Why Bakers Have Minimums

This isn’t meant to be a complaint, just a way to explain why some bakers have a minimum charge for their cakes… I have a minimum charge of $100 for most cakes. Unless you’re a bride who’s getting an anniversary cake from me, you’ll probably be quoted a price of $100 or more for specialty cakes.

Now, some people get kind of snippy when I tell them about the minimum price. One person recently told me that “it doesn’t take that long to ice a cake.”  I understand that the icing of a cake doesn’t take very long, and if that’s all I was doing then it wouldn’t justify a $100 price tag. But…That’s not all that goes into a custom cake.

Let’s say that you want a round cake for a baby shower. You call and tell me about what you’re looking for, and I tell you that I’ll send you some photos for ideas. I do, and you agree to book the cake, so I write up a contract, scan it and send it to you. Then I go buy the ingredients after planning the shopping list, prep the icings and fillings, prep the decorations, then bake the cake and decorate it.

So there’s a bit more that goes into a cake than just icing it. It’s not just hands-on cake time, either. Before I even start mixing the batter I’ve spent time on the phone, researching designs, doing paperwork and prepping the individual cake components. Not to mention the costs involved with the ingredients themselves, the electricity to power the oven, and the cost of wear on the equipment used to make the cakes.

Look at it this way…If your boss wanted you to give a major presentation, you’d be getting paid for the time that you prepare for it. If it took you two weeks to do your research and get your powerpoint together you’re going to be paid for that time, not just for the half hour it takes to give the presentation.

If I didn’t have a minimum charge, and someone ordered a cake that was only $20, I’d probably be making about $5 an hour once the expenses were taken out. Grocery stores can sell things that cheap because they use bulk mixes, bake in a large factory situation and ship cakes frozen to the stores. Bakeries in grocery stores are also generally a loss leader for the store…they lure you in so that you’ll spend money on other things while you’re there.

Whether I’m making a wedding cake, a birthday cake, or another special occasion cake, I spend a lot of time on them. Many birthday cakes take as long or longer than wedding cakes to do because they involve more design details. For some reason birthday cakes usually require a lot more communication beforehand, too, so it’s not unusual to spend a total of an hour or so online or on the phone before the birthday cake is even booked!

So when a baker tells you that they have a minimum, it’s for a reason. We’re worker bees just like everyone else and need to make a decent wage for our time. Having a minimum makes sure that we’re able to do that.

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