Next in the series of interviews with home-based bakers who are actually making a profit is Cindy from Cindy's Cakery in Hayes, VA.
How many cakes do you do per year and is that “enough” for you? In other words, are you as busy as you want to be?
Last year I did 31 weddings and twice that in celebration cakes. Financially I could use a few more, especially in the off-wedding season but physically and mentally I am busy enough.
Do you do cakes because it’s a business for you or because you think it’s fun, or a combination?
It is definitely a business but I really like my job, except washing dishes.
What’s your opinion of social media for business?
I believe they have their uses. They are very fickle in nature and seem to require consistent and constant work to keep people's interests.
Do you think that people are too concerned with being online and how many likes/followers/contacts they have?
Definitely for some but I think there are those that naturally like the spotlight. Unfortunately, I do feel a lot of pressure to have amazing and wonderful things to post everyday but cake decorating isn't really all that glamorous and actually a lot of really hard work.
Do you think that social media sites are beneficial to businesses?
Yes but it's not perfect. People expect a business to have a fb page and I think that Twitter and Instagram are next on the list. I personally feel a website has more credibility and think less of a business that only has a fb page and no website.
Do you belong to any networking groups or professional organizations for your business?
Yes, Peninsula Wedding Professionals and Peninsula Cake Club.
Do you actively pursue publication opportunities?
No, but I try not to turn down an opportunity. It is kinda exciting to be in print or featured on a blog but it is not at the very top of my list of things to do.
Do you want to have a lot of media mentions for your business?
I think some is nice and it can be good for your business to get your name out and grow your business but I do not plan on trying to become "famous". I don't think having a zillion fb fans translates into more money in the bank.
Do you know off the top of your head how much your profit margin is overall?
No and I know that is bad. I am not an accountant or number cruncher.
Do you pay attention to business finances so that you know where you are financially?
I know when I have money in my account and when I don't.
Do you pay attention to people online who give business advice? If you do, do you know if they’re successful or not?
I read what they have to say and see if it makes sense or if it could work for my situation. I will also do some research about them to see if they are on the up and up.
What do you think is the most effective way to get cake orders?
Make your clients happy. Also, networking with other local wedding vendors and venues who can refer you, however, I will not pay to have my business referred.
Do you have sales or financial goals for your business each year?
To fill my baking schedule and make enough money to pay for all my business expenses and to help support my family.
Do you have a website that you maintain on a regular basis?
Yes, definitely, www.cindyscakery.com
What’s your opinion about people who spend a lot of time online giving business advice?
I ask these questions...How did they get this expertise? Is it their informed or uninformed opinion or is it things that are tried and true and worked for their business? Are they a journalist or are they an actual business owner? If they do have a business how do they have time to be online all the time? Who is running their business? Things that make me go hmmmm.
Do you pay attention to your local competition or not?
Yes, a lot in the beginning stages of my business but I honestly do not have the time now. I hear things now and again from friends, clients and fellow vendors. Sometimes we even see each other at bridal shows or vendor blenders. I have several in my area whom I respect and whose work I admire a lot. Some I do not know how they stay in business. I believe there is enough business to go around. I can't make everybody's wedding cake nor do I want to.
Do you have any advice for people who are starting out?
Absolutely check into all the local laws and requirements that apply to you. Study, take classes, read books and practice practice practice your techniques and don't ever stop learning. Decide who you want your target client to be and hone your skills and customer services towards them. Have in place a way to keep paperwork and your schedule organized. Be prepared to have it take over your life and home if you are going to be home-based. Pans and tools take up a lot of space and have to be kept separate so get that organized before you get busy. Everywhere you go pass out business cards and give them to friends and family to pass out too. Also, get to know other vendors (planners and venues especially) in your area. Schedule an appointment to stop by and introduce yourself and take them samples. Take free samples to your bank, school, to dr.'s appointments, etc., folks love that.
Where do you think is the most useful place to advertise your business?
Have a good looking, informative, and easy to navigate website. Then have a good rapport with local venues and other wedding vendors like bridal shops, event planners, catering companies, florists, and photographers.
Thanks, Cindy. Next week I'm going to summarize, since it seems that I'm seeing a lot of the same patterns from the people who have answered my questions so far...Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com