Do you manage your cake decorating like a well-oiled machine and treat it like a serious business? Do you have a plan? A schedule? A process when it comes to decorating cake? Or are you wasting a lot of time and spending more money than you should? Do you always feel like you’re flying by the seat of your pants – putting out fires and running 100 miles per hour to get every cake finished? Today I’m sharing 5 Simple Ways to Stop Wasting Time & Money in your Cake Business.
I’m hoping today’s post will help you recognize one or more areas where you could make small changes with BIG results!
Imagine if you…
- Had time to learn new cake skills
- Make more money (profit) from your cake business
- Spend more time with your family
- And so much more….
Maybe you don’t even realize you’re wasting time… or how many extra hours you could free up by taking a few simple steps to simplify and organize. But as someone who has struggled with all of these things in my own business… I’m betting others have too and today I want to help!!
5 Simple Ways to Stop Wasting Time and Money in your Cake Business
1. Organize, organize, organize. My house is small, my family is big, and my cake supplies are multiplying all the time. This is an area where I used to struggle big time and still do from time-to-time. I’d spend half an hour looking for a specific tool that I needed to use on a cake because it wasn’t put away the last time I used it. Multiply that by 2 or 3 or 5 cakes in a week and a dozen lost or out-of-place tools and those are hours of time that I’ve wasted.
While I haven’t solved this problem 100%, I have made some big changes to be better organized and not waste time looking for things. One big change I made was using a shoebox type plastic bin. I keep one on the bar when I’m working and when I’m done with a tool, I drop it in the bin. At the end of the weekend (or whenever I’m done with cake), either I or my kids put away everything in the bin – where it belongs!
I also have a shed (see above) and a utility room – both full of cake supplies. While those places don’t stay picture perfect all the time, at least monthly I try to do a quick clean-up and put anything out of place – back in it’s place.
This also saves me money. I’m ashamed to admit how many duplicates of cake supplies and tools I have because I lost one, bought another, and then original eventually turned up. Yeah… that. Please tell me I’m not alone.
I’m sure you’ve heard “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Every time you don’t have to spend money on cake ingredients or tools or supplies, that’s more profit in your pocket from your business!
2. Have a to-do list (or two). I am a list junkie. I use Evernote and Google Keep to keep grocery lists, cake lists, chore lists, baking lists, etc. And early each week – I write 2 lists on my big cake white board… one is my baking list (I put the number of layers, flavor, and size of every cake I need to bake) and the other list is my actual order list where I write out each cake (or cookies or cupcakes) that is due (very short description or name) and the day it’s due, organized by earliest to last.
Having these lists save me so much time. My white board is hanging in my kitchen and I can easily glance up, see what I need to bake first, next, etc. Having it written down prevents me from forgetting to bake something or baking the wrong size/flavor for an order.
For example, a few weeks ago I made the mistake of thinking I could bake from memory (I only had 2 orders, I think?) and I baked the wrong flavor not once, but twice. I wasted time, electricity and ingredients (aka profit).
3. Plan ahead and get your supplies and ingredients. This sort of goes hand-in-hand with having a list and being organized. Generally in the first week of each month, I try to go through my schedule and really look hard at every order, making note of any special supplies, tools, ingredients I will need.
More times than I’d like to admit in the past, I’ve paid for Amazon Overnight service to get some tool or topper that I forgot to order ahead of time. There have also been times I’ve had to drive to 3 stores (I live in a tiny town) or make the long (40 mile drive) to a Walmart at the last minute because I ran out of some ingredient that I should’ve had on hand that I can’t get in my tiny hometown.
I can’t imagine how much time, money and gas I could’ve saved over the years if I had been more organized early on. So I’ll go over my orders with a fine-tooth comb and write down special tools I need (maybe a new mold or special cookie cutter), edible images I should order (I don’t have the space nor do I use them enough to justify buying my own printer for this), unusual ingredients (think candy, fruits, coconut or nuts, liquor), etc. You get the idea!
