The Professionals

I follow lots of bakery pages and young decorators on Facebook. Lately, I’ve started to notice something that bothers me. When I am coordinating with a friend for dinner, we often text back and forth. That is how many of you do business. You may never actually speak to your client in person until they pick up the cake. Only then do you realize that there was a miscommunication and that you have done the order wrong or that they did not understand what you told them.

When I had my bakery, I absolutely refused to take orders by email. I cannot even comprehend taking orders by text. We made customers come in or call so that we could be sure that we both understood the order. I understand that many of you work from home and don’t want people coming there to order. Fine. Establish posted business hours. Stick to them and speak with your customers over the phone.

If you are going to text or email your customers, for God’s sake, please write in proper English and not text speak. I see many decorators post screen shots of conversations that look completely unprofessional. You are not a teenage girl making a date to go to the mall…you are running a BUSINESS. If people have not been treating you with respect in this profession, you might look to see if it is because of your own actions.

Home bakeries will get more prevalent with the influx of Cottage Food Laws being adopted across the US. To compete with store front bakeries, you need to act as they do. Get a good order form. Establish ordering procedures. Communicate in a businesslike manner.

I know that the world today is different than when I first opened my shop, but some things will not change. If you want to be successful, look and see what the successful people are doing. The best bakeries are NOT sending text messages back and forth with their customers. Please, please, please start doing business like a business person!



12 thoughts on “The Professionals

  1. So very true. When I had my business, I always did business in person and occasionally on the phone. You can get the whole picture and so can your customer.

  2. AGREE!!!!!! I never confirm an order by texting only. Though I must admit most of my orders are confirmed over the phone…

    • It really is different today. I receive many emails what does it cost? I want them come in for a consult you can’t taste from the other side of the computer. I want them to come in, I have lost many because they can’t find the time to sit down for a short meeting. I just realized the bridal shows are going out of style too because they would rather look on line then attend a show. Almost all weddings are through consultations. But I had a few that were over the phone. Most of my birthday orders are over the phone with a follow up by email.

  3. Although the younger crowd like to do business over email, I prefer to talk on the phone. I typically request a “teleconference” at a designated time with all my customers unless it is non-custom. Recently I had a customer call and complain that she wanted to use another bakery, but they had an email only policy, and she needed to actually talk to someone because she had special dietary needs. I didn’t believe it at first, but I went to the bakery’s webpage, low and behold, there it was in big bold letters, they only communicate via email. Calls are so much more efficient and it allows you to connect to the person, turning that person that is just looking for a quote to a sell.

  4. AMEN! We are getting so texting and sending messages over facebook is a way of life. My own daughter sends me text instead of calling me directly or stopping over for a visit. This is the way, as you mentioned, when confusion sets in. Even at work I notice we basically communicte with e-mail. I have found that when you are communicating with 40 managers and 4 area supervisors, somehow they didn’t all get the same message even though the same message had been sent to all of them. Let’s try to incorporate the new with the old but at least pick up a phone and have that conversation so everyone is on the same page.

  5. First time I have been in disagreement with you Ruth.

    I primarily do business through email. People today are just too busy to make time for a face to face consult. They enjoy sending me pictures of the style cakes they like and appreciate me sending them other ideas as well. I like having documentation of our conversations and final agreement on the particulars of their order. I do not have to worry about loose paper orders becoming shuffled up with other things or falling behind the desk. I have names, addresses and phone numbers saved to the “cloud” so I can always access them.

    Oftentimes colors are not true to life in emailed pictures and that is certainly one downfall of electronic ordering. So If a customer wants a custom color I encourage them to drop by with a swatch of material or ribbon.

    Other than that, I feel comfortable communicating with my customers electronically because it is the way that everyone is used to doing business these days. People do not hesitate to express their displeasure with a concept when they are looking at a picture, whereas they may feel intimidated to do so in person. Also, with a face to face consult they usually bring friends and relatives who argue and disagree. This confuses the customer making it hard to finalize the order.

    One thing I ALWAYS do is send a final email stating exactly what they will be receiving… their name… address… phone number/backup phone number… date of the event… venue… and time of delivery or pickup. Deposits are made via paypal, mailed check or dropped off cash.

    On the other hand, I do encourage people to come by if they want to order in person. But in the last 3 years only one person has requested a face to face and that was at a restaurant over lunch.

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this subject Ruth. 🙂

    • Hey Bonnie, that is fine to disagree! But if you fully read what you wrote, it is clear that you are still conducting that business AS A PROFESSIONAL. You aren’t doing it by text speak in a text message. You interact with the customer repeatedly and send a final confirmation. These are the signs of a professional, which is all I am hoping for!

      I just don’t want folks to start bad habits for a business. You have to have procedures in place and stick with them. You have to know how to carry on a legible and intelligent conversation, by any means you use. I know you, dear Bonnie, and know that you are doing it right.

      • Thanks sweetheart! I have been having success doing it this way and was a little dismayed to read that it may be the wrong way… I have learned so much from you and always look forward to your blogs. But try as I may, I could not wrap my mind around spending hours of my time sitting down with my customers when we could hammer out their order by email in what would amount to a few minutes overall. Thanks for the kind words and I look forward to the next time we are together. Off topic, I know, but have you jumped again yet?

  6. Without a store front I’d meet with a perspective bride and groom at their home or if location was a problem at a local restaurant to have “coffee” and discuss details. A tasting can be arranged at their home. I’d play on that as an extra customer service and convenience to them. Making sure I was prepared with a contract and drawing/sketch of the design(s) we discussed on the phone then nail down the details.

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