Tips on Taking Orders

I want to start this by saying I live in a state where it is illegal to sell cookies or baked goods from home unless you have a separate kitchen and do a million things to get approved! I don’t sell my cookies but, maybe someday the Tennessee Cottage Laws will change and allow me to sell. Even though I don’t sell, I might be able to help you with a few tips on taking orders. The first thing you need to do before you start selling cookies it to contact your your local health departments or the state Department of Agriculture and see what the laws in your area are.Tips on taking orders thebearfootbaker.comOne night at Cookie Con, I had the pleasure of sitting and chatting with a group of lovely ladies named Ashley, Jackie, Vickie and Penny. They asked me questions about pricing and for tips on taking orders. I asked them questions and we had a great brainstorming session. I can’t wait to share what we discussed. Before I rushed home and started typing, I called a few friends that do sell cookies and got some advice from them. Here is what we all talked about. (BTW the tutorial for this platter is here and here.)

1. Have you ever been on the phone trying to pry information out of a customer while your kids are fighting, dinner is burning, and someone will not stop ringing the doorbell? All you are trying to focus on is the date of the event to see if you are able to do the order but, you can’t hear anything.

2. Have you ever spent 40 minutes on the phone listening to every party detail only to have the customer NOT place an order with you? There is 40 minutes you will never get back or get paid for.

3. You get so excited and flustered that someone wants to order 5 dozen cookies that you spit out a price only to find out you didn’t sleep for three days, missed your kids ballgame, had to order pizza for dinner for 3 nights in a row all for a $10 profit on 5 dozen cookies. You lost $32 because you had to buy the pizza for dinner.

DON’T DO THIS ANYMORE!!! I didn’t mean to yell! You, your time, and your sanity are worth so much more then these frustrations. Here is how we are going to work together to make your life easier and your orders more efficient. We are going to break this down into 3 parts to help you get paid what you need to make a profit.

This is not part one of tips on taking orders but, do it anyway. Go to Sweet Sugar Bells Pricing Post here. Look at how she made a pricing scale for her cookies. You should do the same based on your skill level and what cookies in your area will sell for. Some areas will pay more than other. Sad but true! As your skill level grows, you should adjust your prices.

Tips on Taking Orders Part One:

Tips on taking orders thebearfootbaker.comMake an order form you can email your client or email them this form. I uploaded this as Word Document so you can save it or change it with specific questions you want to ask. Make it pretty with your logo and add some color! You know what they say about first impressions.

If you do take an order on the phone, you can use this form to get the info. Once your form is the way you want it, print some to have on hand and keep them close to the phone with a pen. These are the easiest tips on taking orders I can give you. A custom form for your will really help keep you focused. Even if dinner is burning.

Why is a form important:

  1. If you email the form you won’t be tied up on the phone for 40 minutes trying to get the information from someone while trying to cook dinner.
  2. When your potential client emails you the questionnaire back, you have a few minutes to think.
  3. You can check if you even want to do the order. It may all be logo cookies with details you don’t want to spend hour after hour trying to perfect.
  4. You can check your calendar to see if you are available.
  5. You will have time to think about the price. You can look at what the client wants and how they want it packaged and set a price according to what you need to be paid to make a profit. You can do this without them on the phone while you are feeling pressure to make them “like you” by saying some ridiculous low price!! I know you know what I am talking about! I see you shaking your head!
  6. I had a hard time realizing that if someone ordered from me or not, it doesn’t mean they like or dislike me or my cookies! (I have made a lot of cookies for donations.) Maybe they decided to use a cake instead of cookies. Who knows but, DON’T GIVE YOUR COOKIES AND YOUR TIME AWAY FOR FREE! I will stop yelling now;) I love ya! That is why I want you to get paid what your and your time is worth.

