Remember when you spent countless hours on that birthday cake, and the client canceled at the last minute? Or when you ordered special supplies and decorations (and paid extra shipping, too!) for a wedding cake, only to have that client change their mind a week before the event and want something else? Well, you can help protect yourself and home bakery from these types of unfortunate situations by including important details in your cake contracts.
What’s in a Cake Contract?
We established that your home bakery does, indeed, need a cake contract. There is obvious information: name, phone number, e-mail, etc. You must also remember the essential details that do more than just give you contact info and the agreement’s signature.
Even the most basic cake contract establishes the terms and conditions upfront and gives both the client and company a list of expectations. It allows the bakery and client to create a payment schedule and gives them a chance to review company liabilities.
This article is based on my experience and online research. You may want to consult a lawyer to review your specific circumstances and draft your contract.
- Client info: Name, phone number, e-mail, serving size, design ideas, type of cake, event date, emergency contacts (2 is ideal; the party planner is a good one).
- Event details: Get as many event details as you can! Event type, date, location, schedule, number of guests, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- Design: Attach all designs the client shows you to the contract. That way, you can both consult them later in case there are any issues or changes.
Terms and Conditions
- Ordering: How far ahead does the order need to be placed, and the date reserved?
- Delivery and pick up: Will you be delivering the cake, or is the client picking it up? If you are delivering it, will you charge a fee? If the client is picking the cake up, remind them that you are no longer responsible for the cake once they take it.
- Pick up time: It’s always a good idea to give a pick-up window. Establish a pick-up time and let the client know how long they have to pick up.
- Cancellation policy: Here is where you clearly state your policy and any applicable fees.
- Changes: Establish how close to the event the client can make design changes and whether you will charge a fee (we know how important it is to have the time you need to adjust and order supplies).
- Transportation and storage instructions: Provide instructions on exactly how to store and transport the cake. Suppose the cake needs to be kept on a flat surface to keep from falling or at a specific temperature to prevent melting. List all those details here to ensure the client is aware of keeping the cake safe until it’s eaten. To learn more about delivering a cake safely, read my blog post.
Pricing and Payment
- Price: Detail your prices as precisely as possible. Include price per serving size, extra charges for things like fondant, special filling, additional tiers, accessories, or decorations.
- Set-up fee: Determine whether you will charge a set-up fee, which may be included in the original price.
- Non-refundable deposit: A non-refundable deposit, usually around 50%, is used as a “down payment” on the cake or to reserve the date. Either way, it’s a way to ensure you aren’t wasting your time. Make it clear if any of the deposit is refundable and what the timetable is.
- Refundable deposit: Use a refundable deposit for the safe return of rentals (such as serving plates, utensils, decorations, etc.).
- Payment: Establish the payment schedule, with the final payment due on the day of pick-up or delivery, or 1-2 weeks before the event. It’s advisable to get paid the balance upfront.
- Intellectual property: Include a section that states you may not be able to duplicate exactly the picture of the cake they want, especially if it is copyrighted (we’re all familiar with the one customer who needed “that perfect shade of teal”). Also, inform the client that you may take and use pictures of the cake for your purposes.
- Liability: Inform the client that your company is not responsible for any damage done to the cake by outside influences, Acts of God, post-pickup damage, car wrecks, allergic reactions, guest injury, any adverse effects from live flowers if a florist assembles the cake, etc.).
- Provide a space for both you and the client to sign (after they read through the entire contract and assure you that everything is correct, of course).
After All of This, Can I Give a Refund
Ultimately, it’s your home bakery, and you get to decide how you enforce your policies and contracts. You may want to make an exception for extraordinary circumstances. Think about all the chaos that happened when COVID hit. In the end, if you have signed a contract with clear and explicit terms, you can choose to enforce or work out a partial or full refund.
What About If I Sell Cupcakes or Decorated Cookies
The same basic rules apply for cookies and cupcakes as cakes. You want a clear paper trail for the order, a non-refundable deposit upfront, and the balance paid in full before the pickup or delivery date. Whether you use an actual contract or have an email that outlines the order’s terms and conditions are up to you.
What We Recommend
Every contract will be unique (for instance, you might waive the deposit, set-up, or delivery fees, give discounts, etc.). If there are any changes once the contract has been signed, follow up with an email to confirm the details. You can never have too much information (or protection).
To help get you started, the CakeBoss has a downloadable cake order form/contract available on its website.
Having clear policies (check out my Friends and Family Discount Policy post) and contracts in place will help you and your business in the long run. I am not a lawyer, and this post is based on my personal experience so if you have specific questions, reach out to your lawyer to clarify.
Have you gotten my Essential 5 P’s for Perfect Product Pricing pdf yet? I created this freebie to take the guesswork out of determining how much to charge for baked goods. Sign up for my email list and your very first email has the pdf.
Check out my blog archive for more helpful articles. Follow me on Instagram at @whiskwarrior where I post weekly tips, resources, and personal experiences operating a home bakery and retail bakeshop.