Delivery charges?

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by lotuscakestudio, Aug 22, 2001.

  1. lotuscakestudio

    lotuscakestudio

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    I'm trying to develop a formula for what to charge for wedding cake deliveries. None of the cakes I've done so far are local and I need a better system of calculating charges. I live in Philadelphia and I deliver cakes to Maryland and DC, as well as New Jersey and New York. Most people charge per mile, I’ve seen it anywhere between $.60 - $2/mile, but that won't work out for me. If I deliver to say Scranton, PA which is 110 miles north of me and charge $1/mile, that's $110. It would take me 2 hours (each way) and the tolls are like $4 total or something in that ballpark. However, if I deliver to Newark, NJ, that's only 80 miles ($80) and it would take 2 hours or more each b/c the traffic is much worse. The tolls are also WAY higher. So as you can see, delivering to some places I end up losing money if I do this per mile system because in some areas, tolls are higher and traffic is worse.

    So my new idea is to charge 3 separate fees to make it fair for everyone. A toll fee (if any), a time fee ($X/hour each way; I’m still working out this amount, but probably something like $12/hour...?), and a gas/mileage fee. It's just the last part that has me stumped. I also like this way of doing it b/c when gas prices go up and down, all I have to do is change that one part to get my delivery price. Right now gas is pretty cheap (compared to how it was all summer) at $1.59-ish for premium. My car gets about 20 miles to the gallon and I can drive about 4 hours on a full tank of gas. So based on that, can anyone toss some fair ideas out? Thanks. :)
     
  2. momoreg

    momoreg

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    I think rather than confuse the issue, you should charge more than what it costs in time and gas. That way when you DO get stuck in traffic, the cost will be balanced out by the times when you didn't.
     
  3. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Wow, I find this more than a bit suprising that you have such a large delivery area....


    I tend to think you need to look at your long rang plan. For instance when you've developed enough business where you don't have the time to deliver what will it cost you to hire this out? Remember everytime you have to put on another business hat it takes your attention away from your primary focus and slows down your production. Time equals money.....

    I know of a pastry shop that uses a independent service to deliver all their product. They deliver wedding cakes and everything. One time, I got really mad because this guy delivers us a wedding cake and tells me I'm supposed to set it up (with no instructions or supports). Well, long story made short..... sure enough the bakery had the florist or the party consultant ready to assemble the cake at the club and no one from the bakery came. (granted this would depend on the difficulty of the cake)


    There are also florists that do this. Example, all the flowers for the club I worked at came from one florist, but the florist used a flower delivery service to deliver instead of doing it them-selfs. I know they included the delivery fee in their billing for the flowers and that deliverer didn't charge seperately, plus the deliverer handed us the florists bill and waited for the check (which she then returned to the florist). I was freinds with the lady who was the delivery driver/owner. She works for several places and loved her job being independent. These were adult professional delivery persons running their own businesses.

    I think it's rather brilliant if you can arrange for someone else to do this. I'd look in the yellow pages and ask around at local businesses if they have any leads.

    I know the natural tendency is to do everything your-self....thinking your saving every penny, (I've been there done that) but you have remember each time you place effort in another dirrection you loose effort you could have placed in making your business more successful.

    I bet the professional delivery service can deliver cheaper than you can.

    My two cents.....
     
  4. kylew

    kylew

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    I'm not in the business. That said, I agree with Wendy. If you calculate your delivery charge based on your transportation costs alone you will lose money. Every minute you spend in the car is a minute not spent creating cakes. You need to be compensated for the opportunity cost of delivering the cakes. My guess is that you cakes have a higher margin than your deliveries :) I would investigate the subcontractor angle.
     
  5. lotuscakestudio

    lotuscakestudio

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    I cover this range because I only do lacto-vegetarian (eggless) and also vegan (no eggs, no dairy) cakes. Not many people do them, and if they do, they aren't very good. Either it's dry and flavorless, or too health food tasting (whole wheat flour sweetened with brown rice syrup type of stuff! *gag!*) I'm also Hindu so people from our temples are sometimes willing to pay for me to drive from Philly to New York so their wedding cake can be "made by a Hindu". There's one Hindu lady in NY who does cakes, but her work is sloppy as she's very amateur. And all she can do is copy ideas from the Wilton Yearbooks. So when they want a real cake and Hindu made, it's me or nothing.

