You’re a skilled baker and love all things sugar and chocolate. You’re the person friends and family call on when they need a birthday or celebration cake, so could you expand into wedding cake making and build a business from your talent?
Things to consider:
You must understand and conform to local hygiene regulations.
Unless you have staff you will be limited in the amount of business you can handle – most weddings take place on weekends and you will need to deliver and set up the cakes. This will affect your earning potential.
What will be the impact on your family life? Although you will be able to start by working from home you will have to work weekends and probably some evenings for appointments.
Create your marketing and business plan first. You may be able to bake a great cake but can you sell it and make a profit?
Pricing is key to having a viable cake business. You will need to consider
- the cost of materials (including samples, stands etc)
- the time taken to bake & decorate
- time and costs for delivering your cakes
- the time spent on appointments and customer service
- overheads such as equipment, marketing, accountancy
Ensure there is a market for your cakes. Define the geographical area you can cover and check how much demand there will be. Look for statistics on the number of weddings and also look at the number of wedding venues locally.
Like all wedding businesses, there is plenty of competition in wedding cakes so you will need market yourself in order to stand out and be sure that local brides will find you.
A good, search engine optimised and mobile friendly website is essential these days. Make sure yours can be easily updated and that you get great photos of your designs.Social Media can also be very effective, especially when starting up. Create a great looking Facebook page and update it regularly. Instagram and Pinterest are also very popular for wedding planning and Twitter is good for networking and making contacts.
Get out and network. By its nature, a cake business will operate in a local area. Build good relationships with wedding planners and other wedding suppliers in your area.
Wedding Fairs get you in front of lots of brides actively searching for suppliers and are brilliant for getting feedback.
Decide what styles and flavours you will offer. Most cake makes will have a standard range of flavours and their own particular style – but be prepared to adapt to your client’s wishes. Desert buffets are also popular and offer a way to increase your sales.
Know your limitations and build your portfolio gradually. The scope for things going wrong with wedding cakes is relatively high and there is little time to fix them. Don’t accept an order for a 4 tier extravaganza if you have only ever done cupcakes.
Practice – and keep practising. Trends will come and go so make sure your skills keep up to date. Nobody worried about gluten-free a few years ago – nowadays it’s almost essential to offer this.
You will also need photos for your portfolio so make sure you get good shots of your successes.
Make sure you can deliver cakes as successfully as you make them.
Have a backup plan. By their nature cakes have to be done close to the wedding so know what you will do if you are unwell or some other unexpected problem happens. You do not want to be calling the bride on the morning of the wedding to tell her there won’t be a cake.
Customers will want to taste your cakes before they commit. Samples have to be top quality (read my own experience of wedding cake tasting here) so no keeping them in the freezer. Many cake makers set up “tasting days” where they schedule their appointments together and have lots of fresh baked samples.
Put together a beautiful portfolio of photos to showcase your designs.
Check out this article on Professional client consultations when you work from home.
Work out a payment schedule. For example a non-refundable 25% deposit on booking to reserve the date with the balance payable 3 weeks before the wedding. It’s normal to ask for full payment before the wedding and don’t be shy about asking for a deposit. Check out the terms and conditions on other cake maker websites if you are unsure.
Established cake makers get a lots of their business from referrals – either via previous happy customers or other wedding professionals – so it can take time to get known and build your reputation. Be patient and persistent – and continue to make great tasting, stunning looking cakes.