Tips on Taking Orders Part Two:

This is only a starting point for tips on taking orders. Please make something like this for yourself. Some platters and cookie orders will cost more because of the details and the amount of colors you use. Make a plan so you are not caught off guard when the order comes in.  “He who fails to plan is planning to fail” by Winston Churchill is one of my favorite quotes.

Here are a few steps you should take to help even more. I compare this to McDonald’s and I don’t even like McDonald’s but, hang with me for a second. When you go to McDonald’s and get a Big Mac Meal, it is always the same price. Right? Why don’t we set prices for platters depending on the number of cookies and the design? Have a basic price for lets say 5 dozen cookies. A basic price for 4 dozen cookies and so on and so on. Then, have a price per dozen for favors. Once you have the order, you can adjust the price according to the details. Consider the basic list as your value menu. If they want it customized, build the price according to the amount of work that is added. Setting a basic price list will help prevent you from under charging. You will have a foundation to build on. Another good tip for taking orders. Simple but effective.
Tips on Taking Orders thebearfootbaker.comYou should also decide what is the minimum cookie order you will take. I personally would not drag everything out bake and make icing for 6 cookies but, that is a up to you.
Once you do the basic work, it will be easy to price your cookies.
But wait! What about packaging? Bags, boxes and bows are not free. If they are free in your area please tell me because I will move and be your neighbor. Add that cost in. Sometimes people will want to tie their own bows to save some money. That alright because it will save you time.

Tips on Taking Orders Part Three:

Tips on Taking Orders thebearfootbaker.comThis will require a little thought, a little measuring and a little math. Sorry! I hope I never make you use math again. But, I can’t promise anything.

  • How much do bag cost individually? Multiply it by 12 and you will have your cost per dozen.
  • How much are you going to charge for cookie bag toppers? Well, you have to design them, print them, cut them, and attach them. Figure a basic price that will cover the cost and add it the the Platter Price or Favor Price.
  • How much ribbon do you use to tie a cookie bag? Measure it, multiply it by 12 and figure the cost. You have a basic price for ribbon.
  • I know it is hard to calculate shipping but, you can get a good estimate on the shipping supplies. Make a dozen cookies. Wrap them like you are going to mail them and see how much packing supplies you use for a single dozen. Now you know how much you spend on packaging supplies per dozen so adjust it per order and per dozen you will be shipping.
  • You can get a good idea of what the post office will charge you. Go to the post office and talk to them. They are nice. Bribe them with cookies if you have to but, don’t leave until you have some kind of idea what shipping will cost and add a few dollars as a safety net.
 Are you going to bag or box them for free them for free? How much was that platter? Do you want to get paid a little something for your time? Again, it is up to you.
Are you going to give your friends and family a discount? Go ahead and think about that now.It is hard having your friends and family as a client but, if you prepare ahead of time, you will already have a discount price for them and it is so much easier for YOU!
You may also want to consider collecting 50% of the fee up front. If something goes wrong, you will at least be able to cover the cost of your ingredients. Seriously consider this. This is the best tip on taking orders I can give you.
Tips on Taking Orders thebearfootbaker.com
The point to all of this is this, with some planning and work right now, you will never under charge for cookies again! Follow a few tips on taking orders and you will not be sitting at your table, wishing you were sleeping, missing your kids games for the grand total of $10. You won’t feel like someone is staring (owl tutorial) at you waiting for a price and blurt some LOW number out that you immediately regret!
You, your cookies and your time are worth taking the time to calculate! DON’T SELL YOUR SELF SHORT AND OUT OF BUSINESS!
If this doesn’t work for you then, make your own tips on taking orders. I will say it again, If this doesn’t work for you then, make your own tips on taking orders. One more time, If this doesn’t work for you then, make your own tips on taking orders. Good advice is worth repeating. Make a plan to succeed! Tips on taking orders can help.
I love ya and will never yell at you again unless I see you running with scissors!
Bear hugs,
Signature

Comments

  1. Incredible post…..and your timing is excellent with the new year coming up!!!

  2. I love you, Lisa. You are super kind and awesome to share this with our beloved cookie community. ♥♥♥

    • I hope women will start to make money instead of earning themselves more stress in their lives! Nothing is worse than to work so hard and not get paid for it. Especially when you are losing time from your family!

