Franchise question


Grumbler in Training
This question may have been covered in the past, but I can't find anything in recent month's topic headings...

What thoughts or experience do yall have regarding the franchise approach to framing? I realize that most here are independents, as that's the nature of the framing industry. But have you had any experience working for (or against) these? (And I don't mean the Big Box stores.)

What is their reputation for quality? For dealing with the franchisee? For pricing and competitiveness? For value to the customer?

Or whatever you think. Thanks ahead of time.
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PFG, Picture Framing God
Why do you think most of us are independants? There has to be a reason for that, you would think. Going with a franchise is the same as starting a shop from sratch or taking over an existing one. The only big difference is, once it's going, your going to have to spend a LOT more money, than if you started your own.

The franchise will claim they will give you support & guidence. So will The Grumble (for free) & PPFA (small anual fee). They claim they will set up your shop, so will Larson Juhl. They claim they will give you scorce of supply, look in the phone book or ask The Grumble. They claim they will give you business advise and advertising advise, join FramerSelect, ask The Grumble, or ask PPFA.

Don't waste your money. Franchises are the lazy mans way of going into a business & you will regret it down the line. The heck of it is, you will do just as much or even more work than if you go it alone.


Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
John and I agree big time on this issue. But one little exception: A really good franchise can help you not make mistakes that we all have made simply because we didn't know better.

So if you need that extra help(and most do) a franchise can help you overcome those obstacles. They do offer a much more closer knit group of like-minded people with a much more defined goal. Most have a built-in mentor program that allows for support. So they ain't all bad.

My reservation is you pay for that same start-up help forever. And at some point you ought to be able to do it on your own.

There are some good ones, some not so good. But I think their success rates are much better than independents, too.

If you need the help, they are probably well worth it. If you know how to do it already, probably not. But I would only get the best franchisor out there

Lance E

I would propose that Franchise operations are more suited to an absentee owner, or perhaps a "framer" without adequate knowledge or expertise to confidently run their business. A franchise will provide excellent information that is required for day to day running of the business and the general policies and procedures that should be followed in order to achieve success.
Personally I have never seen a franchise agreement that I considered to be fair to both parties, the most common reason for people opting for franchise would be where the franchiser has hold of the head lease for a fantastic location.

The main "bug-bear" for me would be that there would always be the question "who is the boss?".


Grumbler in Training
As always, very helpful replies! MANY thanks...

Personally, I'm especially interested in setting up a business system--more than simply being the proprietor of a frame shop. My desire is to create a mechanism for positive cash flow, not just have my own retail operation. Framing is something in which my wife and I have both exposure and personal interest. We very much enjoy this industry and feel good about it. But in the long term, I could see myself as the owner of a chain of stores rather than being the guy who joins corners and cuts glass all day.

I KNOW that I can make a FAR better hamburger than McD's, but can I build a more successful business system? The framing business is not the restaurant business, but perhaps it presents some of the same opportunities for systemized growth that existed in fast food 40 years ago.

I really don't expect the franchisor to do all the work for me, but to (perhaps) offer benefits that I can't achieve on my own.

This may seem blasphemous, but to me, framing is not "The Point" of starting my business. I'm trying to see these things as fill-in-the-blank equations, and remove the emotional and subjective elements (being my own boss, making my own decisions, being free from the corporation, etc.). The bottom line is...well... the Bottom Line!

My questions are:
Is there real money to be made in framing? And if so, is franchising more profitable than trying to get it all going by myself? Can I really expect framing to form the basis of a business that will generate something beyond "sole proprietorship?"

"Working for myself" is a VERY great temptation--but it's not enough. I have to make myself see the NUMBERS as the priority for making this decision.

Deb and I are both entrepreneurs at heart, and I have the skills and confidence to build a successful business. Risk is part of the game. But I now know enough to see that careful pre-planning is the key to long-term success. That's where we are today

I don't know the answers. Just thinking out loud in the company of experts.

BTW, I'd like to have a contact at Larson-Juhl who might tell me how they'll help setup a frame shop. That's the first I've heard of this option. Their web site is lacking in this information.

Thanks again!


