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"Do you mind if I take a picture of this frame?"

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by cjmst3k, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    "I want to show my husband, but he usually says 'anything you want'".

    I have a feeling this turns our business into a commodity, if people use a photo to shop it around to other shops looking for the cheapest quote.

    Thoughts on allowing customers to take photos at the counter of your 1 hour of service to "think about"?
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  2. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    More to the point, how would you go about stopping them? Then, does this happen often enough to have to establish some sort of guidelines or policy to deal with it?
    Had it happen to me not long ago. I knew the person, and I knew that she was shopping me. She whipped out her cell phone and took a quick snap of the design faster than I could have reacted to stop her. I can't think of a scenario where preventing someone from photographing a frame design would work well for the designer. Even if it is policy and clearly stated, "No Photography" still comes off as negative.
    We've been in business almost 40 years and this is the first instance where I would have prevented photography if I could have. I'm not going to lose too much sleep over it.
  3. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    nothing you can do. but a lot of the times the pictures don't turn out to well so the next person will have no idea what it REALLY looks like. Can't tell you how many times peopel try to show me photos of frames they have in their house, and i can't tell what it is because its so small on their phones.
  4. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    "No problem. I'll be pleased to email him a digital composite image of the whole frame design while you're here, and save you from having to make another trip. What's his email address? You can call and tell him it's coming through right now."

    A framer with a visualization system has a real advantage.

    If you have that advantage, or other advantages that set you apart from the competition, maybe there is no reason to fear the customer's shopping around. The key is to make doing business with you a higher priority than finding the cheapest frame price.
  5. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    As low as my prices are I figure anybody being that "Frugal" who finds another framer to beat my price deserves the other framer. I'm not the place to shop for the cheapest framing known to man so if you need a photo of a cheap black frame go for it and somebody will beat it. Take a picture of anything nicer and if somebody wants to undercut me by using sub standard materials then the 2 deserve each others business.

    The highest priced item I sell is time. Package pricing allows for a quote in under one minute since every frame is the same price. People love the fact that they can choose what they really love without the fear of sticker shock. Quotes are given before design occurs. There can be plenty of deviations from standard pricing based on upgrades but an instant price gives them confidence to move forward.
  6. artfolio

    artfolio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    That kind of "shopping around" gets up my nose but it is just part of the rich tapestry of human behaviour and something we have to live with. I gently tell them so snap away adding "you will probably find it cheaper but you won't get it better".

    My favourite story about price shoppers came from an obnoxious and very demanding little twerp who was a customer of mine for a while. He came in with a picture of a photo which had been mounted behind perspex and held on the wall by four stainless steel pillars. He wanted me to do "a better price" for him. I recognised the job straight away as having been done by the people who do my cold laminating and knew that they were the only people in Perth with the means of doing this.

    Long story short, I rang them after he had left and the lady of the house, who you would not want for an enemy, was quite annoyed. Her husband told me later that the next time he went around there she all but threw him out and told him never to darken her door again.

    I stopped doing busness with him myself soon after that as he was more trouble than he was worth.
  7. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I let people take pictures of the design as usually this is an honest request to really show to someone else and get their opinion. If they want to do some price shopping, well, good luck then with that. They might come close to color and design from just that photo, I don't know and I don't care. Did they just waste an hour of my time, sure. It happens, it's retail.

    I let people take samples home too sometimes and yes, they would provide them with the numbers and yes, it would allow them to price shop. People rarely request samples to take home (and sometimes I do have scraps of moulding/mats which don't show numbers and will pass those out and tell them to keep them) and when they do, it is an honest request to see how a color works in their homes. I have no problem with that.

    It stops for me at writing down the item numbers on quotes. I don't do that. Ever.

    People are people. Some are stupid and out to get you but most are nice and honest and appreciate what I do.
  8. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I let people take pictures of designs, take home corner samples and give them written quotes. My prices are what they are. If they want to look for a better price elsewhere, that's fine with me. If one of my fellow framers gets one of my quotes that's less time they have to waste with that customer.

    I have occasionally wondered if a customer is taking a picture at my shop and going to a competitor with it, but in all the time I have been in business I have never had a shopper come in with a picture that they took at another frame shop. Have you? If so, did you undercut that other shop's price? If your prices are not negotiable it doesn't matter if people are price shopping you. There is nothing you can or would do about it.

