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Welcome to the Cake Decorators Q&A

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asked January 10th 2013

What would you make for 200 people?

I’ve just been asked to make a corporate cake to feed 200 people. Not sure if I’m out of my depth here!

Any ideas or recommendations…I’m assuming around £200 for the cost but have no idea how to approach this, whether to go for a tiered approach or try to do something sculptural for their logo…argh, not sure my confidence is up to this considering I’ve just started out.

Any ideas, advice?

Thanks – Joe

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Hi JoeB

£200 for cake to feed 200 people is a very low estimate. Have a look at this blog http://www.cakeflix.com/blog/how-to-decide-on-the-cake-portions. It will help at least with the amount of cake you have to bake. From the portions you can work out the cost of ingredients, cost of fuel for baking, your time and skill (which you have to include), there will be other costs like boards, ribbons, boxes, transportation and insurance in case there is any kind of mishap. I would say the £200 would only cover the deposit! I’d hate you to commit to such a big project without researching the costs involved. Other members here have far greater experience than myself and I know they will join in to give you their best possible advice. If you decide to go for it, keep it simple, as you say with their logo, other wise you could be making so much more work for yourself. From little acorns mighty oaks do grow! x

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Hello JoeB,

Corporation = Money. I am not a greedy person and have even felt guilty about asking for payment. But persuming you are doing this as a job not a hobby…you have to treat it as such. Atleast £350 should cover it, maybe try and do their logo as this generally requires less artistic skill which generally induces panic attacks for me if things aren’t going right!! Then maybe do a batch of 12 cupcakes to do fancy work (corporation colours) or something comical thrown in. I hope this was OK for you madewithlove is right there is soooo much that customers fail to take into consideration these days. Good Luck and rememebr ‘be the cake’ x

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Hi JoeB

If you type in the search box ‘Due diligence’ there is a question and some answers which will also be something to think about. Another informative blog is http://www.cakeflix.com/blog/what-should-i-charge-for-cakes.
I agree with Deidre Corporation does = money, but I feel £350.00 is still a little on the light side if everything is taken into consideration ie if you start carving cakes.
I would be inclined to do two sheet cakes, one decorated with the Corporate logo which would be seen by all, and the other without logo for the kitchen to cut up and serve. A few cupcakes would look good as a little extra, however, if you make loads of them, they are time cosuming to decorate, and of course can’t be made up and decorated days in advance because they stale very quickly. x

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Hi JoeB

OMG £280 is just not enough for all those cakes, £1, 280 would be more like it. Seriously, if you quote that you will be out of pocket in the extreme. How many cupcakes would they want? Cupcakes are a nightmare particularly if you have lots of them. Since they haven’t confirmed on price it may be wise to re consider your costing. On the Cake Baker site they have the CakeULator (like the cakeometre), but this actually calculates how much you should charge for your cakes. Can’t help with tasters but you can google that information. I wouldn’t under cut. If you decide on a six inch cake, have a look in the blog chart to see how many people that would feed and charge it out as a cake order because that’s big for just a taster. They may not give you the order, although I can’t see why not at the price they have been quoted! Tasters are just tiny pieces like you’d get at a wedding, so half a dozen cupcakes would be more than enough at £2.00 each, I think that is fair. If you google in ‘how much to charge for wedding cake tasting’ it will defintely throw up some figures.

As you say the closer you are to London the higher the prices. The actress Jane Asher charges a minimum
of £350.00 for an 8 inch cake (I know she can because of whom she is), but there are many non celebs who are taking her figures as a guide. I know because my family is in and around your area and they are always complaining how much cakes cost! Please don’t under price yourself, once you do that the same expectation will always be there. I really feel you must re calculate your figures. xx (I shall worry about you all day now x)

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Hi Joe, once you’ve got this order out the way you should work out your costs in terms of ingredients and ribbon, boards etc for each size and flavour of cake that you make and then put together a pricing table. I have three prices for each size of cake: simply decorated, 3d characters or flowers, and ‘wow’. This means I can quote for most cakes very quickly. If its a tiered cake then I add up the cost of each tier and then add an extra charge for dowelling and stacking. Check your prices against other cake makers in your area, taking into account your skill level compared to theirs.

