Working in a commercial bakery has definitely provided me an opportunity to see the world of decorating cakes in a very different way than I have experienced it. Efficiency is key, which makes sense, but has been hard to adjust to.
While there are things I would absolutely not change in the way I make and decorate my own cakes, I have fallen totally in love with using a scraper like this to smooth the frosting. I used to spend a lot of time prepping the cake trying to get everything smooth using a spatula, bringing pressure to the cake sides from above the cake. The scraper brings pressure to the sides of the cake, speeding up the process considerably.
Here is a crumb-coated carrot cake after using the scraper.
Another technique used to increase output is applying texture to the sides. This is the same cake with the final application of frosting after I used a plastic comb like this one on the sides.
Finally, I used a 1M tip to apply the borders. Since it is such a large tip, the borders are done in no time. That meant that I could use my time where I needed it--applying all that frosting carpet and setting up the living room scene on top of the cake.
The crumb coat and basic decoration of this cake took less than five minutes. I think I am going to try to keep this up!