the leftovers. There are a few ways you can go about this.
You can either try to sell the leftover baked items by making cupcakes or mini cakes or freeze the batter or leftover baked cakes to use later. Try to pre-sell what you know you’ll have leftover if possible by listing the products on social media or asking loyal customers if they’d be interested in purchasing the products.
If you decide to freeze the leftovers you can do that one of two ways. Decide which size of cakes you sell most often and bake layers of cake to freeze. Or, did you know you can freeze cake batter? Well, you can! I do it quite often, and guess what I tend to use the frozen batter for? You guessed it! Making cake samples for wedding consultations!
You may even want to consider making up several popular flavors and freezing the batches. Then when you get an appointment for a consultation, you will most likely already have the batter made. You will then be able to portion out what you need, defrost it, and bake it when you’re ready!
When I freeze batter I place it into freezer bags, lay it flat to freeze, then stack the bags and place into another freezer bag. To thaw you can either let the batter defrost in the fridge or place what you need into a microwave safe container and defrost in the microwave at 10 second intervals. Be sure to stir often and don’t thaw on high heat or you will end up with a microwaved mug cake!
I find that when it’s thawed in the microwave it tends to rise a bit more than when the batter is fresh. Don’t keep the batter frozen for more than 3 months though, or it can begin to affect the finished product.
Items to Have Available at the Consultation
Cake samples are the obvious items you’ll have available, but let’s look at what else you may need.
- Water, Napkins, Forks, To Go packaging for leftovers
- Cake Pans of different sizes to show the bride what she can expect
- Decorated Cake Dummies if you have them/Pictures of your past work
- Computer/Tablet/Laptop to look at inspiration pictures
- Calculator to figure prices and servings
- Pencil/Paper for sketching design if necessary
- Designated Folder containing Cake Servings Guide, Base Pricing Guide, Order Form, Delivery Form, Order Policy, and Wedding Cake Contract (Download these FREE forms here.)
- Credit Card Reader for taking deposit (if you accept credit cards)/Pen for signing all forms
How to Conduct the Consultation
You now know what all you need to have present at the consultation, next you will need to learn how to professionally conduct the appointment.
Have a Prepared Space
Have the meeting space set up and ready when your clients arrive. Be sure everything is clean and set up neatly. Stack pans nestled inside each other, have your samples plated, water/napkins/forks laid out, laptop and folder in place.
Have your pets outside or put away in another room at the very least. Arrange for a sitter or have your children occupied. Turn your cell phone on to vibrate and do not answer any calls if possible during the appointment.
Be friendly, polite and professional when greeting your guests. Introduce yourself and guide them to where they need to sit, inviting them to have a seat.
Once they are seated you may invite them to begin with tasting the samples as you conduct the meeting. If the flavors are not obvious let them know which flavor is which before they begin.
Begin the Meeting
Once you have introduced yourself and invited the clients to begin with the samples, you may begin the meeting. I like to begin by asking if they’ve brought any inspiration along for me to see.
If so, I ask them to describe what they like or don’t like about the inspiration items. This would also be the ideal time to ask for color samples if you will be matching a specific color.
You will then want to move onto finding out the number of servings or tiers they will be needing. Then you can show them the different pan sizes or a specific picture/cake dummy of the size of cake that will be needed to accommodate their requests.
If you don’t already know the budget, get this information when discussing servings and design. This will allow you to let the clients know exactly what is available to them in the price range they desire.
Give the Quote, Discuss Delivery and Setup Fees
Once you know all the details about the design and number of servings needed for the cake you can then quote the order. Be sure you include additional delivery fees and even a setup fee if you feel the need.
Never feel badly about charging a delivery fee. I personally offer free delivery within my hometown. Anywhere outside of that is always charged a delivery fee. You can choose to charge per mile (round trip) plus an hourly charge for your time (round trip), you can do a flat rate fee, or even a percentage of the order total. Whatever way you choose to do this, don’t forget to let the client know what the cost will be.
You may also decide to charge a setup fee. I don’t do this, but many retail bakeries do, so it isn’t a new idea. Some choose to charge per tier of cake and/or per item placed on the cake, so be sure to disclose this information during the quote as well.
Sign the Wedding Cake Contract, Delivery Form, and Order Form
Once you have given the quote you will then need go over the wedding cake contract, delivery form, and order form to confirm all details are correct. (Download all these FREE forms here.) You will need to have the bride, or whomever is responsible for the order, sign all of these forms. If you have a way, make the bride a copy of all the documents she has signed, so that she has a set for her records. This will also help in the instance of any misunderstandings or if questions arise down the road.
This is the time to discuss deposit requirements, payment plans, due dates, and cancellation cut off dates when going over the contract with the bride. It’s also when you should let her know you require all cancellations and changes in writing. You should require all cancellations and changes in writing for the same reasons you want order placement in writing. I’ve had more than one customer show up to pick up a celebration cake they have cancelled. Luckily for me, I always require cancellations in writing and it has saved me a few arguments. Now just imagine if those instances had been wedding cakes rather than celebration cakes!
Wrap Up the Meeting
After you have all the order details and paperwork signed, it’s time to wrap up the appointment. If your bride has placed an order you have already informed her of the deposit requirement and should have gathered that payment.
But what if she isn’t ready to place the order? What do you say to collect your consultation fee without sounding rude?
I say something along the lines of this:
“As we talked about, a 30% deposit is required to reserve your date. Until the deposit is paid your date isn’t confirmed. So, if you aren’t ready to place your order yet then all you owe today is the $30 consultation fee, which will be credited toward your total if you do decide to book your order.”
This is a simple, effective way to ask for your fee and end the appointment. Be sure to thank the couple at the end of the meeting regardless of whether the order was placed. You want them to know you appreciate them so that they will be more comfortable in deciding to place their order with you when they are ready.
Whew! That’s it! You now have all the details to conduct the perfect Wedding Consultation!
I will have a few more articles as a follow up to this series that goes into detail on each of the forms mentioned in this instalment. Check out those articles or go get your free download now and read through the forms on your own. They are very straightforward and easy to use, but if you have any questions about any of them just let me know!
Get your free download of the Bakery Forms mentioned in this article now.
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