I received another distraught email yesterday, complaining about an order that was not picked up by their customer. My response is always the same: What is your written policy on orders, deposits, and refunds? Almost always, their response includes the admission that there is no policy.
Without having paid a deposit, many customers can simply cancel their order – without even the courtesy of contacting you. In other words, you find out they cancelled their order because they do not show up.
It’s good business sense to state that orders are not reserved until a deposit is received. The deposit holds the date for the order, the full payment allows preparation to begin. For large custom cakes it’s common to request payment three to four weeks in advance. A good policy should state that orders are not confirmed, nor dates reserved, without a deposit or payment.
How much for the deposit? Many businesses require a 50% deposit with the balance due anywhere from one to four weeks before the event. It all depends on the product ordered and what you are comfortable with. Your policy should also cover changes, cancellations, and refunds. Without a written policy, customers can request last-minute changes, or decide they no longer need their item and request a full refund.
This policy should be posted on your website and written into every contract.
After your initial discussion with the prospective customer but you have not heard back, it’s acceptable to send them a gentle reminder:
Dear Ms. X, we just wanted to remind you we have not yet received your deposit of ($xx) to reserve your date. Your order is not confirmed without the deposit. Until that time, your date is available to other clients.
Please let us know if we can be of any assistance in your decision making process. Our baking schedule is filling up quickly and we may not be able to fill your order if the deposit is not sent by X date.
If you have chosen another bakery, please accept our best wishes and think about us for any future needs.
Best regards, Us
Home-Based Baking at its Best!