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"Compliments of" Advertising


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Being in a small town with five custom framers counting myself, I am constantly looking for ways to get attention. While a local, privately owned restaurant changed ownership and was undergoing a decor facelift, I went to the owner and asked if I could provide them with complimentary custom framing. I contacted the decorator they had hired, and we worked together on designs and color.

The ladies restroom has two framed prints; the main dining room has a shadowbox; and the entrance holds another framed print. Included in each package is an engraved plate reading "Compliments of High Cotton Custom Framing". Since the projects and redecorating have just recently been completed, I am anxious to see the public response.

This will be permanent advertising that will take care of itself. I have high hopes!
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stud d

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Smart move. It is good to get in with these places. You mentioned provided....did this mean free? If they have a decorator I would assume not, but figured I woould ask

Patrick Leeland


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
probably 'free' - as she retains ownership of the pieces. smart move.


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Yes, free. Since I was the one to initiate it, I would not want to charge them. The decorator helped with the color scheme so that all would coordinate with her plans. Also, free allowed me to have "Compliments of" on the plates.

Jack Flynn

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Good initiative and good idea.

My wife owns a restaurant and all the art in there is framed by me. I change it up now and then and it has resulted in walk-in, telephone and email inquiries.

Key in my case was creating a rack card about my business with the contact info prominently shown and placing the cards in a rack in the foyer. Gotta make it easy for them to learn how to contact you. Also taught the waitstaff how to field questions about who framed the art so they could easily direct customers to the rack card.

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
I thought only framers noticed the framing in a restaurant?

Restaurants typically sell advertisements on their tabletops and menus. I don't see why the walls should be any different. However I thought the idea was to make money framing.

I very reluctantly agreed to frame some photos for a photographer who rented a kiosk in the mall. I've never done this kind of thing and I'm quite skeptical about this as an "advertisement opportunity". Who knows, might turn out to be something.

Jack Flynn

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Guess I should add that those customer inquiries do convert into new business at a rate equal to or better than my other advertising.

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I hope it works wel for you, but we wouldn't touch it with a 10 ft stick of moulding.

The big upside is that the establishment gets decor without spending any money and you hope to get some referral because someone sees your work

We used to get "offers" like these quite often with all these "think what it will do for your business" exclamations. I would respond that they ought to, in that case, bring over a plate of food every day and we would "show it off" and "think what that would do for THEIR business"?

Never got a plate of food

As Jack states, perhaps you ought to track the results

And what happens if a piece "mysteriuosly dissappers". You wouldn't believe what walks out the back doors


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
it's a demographics thing. she's in a small town, with fairly considerable competition.

if she were in a large metropolis, it wouldn't work.

this is an exposure / advertising deal - tracking such a thing would be impractical, if not impossible.

stud d

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I like the idea-business helping business...and it is a chance to show off framing. But it is for free, therefor they have no monetary interest on weather it works or does not, and they don't need to worry if something goes wrong...not good. I have done this with some work on two different occassions at diferent places, did not work either time. Both times the artwork was ruined and they did not tell me till I picked up. Nice surprise as to the work was going to another place very soon thereafter.

Definitely track results. Put up business cards with a symble that the customer would not notice. And write free up grade of glass to uv (up to size 11x14?) with this card only. Then when folks come in ask how they heard of you...if they have the card you can see the symble and know where they came from.

Good luck, and keep an eye on your stuff-security hangers a must!!!
Patrick Leeland


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I think this is a viable approach. Since doing a large corporate project - I have received numerous referrals from that and that is without anything indicating I am the person who framed it but the employees know and will direct the people who inquire to my shop!!

In a commercial venue where you have initiated this... the thought of a "time element" to the "free framing" could be part of the deal. Say, for 6-12 months, at which point you will offer it to them at a price negotiated before the installation or subsequent removal. That gives them time to decide if they are happy with it. And I would say in most cases they will want to keep the artwork you have provided.



SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have not done "complements of" framing, but I have worked with my moulding company and done "merchandised" moulding so I could pass on some savings to a new restaurant and a new business and I get to put up a sign that states who the framing was done by.

I think that if the word gets out on this, you might find yourself in a pickle. I'm sure the Interior designer or decorater didn't do it "complements of" and you may find that the designer will expect this from you going forward on new projects.

I would just warn you to be careful, there are lots of vultures out there (in NY, we have a crow problem :D ).

Don't give away your business.

my 2 cents


Angry Badger
The other issue with putting art in a non-gallery setting is the maintenance issue. The cleaning staff will pretty much ruin the framing within a year unless they are trained properly.
Good money for the framer if the restaurant owns the work and springs for new mats and extensive cleaning (I mean nasty solvents to de-grease the frames), but a bit of a PITA if you want what you own to stay in decent shape.