    I was thinking about hiring people to deliver the cakes, but thought I didn't need that service yet b/c I don't do cakes all that often. The way I look at it, I may as well make $12 an hour for driving down to Maryland since I wouldn't make that money anyway. I obviously make more money when I am actually doing the cake, but I figure to charge people that amount for delivery is kinda high. And at $12, I'm still making more than the average delivery guy (UPS is like $8-$9) and mine is tax-free. :D Then it gives me an excuse to visit with friends I wouldn't visit with otherwise as I have friends in all those states. So it works out for now. I know if I get busy enough where I had 3 cakes in one weekend- 1 to NY, 1 to NJ and 1 to Baltimore, it wouldn't be possible, of course I'd have to get someone else to deliver it. But I'm far from that stage. I don't even have the facility to do that many cakes at one time as I do this all at home, but I am looking into renting a commercial kitchen *IF* I can find one. I won't have a commercial kitchen of my own until we buy a house and have one built in the basement or something. And that's not for another 2 years. But when it finally happens.... HEE HEE HEE! MY OWN KITCHEN!!! momoreg will have to come down and play in it! Oh yeah, momo, I had been using the method you mentioned for my delivery fees and the reason why I want to use this new one is b/c that one was driving me nuts. I just like how everything is fair and broken down and I know exactly what costs what. I talked to 2 people and they get paid $.30 and $.325 per mile for their gas and mileage for work related trips. Seems about right to me so I'm going to play around with those numbers.

    *Edited b/c I can't seem to spell!*

    [ August 23, 2001: Message edited by: LotusCakeStudio ]
     
  6. momoreg

    momoreg

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    Yes, I guess when you're talking about long distances like that, it pays to check out the numbers. Please keep us informed of what you decide. This is an interesting topic.
     
  7. panini

    panini

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    Wow, it looks like you have found your nitche. I would calculate the charges as you would anything else. Get an average hourly rate. Calculate the actual charge by the hour then mark it up. If it's a 2 hr. trip at a cost of 20. charge 100.
    Please calculate flight charges, for we get a lot of requests for this type of cake. I would be happy to refer your services.
    The market for this Item is probably not as big as yours but I know from experience it's very wealthy.
    Just my 2 cents
    We only deliver in a 12 square mile radius and the charge is 75.-100.
     
  8. lotuscakestudio

    lotuscakestudio

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    Ok, I'm going to SCREAM. Last night, I wrote a long response and posted it here. Now I'm back and it's gone. *pulls out hair*

    I'll try to remember everything I typed and post it again.
     
  9. momoreg

    momoreg

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    I just informed Nicko of that problem. I know Wendy had a couple of instances where that happened too.
     
  10. lotuscakestudio

    lotuscakestudio

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    Thanks for looking into it! :)

    The post just got deleted. I saw it here last night, then came back today and it was gone.
     
  11. w.debord

    w.debord

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    In my case where I lost what I was writing, it happened when I kept using the back button to re-read a quote from someone else. I'd hit forward and my message would be gone and I couldn't figure out how to find it.

    I probably should take a course on computors and the internet...theres alot I don't really know how to do. So it's my screw-up.
     
  12. momoreg

    momoreg

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    With that sort of thing, you can just click on "FILE", then "COPY". When you click back to your post, you can paste what you wrote back in the empty space, by clicking "FILE" and "PASTE".

    That's about the extent of my computer knowledge. :) :eek:
     
  13. momoreg

    momoreg

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    Nicko is checking into the problem.

    Were the posts deleted or did they not show up?

    He told me that when you have a long post, save it on your computer with notepad or some text editor and then post just in case something gets lost.

    [ August 24, 2001: Message edited by: momoreg ]
     
  14. kylew

    kylew

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    Another way to avoid the problem might be to open another browser window. That way you just switch from one browser to another and don't use the back or forward buttons. There are 2 ways to open another browser. In Internet Explorer you can drop down the file menu and click on new and then window. You can also just click on the IE icon on your desktop again. I'm pretty sure the same is true for Netscape. You're on your own with AOL :)
     
  15. lotuscakestudio

    lotuscakestudio

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    I think I finally have it down!

    For the sake of simpicity, I will charge the delivery fee based on a one way trip plus all tolls. Using Scranton, PA as an example:

    110 miles x $.50 = $55.00
    2 hours travel time x $25 = $50.00
    tolls = $4
    Total: $109.00

    If gas prices go soaring up again, I can just raise the $.50 fee accordingly.

    When I compare that to what Ann Amernick charges, it's like I am delivering for free! She charges $150 to deliver something an hour away and that's with no tolls. Then again, if you can afford her $6 cupcakes, you can afford to have them dropped off at your doorstep. ;)
     
  16. lotuscakestudio

    lotuscakestudio

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    Wow, thanks! Actually, I've already been figuring out this shipping thing. Working on it anyway. Here's what I have so far for those parties interested: Mike (Mike's Amazing Cakes), Colette Peters, and Sylvia Weinstock all ship through Continental's Quick Pack. However, if you were to call Quick Pack's 800 number, the people who answer the phone don't know a darn thing about the cakes and will give you wrong information. The woman I spoke to said the cake had to be packed to last two days in case it got stuck somewhere and that it should be prepared to take a beating because the crates and boxes are thrown around and handled roughly. (I knew this couldn't be right, or else how did the cakes even make it past the runway?)

