Tag Archive | decorating

The Three Questions

Many years ago at a cake event, I heard someone talk about the three questions. Norm Davis says that Pat Trunkfield from England came up with these. I’ve shared them over and over in my classes. They can truly help you focus on what is important.

As I’ve heard them, they are:
1) Will they notice?
2) Will they care?
3) If they will notice and care, are they willing to pay the difference?

Will They Notice?

Often on cake orders, we get bogged down on details and don’t know when to step away from a cake. Your first question has to be whether the customer is going to notice that aspect of the piece. If not, you want to spend less time on that part.

I use the example of my figurines. If a customer won’t notice, I often give ball hands or mitten hands to the character. It is faster for me, which means I can charge less for the figure.

Will They Care?

Some customers aren’t fussy about every single part of a cake. They might notice something but just not care.

Going with the above example, my husband would notice that I didn’t do an anatomical hand, but he would not care. If you know or believe that the customers won’t care about a particular aspect of your project, you should revert to the easiest version of it.

Will They Pay The Difference?

If they will notice and they will care, they have to be willing to pay you for the amount of extra time it is going to take. If they won’t pay for it, they do not get it. Let me say that again. If they do not pay for it, they DO NOT get it.

Why? Why must you enforce and use these three questions? Any time you spend on a cake is time you are not spending with your family, your furry babies, your friends, your TV shows or things like your laundry! You are giving up your valuable time to create an edible piece of art for a customer. They must compensate you for it.

If you went into a restaurant and ordered a steak, you would notice that it did not have mushrooms on it. If you cared to have them, you would know that you would have to pay extra for them or the chef would not be putting them on your plate.

I can hear you right now. You’re saying, “but I will notice!” That’s fine. Continue on down that same path. Give up your free time. Go ahead and sell that bed that goes unused every weekend. Don’t make a profit on your skills. But I hope you are starting to think of your operation as the gourmet steak house instead of the buffet, where folks ask for everything for hardly any money.

One more use I’ve found for the questions is to help you know where you SHOULD spend the extra time. If you listen closely as a customer places an order, they will usually emphasize a couple thinks that are crucial to them.

Those are the elements that I really focused on, because I knew it would be the first things they would look for on the cake. If I did those well, I would find a happy customer on the other side of the cake box. At the end of the day, besides a few more hours of sleep, isn’t that something for which we are all strive?


The Grass is Always Greener

Have you ever been driving along and you can sense that the car next to you
wants to be where you are…they covet your lane and want to be in your spot?
Maybe you are the person driving and you want to be in that other lane – the
road just looks better there or it will give you access to whatever it is you
are driving towards. It is tough to not feel envious sometimes.

I find myself getting these little pangs now and then. Why didn’t I get picked to teach at that event or judge at that show or whatever. I find myself wishing that I
was walking in other people’s shoes. Then I catch myself and remember that there is probably someone looking at my life wishing they were in my shoes. And you know what?  That is true for most of us. We look ahead to where we want to be and forget that where we ARE was once our goal. We forget that others are
working to achieve whatever we have achieved.

I caught my husband  getting irritated with a driver the other day…the person was in the lane that  he wanted to be in so he could make the next turn. I said, “How would that driver know that you wanted over?  You did not signal. “. After he forgave me for pointing this out, we started discussing that wishing for something to  happen simply wasn’t enough. He said that moving in the new direction required Patience, Persistence and Perception.

No one gets to their desired success level overnight. You have to be patient and have a plan. I think that a lot of people give up on dreams when they were SO CLOSE to realizing them. It can feel like forever while you are waiting for it to be your turn. But wait you must.

It’s funny. So many people think that the highly successful people
in this world never experienced failure or rejection. If you look into their
stories, however, you discover that they simply were persistent until they
achieved success. J.K. Rowling was turned down around a dozen times before
someone took a chance on Harry Potter. I have been turned down spots as an
instructor – or worse, not even been acknowledged several times. I could let
that shake my confidence, or I can tell myself that they simply do not know me.
I have to force myself to stay at it to be able to teach at my desired

Perception is the one we usually forget about. Just like Rob forgetting to signal the other night, we have to think about what signals we are sending into the universe. Does anyone know about our goals?  Do we have something to show the world what we want?  Just like when I wrote Cake Camp many years ago, you have to help people have the right perception of you. I put together a cd of photos of my work, a resume of classes I wanted to teach and a list of references from their other instructors. I signaled where I wanted to be.

As a baby lawyer, they used to tell us that if it walked like a duck and quacked like a duck and looked like a duck, then it is probably a duck. What they were telling us was to dress for the job we wanted, act like people act in that job, be like those people and everyone would assume we were that. If you want to be on tv, observe those who are and work on those traits. If you want to teach, comport yourself like the instructors you see. If you want the birthday cakes, be like those who get the orders. In other words, send out the perception you want others to have.

I want to add one more “P” to Rob’s list and that is Please. You must
ask. If you sit at home having a pity party because no one asked you to be on
that tv show or compete in that live challenge or whatever, you have only
yourself to blame. Many months ago I was seeing a friend pop up teaching all
over the US. I kept thinking I was doing a bad job as a teacher because I wasn’t
being invited to all these places. She and I were talking one day and I asked
her how these shops heard about her. She laughed and said, “I wrote them and
introduced myself and asked if they would have any interest in me teaching
there.”   You could have knocked me over with a feather. She asked. I kept
thinking what an idiot I had been to just assume that people had hunted her down and I sucked. She put the fourth P into action. Once I started to ask for the
opportunities I wanted, I started to get more of them. That does not mean that I
always get a yes…in fact I can list several recent nos. I know in my heart,
however, that I go more places because I ask.

My final thought for you today, is to try to stem your jealousy or insecurity.  You are seeing what others CHOOSE to show you.  They are probably only showing their successes, not their failures or doubts.  Lord knows I’ve had my share of those, but I have committed to happy posts on Facebook most of the time, so people don’t hear about those things.  I saw this quote and think it sums it all up beautifully.

So my advice for today is to put the 4 P’s into play in your life.  Signal where you want to go.  Don’t judge your life by someone else’s highlights.  Don’t let the green eyed monster of jealousy get to you and don’t let failure be forever.  Your best days are ahead.