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SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Since Warped brought up the microphone in the frame paranoia, may I ask:

How you all perceive your competition?
What you do with information about them?
Do you make strategic plans based on their actions?
Do you perceive them as the enemy?
Do you talk to them?
How do you handle phone calls from them looking for information that is none of their business?
Do you listen to customer comments about them?
Do you watch their ads?

I cut the mat, I pet the =^..^= cat.
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Since I posted that foolishness on Warped, I'll respond to your very thoughtful questions about attitudes toward competitors.

I get along well with the other frame shops in Appleton, even John Ranes who is the most formidible competition in town. I actually have another frame shop and gallery two doors down from me and we have developed a good relationship, exchanging supplies as needed and referring customers to one another who could better be served by the other shop. Our services and styles compliment each other. There is another shop about six blocks away, and I have referred customers to them as well.

If I have an opportunity to see a written quote from a competitor, I'll compare it with mine. But I don't make pricing decisions based on what I see, nor do I plan around what my competitors are doing. As long as I'm getting enough profitable work to keep me very busy, I'm a happy guy.

I did get a call from another shop (I guess they never heard of caller ID) looking for a very specific quote on framing a Redlin print. I had a little fun with them. Told them I frame several of those each day and usually charge about $1200 each. Maybe they raised their prices.

I listen politely to customer comments about other shops, but don't respond to them, even if I have my own opinions (which, of course, I do.) Certainly I watch the ads, even the help-wanted ads, but I don't believe it affects my own business plan.

Good thread, ArtLady. I hope others will respond.


Cheryl Crocker CPF GCF

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
My competition: Really only two other shops out of about 12, one right across the street. Have a great relationship with both. All 3 of us strive for pricing integrity and refuse to get into bidding wars.

Info about them: File it in the recesses of my mind. My focus has to be on my shop: who my clients are, what my fortes are, what I offer, etc.

Plans on their actions: No. Our shops, though we offer several of the same lines, are very different with different focuses.

Enemies?: The shop across the street are the folks who did the Sax and Titanic shadowboxes using Framemica and won! We do a lot of trade-outs and Lori and I like to get together for a beer when possible. We are friendly "competitors" and do not encroach on each other's turf.

Talk to them: Several times a week. Especially if we get someone pricing us all out. We call each other with a heads-up and brief description of client and what deal they are looking for.

Info Calls: Can't recall having any from these two.

Comments: I immediately let those who are just wanting to bitch that I am friends with the other framers...usually that comparing frameshops is like comparing apples to oranges...we are all set up differently, carry diff. lines, our backgrounds and areas of expertise differ, etc. and change the subject.

Ads: Always watch and critique their ads. Usually call each other and either get a good laugh or give props.

As for the other framers, with the exception of one, I am on good terms, though not as close. They either run their businesses based on being the cheapest or offer the same old/ same old. Zero competition.

Just to give you an idea on my relationship with these guys...my saw is in the shop to have the armature replaced.. had Lori cut my metals and borrowed Mike's chopper. My door is open to these folks.


True Grumbler
I see our real competition as the other business's who want our client's disposable dollars. The boat dealers, electronics stores, restaurants, car dealers, etc. The money that goes to them is the money I want.

Other framers and I have a common goal...make more people aware of custom framing. I help the other shops in town, with matboard, laminating, whatever they need. In one of my towns, there is one framer who seems to dislike me intensely, she bad-mouths us any chance she gets. We send work to her occasionally, but she must feel there is a price issue.

One of the other framers and I get together for coffee often, and laugh at how the other lady says bad things about us.

I just listen to what clients say about other framers, but never say anything bad about them myself. We don't pay any attention to their ads or pricing; they seldom call for information. We don't care about their price quotes, it won't change our price. We have a method for writing quotes so that other framers can't use them.

We do get a lot of information from the delivery guys, especially the one's that deliver glass...."Hey, this stuff is heavy, you always get twice as much glass as......."