    Colette gave me the number of the sales rep who works out of the Newark Airport. I have it written down somewhere, but I believe her name is Claire. Claire told me that she has the Newark and Seattle airports set up to ship cakes out (Mike ships from Seattle, and Sylvia and Colette ship out of Newark). The staff at these airports are trained in delivering the cakes and know how to handle them. She calls ahead to the receiving airport and gives them careful instructions on how to handle the cake when it arrives. The cakes are sent on a non-stop direct flight and you should get there an hour ahead of time to drop it off. The caterer of the event should be the person to pick it up, open the box and inspect the cake. To make a reservation, you need to call 1 - 2 weeks in advance. The price is by weight. I don't remember exactly, but it’s something like: 0 - 50 pounds = $60; 51 - 75 pounds = $80; and up to something like 100 - 125 pounds = $100-something. It's also charged per box. So if you send the cake in 2 pieces, they are charged separately. If you send a cake through them, they can't be held responsible for any damages so it would be wise to have your customers sign a waiver to protect yourself. They experience 2 - 3 cake damages a year which I'm very impressed with considering how many cakes Mike and Sylvia ship.

    There's one part I was confused about and I should really get it clarified... Claire said that since Philadelphia is a small airport and doesn't have direct flights to Florida (I was asking about delivering a cake there), I would need to drive it up to Newark which is 2.5 hours away. She obviously also doesn't have Philly 'set up' for shipping cakes out of. I'm just not sure if I would have to drive the cake to Newark for ALL shipments, or just certain ones if I couldn't get a non-stop flight to the destination. She also alluded that it wasn't worth it for her to 'set up' Philly if I was doing this just a few times. but I wonder if she would take the time to do that if I shipped on a regular basis (whatever that means...? Few times a month? Year?) If she won’t do Philly, then I’ll see about BWI since Baltimore is closer to me than Newark by about 40 minutes. The tolls are less and there’s always less traffic.

    As for how to pack the cakes for shipping, no one wants to give out their secrets. Mike's just said they pack in a sturdy cardboard box with a window. Colette just said to make sure the cake base is the same size as the box so it wouldn't wiggle around. Claire said that Colette is the most open with giving info, Mike is the worst and won't tell anything, and Sylvia is somewhere in between, though I haven't asked Sylvia yet. Claire said she attaches a 1/2" thick plywood to the bottom of the box and that there's a stake driven down the center (obviously). I somehow think there is more to it than that. I don't even delivery my cakes stacked. I stack them on site. I tried it once and the cake was ruined so I'm hesitant to try it again. It must be doable because it's done all the time. The week after my ruined cake, I delivered a small stacked cake (5", 7", 9"); my husband drived and it sat on my lap. No stake down the center or anything. It got there just fine. I don't know if it's because it was on my lap and not subjected to the vibrations or b/c it was MUCH smaller. The small cake was also covered in fondant and the big one in buttercream. Maybe that made a difference too? Anyhow, all I know is that I'm going to make a few stacked cakes and practice transporting them and built up some confidance. If that goes ok, then I'm going to ship one through Quick Pack to my friend in Washington who's a pastry chef. If it can make it that far, from one coast to the other, I'll be in business! She also lives a good hour or so from the Seattle airport so that's subjecting the cake to a lot of travel. As for what I would charge to ship a cake, that depends on whether or not I have to drive to Newark or just to the airport here. If to Newark, then the normal price of what I charge to drive there, the shipping fee (weight of the cake), plus the extra money I'll spend on packing materials. If it's just to the airport here, I'd charge just for the shipping fee and packing materials as the airport is really close by and in my 'local range' (which is included in the price of the wedding cake). Once I get this all figured out, old&wise, YOU will be the first to know!

    Now I'm going to start a thread about transporting wedding cakes. I thought I had the complete 411, but last month's cake proved otherwise.
     
  17. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Thanks for posting your pricing formula, it makes alot of sense and is flexible for anyone to use!!!


    Just being nosey....but did you pick up the phone and reach Colette personally...really cool (I really admire her!) if so?
     
  18. lotuscakestudio

    lotuscakestudio

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    No, I just emailed her. I don't know her and would never feel right calling, especially knowing she is a busy person. Everyone who does know her personally always says she's very friendly, but hehe, I don't think *that* friendly where anyone could call. I emailed her so she could respond at her leisure. And she responded at the end of the day. Ann Amernick did a demonstration at my school and mentioned that she was once in a bind how to do a cake and called Colette for advice. But I'm assuming they're friends. Or when you get to that level of decorating, you all know each other anyway, at least from magazines and whatnot.
     
  19. w.debord

    w.debord

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    I wondered...it's still pretty neat she responded since you didn't put any money in her till.