Buying Cake Tools

I never did figure out what the heck tip this was…

Confused in Cakeland is the series where I answer your shorter, funnier, or more personal questions.  If you’d like me to answer one of yours, just drop me an email to businessofbaking@gmail.com

Hi Michelle,

I recently got asked to do an order for a wedding cake that requires some tools I don’t currently own, and they are pretty expensive tools. Should I buy them? If I do buy them, should I charge the customer for them?

Thanks,

Tina


Hi Tina,

If you get asked to make a cake with tools you do not have, then you basically have two choices:

1) buy the tools or 2) improvise using what you already have.  Some tools you can improvise pretty easily – cookie cutters can be used in more than one way, you can hand-cut templates for some things, you can borrow tools from friends and you can modify designs slightly to use the tools you already have. I personally think cake decorators these days rely on fancy gadgets WAY too much rather than look at what they have and find new uses for them.

If you decide to buy them, then you absorb that cost and you cannot hand the client a bill for the tools. That’s just not cool. Chances are you’re going to be using those tools again for another client – and a smart business owner would make sure of it!  I would buy the tools, make the cake that was ordered AND make at least one or more dummy cakes using that same tool. Take some good pictures of those cakes and share them with your audience, print them out for your portfolio and have the dummy cakes on display. People love to order what they can see. It’s up to you to recoup the costs of those tools, not up to the client to be ‘penalised’ for picking a cake which requires specialist tools. If you’re investing in it, make it work for you!

The same thing applies when it’s tools you just want to try out but nobody has placed an order for that style. Personally, I won’t buy any tool unless I can immediately see more than one use for it – because I consider tools to be an investment into my business, and that investment needs to pay off sooner rather than later. In the back of the cupboard we all have crazy shaped Wilton pans and wierd flower cutters we bought and never used again, so my aim is always to reduce the amount of “seems like a good idea” tools and only really buy the stuff which is going to become invaluable to me.

Yours in investment,

Michelle

If you’d like to invest in your business – in something which has way more than two uses and will begin to pay off immediately, you need to come to my business class. Let me show you how we can build your business together, so that you’re not worrying about affording cake tools anymore. Click here for more information. 

One thought on “Buying Cake Tools

  1. Hi Michelle!
    It’s an interesting point you bring up. I always try and utilise what I have a repurpose where I can. I even make my own cookie cutter templates and hand cut them instead of buying endless cutters that I’ll only use once! But at some point specific tools are required so I charge a $10 equipment fee on all my cakes regardless of whether or not I already have the tools. This way for me works and allows me to recoupe some of the cost when needing to buy tools. Not sure if that’s wrong or not but it works for me. My business, my rules, lol! Wonder where I learnt that from he he!

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