Brides are always telling me bad things about other bakers. It makes sense since most people aren't going to go to an appointment and tell me how great someone else is. They're more likely to tell me their horror stories.
I understand that this gives a somewhat distorted picture of other businesses, but the truth is that after I hear the same stories from multiple people I have to assume that there's something to it.
Sometimes if I'm booked for a bride's date they'll ask me if I can refer someone else. Chances are I'll tell them to check with their photographers, since they see everything. If I do recommend someone it's usually a business who I rarely hear anyone complain about. It won't be people who I hear a lot of brides gripe about, that's for sure.
I'm not the only one with this issue, either. I was talking to another baker recently and she said that she'd received a thank you note that not only complimented her, but also detailed the client's problems with other bakers in her area. I asked if I could use it to illustrate this point, and she said sure.
Note that this is NOT about anyone in my area. It's not even about anyone in my state. This is the letter that she received:
Thank you so much again! We were all in awe over how detailed and
gorgeous that cake was, and you are officially the only person we will ever
call again when we have a celebration that demands a perfect cake. That is
the best $300 I have spent on any of these kids birthdays. The last 3 years
were so disappointing due to wrong flavors, phone calls not being returned
and them missing the things I needed to change which were so simple, last
years cake from XXXXXX fell over on my son and was awful looking before
it did fall. XXXXXXXX gave us some horrible excuse that she ran out
of time on my daughter's cake a few weeks ago and it looked so bad I didn't
even want a picture. I notice she didn't even post a picture, probably
because it was so awful. I don't know how these people are in business with
the crappy service and shitty looking cakes. sorry to curse, but I know you
aren't horrified, like I am at the cakes I've received in the past! That
cake was delicious and the best we've ever had. Thank you for being so
attentive during the ordering process as well, everything we discussed and
signed off on was present and followed to the letter.
Wow! But... this is pretty typical of the kind of things that I hear, too. Cakes that were still frozen when the cake cutting took place, fallen-over cakes, rude bakers, and generally "less than excellent" results. I've heard every weird thing that every other baker in town has told people, and it's gotten to the point that I usually don't want to know who did what, so that I can't slip and spill the beans by accident. I'll listen to the stories but I don't really want to know who the culprit was.
How do you handle situations like this? Do you feel like you know too much about other businesses in your area? What do you do when brides ask you for a referral?