  3. This is such great information – I’ll have to read and reread to get it all to sink in. Then I’ll probably have to come back for a refresher course! Thanks bunches (of cookies!) :)

  4. This post took a lot of time to write and I know people all over will be forever grateful for it. There’s so much to think about, and most times, everyone sells themselves short.

    Brilliant, Lisa!!!!

    • I hope with the post Sweet Sugar Belle did and this one, people can start to make a profit of the long hours and hard work that we all know goes into making cookies!!

  5. This is fabulous! And something I’ve been meaning to put together for some of my other treats….but haven’t found a free moment in which to do so. Thank you for brainstorming and covering the basics for me :)

  6. THANK YOU! I feel like you wrote this post especially for me! I hate feeling like cookies are a hinderance! I LOVE to create them, but missing out on special times with my kids is NOT what I expected. You are kind to share your sound advice! – Terra

  7. Wow, it was cool to see my name in this post. Thanks so much for the time you put into. I actually created a form as I sat in the airport on the way home after CookieCon. I am excited to use it in future orders. This post was great. I am so excited about streamlining the ordering process. Thanks Lisa.

  8. Lisa,
    This is a great post! When I first started selling my cookie ornaments on Etsy, I jumped my price around a bit. I finally settled on $14 each, and they sell well. I am not getting rich, but feel that my time is worth it. I sell locally at $12 because I don’t have to do all the picture taking and editing, description writing, and pay Etsy and Paypal. It has definitely been rewarding both financially and mentally to charge what they are worth! These last year to year, so that’s another reason they cost more. But the unique designs and ingredients in edible cookies warrent charging a decent price! Thanks so much for your advice!

  9. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing great information.

  10. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information! A lot of it hit home ;) Much appreciated!

  11. Thank you so much for this, Lisa. I’ve already copied it and tweaked it a bit for our purposes. You’re such a sweetheart <3

  12. You are AWESOME…..such great advice! Much success to you!

  13. Thanks Lisa, this is a great resource! I love the idea of the order form–I’m going to start using an adapted one right away. I can’t believe some of you take orders over the phone! ARGH! I am an email girl all the way–mostly because I can’t ever keep track of whatever scrap pieces of paper I find to write notes on.

  14. What a wonderful post, Lisa! I learned so much from you at Cookie Con, and this is the icing on the cookie–a practical, useful, logical way to stop and THINK about the details. Thanks so much for your time on this, and your big heart for cookiers!

  15. Lisa,
    I loved your post! I found it soooo helpful. I just loved talking to you at CookieCon and hope to see again at another amazing cookie retreat. Thanks for all you do and just being YOU!

  16. I’ve seen so much of your work and never realized you didn’t sell your cookies for profit! To give the money to charity AND put this together is nothing short of selfless. What a wonderful thing to do that many, including myself, will benefit from! I don’t do cookies but the concept is the same for cakes and cupcakes. I’ve done the math many times and I try to stick by it. Unfortunately, I deal with a lot of “Whimpies” (I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a cake today) and just plain cheapskates and takers. This will help support my backbone when it starts to soften on me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  17. Thank you so much for yelling! California just passed a Cottage Food Law, so this will be so helpful. I hate setting prices because I’m worried that people will think it’s too expensive and not place an order at all, but I guess that would be better than spending so much time and energy to make $10! Thanks again for sharing! :)

  18. Lisa, thank you so much for this post… Very helpful information…. Your airbrush presentation at Cookie Con was so inspiring I ordered an airbrush and can’t wait for it to arrive! thank you again for all that you share with us… Kris

  19. “Bags, boxes and bows are not free! If they are free in your area please tell me because I will move and be your neighbor!”……. Hey Lisa, Bags, boxes and bows are FREE here! Shall I tell my neighbors to consider their house sold??? I’d LOVE to have you as my neighbor!!! OK, OK, so they aren’t really free here, but I’d be willing to pay for them for you if you’d come be my neighbor!

