In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined the conversation this little rant o’ mine caused recently. If anything, I truly expected an avalanche of negative comments, and I braced myself for that onslaught. But, it didn’t happen. It struck quite a chord with you all, and I thank you for all positivity!
So I thought to myself, I COULD write a post for you now about the nuances of ten different royal icing consistencies. But, it seems that these fine cookie makers (and many more) have that covered. You don’t need me for that right now.
You’re different. You like to dare me to talk about these forbidden subjects. And I fall for it.
That said, the next runaway circus elephant that has showed up in my living room is tattooed with the word discount.
Here’s a sample of that scenario:
A potential client phones and wants to place an order for, say, 100 cookies. That’s a tidy little order, you think to yourself. Before you can say “vanilla or chocolate cookies?”, the question is asked: ”Can I get a discount on this because I’m doing volume?” Which do you do:
- Become paralyzed from head to toe.
- Cave instantly by saying ‘of course’ and fumble over your words because you don’t want to lose this order, no way no how, even though you’re livid with rage.
- Calmly and sweetly tell the client that these cookies are being created expressly for them and the largest portion of the cookie costing formula is labor, and you can’t possibly discount labor, much as you might like to.
If you said ‘C’ unequivocally, then shut this thing down and go do something productive with your time.
WHY O WHY would you give a discount? Because you’re getting Trump wealthy on all these cookies you’re making? It doesn’t make much sense, does it? If you’re creating cookies especially for this client, then there’s no real reason to give a discount. It’s not like you have a big inventory of baked and decorated cookies that are sitting in your cookie warehouse, and you just have to make room for all the other cookies that need storage. No-siree. You’re making these cookies expressly for this client. And, as we went over in the last post that made my blood boil, you and I both know you’re not getting rich doing it.
What happens if you do give in and provide a discount? It could be a percentage, a few cents, maybe even a few dollars off each cookie because you believe this client is IMPORTANT! You begin the work. And, low and behold another person wants to order cookies. No mention of a discount. Hhmmm….take the order and give up overrated showers and sleep? Now you start to really get steamed because you’re working your decorating digits to the bone for less money than ever, AND turning away business.
Do not fall into this trap. Re-read #3 and repeat after me: my labor is what fuels these cookies. It is my work that you admired and made you come to me for my product. Without my labor, these cookies mean nothing. Chances are, if you explain honestly (like you’re letting them into your world) that the labor really is the biggest expense of the cookie, the client will understand, especially if that client is a small business owner, too.
It’s okay to say no and not feel guilty. You are the master of your cookie domain. But remember, once you give a particular client a discount, they will always ask for a discount. The precedent will have been set.
Ultimately, you have to answer this question: is it better to take a huge order at a discounted price that may or may not cover your costs, time and labor, or is it better to take smaller orders with a larger mark-up for the week? And have time to shower?
No matter what you decide, I have a feeling that you’re going to be answering these queries with a lot more confidence now. Reward yourself with a cookie. And send this elephant back to the circus.
Or this cake.
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I feel a little guilty. This year, I’ve barely glanced at a bunny, a chick, an egg or a basket. I’ve been too busy thinking about what’s happening during the week that follows Easter.
THE ROYAL WEDDING!!!!
I’m just gaga over the royals, as I’m sure I’ve told you. And, the media’s attention to this event is fueling my royal giddiness! Royal wedding spectator parties will be abounding here in the states. You can get the cutest invitations to those weddings here! And, what’s a party without a themed cookie, I ask? That’s why I did these:
Word got out and the next thing I knew, on Friday morning I was delivering a group of these babies over to MSNBC’s Alex Witt for her Saturday morning segment on the Royal Wedding!!! Alex couldn’t have been friendlier, sweeter or more down-to-earth as we chatted in the lobby of 30 Rock. I practically wanted to hug and kiss her goodbye after we schmoozed about politics, news and, cookies, of course!
Early Saturday morning, this aired:
My phone started ringing at 8:00 a.m.! Crazy kindred royal wedding spirits all over the country were phoning! It was so exciting answering the calls and tweeting with my dear twitter friends while seeing this mind-blowing image across the screen:
It was a total out of body experience, I tell you. I still don’t think I’ve really took it all in. Even when Alex was touching the cookies, I still was in a state of disbelief:
Are you planning a party? Having guests over in their jammies to watch the telly? Tell me what your own plans are for this glorious day.