PFG, Picture Framing God
Just call Larson Juhl, they will be all over you like flies on s---, assuming you have the ability to raise the initial capital to set up the first operation.

If you think running multiple stores is an easy prospect, wait untill you see the following posts.

Your idea is not original, there are many franchise framing operations going in the U.S. at this time, FastFrame comes to mind right now, but I know there are many more.

I wish you well in your endevors,



PFG, Picture Framing God
When talking about franchises, don't overlook The Great Frame Up, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. This concept has been through many economic cycles and prospered through them all. In addition, the management team is very experienced in both the retail world as well as franchising. The team has learned over the years how to make sales happen in good times or in bad.

Consider some of the benefits of a franchise: </font>
  • A team of experienced people to get you off on the right foot. They've learned from their experience, so you don't have to make the same mistakes many beginning businesses do. </font>
  • Ongoing support in daily operations and framing matters. </font>
  • By pooling togther funds, a franchise creates professional marketing materials that most small businesses would not otherwise be able to afford. </font>
  • Great vendor discounts. Sure, a lot of vendors will give discounts to high-volume stores or exclusive partners, but in a franchise, EVERY store gets those discounts from day one. </font>
I can't imagine how someone would think going it alone is the best way to travel. There are many bumps in the road, and having a partner to work with you when you hit a hard spot is worth it all. "Together everyone achieves more" certainly is true with a franchise. It is more than just discounts. It is knowledge. It is teamwork. It is accomplishment.
By the way, if you'd like information about The Great Frame Up, contact
<MARQUEE> Where Picture Framing is an Art </MARQUEE>


True Grumbler
VERY carefully consider whether the benefits you receive as a franchisee--not just when starting up, but for the life of the business--is worth 7-8% of your gross revenue.


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Fixaframe, are you thinking of purchasing an existing franchise store or are you considering setting up your own franchise structure?
The latter will be cost prohibitive for most start-ups as you need to secure trademarks and have an experienced management and legal team in place as well as a proven strategy in company policies, ect.
I understand that some franchises offer to help convert existing frameshops under their umbrella.
That seems like it could be an attractive option.
Personally, I'd prefer to go it alone unless some things change in the market.
Good luck with your investigation.


PFG, Picture Framing God
One of the main reasons most of us are independents is start up costs.

An independent can go into business with some samples, knowledge of the craft & a mat cutter & of course a place to do it. My total start up costs 27 years ago was $250.00. I rented a 1920s era one car garage on a main street in San Diego for $125.00 per month. I got a friend to give me credit on enough old used equipment & some old mouldings to get started. I had to pay him $50.00 per month on a total of $1,400.00. With traveling expenses to go and get the stuff & set it up. I had $30.00 left to my name when I opened for business, July 1, 1976. At first all I had was a hand painted, butcher paper sign in the front. I turned that garage into a retail space, I put on a sign facia & put in a bathroom over a four year period. If I had to do the same today, under the same conditions, it would cost me about $1,000.00 or less to get started.

What does it cost to set up a franchise business?

And yes, starting on your own, with no money, is a very bumpy road. I would not trade the experiences or my business I have now for any franchise operation. I look in the mirror & I,m proud of myself for not quiting and seeing it through.

I have noticed that companys that start small are more likly to succeed as apposed to companys that start with huge amounts of capital. I had a friend that started his business with over $150,000 about a year after I started, it was a printing business. He lasted a little over one year, it's not like this guy didn't know what he was doing, he was a business major in college. Maybe he should have bought a franchise.


B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Originally posted by JRB:

I have noticed that companys that start small are more likly to succeed as opposed to companys that start with huge amounts of capital.
One of my favorite "non framing" magazines is INC. Now, when they talk about "venture capitalists", "Initial Public Offerings" "CEOs, CFOs, COOs", and the such, it's a little over my head (I understand what it means, I just can't relate to it.) But I always get something out of the magazine that I can use.

I have noticed several articles saying sorta the same thing that John is saying. When a company is "bootstrapping" (Big business term for doing it yourself!) rather than being "capitalized" (using someone else's money), they tend to work harder and have a tighter reign on how the money is spent.

Hey, I just thought that's the way everybody did it!


Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
There are a lot of different ways to get into business and a lot of different ways to fail in business. No guarantees either way.

What I would love to see is someone offer, for a limited period of time, practical experience and knowledge to get over the first few years of rocky road that we all have gone through(some bumpier than others). A fee-based system that would make it attractive to those with limited budgets, but still offer direct support from someone that has a proven track record of bootstrapping.

Then when the newbie reached a point when they could go solo, they wouldn't need the constant expense of help they felt they no longer needed.

Gee, is that a new business concept I just smelled?

I think maybe Fixaframe ought to contact John privately and you all work out an agreement. John has certainly done it "his way" and offers a viable alternative.

Hey, I'll even waive the finders fee.

I'm joking about the finders fee, but serious that there ought to be a fee based system for help getting started

B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Originally posted by Bob Carter:
there ought to be a fee based system for help getting started
You mean sorta like a "mentoring" system?

The PPFA, the grumble, et al, are great for having questions answered, but the same question can be answered a thousand times, a thousand different ways, and all the answers be correct; for the person answering. However. it may not be the right answer for the original person asking the question.

Hmmmm... yeah Bob, sounds like a viable business to me. Somebody needs to "innovate" this concept into the framing industry.

Does FramerSelect offer something like this, or is it mostly a marketing concept? Is this something like Larson/Juhl does? Somebody ought to see a brand new business opportunity here...



PFG, Picture Framing God
"Bootstraping" Today I learned a new word, how about that. There is no big secret to starting your own business that way. The only rules are, your not allowed to throw in the towel, no matter what. Your not allowed to do it part time and you can't have much or any money.
It's a simple proceedure, you must know how to frame though.

Your in your new shop, you've spent your last thirty dollars and you are literaly, hungry. You need a hamburger or something because you have not had a thing to eat for a couple of days. At this point your pride has been diminished to a more practical level, you no longer care what people think, you need food. You get down off your high horse and start walking the neiborhood, going door to door. "Lady, I'll frame any document for you for five bucks" You take the document, go back to your shop, put a frame around it & go collect your five bucks. You get to eat dinner, is that cool or what? More importantly is, you've learned something, if you go door to door and introduce yourself, you'll get work.

I have a ninth grade education, as I'm sure most of you can tell by my spelling & gramer. You don't need an education, you don't need money, but you do need motivation. Nothing will build a business faster than fear and hunger.

You have to be 100% committed to doing it. OK, you've got bills, so what, so did I, big ones. You call your creditors every week, no matter what, and no matter how stupid you feel. If you can't pay them anything at all, you still call them. By staying in touch, you will preserve what little credit you have left & avoid bankrupsy, that's important.

There are always excuses for not doing the things we realy want to do, very few people can just say bull, I'm going for it, now.


Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hi Betty-As I think about it (as oppossed to my typical off the top of my head approach), this really is a business opportunity for someone. And, no, FramerSelect doesn't offer such a benefit (but it's a good idea).

But a great idea is for someone that has proven themselves with a concept that is mainstream enough to allow those limited-budget start-ups(the vast majority) to pay a smaller fee for a limited amount of time in exchange for some real-world, been there, done that bootstrapping. This is in complete difference to a typical franchise system, in which you get cradle to grave help and fees.

There is a real and distinct advantage to the franchise system. I'm merely advocating for those that either can't, don't or won't pay the amount required by franchisors another alternative to getting start up help. And it needs to come from someone within the same trenches that these limited budget people will be, by necessity,working.

And I am serious about someone like JRB. He makes a living with very little expediture and there are many on this forum just like him. I'm simply advocating an alternative solution. There is a market for that end of our market. I don't think it's a particularly lucrative market, but for someone with a more "cottage" approach, it might be a useful and needed option


PFG, Picture Framing God
I started my business with very little money. My "nut" today is over $20,000.00 per month. That may be a small amount to some, but it ain't to me.


Framing Goddess

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
This thread needs to be a book for all small business owners.
John and Bob bring out the best in each other. Truly.
It is now time to raise my glass once more to TG!
- edie the eph jee

The resilience of entrepreneurs should never be underestimated.