  20. Thank you for this post! I have started decorating cookies, and I want to make sure that when I receive that 1st order, I charge accordingly!

  21. Gaby Cordero says:

    Thanks. I live in Mexico City. Even though these is ver helpful anywhere.

  22. AWESOME post!!! Thank you! I hope this will help my cookier friends charge what they should :)

  23. Great and informative post! I am so excited you explained the cost of supplies!!! Thank you!

  24. You can yell at me only when you speak he truth! Love ya and his post.

  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! So much useful information. My state recently put a Cottage Food License into place and I have been seriously thinking about getting one and selling my baked goods. I wouldn’t be able to ship – in our state you must deliver one-on-one, but still plenty here that I need to think about and have in place before starting a business!

  26. This is an excellent post Lisa with a ton of great information! It is so important that artists don’t under price their work just to make a name for themselves. Unless of course the name they want is “Lady who works for nothing”.

    As a side note; That beautiful platter of teal and red cookies is the first one I saw by you when I started making cookies last year and they made me instantly fall in love with your work!

  27. haha love this post. :)

  28. I love you. Thank you for posting this. You are doing cookie decorators everywhere a great service.

  29. Thank you for sharing this.

  30. Wow! Wow! Wow! This took a lot of your precious time . Thank you. I really needed to see and hear this. You were amazing at CookieCon. You are truly sweet and amazing gift. I can’t wait to see what you teach me next.

  31. Hey this is amazing I am always fumbling with prices and have sworn to get my act together plenty of times. This will def help. love your blog its always a highlight!
    Jo

  32. Amazing post! You covered a ton of useful information, too!! Thanks, Lisa! P.S.- Love that Christmas platter. :)

  33. Beth @ BSweet says:

    What a great post! Everything you said was spot on!!

  34. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lisa! I’m in California, and our cottage bill goes into effect in January! This is such valuable information! Between you and Callye, I will be set…if I decide to sell my cookies:) XO!

  35. Seriously, between you, Callye and Gail (over at One Tough Cookie) I might get this baking from home thing down! All these posts couldn’t have come at a better time for me-thanks for taking the time.
    Oh, and I guess I’m like everyone else in thinking that you also sold those fabulous cookies! You’re so talented-thanks for sharing!

  36. Thank you SO much for sharing, just getting started so this info is wonderful!

  37. Lisa, this post was great and just what we all needed, someone to yell at us for not underpricing our work! It was also funny to see the owls with their big eyes, as if they were saying “OPEN YOUR EYES!”, hahahaha! Loved your post an also Callye’s! You are both incredible! <3 Aggie

  38. Love this! Nothing warms my heart more than encouragement for bakers not to pay themselves slaves wages. I hope and pray that many will take Callye and your advice!

  39. Lisa, thank you so much for your informative post! I have a question, what kind of platter do you put your cookies on? Are we talking like a plate? Or have you found something disposable but attractive? I always dread trying to find something to put my cookies in. It’s usually a bakery box with wax paper in between layers of cookies. Any help is appreciated, thanks!

  40. OMG!!!! I just love you for explaining this so well. My husband insist I should charge more for the cookies, but, in reality people around here wont pay more than $3. Sad but true. I have to start chjarging for reserving a spot because once I say yes to an order, I can’t book anyone else…I think I should start double booking (like in Mary Kay) LOL!!!. Anyway, your cookies are gorgeous. Hope you have a little chance to look at mine (I only have 3 posts, new blog). Take care!

  41. Your cookies are absolutely incredible! I wish I had the patience….

    Pat

  42. Your cookies are absolutely incredible! I wish I had the patience….
    I think your advice is right on for all the bakers. Never under price your talent or time!