  9. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I have had customers bring in actual samples from other shops looking to see what our price is, or what similar frames we offer. We have frame shops, from big box to indies, all over our area so it does concern me. There's been "shoppers" coming in wasting up to 3 hours at a shot on design, and then no purchase ever. ...so in my opinion, someone is getting the business. I don't want to be cynical about it, but given my experiences since I opened in this region, its hard not to be.
  10. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree with Ylva's post completely and also Jim's.

    I feel sorry for framers who have to deal with customers that would consider taking pictures of a design and shopping it. I've never known that to happen... snap away.

    I too send samples home with customers to show "hubby" and also to view in their environment and, if they live close, offer to come out before or after hours to guide them in their decision. Few take me up on that, but I have never ever not had samples returned.
  11. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Nearly every one I have lent out has come back destroyed and worthless. The last 3 were left outside my door on a Sunday and it rained all night and the next day as well. I make my samples over sized from my own moulding so it is as much as 3 feet of moulding and my time to replace them. Most promise to bring them right back in the next day or two but take 1-2 weeks to return the destroyed samples. I no longer lend samples so if they can't decide in my store they are out of luck. I really don't need the business so I am not concerned about not getting a job from a PITA customer.
  12. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Don't know what to say, Jeff. Most customers return the samples within a day or two... sometimes the same day. I even lend out closed corner samples and have yet to have any problem.


    PS. Don't tell Bron I lend out his samples.
  13. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Like Dave, I have never had a problem with samples not being returned, or damaged or anything. It doesn't happen all too often that customers take samples home but if they ask, I will let them do so.

    I might have jinxed myself now....
  14. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Same here. Never had a problem with this.
    :cool: Rick
  15. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I have always allowed potential customers take design pictures with their phones, and have also let them borrow my samples. With the exception of some designers, they have always been returned promptly. I cant think of an instance where I didnt get an order. Customers generally appreciate your effort to help.

    When my daughter was planning her wedding, I went to a small wedding boutique, and found the perfect outfit. My daughter was not able to come then to look at it, so the owner suggested that I take it home, so my whole family could look at it, before deciding. That meant a lot to me, and I bought that outfit from her, even though I could have gotten it less expensive online. I checked it out!

    So there ya go! You dish out some Love, and you're gonna get it in return.
  16. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I guess this gets to the heart of the issue.

    Most of the time when I allow someone to take the sample home or take a photo of frames they "love", it results in the loss of a sale. The only logical conclusion is that people are shopping it (or suddenly deciding they don't love it and don't want to shop with us for a new choice).
  17. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    If this happened to me cconsistently I'd start to take a close look at the sales process. Is there something going on, something I'm missing or not doing well, that's preventing me from closing the sale? We all know how hard it is to get customers in the door to begin with; it's really a long shot to hope they come back to place an order once they leave.

    Is the problem with customers or with me?
  18. Framing Goddess

    Framing Goddess SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    What Dave said.

    I think it's a matter of 'knowing' your customers. If they consistently come in and suck up your time designing framing without placing an order, then you have another problem on your hand other than a photography issue. I DID have a woman do that to me a few years back and I (nicely) cancelled her ticket. (so to speak)

    I would let just about anybody take photos of the framing we chose. In fact I encourage it if they are having trouble deciding. I've never had it work against me, that I know of. And they do come back.

    edie the atleastthatshowithasworkeduptonow goddess
  19. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Consistently is a key distinction. We all have customers walk away on occasion.

    If it happens once in a while, consider that nobody can please everyone. In that case, the problem probably is with the customer.

    If it happens a little more than you think it should, maybe the problem is with you, or maybe not. I suggest you review your sales environment and your sales technique with a trusted friend or family member, and ask for their honest critique. That should help you minimize the words & gestures that turn off potential customers, and help you develop whatever skills you need for more positive outcomes.

    If it happens a lot, the problem is probably with you. Do not assume pricing is the problem, but check your prices against your local competitors and make adjustments if necessary. Since pricing is seldom the whole issue, consider attending classes in salesmanship, frame design, interpersonal skills, communication, et al. Also consider changing your sales environment to be more attractive, more pleasing, more customer-friendly. Commit to doing whatever it takes to fix your deficiencies. Your business depends on it.
  20. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    How often do you think this happens Chris? I find that the customers who take samples home do so because they really want to see how it looks in their homes. Boldly stated; when a customer takes a sample home, it always results in an order and a good order too.
    Again, it doesn't happen all too often that samples go home with a customer but I have never not received the order after allowing them to do so.