4. Work ahead on everything you can. I don’t take nearly as many orders as I used to, so my time-frame for my cake schedule has changed over the years but almost like clockwork these days, here’s what you’ll find me doing regarding my cake orders on each day of the week:
- Sunday & Monday : Rest. It has to be a very special occasion or for a friend for me to take an order that has to be delivered on a Sunday or Monday. Now this is not a 100% rule (I delivered the Tiaras & Tutus cake below last Sunday), but it’s really, really rare. Sometimes I also meet with brides on Mondays because I’m already in town with my daughter for Girl Scouts, but that is also pretty rare.
- Tuesday & Wednesday: Make my big white board list (see #2) and make any decorations that can/should be made ahead to dry. If you have your order list ready (again see #2), you can go through that list and note anything that you can or should make ahead. Bows, Tiaras, Sculpted Figures, Number Toppers, etc. You get the idea…. I made the tiara and the bows (above) about 4 days before the order was due. If it can be made ahead or should be (because it needs to dry), make it early in the week when you’re not scrambling to do all of your other cake related tasks. Also on Wednesday, my husband makes my homemade marshmallow fondant for the week. I go down my list, add up how much I’ll need and he makes it all for me so it can rest a couple of days before I need it.
- Thursday: I bake, fill and crumb coat my cakes. Well, first we finish our homeschooling for the day – then we bake. My 13 yo daughter does 99% of my baking for me and my 14 yo son makes all of my buttercream. I make the lists, pitch in here and there and give them a schedule of what to do first, second, etc. (make the vanilla cakes first, then the chocolates, etc.) and they work for me on Thursdays (earning good money, I might add). When they’re done and the cakes are cooled, I fill and frost them and put them all in the frig to chill overnight. This pic below is very old (think years… I don’t do nearly this many orders in a week anymore), but that’s from a full day of baking!
- Friday: I decorate (and deliver, if necessary). Most of my cakes are due on Friday afternoon/evenings and Saturday mornings. If I happen to have one due early on Friday, I might decorate Thursday night but not often anymore. I know I can decorate most any cake in 4 hours or less (you need to know how long it takes you to decorate cakes), so I work on the first one due first, then the second, then the next, etc. I rarely do more than 2 or 3 a weekend, but having this plan in place, I can easily do more if necessary.
- Saturday: Pretty much the same as Friday… decorate and deliver if I have any cakes left. Then rest and enjoy family time!
Note: If you take a lot more orders than I do, or you work slower than I do (that’s okay – everybody has their own pace), then you may need to adjust this schedule to fit your needs, but at least you have an idea of where to start!
5. Cut Back on Email & Social Media. I know, I know… I’m so guilty of checking my email a hundred times a day or losing track of time on Facebook and spending an hour mindlessly scrolling through all.the.things. But let’s face it – if you’re short on time and often running behind on deadlines – you could probably cut back on some of your plugged-in time.
Do you take orders by email? Set aside half an hour each morning and evening to go through and respond to your inquiries. Set a timer, focus and GO! If you’re having to work up quotes or write contracts, you may need more than half an hour but whatever amount of time you need… pick a day (maybe you write contracts on Mondays) or time (first thing when you wake up or before bed) and commit to using that time to do that task and nothing else. By focusing and shutting out all other distractions, you’ll get so much more done than if you’re checking it many times, getting side-tracked, having to re-read the message or start over on a quote, etc. Multi-tasking is a myth (in my opinion)… focused work is so much more productive!
Maybe you also get messages on Facebook (I do!). Again… set aside a specific time to check and reply to those, then close it down until that same time the next day. I recently decided to have my assistant start scheduling most of my Facebook posts and that alone has decreased the amount of time I’m checking my page. I still check and reply to my messages but I’m not checking for new ones all the time and I can already feel a difference and I know I’m saving time.
What have I missed? How are you wasting time? or saving money? Tell me in the comments!
Imagine implementing one or more of these suggestions and improving your life in many areas! You’ll have more time to spend with family. More profit from your business. Less stress because you won’t be killing yourself to finish everything last minute. You might even find you have an extra couple of hours a week where you can sit and watch a Craftsy class, practice or learn a new skill you’ve been dying to try, or catch up on some blog reading (–> click HERE to sign up for Rose Bakes emails to get my tutorials and recipes 🙂 )!
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