  43. THANK YOU for complimenting Sugarbelle’s fancy-schmancy chart thingy with your own fancy-schmancy chart thingys. The “menu” idea for the platters makes perfect sense!! BTW- my airbrush should be arriving in the next few days!! Of course I have to go purchase airbrush colors before I can use it…. :)

  44. Super Great Post!!!!

  45. Lisa, this post was awesome!! I felt like you tailored it to me :) I can relate to everything you said. I would love to see the form that other cookie artists come up with and then we can compare and share. Thanks again!
    Faigy of The Cookie Jar
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Cookie-Jar/280951411960062
    p.s. Do you have a tutorial for you precious owl cookies posted above?

  46. Lisa! Guess what? Ribbons and, stickers and packing supplies are FREE in my town!! Really!
    No, not really, but I would LOVE to have you as my neighbor <3
    Thanks so very much for staying up so late to chat with us about this topic. Your advice and encouragement went a long, long way = I brought it all the way home! I hope we meet up again some beautiful day and we get to talk cookies & hubbies and life.

  47. Hello – I run a small cake decorating business from home (I am fully licensed) and although I don’t do a lot of cookies I think this information is also very relevant to cake decorators and bakers too. Thanks for sharing – it’s really made me think about my pricing structure and how I can streamline the ordering process!

  48. Sugar Therapy Bakery says:

    Thank you so much Lisa for taking the time to share this very helpful info. You are a very generous person and I love your work.
    Tricia

  49. The form makes so much sense! I have been caught several times accepting an order and then discovering the details that put me over the top! I often think it would be easier selling on Etsy than negotiating with friends.

  50. Lisa, this is just so very incredibly helpful! A lot of people can benefit from this. Thanks for taking the time and effort to put it together! Sharing it right now!

  51. Hi again Lisa,
    When Vicki messaged me and told me we were mentioned in your blog post, I said, “NO WAY!!!!”, but I see here that you did and I am so thankful that I met you at CookieCon and that I was able to spend time with you. Your generosity seeps out of your pores. And this blog post is NO EXCEPTION!!! (I’m sorry that I’m yelling too). You offer incredible information and are so warm and friendly. Thank you for this and everything!!!!

  52. Please keep beating me over the head with this information!! I know its all so TRUE and still am spineless lol I love you my dear friend and I know I can always count on you to knock some sense into me :)

  53. Lisa, this year Gov. Haslam signed into law an amendment to Tenn. Code Annotated 53-8-117, entitled “Sale of foods prepared in home based kitchens” that allows sales of non-potentially hazardous foods [which would include baked goods] from home kitchens. I could not locate the article from the newspaper that announced the amendment, but I recall that this was his effort to support small home businesses that can sell goods from home, sales at fairs or community events, church bazaars, etc. There are some labeling requirements and notice must be given if the food is produced in a non-licensed and non-inspected kitchen. Google the statute reference and you should be able to pull that specific code to read online.

  54. Jenny Mulhall says:

    Hello there! Greetings from Ireland!! :)

    I should mention that my poor long-suffering Hubby found this post and made me sit down and read it. Yes, I practically give my cakes and biscuits (cookies!) away and yes, I absolutely ‘get’ your point about being on the phone and committing to an utterly stupid order because “oh! what if I say no and this complete stranger doesn’t like me?” Nice to know my brand of idiocy is known on both sides of the ‘pond’!

    I will now make amends and put a higher value on precious family time; if not my art and effort! Even though Hubby found this post as a reproach; thank heaven! Your biscuits are ASTONISHING – unheard of on this side of the pond and have given me so many techniques to play with. Thank you for your generosity in allowing others to learn from your expertise and your sweet and kind advice. Merry Christmas to you and yours. x

    See you around the Web!! :D

    Jenny, Co. Laois

    • Hi Jenny! I am so glad your husband found my post! Your time is precious and family time is one of the most precious things on earth! I am glad this post will help you organize some prices so you will get paid what you are worth! Let me know if you need anything!!!.

