Ashley Vicos, owner of the commercially licensed cake studio, Sweet Ashley's in Atlanta, offered several tips to help save time and money for retail cake decorators during her discussion at ABE. Some of her suggestions:
Charge for consultations for elaborate (non-wedding) tiered or sculpted cakes. This eliminates people who aren't serious about purchasing a cake, and you can credit the fee to the cake price once the order is placed. Decorators need to remember that their time is money.
Cover all cakes with white icing or fondant and make all fondant or gumpaste decorations in white. You can airbrush them the color requested. This lowers your inventory of decorations and saves you time in making colored icing or fondant.
Use premade decorations whenever possible; again time is money. Buy them in white and airbrush them to match the design.
Tiered cakes attract attention and customers. Small tiered cakes are very easy to make, but you should upcharge for them. If you upsell decorated sheet cakes for three times the cost, charge four times the cost for tiered cakes.
When selling sculpted or tiered cakes, always offer the customer three different levels — low, mid and high. About 90 percent of the time, they will choose the mid or high design, and you can make at least 30 percent more in sales.
Always finish a custom cake's board with ribbon around the edge. A ribbon gives a finished look.