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

Having had a glass supply business it is not a good idea to gauge the competition by the amount of glass they get.

Some that I delivered to also had a big through put of framing that did not have glazing.

Otherwise my outlook is right in line with yours.

In fact I try and emulate one of the longest established framers in Ireland who prides himself on being the most expensive framer in Ireland, guess why he's around for so long.


[This message has been edited by Dermot (edited September 06, 2001).]


Framing community is pretty insular here. I have worked in most of the shops arouns, or else I have worked with someone that works there now.

I do not let my actions or prices be driven by other shops. There are different circumstances contributing to our overhead. I never speak ill of another local framer. If a client is inclined to complain about a neighboring shop I usually start to talk about how quickly new materials and techniques are develpoing these days or if things are going really sour "What a fabulous handbag!" usually is a good distraction.

I've been shopped enough to spot it coming in.

the bottom line is I know and am friendly with most of the other framers around who do quality framing. I do not hoist pints with the "Corners" crowd. My shop is front room only so I don't have the opportunity to swap services, but have done in the past.

The pie here is pretty big and I just want my piece, not my neighbors'. I agree wholeheartedly with Texan (or would you prefer to be abreviated as "Slow"?) I will aggressively pursue every disposable dollar available, but not at the expense of my reputation as a nice person. (whether it's deserved or isn't)


True Grumbler

I'm curious about your ideas of what type of jobs there could be without glazing. We have a large vacuum press, and maybe 50% of our jobs go out laminated instead of with glass(I can get the exact percent later). No other shop in town has a press as large as ours, and don't seem to use much film, etc.

I have a friend in the carpet business and he says you can tell how much business a competitor is doing by how much pad they buy. So glass is the closest indicator that I can think of now. Does anyone have any other ideas. I know that when my drivers go to the warehouse to pick up orders, they look around to see how other framer's are doing.


True Grumbler

I'm just the Texan(not dubya). We're usually too busy hunting new business to worry about the other shops. Though a few of them are very nice people and I enjoy their company.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
There were 47 listings in the phone book last year under picture framing. Most of them I have never heard of. I am on very friendly terms with the older established shops, I send folks to them, they send folks to me.

There are two framers on my street. One mile away is Kramer's old shop. We have very friendly relationships with most, and I NEVER bother to read ads, or worry about the competition. Before I learned how to establish my pricing policy, back when I was an employee, the boss used to make us call other shops and get prices. We had great fun trying to sound dumb, like so many who call. "I wanna frame this pitcher, and I want a white mount on it." You know.

I can walk into one of my competitors shops and borrow a cup of backplates, or he can come to me for a 16 x 20 Kelly green. We all have such different approaches to the business, I am not worried.

The drivers and reps are very chatty, I hear all the latest gossip, but I don't pay much attention. One guy told me that one area framer pulled a Khrushchev and said he was gonna "bury" all the framers in town. Don't know whether he pounded his shoe on the table, but, guess what, we're all still here!

Kramer's shop cuts customer's frames down for me (I don't have a saw) and several years ago it was very slow, no customers, and I found out another shop had temporarily lost a framer, so I put in 2 or 3 days getting them up to speed (they paid me).

Don't call me little Mary Sunshine or anything, but I try to get along with everybody and "always look on the bright side of life, ta dum , ta dum, ta dum."

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I know most framers don't care about competition or their pricing, feeling their prices are justified due to their own set of circumstances.

As a retailer, might I offer another insight? We shop our competition seriously for many reasons and we do it twice a year. A lot of my friends in the trade give us the info over the phone. And I share the data (not by store, but by range of pricing) with all that participate. A wonderful point in case is a nice family run business that used a fixed multilpier on glass that would yield the desired CoG. The only problem was they were about $4 a lite under every single shop in town, and they had no idea because they felt their pricing was exactly where they wanted to be. Upon receiving the results guess what they did? The same as anyone else would do, they raised their prices on glass to be more reflective of the market.

