Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Happens When You Can't Deliver?

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and survived the holiday sales rush.  I'm thankful for my family and friends, and for my ever-growing business, as well as my good health.  But while we're still being thankful, I want us to all be "thinkful" for a minute.  A lot of us bakers are one-person shops - we do it all from baking and decorating, to record-keeping and marketing.  We all make sure our clients sign a contract (right?) ensuring that they hold us their end of the bargain.  But have you ever thought of what might happen if an illness or family emergency (or even an accident during delivery) kept you from holding up your end?

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from one of my readers (let's call her "Susie") who had been blind-sided in a consultation with this very question by the father of the bride.  I was blind-sided with this same question a few years ago, also during a consultation  I didn't know what to day.  "Susie" did her best to laugh it off and say that she had never missed a delivery and hoped she wouldn't start anytime soon, but it bothered her.  And it really should.  Anyone operating with minimal staff should think about this and get a game plan together.

What would I do if I got sick?  Thank goodness I have an iron constitution and I do rarely get sick, but I have spent the day decorating when I didn't feel good.  If I were semi-homebound sick and needed some finishing touches, I would probably rely on Chaddy.  He's definitely a behind the scenes kind of guy, but he does watch and help me out a lot in the shop after his regular job.  His cakes aren't as smooth as mine, but they're passable.

But what if I were really sick?  Like IN the hospital sick?  Well, that's where having a backup bakery buddy comes in.  There are quite a few bakers in my area, and I have befriended several (all that will let me!) but Kimberly and I just click.  We have very similar personalities and decorating styles - she's not just a "cake friend", I consider her a true friend.  She's also my backup bakery buddy.  We have both committed to each other that in a real emergency we will be there for each other to make sure the cakes get out the door.  And to be specific, this isn't a "I waited until the last second to start this cake" emergency, this is an "I'm in surgery" emergency.  Even though we have had this arrangement for about 2 years, neither of us have ever had to use it.  But there are nights where it helps me sleep better.  If you don't have a backup bakery buddy do yourself a favor and start calling around to other bakers who you think do a good job.  They may not know what they would do in an emergency either!

What if something happens on the way to the venue?  What if my car gets hit and a truck just plowed through my client's wedding cake?  This is the much harder question, in my opinion.  If something unsalvageable should happen during a delivery, my only recourse would be to supply the couple with a dummy cake while I rebaked sheet cakes for the guests (if there was time) or go buy sheet cakes if time or distance didn't allow.  It's not optimal, but it's a gameplan.

So now when you (or "Susie") get asked this question during a consultation, you can have a good solid answer to give the client, and it will put their mind at ease, which makes it easier for them to sign on the dotted line.

Leave me a comment - what would you do in the event of an emergency?


  1. I love this example. I don't do very many cakes, just a few each year for friends and family. I always try new recipes and ideas for my kids though. One year I decided to make a 3D cookie monster cake. I tried a new icing, it was drippy and awful, so I was kind of relieved when his head went crashing to the floor an hour before the party. I ended up going to a small local bakery and getting a plain cake, then writing happy birthday on it.

  2. Thank you for sharing! I've often wondered this too!


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