One local upscale Diner installed hanging systems and drop lighting. They show local work on a rotating basis, and I think they actually sell a few pieces. I have seen food residue on the frames and in one instance on the acrylic painting.

Oh, and definitely what Bob said about growing legs and walking out. I replaced one piece in the men's bathroom several times. Even with security hangers they would break the frame from the front, pry out the acrylic glazing, take the artwork out of the matting, roll it up and walk out.


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Let me clarify for you skeptics. This is not a chain restaurant; it is an upscale, sole proprietorship.

The population of our city is no more than 16,000.

The custom plates are inside the frame package--not easily removed without ruining the matting.

Artwork is not special edition, signed and no., etc.; the frames are the only real value here. There is no way anyone could walk out with any of them considering the layout of the restaurant.

I eat at this restaurant often and receive complimentary cocktails on every visit.

Finally, I have not put anymore into this type of advertising than I have already lost through newspaper and magazine publications--nothing to lose here.

Thanks for the feedback and comments. I like the pick up a card idea.

Mike LeCompte CPF

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I personally think it's a fantastic idea for only one reason: eyeballs.

You're geting more "eyeballs" on your work than you would if it were only in your store. And I don't care if you're a Tim McCann in a huge mall with tons of traffic or someone like me in a strip center who's a destination-target; the more eyeballs on a piece the better.

Just be sure to put the expenses under "advertising" in your Quick Books. Nice job.

the free booze ain't bad either.

Lance E

Another concern would be how often do you need to replace them? Sure as heck you don't want it still hanging there in 24 months and out of fashion with your name blazing out for all to see, replacing them would rekwire new mouldings at the least - nor would you want to create an environment whereas you need to remove them and not replace them potentially annoying the restaurant owner...

We get an average of over 1 per day of this type of rekwest - I learned to say no fast.

Perhaps you could use such a beginning to create a rental customer, maybe you could approach with such an idea after a month or two have passed?

Grumbler F.K.A. Harry

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I like this idea with one twist.

I have done something like this with a couple of places in the past and have always done it at a very reduced price. Not free. I will give them a great price, slightly above cost in exchange for the credit.

I do this with a local salon and my wife and I get free hair/spa services. Works great for me. Just don't tell the accountant.


Sister, I did exactly the same thing as this a few years back. In my case, the clientele of this restaurant was my target marget to a tee and the owner a good customer who promoted me at every opportunity. She happily handed out bus cards and brochures for me.

I sold several pieces directly off her walls and had other good referrals who like the look of the framing. Unfortunately, the restaurant changed hands and the new owners just wanted free art with no work so I ended it.

I didn't track it back then but i would today.

It worked for me I think mainly because of my relationship with the owner. Can you count on that?


PFG, Picture Framing God
Man, I am so glad I asked this question several years ago when there were more naysayers here. If I had culled info from this thread I might have gone ahead with it. I based my decision on pretty much solid negative comments I got here. I was soundly shot down. Must have been a much different crowd.

Cliff Wilson

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Kathy, I was probably one of those naysayers. I've tried. It seems like a good idea. Never really did anything except give them free or nearly free framing.

I did get soem good results with a display in two local bank branches. They had a period of "help the small busiess" and I jumped on it. They let me put up a sign and small display with some business cards. Lasted about 3 motnhs. Brought in some good business.

Did some "compiments of" framing for two photographers. Great source of referals, right? Yeah right

Did some displays (I still owned the art, and put little promo signs near each piece) in a restaurant and gave them a "complements of framed piece for the lobby. Two years -- one order I can associate with that episode.

An active owner that will promote you and your work may be worth it because you are gettign an effective repeat referal, but a passive display? As Bob says, would not touch it with a 10' stick of moulding.

A barter like Harry mentions, a potentially different story.

Baer Charlton

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Was I the only person who noticed the
[Unkn] I eat at this restaurant often and receive complimentary cocktails on every visit.

[Shrug] Finally, I have not put anymore into this type of advertising than I have already lost through newspaper and magazine publications--nothing to lose here.
First, if she gets one referal more than she got off of newspapers and magazine advertising, it's a step in the right direction.

Second, As any old sailor can tell you, the three people to curry favor onboard ship is the XO [desides shore leave], Bosensmate [assigns work details], Cook [self explanitory].
So she often goes to that restraunt to eat. And she enjoys a free cocktail each time.....[@ $5 each, cocktails can add up very fast.]

just MHO.
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