We use these surveys to make sure we are neither too low nor too high. We want to be getting all the market will bear while not pricing ourselves out of the market. And the only way to know that is to know your market.

It is one of the several components that we use to determine the "right price". And it is a decision I make with all the variables in place.

[This message has been edited by Bob Carter (edited September 06, 2001).]

John Ranes II CPF GCF

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Gosh Ron,

You made me laugh out loud, with your caller ID story! We've thought about putting it in our shop, but haven't bothered.....we still get to wonder about those hang ups and where those solicitors are calling from!

We get along fine with our "competition".... our closest is an upper end needlework shop about four blocks away that also does framing.........The four of us went golfing together yesterday.

We probably know PPFA members better than other competitors as we'll meet at state chapter functions (Only 3 currently in Appleton).... got to send you that application, Ron.

I guess similar to Bob, we monitor what our competition is doing, but we don't worry about them. It's important to have your own identity and business plan. Stay on course by focusing on your own direction.

We monitor ads and marketing from not only our "competition" but by all retailers. We look for trends and creativity.....hey, great ideas are "borrowed" from other sources all the time.




The Frame Workshop of Appleton, Inc.<A HREF="http://www.theframeworkshop.com" TARGET=_blank>
"Most formidible competition in town"</A>
Appleton, Wisconsin

[This message has been edited by John Ranes II, CPF, GCF (edited September 06, 2001).]


The Frame Workshop of Appleton, Inc.
"Most formidible competition in town"
Appleton, Wisconsin

Oh great! Now I've given him a new slogan. It was bad enough when it was The Most Award Winning Frame Shop In America.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
John-I understand your point of view will probably be common, and we partly agree. But, I have to tell you we don't obsess by who charges what, but we do track pricing trends and pricing parameters. It's just all those years of Business school and in-the-field expereinc.Old tried and true habits die hard.
I know most won't spend the time, but to us it's important to have a sense of market.

But tell me, if you found out that you were $4 a lite less than the cheapest price in your market, wouldn't you go up? Sure you would. And there's only one way to be sure. Remember Jay Goltz's statement that he's convinced that most framer's don't charge enough? How do you know if you don't have a sense of market? It's not about matching prices, it's certainly not about being too low...it's about charging the most the market will bear while not pricing yourself out of the market. If you really don't care what the market dictates, raise every price tomorrow by 15%. If you are priced correctly today (and we'll assume you are) then will 15% price you out of the market? If the answer is no it won't, then why not go up? But fear will stop most of us from doing this, and the fear is based on the unknown. We just think it's important to know the unknown. It's just something we learn about market research and it just might help.

But please do what works well for you; I'm just sharing my experience and education. Like Ellen says "use what you can..."


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dermot:

Glass would be a good indicator though I would not relay on it greatly.

My best guess would be that the most reliable indicator would be the volume of hardware this would give you a good volume count.

In Ireland oils are a big thing very few go under glass also acrylic's.

Very little work is laminated unless it is block mounted.

Ye a friend of mine has one of those 8 x 4ft. presses I give him any laminating that I get he also gets lots of work from the advertising agencies mostly work for display in department stores, good line of business in Ireland.

I guess it is all a bit academic for me as I take the approach that if your competition or perceived competition have no idea what you are up to what chance can your customers.

From my stand point I will tell all what the situation is as I'm one of those who is trying to get pricing and quality of framing up in Ireland, which if you compare it to the US, Ireland Avg.ticket prise $60 to 70 US $200 to 220 so we have a long way to go.

I had a chat with the nearest framer to me yesterday a long time on the go and well established,I get on great with him in fact it was him who encouraged me to return to framing as he just cannot keep with the work, anyway he has tried very hard over the years to raise the standards with little success though I must say he would be one of the top framers in Ireland.

The whole business has a long way to go over here.

