Cake pricing

by Dawn Gullusci
(Danbury, CT)

Cake By Dawn Gullusci

Cake By Dawn Gullusci

Hi Lorilee,

Can you please tell me what is appropriate when pricing a special occasion cake that can take up to 3 days to create? Would you price it per how many people the cake actually serves or how many people are at the event? I am having an issue with people telling me they are only serving 15ppl when a cake is taking me 3 days to complete!
Thank you

Hi Dawn,

That is a great question and a dilemma that I and other cake decorators can appreciate. I have seen some of your cakes and they are very detailed and beautifully crafted. I hope you don't mind I added one of them to this post as an example of your intricate work.

Your cakes are much more than just a cake that serves 15 people. You are a designer as well as a baker and should be paid well for it.

When you meet with a customer and they explain to you what they want, tell them you will get back to them with a quote within a certain amount of time. (say 24 hours) This way you can really give thought to how much is fair to you and to them. (you may already do this)

Our cakes, (works of art), as you know always take longer and are more involved than we think. So keep that in mind as you price things. Come up with a loose chart (for your eyes only) to refer to that have general prices and then add on from there. It is a pain to do but next time you make a sugar rose for instance, time it and keep track. Same goes for all of your decorating.

Decide how much you are worth per hour as well. Take your general price for a plain cake and then add on the hours. If people don't like your prices you can always explain or have a brochure that explains your pricing and why. You will burn out quickly if you under charge and start feeling cheated for not being paid enough.

So only charge per serving if it is an undecorated cake. Price your decorated cakes much higher. This is why I only do wedding cakes at this point. The smaller cakes are just not worth it for me as I do make cakes part time now. Each cake is an individual unique creation that takes time and thought, patience and hard work. Do not give it away. I hope that helps Dawn.

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Jun 08, 2011
by: Colleen

I've recently purchased the CakeBoss software and am AMAZED at what I thought I was spending and pricing out and what it really is. This isn't an advertisement for it but it is an awesome piece of software no matter if you have a large cake business or a small home based one. It will help you price out all of your master ingredients, your recipes, material costs, profit and loss, customer orders, money due and lots more. It is $150 but if you are a member of Cake Central it was $139. They are from Wisconsin and are super nice about helping you set it up and any questions. It has put my mind to rest about am I over or under charging. You see your cost, add you per hour charge, your oven time etc. I save my grocery lists and go right to my master ingredient part and see if the price went up and put it in. If you put in 1 lb butter $2.59, it will price it out in ounces for you. You can see what a tsp. of vanilla really costs you. You can store your recipes, put in pictures, quotes and all kinds of things.

Thank you Colleen, That sounds like a fabulous tool to have if you are in the cake business.

Dec 16, 2015
Just Getting Started
by: Anonymous

Oh my goodness. Just reading this page alone has already helped me. Pricing is exactly what I have been looking for & I can not thank yall enough for taking the time to help others understand how this business works. I'm getting excited again. I was getting very overwhelmed. Thanks again!

Dec 17, 2015
So Glad You To Help
by: Lorelie

So happy that you found my website and that it has helped and inspired you to continue following your dream. Good luck with your business venture. :-)Lorelie

PS There are a lot of helpful people who have shared great information here. Come back anytime. ~Lorelie~

Mar 13, 2016
Target Market and Competition
by: Char

I'm a complete novice when it comes to cakes but have been estimating costs for large projects for 16 years. Materials and time are two key factors when setting a price, but you should also consider your target market and what prices that market will accept.

First, get a clear understanding of the prices your competition charges in your area. Involve family and friends in helping you attain prices if necessary, but you need to have a good understanding of all levels of pricing tiers in your market. So it's as important to get prices from bakeries or commercial shops as it is to understand what semi-professionals or home based businesses might be charging. Ask questions about what influences your competitor's pricing - is it size, decor, time? Are there additional charges for rush jobs or specific flavours? What is the mark up on things like toppers, flowers, etc? Do they charge for changes or have limitations on when changes will be accepted? We usually create spreadsheets for pricing matrices, but track the information in a way that's easiest for you and assess averages for each element. When time, material, and overhead costs are assessed against the baseline pricing, you can assess mark-ups and profits, and use this data to establish a meaningful price scale for you.

Then consider your target market. If you are selling to family and friends, you might want to be at the lower end of the baseline pricing. If you sell to customers outside your network, you need to consider how much time and money you need to invest to attract those customers. That may put you at the middle of the market. If you do something truly unique that is not available elsewhere, have specialized knowledge or expertise, have received recognition or awards, or are a recognized expert in your industry, you might be at the high end of the pricing scale.

Assessing some of these factors will hopefully help you value your time and product appropriately and further your success.

Oct 04, 2016
Cake Pricing
by: Colleen Charles

I see my comment was from 2011 and now it's 2016. I still stand by my Cake Boss software and tell everyone upfront that my recipes, materials are stored in it, then I add my time and overhead. Sometimes I am amazed at what it prices out at. I see what it costs for the recipe and the box, board, cake drum, fondant ribbon, fondant board, figurines, everything I do or make. You have to know your recipe costs and your materials cost or your'e sunk. A $.89 board or a $6 cake drum plus that plate and dowels your cake sits on, the box you put it in...on and on. It all adds up. I finally made a chart on how long it takes me to make a 1,2,3,4 tier cake, how long to make the icing, how long to pre ice and ice and how long to decorate. You figure a 10" birthday cakes will take anywhere from 8-10 hours start to finish if decorated with a normal amount of stuff. I priced out all of my piece work with the time included: a small rose takes about 20 minutes $6, a large rose that takes a couple of days to make $20, a figurine small $10 (mushroom and such), a large figurine $25 if there's alot of detail. Don't under charge yourself. I pay myself $20 per hour and I'm worth every minute. When I started I did maybe $12 and worked my way up as I felt more confident. You'll find your way. I still wiggle around sometimes but be firm and get a deposit!!! and paid ahead of time. Cash or check; don't do a charge.

Apr 29, 2018
sheet cakes
by: Karen

Hi Lorelie,
I'm confused about sheet cakes. People in our area would rather go to the store to buy their cakes. When they call me to bake a 1/4 sheet I'm thinking a 9x13 but you know our homemade cakes are 2" high they are looking for a cake that is 1" high with tons of frosting. If I bake a cake using a cookie sheet how long do you bake it? Please help me figure this out. Thank you for your time. Karen

Apr 29, 2018
sheet cakes baking
by: Lorelie

Hi Karen, Your cake will bake much faster in the sheet pan. I would set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes and then check it. If it's not done, keep setting the timer for 2-5 minute intervals until done. True the sheet cakes that people get at grocery stores etc are most likely one layer with a lot of frosting. Not my cup of tea :-)

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