    There will always be customers who walk. Mostly the ones with very unrealistic expectations to start with. Price shopping? I don't know....it has happened but not all too often and was very obvious.
    I don't compete on price but am fairly certain that people do come back for my design and the personal attention. The amount of repeat customers speaks for itself. The nice emails from one time customers (and not everyone can be a repeat customer) also speak for themselves.

    Your store looks pretty high end, right? So people probably already expect to pay a little more....maybe you should treat your potential customers more like royalty in order to make them customers? I don't know anything about your sales skills, or how your previous shop was. Maybe you made the transformation to high end shop, location wise, but maybe you still have some transforming to do yourself as well?

    (not meant to be mean, but sometimes our shops don't match our personality/sales skills)
  21. susang

    susang SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm finding that younger folks are whipping out the cell phone to take photos of corners. Last week one guy had the audacity to type the numbers along with the photos. This doesn't happen too much but mostly if it happens it's with somebody younger and a new customer. Living in the county with the oldest population of PA helps. Although they are techno savvy, the 80 year olds are not snapping photos with their smart phones. They are generally decisive (don't need to show hubby) and are willing to spend money with those that they know and trust. I love my seniors!
  22. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    That's the way of today's consumer. Take solace in knowing that it happens to your competitors too.

    One thing you can do when a customer does that is to encourage them shop around - "Shop around, we actually encourage it. I know you'll be back. Our customers will tell you that we have the best framing and the best value around."

    When you say this, it frequently takes the wind out of their sails. Afterall, if you're encouraging them to comparison shop, you must have confidence in your work and your prices. You'll be amazed at how effective this technique is. It also helps reduce the frustration we experience when we think a customer is playing us.
  23. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Something else I've done is to give them helpful suggestions for how to
    frame their art. For example, 'Whenever you do frame this, it's important
    to use a framer who'll treat it properly. There are different quality levels
    in matting and glass, as well as proper hinging methods, and conservation
    materials can help to protect it over time.' It shows them we have useful
    knowledge & care about their artwork, and more often than not, they decide
    to stick with us.
  24. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I walked into a large supermarket ( Cub Foods) and the sign on the entry door said: No Recording devices allowed.

    That would seem to cover a lot of ground in a non-confrontational way.

    I'm surrounded by designers and others who are able to buy direct from a distributor or home based framer.

    I let people take samples home.
    I send out and print out visualizations.
    I only give out limited product information when giving written quote.
    I also get showroomed on a regular basis.
    Sometimes I lose at this game but agree with Paul C : this is the way people shop so we have to get used to it.

  25. Not your average framer

    Not your average framer CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    This sort of thing really does not bother me at all. I don't care if they take photos, or not. Customers like this are probably the very ones, who you wish were someone elses problem, instead of yours.
  26. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    We were in Paris on our honeymoon, and I tried to take a picture of Terry inside the Swatch store on the Champs Elysees. Two serious looking employees approached me immediately and told me there was no photography allowed in the store. I guess they thought I was planning to steal their ideas and start my own international chain of cheap plastic watch stores.
    :kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
  27. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    A preacher came in our store yesterday and had his interior designer come in today.

    Designer loves our frames, and said he works with a number of other frame shops and was glad to know we are here.

    Him: "I love this frame, can you write down the frame for me?"

    Me: "Um... ok."

    Him: "Oh, and how much is that frame in this size"

    Me: "It is $xxx"

    Him: "Ok. Do you mind if I take a picture of that frame?"

    Me: (thinking of this thread, and wondering if I'm being too paranoid) "Um... sure, you can take a photo of it."

    ...so, you guys wouldn't think twice about allowing people to photograph your samples?
  28. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    You know what? I just called the customer from last week who LOVED the frame, and "just wanted to show" her boyfriend a photo of it.

    Me: "I'm just checking to see if I should save the quote in the system, or if you had any question with the frame you chose last week?"

    Her: "Oh, thank you, we're going another route."

    (Translation: After taking an hour of design time, you gave me the info to shop around and not patronize your business)

    I'm now designing a "No Photo" policy sign on the counter.