Having this all worked out in advance means much less stress when you are asked for a price and you will also be more confident because it’s based on fact. Be prepared for the people who will think its too expensive, and by all means change the design or size of the cake if you can to meet their budget, but don’t give your time away for nothing!

Good luck!

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Thanks for all your answers, really appreciated and very informative.

I’ve worked out that I’d do a 14, 12, 10 & 8 tier with their logo on the top tier. They have a very specific logo which would work very well on the edge of each cake so if you looked from the top down their entire logo would be visible, but all four tiers of the cake would make it up…hard to describe, if I pull it off I’ll put a piccie up!

I will get their main logo done in icing by a company near me who will take it direct from the JPEG, I’ve used them twice now and they are excellent, and pop that on the top.

The last time I made a 10 x 10 square I worked out exactly how much it cost me including boards, ribbons, boxes, photo etc, but excluding my time and it was £33, so charged £50…I’m realising now that I need to stop apologising for the cost!

I had to quote last night so in the end I quoted £280, which falls quite a way short of Dierdres recommendation 🙁

If they give it to me, and I complete it without having a nervous breakdown, I’ll definitely charge more if you guys thing I’ve undercharged…I’m based in Surrey, not sure if that makes a difference but I know often the closer to London you get the higher the prices..

As I was just about to hit submit she’s come back saying she may like me to do a cupcake display instead so I’ve quoted her £400 for that option 🙂 Fingers crossed she goes for the cake!

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Okay, more help needed! She’s not confirmed she’ll go ahead but wants some ‘taster’ cakes for the events team to taste for next Weds! Should I make 12 cupcake and a plain 6 inch cake…and if so, how much should I charge, or shouldn’t I…never had to give a taste session before.

Is it just me or is starting a cake business this worrying for everyone for the first big order?

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Hi Madeitwithlove, thanks for your email!

I have spent the afternoon in a local cake shop who are really helpful and it’s become obvious they agree with you that I’ve seriously undercharged, not so much on the cupcakes as I’m charging £2 per cupcake, with delivery and set up and cupcake towers charged seperately on top..but the actual tiered cake I’ve seriously under quoted.

If it was a wedding cake the shop I was in would charge £550 for that cake…although this won’t be a wedding cake!

I gave her the quote on a text so I think I’m going to email her and say I realise I made a spello and the cost should be £380…I completely forgot to put into the cost for dowelling and a strongbox for stacked cakes.

I’ve learnt a good lesson here. She caught me on the hop as she got me from a friend of a friend, and I haven’t actually officially started my business yet – eek!

I have also been advised that the taster cakes I was going to make are extreme, so a box of 6 cupcakes will go out to her, just in the two flavours that I’d like to cook!

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Thanks Doodlecake, I’m really learning from this one. Note to self: never just text back someone who enquires!

I’ve put together a list now of everything to ask so I can then email a detailed quote.

I do need to relook at my prices though as the shop I went into charged £40 for a 6 inch plain with ribbon and happy birthday written on it…I didn’t charge that for my 10 inch with a picture on and footballs all round! I know how much each cake costs in ingredients, ribbons, boards, boxes etc (messed up on the tierred though as never done one yet) but I think I’m not giving myself a big enough hourly rate judging by everyone’s comments here.

I wasn’t actually going to go ‘live’ for a good few months yet as I’m still inexperienced and not fully prepared (as you can see), but this was too good an opportunity to miss!

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This is great advice for anyone in this position. Well worth reading.

Thanks

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Hi JoeB,

I can empathise with you, the pricing is quite tricky! I’ve only just started out myself hun I think I can manage but just need to be more clever when it comes to pricing. You’ll be fine hun though just remember YOU HAVE US! I’m so glad that I signed up for the monthly subscription, everyone on here is so helpful and genuinely kind…just what we need right now! What I’ve been doing is if I charge £50 for a cake I say to myself I want £30 of that and I WILL NOT go over that in materials. RE: Samples I’ve seen a few sites that do charge, just always stick to a tray of 12 unless its one flavour, and for the fillings you could do 3 really small tubs of these??? Hope this helps xx

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