We’ll be having scones and clotted cream, coffee and, cookies, of course!
Note: special royal thanks to Katherine O’Hara for the extra special royal screenshots.
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Two separate conversations with two different groups of people about one subject can only lead to one thing: a blog post.
The subject of today’s burning discussion? That elephant in the cookie room: money.
This post is particularly for those of you who might be just starting a home-based business; testing the waters to see if your idea is viable enough to take to the next level. And, if you are anything like I was, you’re more than a little scared.
You see, it’s one thing to have friends and family say “You’re THE BEST cookie maker! You need to go into business and sell these! People would just line up to get them.”
Friends and family love you for the special cookies you create for their birthdays, their graduations, their weddings. They want to see you share your talent and be paid for what you love to do. And, they mean well, they really do. They’re your cheerleaders, your taste testers, your waste management team*. Do not, however, depend on them to be your customer base. No business was ever built on friends and family.
Depending on your personality, hawking your own wares can be the hardest part of starting your own business. You almost think you sound conceited, rather than confident. Opt for believing you are confident. You’re passionate about what you do so let the confidence shine through. And please, remember that confidence when potential clients tell you they can only afford to pay you a smidgeon of what you’re asking. Summon your inner strength and politely say no. Calmly and nicely, explain that you run an artisanal business with an emphasis on individual handcrafted edible art.
So, you’ve established a price for your cookies. You’ve come up with what sounds like a nice low-ball price for cookies because you don’t want customers to say no and you want orders. Maybe you’re pricing by the cookie, maybe the dozen. Whatever it is, you might very well be shooting yourself in your own foot just a little bit. Before you quote your next job, see if you’ve considered the following criteria before coming up with that random number:
1. If you have a standard price for a cookie, be it a single cookie or a set, are all your cookies roughly the same amount of work? The same size? If so, then fine. But, if they differ widely in size and detail, then you’re cheating the clients who get the simplest of designs, and giving the work away to those who ordered an intricate cookie.
2. How much time do you spend researching images? And, do you make your own cutters/templates for these images? That’s time you’ve put in on the project, too. It needs to be considered. The same thing goes for making your own cutters/templates.
3. Are there 3 colors in this cookie design or 6 colors? Again, that shouldn’t be the same price.
4. Are your cookies bagged and bowed? That takes time, too, part of your labor & materials cost. Packing them in a box? Don’t forget to factor that in.
5. Utilities. Electricity, gas, water. That’s your overhead, you know. You’re using more of those services than you would if you weren’t home ‘working’.
6. Multiple cookies making up one particular cookie, like Martha Stewart’s stacked wedding cake cookie? You know that’s 8 cookies making up one cookie favor. Price needs to reflect that AND the labor it takes to make it Martha-perfect.
7. Hand-piped message or name? Cha-ching. Add more labor to that order!
7. Delivery. That’s gas, AND wear and tear on your vehicle, not to mention your time. Again.
I’m not just lecturing from my ivory cake pedestal, I promise you that. I’ve made every single mistake. How do you think I got the material for this post? From my vivid imagination? Mistakes are the best teachable moments in the universe. You don’t even have to go out of your way to make them. They just happen. Experience them and move on.
Fast forward a bit. Your business is catching on. You’re making a name for yourself. Clients are recommending you to their friends. Do you know what this means? It means it’s time to re-evaluate your prices. Not ridiculously, but within reason. You’ve earned it. But, how do you know when it’s time to raise your prices?
1. Have you been written up on blogs, local newspapers? That’s press, you know. You’re being looked at as a professional.
2. Cost of supplies like butter and sugar go up. Are your cookie prices doing the same?
3. You’re getting better and better at what you do. Experience at your craft elevates your worth again.
Please know I’m not telling you to be the most expensive game in town. Far from it. I just want you to be able to run your business successfully, so you can grow and prosper. And, at the end of day, if your cookies can bring in a little more of this
to put in here
then I’ve cleaned up a little after those elephants, haven’t I?
*lucky recipients of reject cookies
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