Preparation, Patience and Good Communication are the keys to a successful cake consultation. Usually, customers have a general idea of what flavours and designs they are looking for, but as a cake maker it is up to you to help them decide on a specific cake flavour, filling and design that fits their theme and budget. Follow our guide to conduct a successful cake consultation to make sure you leave a lasting impression and bag that order.
Before the Cake Consultation
Obtain Information – Collect as much information as possible before the cake consultation. Ask the customer to provide you with their names, contact information, event date, event venue, if delivery and set up is required, tentative cake budget and the number of expected guests. Ask them to bring along any design, texture and colour inspirations, fabric/colour swatches, invitations, photos of cakes they like, lace or any other samples.
Prepare for the Cake Consultation – Once you have all the information ready for the consultation, make a customer folder. A front page with the customers name, your cake order form, prefilled with order details you already have. Have your flavour list, price list, cake servings chart and terms and conditions agreement ready. You need not have a physical version; a digital folder is recommended. Have your cake portfolio ready so its easy for them to see your creations and understand what you can do. Make a list of skills/types of cakes you offer, your specialities, best seller flavours, previous customer reviews. Have your phone/tablet charged and ready with any cake apps that you use. If you plan to sketch the cake during the consultation, keep your sketch kit ready.
Keep your Customer Informed – Once you have arranged a consultation date, time and location make sure that you inform the customer of the consultation charge (if any). What comes as a part of that service and if that charge is deducted from the final cost if they decide to order (above a certain amount). Tell them if you offer cake tastings, how many flavours are included and how many people are welcome in a tasting. Ask them if they have any special flavour requests apart from the ones you are offering and how much extra would it cost them. It’s a good idea to offer few extra complimentary cake samples to take away with them. A good tip is to inform them that a deposit will be required to secure their event date and place an order if they wish to do so.
Courtesy Reminder – Remember to send out a courtesy email or phone call before the cake consultation, even a text message reminder. Share a map of the location of your studio/home, inform them of the parking availability and closest transport links.
Preparing the Consultation area – Clear up space for your meeting, make sure the area will be quiet when you are meeting your customers. Have tea/coffee/water available for them to have. Keep few spare notepads and pens ready to hand. Display latest dummy cake designs so they get a feel of your standard of finished cakes. Always keep your visiting cards handy.
Conducting the Cake Consultation
The day has arrived for your consultation. Make sure if not you, someone is available on time to greet them as soon they arrive or if they need help reaching you. Be prompt and professional.
Introduce Yourself and Your Business – Greet them with a smile and positivity. Introduce yourself, show them to the room/area where you will be having the consultation and offer them a choice of beverage. Once everybody is seated and ready, start the conversation. Sound positive, tell them about you and the work you do, for how long have you been in business, your most famous cakes, etc. and what you plan on discussing during the consultation and tasting.
Get to know your Customer and the Purpose of the Cake – Pull out your customers folder (or its digital equivalent) and go over all their basic information with them, check if all the information is correct. Ask them the purpose of the cake, type of cake they are looking for, number of expected guests, look at the samples they have brought with them. Ask as many questions as you can think of to get a real sense of what they want. Be a good listener, doing this can help you understand so much about them, ask them about their likes and dislikes, get them talking. Don’t forget to encourage them to ask questions, keep taking notes.
Introduce your Cake Portfolio – Show them the cakes you have made in past, point out if you have done styles they are looking for. They can be good starting point for designing their dream cake.
Planning the Cake – This is the fun part, start with a number of servings and portion sizes needed. Which shape of tiers do they want, do they want a tall cake, are they happy for you to include a dummy tier to add height or want a spare sheet cake. Will they save the top tier for later? You can use technology here to speed up things and give accurate tier shapes and sizes. Simple 1…2…3… with Cake Stacker App on your tablet and your customers will be impressed with the 3D cake options they have available to choose from and you will be confident in the servings and how the tier shapes will look when put together. Save the designed cake under customer’s name in the app for your ref. and to email them later. Get this part of cake planning over in a jiffy.
Sketch and Design of the cake – By now you have a good sense of what your customer wants. Now it’s time to discuss colour and design of the cake. Sketching from scratch is not something all cake bakers are comfortable doing. You may be an expert cake maker but not the best at drawing. But help is at hand. To get started simply print the cake templates using Cake Sketcher Web App from our website www.bakingit.com. Once you have proportionate tiers printed, it will be so much easier to start drawing on. Start with making colour choices, add sugar flowers, patterns, etc. Remember this sketch is to give a general idea to your customer, even if they are light scribbles, they will help finalise the cake design with them. You can easily convert these into fair digital sketches and email them later.
Cake Tasting – Once they are happy with the cake design, give them a taste of what you offer. Bring the cakes samples and let them try. Explain that the flavours can be mixed and matched. The tasting itself is a great time for you to start crunching numbers without feeling like you are ignoring the customers or being watched by them either. If you feel more comfortable tell them that you will give them some time to taste the cakes and talk anything over while you just pop out and put some figures together.
Cake Pricing – The customer will want a price of the cake, and this is the ideal opportunity to secure the order. If possible give them a breakdown of all the costs, write out a rough quote for them to take away (always email a professional quote after the consultation). You should have talked about their budget during the consultation, but this does not mean it will reflect their dream cake. If the customers can not afford the cake, don’t give up. Talk them through their options, alternatives and ways to design their cake without compromising your prices. If they are happy to go ahead, request them for a deposit.
Terms and Conditions – Have your business terms and conditions document ready, this will require a signature if they are happy to secure their event date with a deposit. Explain your business terms clearly and talk about when the balance payment is due. Keep one signed copy for yourself and give one to the customer.
After the Cake Consultation
Send an email quote – Whether your customer decides to go ahead with the order or leaves it to decide for later and get back to you, always send a proper email quote, 3D sketch and a copy of terms and conditions to your customers email.
Follow up email – If you haven’t heard from the customer within two weeks of sending a quote, politely remind them of your meeting and ask if they have made up their mind. Check if there is anything else you can assist them with. If they don’t wish to go ahead with you, always wish them the best for their occasion.
- Do not agree to make a cake that you are not confident you can produce. This cake is just as important to you as it is to the customer. If you can’t produce their dream cake, this will reflect badly on your business and future orders.
- Be positive and confident, make it all about the customers and you will find that consultations are great fun.
- Once they know you are helpful and trustworthy, they will also trust you with their cake.
Armed with all these tips, you can confidently conduct cake consultations and give it your best shot to inform your customers why you would be a good choice. Please feel free to share your tips and experiences in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.