    It sounds like photos are helping you all with your customers, but we apparently have a different breed of "shoppers" here.
  29. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I neglected to mention this experience, but I've also had customers really like a design and after designing and after quoting looking at the back of the frame and repeat the numbers. "Seven, Four, Eight, Nine, Nine, Two.... Seven, Four, Eight, Nine, Nine, Two..." quietly to themselves until they remember the number. Then they take their item, never to be seen again.

    So, unless all of the above is common for you all, we have a different breed here.
  30. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Because I don't carry the usual suspects in the way of moulding I don't get people trying to remember numbers. I have had quite a few come in and ask about certain vendors and I just tell them to choose from what is on the wall. I have even had them pull out slips of paper with numbers on them but always say we can design it in a couple of minutes from scratch.

    The most common things I hear is that they don't need Museum/Masterpiece glass or the fabric mat. A large number of customers with cheap posters or mass produced designer prints don't want conservation glass or mats. If somebody has something that needs conservation framing I tell them up front and only quote those prices.
  31. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    You want to really mess with their head??

    Create your own labels with a different numbering system. Only your computer and you will know what it really is. Then they can memorize all they want!:nuts:

    I agree with the whole no photos thing but it hasn't been a problem here. In fact it hasn't happened in so long, I can't remember when the last time it happened.
  32. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    For my first few years I had all moulding with my own stickers on the back and a handwritten number, but the number related to the original, so any frame shop seeing a 4 digit number would know its decor, with a six digit code would know its LJ, etc. Now manufacturers print their name on the wood.

    I inquired with Ryan at IF/Wizard/RMS (POS System) to see if I buy generic barcode stickers to attach to the back of the frame, and get a barcode scanner, if they can import a list to the POS system (so no moulding or numbers are on the back, only the barcode) and he said that can't be done. I can only plug in each barcode equivalent, one at a time, in the POS, which requires clicking multiple pages per moulding to be filled out... times 2,000 mouldings. That's a 2-3 week task.

    I think one factor is that our new frame shop looks really expensive, so they might feel that going to a less expensive place would yield a less expensive price - which they might save $20 on a $250 order - so that may be a factor. It was somewhat of a factor in our old spot, but I believe more of an issue more recently since we moved and dressed the space up.
  33. EllenAtHowards

    EllenAtHowards PFG, Picture Framing God

    I ask myself "How often is this happening?" "Is it worth my time to re-code all my mouldings?"

    The answer here is "not often" and "no".

    I try not to over-react and put a whole new procedure in, if there are one or two instances of an issue in a year (or three)
  34. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    There was a time when we provided free quotes on request, and we continued that practice as the craft stores were taking over the market. Customers first came to our store for their frame designs, and increasingly took their business down the street to use a 50% discount coupon.

    My solution was to (A) stop giving estimates with numbers, and (B) remove the names & numbers from the frame and mat samples, showing only the barcodes. Using our barcode scanner, the complete description would show in our POS program, but it was amusing to see customers looking all over the samples for identifying names and numbers. A few asked for the numbers, and some still ask for written estimates. My typical response was, and still is, "If you don't want to order today, all of the framing information will be right here in the computer when you come back."

    In recent years the "design-and-run" problem has turned around. Now that the craft stores' take-over of the market is more-or-less complete, consumers go to them first, and then come here after they realize the deep discounts are a sham. There are no other independent framers remaining in my neighborhood. Since the consumers have already shopped around before they visit us, most who come in for a design these days are ready to buy.

    We no longer bother to remove identifying names & numbers from our samples, but if the problem ever comes back, we can do that again.
  35. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Jim, can you tell me exactly how to go about implementing this? Were you able to do this on a mass scale in an Excel sheet, or only one-by-one via multiple pages in your POS? How were the barcodes generated?
  36. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    If you want to remove the names and numbers, I suggest using black paint or marker.

    From most of our suppliers, the moulding and mat samples come with barcodes already applied. If not, then we can easily generate them from our FrameReady POS. We can print them one-at-a-time, or we can print out any particluar product groups, or the suppliers entire item listing.

    When we took up Peterboro matboards, we had to apply our own barcodes. I selected the entire product line, then printed the barcodes on sheets of 1/2" x 1-3/4" Avery labels. It took a couple of hours to put barcodes on all the samples, and it was well worth the effort.
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