The big question is how we can drive it forward, so hopefully I will return from Atlanta with a few ideas, for despite putting a lot of thought into it I'm not making much headway, it a bit scary to think if I go the route of "protective" conservation type/level framing I would be the only one in Ireland who would be doing it.


[This message has been edited by Dermot (edited September 07, 2001).]


True Grumbler
You are right on the mark. This is really the only reason to shop the competition.
We are a member of a group of framers in town and hope I can use your thoughts to convince the other people to use this tool to make sure we are pricing ourselves fairly in our market. This is something we used to do on a regular basis, but dropped it due to lack of interest.
Keep up the good advice!! It is better than any book on the market.



Good topic, Artlady
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ArtLady:
1)How you all perceive your competition?
2)What you do with information about them?
3)Do you make strategic plans based on their actions?
4)Do you perceive them as the enemy?
5)Do you talk to them?
6)How do you handle phone calls from them looking for information that is none of their business?
7)Do you listen to customer comments about them?
8)Do you watch their ads?
1)Most are incompetent, by what I see that comes to us for repair or reframe.
2)I use the general knowledge I gain from them to make general decisions.
3)No. I do what I feel is the best for me and my business.
4)Yes. We are the leader in this area and they're always taking pokes at us. (I'm really not paranoid)

5) Only if they institute the conversation. I'm cordial but not friendly.
6) We don't give any information that we believe to be proprietary over the phone or in person.
7) I do hear alot of comments from new customers and then I tell them the way we do things here and why.
8) I look for their ads (including want-ads), but I don't plan any strategy (ie. match sale offers) in response. Another example is yellow page ads. Currently I have two competitors that claim "4000 frame samples" in their showrooms. My showroom is twice the size of one of them and 3-4 times of the other and we only carry 2100. Customers are always telling me that they have never seen such a great selection. All I can do is "grin and bear it".
One last thought. If anyone of my local competitors ever came in under a flag of truce, I would be very cooperative with them. We are one of the oldest framers around here and not one of them has ever come in and introduced themselves as we did to the existing shops when we first started. (In those days, I found it was not the thing to do and I got an icey reception.)But, at least I tried. I think that the distance and partial anonimity of "The Grumble" is why we are all so helpful and honest with each other. Good luck to all of you and happy grumbling.

curlyframer, CPF

[This message has been edited by curly (edited September 07, 2001).]


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
The only competitor in my area is a semi-retired couple who I know from local PPFA.Their shop is in a small town nearby. We always sit together and gossip aobut local events. One time the waitress at one of these asked if I was their daughter. Occasionally we see each other in the grocery store, usually good for at least a 5 minute conversation.

Anne LeBouton

Egon's cage

Hello Everyone!

As far as competition goes, in the exact town that we are located in, there is only one other frame shop... and their reputation is for being an inexpensive get it cheap kind of place, or so the customers find out after they come to us, happily, with their re-dos.

We are in the Cleveland area, and deal with many individuals from surrounding cities.
Our quality and our service is unparalleled, so we don't have much competition in that respect. We don't compare prices, we don't really care, and the only time I talk to the frame shop across the street is when a husband comes to pick up a picture for his wife at the wrong framestore, because he usually comes to us, and she went over there.

I hope this doesn't sound haughty, it's not, but when you do the business we do, and have a reputation for quality in product, service, and consultation, you just thrive on your own.

Our average frame is $26 dollars a foot...the most expensive frame is $110 dollars a foot... we carry all in-stock Italian imported moulding, and use Crescent linen, suede,rag and bainbridge silks 99.9% of the time.

We also have a lifetime warranty and 100% customer satisfaction policy, if they damage the frame, or break the glass--EVER--we'll replace it free of charge... and they have 30 days from pick up to tell us they don't like it, and free of charge, we'll redo it <up to the original cost of course>...

So, as far as competition, the Framing Goddess will tell you, there are MULTITUDES of framers in the Cleveland area, but in our radius...not really.

Good day!
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