  55. Loretta Ray says:

    I just found this post, which I’ve been read your blog for some months now. I guess it all started this past February but didn’t try it till early March to make them. I’ve been it hard learning everything I could and watching video’s and blogs, so now that I’m pretty good at which my family and friend tell me so … lol. Now they post there cookies I have made for them for there birthdays, now there friends are asking if I can make some for them. My husband will be very happy I found this post, because this is what he’s been trying to tell me. I just wanted to thank you and your cookies family for putting this together for me like me. So here’s a big thank you and hugs for y’all

  56. So helpful! This kind of information is always useful.

  57. Maria Sarmento says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It is very useful at the beginning of my cookies’ world. Hugs from Portugal.

  58. Ilandie says:

    Thank you sooooo much for this post.
    I love making cookies & started my business a month ago.
    This is really going to help.

    Thanks all the way from South-Africa.

  59. I just love this post but I have a question that is probably a dumb question, but here goes – what is the difference between a platter of cookies, and favors? In other words, I guess I don’t understand what favors are? Would the platter not include individually wrapped cookies and the favors are all individually wrapped, or is there another difference? I’m fairly new at all of this (as I’m sure you can already tell! :-) )

    • Hi Colleen,
      Sometimes people order cookies that arranged on a platter and not individually wrapped like the first picture in this post. If you have to wrap them individually, you need to add the cost of supplies and a cost for your time to the final price.

      Wrapping cookies individually is time consuming and sometimes involves ribbon or bag toppers so it does increase the cost and time you spend making them. Hope this helps.

      • Lisa – Thanks for clarifying. I thought that was the case, but wanted to be sure! All of this information is so helpful.

        • I am happy to hear that Colleen. You need to tweak this info so it works for you. I just don’t like hearing people work for days on a set of cookies and only get paid pennies for all their supplies and hard work. If there is a basic plan in place, each order can be easily calculated so you turn a proffit.

          • Yes, I saved it and will change it up a bit. Being fairly new to decorating, it still takes me forever (or what feels like forever) to decorate and of course I’m intimidated when people ask “how much” but I don’t want to sell myself short either. I’m so glad I found your post! :-)

  60. Dear Lisa,

    Thank you for the great post and that you never know your blog posts have saved me lots of big time, from fixing the right royal icing, finding answers to most of my cookie errors, your posts are like a treasure box! Just love the generous way of how you love to share cookie information.

    Lots of love from Malaysia!

    • Your sweet comment brought tears to my eyes! Thank you so much for taking the time to make my day!! Bear hug to you Valene!!!

  61. Claudia Hudson says:

    Hi Lisa!! I just came across your webpage, is AMAZING!! I love every bit of it. Im new in this cookie business stuff, and tried to open the order form for your custumers, I have a Mac computer and i can’t open it. I would love if you can send me slink to be able to open it. I just started my FB page “Cookies by Claudia” Im originally from Mexico but I live in Nova Scotia Canada. Thank so much for creating a wonderful web page to gel other cookie lovers..
    Cheers Claudia.

    • Hi Claudia,
      I emailed you the order from. I am so happy you like my site and hope you stick around and hang out with us! :)

  62. Can never thank you enough for this post. Glad I read this before starting my venture.

  63. Thank for giving us a few guidelines. It’s so encouraging to know others understand the amount of work and it takes to bake and decorate. I donated cookies for a foodstand and they priced a 3″ decorated cookie at $.75 and a 3″ brownie from a box mix at $1.00. When suggesting they make them both the same price, they dropped the brownie to $.75. It’s going to take a little bit to get to these prices in my area but I think the right people will appreciate and be willing to pay for quality products. Where do you live out of curiosity? Thanks again!

    • I really hope the prices in your area will change soon Julie! That is a lot of work for 75 cents!
      I live in Tennessee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *