• WELCOME Grumblers
    Backup is now done at 3PM EDT. You may find the server down for up to two minutes at that time.

"Hours By Appointment"?

jim_p

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Does anyone here have any experience with operating their business by appointment only? We've given some thought to going this route so as to (a) set expectations and allow for the proper amount of time for a design session, and (b) make the customer flow more predictable.

For (a) I can't count the number of times a customer comes in with an item to frame, and 10 minutes in they say they have to go pick up the kids or run to the doctor or somesuch. Operating by appointment could allow us to set expectations before they're at our doorstep ("How many items do you plan to bring in? We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes per item")

For (b) we've all had the situation where it's crickets all morning and you've sent the staff home, then suddenly six people come in all at once. It's very hard to give customers the proper amount of attention when that happens...

Has anybody actually gone this route? Any experiences?

Thanks!
 
Sponsor Wanted

neilframer

PFG, Picture Framing God
It would be nice if we could do this by appointment.

I worked by myself today, my sixth day in a row working this week.
We have 2 other people who work in the shop, but today I was by myself.
We are open from 12:00 to 4:00 on Saturday.

It was pretty quiet from about 1:00 to 3:00.
I was actually getting some work done.;)

Then at about 3:15 a new customer came in with 6 pieces to frame.
Then while I was working with them, 5 other people came in with framing issues or new framing to do.

Then the phone started ringing with another customer who wanted to bring in a framing job.
I couldn't even answer the phone so I let it go to messaging.
Then another call that I had to let go to messaging.

The new customer with the 6 pieces was very nice.
They let me juggle the other customers waiting to pick up and pay or with new framing.
I even had customers holding the front door to help those picking up framing to get the framing to their cars.:p
One of the new customers who came in with a framing job was the lady who left the message on our voicemail while I was working with the other folks.
I helped her while I was waiting on the other folks and she was very nice and mentioned our great reviews.
The phone was still beeping with her message that I hadn't even been able to listen to yet.
I mentioned to her that I was sorry that I hadn't been able to even listen to her message yet and she was very nice about it and even apologized to me about how busy I was and that she was very pleased to bring the job to us.

The ones with new framing, I took their names, quickly picked out mouldings and I told them we would call them with pricing.
They came in based on our 22 out of 22 5-star reviews on Yelp and 100% 5 star reviews on Google and Facebook.

I was in the Hospital emergency room on Tuesday for 5 hours with a Kidney stone attack.
This is possibly the most pain a person can have, even more than childbirth (I've been told...:oops:)
I had one in 2013, very similar.
I was back at work on Wednesday and the rest of the week still doing my thing.:cool:

Appointment only seems like a good deal and it might work for some, but for me, I kind of like never knowing what's gonna' come in the front door.;)
As far as the customers, I think that they want to work on their time and not when we can schedule them in.
Their time is "very important:cool:" and ours, "not so much:rolleyes:"...
 
Last edited:

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Holy Geez. Send some of that my way. You must be in a red state. I'm in a blue province.

Back to the thread: Jim: tell us more: are you only unlocking your doors for appointments?
What about the risk of losing those who don't know the policy, and show up anyway?
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I've been "By Appointment" since I opened my doors approximately 20 years ago. Potential customer, regular customers, and I myself love it. My customers aren't sitting around waiting for me to finish the project design for another customer, I'm always there when they come and not out to lunch or picking up supplies, and I can schedule my own day so I am able to get work done in between customers. That's not saying I don't have walk-ins but even with the walk-ins I explain about appointments and schedule them for later in the day, week, month, or whenever. If I don't have anything scheduled when they walk-in I will work with them if it doesn't conflict with a scheduled customer. I have not had a single complaint about "By Appointment" in fact all I have had is positive feedback even from my walk-ins.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
I do both. Some walk-ins, I design with on the spot. With others, I have them leave the art and come back to see my ideas (often by appointment). With others, t's by appointment from the beginning. After being open Tues-Sat forever, I changed to Wed.-Sat. last fall. Still work six days most weeks, and my hubby works a full time job, plus many hours here each week. It's great that I have one more day to either hide and frame or meet with customers.

One thing I never did before was have an appointment book. Being sort of ADD and randomly-minded, this worked fine. I'm good at remembering commitments, too. But last year, I forgot a couple, so now I write appointments, our weekly supply order dates, and our window-washer visits, in that. It's helped a lot. You people in modern times probably use your phones, but I'm barely up to working with paper.
 

neilframer

PFG, Picture Framing God
We do schedule some appointments, mainly with the corporate clients.

This is what I like about the Grumble.
It's a big mix and there may not be "The Answer" that works for everyone.
Different locations, different clientele, different economies, etc....
You can get lots of opinions, but you've gotta' find your own "zone" that works for you.;)
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I've changed my way of working in recent years. If you are a one-man band it gets difficult
if you have to go out during 'working' hours. Even if you just pop down the road to post a letter.
Also the retail area of my shop tends to be an overflow of the adjacent workshop. So I don't really
want hordes of folks trailing in when I have work spread about. I need to regulate visitors.
To this end I put a notice on the (locked) door to the effect that if the customer walks around the side
of the building and rings the doorbell, they can come in. (without their brood in tow and various dogs).
When I'm out of course they will be disappointed. :( Once they are in I tell them it's a good idea to
give me a ring if they are coming especially.
No need to book a appointment as such, just "Are you there this afternoon?" or whatever.
This has worked out well and allows me to plan my time and give everyone a better level of attention.
 

jim_p

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Back to the thread: Jim: tell us more: are you only unlocking your doors for appointments?
What about the risk of losing those who don't know the policy, and show up anyway?
I'm still thinking about exactly how I'm going to do this. What I'm imagining is setting it up a bit like a doctor's office with a reception/waiting area staffed by an office person. If someone comes in off the street the attendant will explain to them how we operate and offer to make an appointment for them if they'd like. We'd be open a few hours per day like this (probably downtown core hours like noon-4PM or somesuch). For customers who come by when we're closed there will be signage explaining our policy and directing them to several ways to book an appointment (phone number, URL, QR code, etc). We'll use an online booking app to let customers book appointments.
 

i-FRAMER

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
We do Saturday ny appointment only. If we have requested for Saturday then we will also open the doors that morning as well. Otherwise we are closed and enjoying our time off.

You could always start off by advertising Mon-Wed appointment only. Then you can gauge what people are preferring. If they prefer to make an appointment they will book, otherwise they will just come back in Thurs-Sat. If it works well, extend the days. If not, shorten them to 2 days. Sometimes it can take a while for it to become known, but at the end most people accept the change and will work with it.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
For what it's worth, when we're open, we're open to pausing during appointments to greet newcomers. For folks who absolutely don't want interruptions, we make design dates for days we're closed. Had hubby make a great little makeshift curtain thing that goes up or down in five minutes, so people outside can't see we're here. But for open days, even during a design appointment, I take a moment to welcome whoever enters. If they're picking up, my helper handles it, but if I'm alone, I do. If they have framing, I encourage them to leave it and make an appointment for a visit. If we make ourselves seem too inaccessible, it can frustrate people into not even coming. Our regular customers understand this, and I always try to make sure they leave feeling content.

Making people feel welcome is huge, so when we set limits, I try to frame it as offering them a good range of options.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
phone, email, website, and a calendar. That's all that is necessary. Put on your web site your hours that appointments, on the web site tell customers/potential customers all contact for appointments can be made by phone or email, and be religious about keeping up your calendar up to date. I keep my calendar on my phone and back it up with a desk top calendar. It's really easy. I'm a 1 man shop and am not going to put someone at a front desk to screen calls and meet & greet - it's to costly. In my opinion keep it simple and don't overthink it.
 

CB Art & Framing

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I'm still thinking about exactly how I'm going to do this. What I'm imagining is setting it up a bit like a doctor's office with a reception/waiting area staffed by an office person. If someone comes in off the street the attendant will explain to them how we operate and offer to make an appointment for them if they'd like. We'd be open a few hours per day like this (probably downtown core hours like noon-4PM or somesuch). For customers who come by when we're closed there will be signage explaining our policy and directing them to several ways to book an appointment (phone number, URL, QR code, etc). We'll use an online booking app to let customers book appointments.
A typical Custom Framing customer has to plan ahead anyway. They need to bring in item/s to be framed.
I would set up calendar on your website with slots for appointments.
 

Larry Peterson

PFG, Picture Framing God
phone, email, website, and a calendar. That's all that is necessary. Put on your web site your hours that appointments, on the web site tell customers/potential customers all contact for appointments can be made by phone or email, and be religious about keeping up your calendar up to date. I keep my calendar on my phone and back it up with a desk top calendar. It's really easy. I'm a 1 man shop and am not going to put someone at a front desk to screen calls and meet & greet - it's to costly. In my opinion keep it simple and don't overthink it.
Google Calendar will sync between your phone, tablets and desktop, keeping your appointments up to date on all. Enter an appointment on one and its synched to all your linked devices.
 

Dave

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I've trained most of my regular customers to call me before coming in as I'm sometimes out on installations, etc. I appreciate when they do because I can better prepare for them by reviewing past orders and their preferences.
 

cjmst3k

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I've been at my shop 7 days a week for the last 5+ years, and prior to that, 6 days a week.

Retail is unpredictable.

But if you're looking at concentrating times, maybe have certain days that are "open" and other days that are "by appointment".

Like:
MON-FRI: 10-6
SAT-SUN: By Appointment.

I believe its important for there to be "open" hours for two reasons:

A) For a new customer, if they have to make an appointment... They might be uncomfortable with the implied obligation to purchase, even if they don't like the ideas or options. They might end up loving your options, but this would potentially weigh on them. Probably not a concern if you're only relying on existing customers, as they already have a relationship with you.

B) Open hours allow for people to find time in their day, at the drop of a hat, or when inspiration strikes. Which counts for both existing customers, and new customers.

If you have SOME open hours, this at least mitigates the "by appointment" downsides. However, when I read "by appointment" during a normal day that is normally "open" for others, I read that as "I don't have enough confidence that I'll have business", as well as the above A and B. Sundays are an exception, but the amount of money I've made by being open only 4 hours on Sundays consistently for the last 5 years could put a person through college, twice.

Now if you're in a boutique tiny shop in a neighborhood with no BB's around, I think that is much more forgiving.

The more hoops people have to go through, or even just think of, the less likely they do it. Remember... there are options where someone can frame something 24 hours a day. Don't want to fall into the "Wasn't sure if they were even open" category. But I may operate differently. I was at my shop 4 hours before my wedding, so I probably have a different mindset.
 

samcrimm

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
My hours are 10 to 5:30 M-F and 10 to 5 on Saturdays. So I am in this neat little mall type building with all women type stores 4 dress, 3 beauty, one makeup, health food and spa and then me. Owner could open a coffee type shop next to me and all this is in the downtown area, that being said like most down towns of a small town have died. This one has to a point...... the building has 3 doors, I am at the cross roads of them all. Not everyone one that shops or gets hair done comes by my door. But the highest day has been 45 people, and the worst was like 11. I get up and talk to everyone I can and tell them I have opened a framing store and tell them I am not advertising just using word of mouth to get customers. I guess 90% of the ladies I talk too are glad to know there is a framing store now in town and that I am doing this. And that they have something that needs to be framed! I have gotten 10 framing jobs from the people I have gotten up and talked with. So all that being said, I feel the need to be at my store for my new customers that remember that they need framing and not put it off any longer. I am trying to build a business right now. I read where you guys are open for a few days and are so busy that you have to work the days you are closed, that is a great thing, you done a great job of building a business and customers! I just feel even if I did have that much business I would be open for that new customer that just heard about me.
Sam
 

shayla

WOW Framer
...and there are nuances with habits that don't come across in general comments. For example, I try to take a regular lunch time (which doesn't always happen, but I still find a way to eat), but if a customer comes in as I'm headed out, I usually stay to design. Longtime regulars are very kind, so they would just leave their work and drop back in later, but newcomers need to get a feel for us. Pregnant ladies, folks with little kids, tottery old people, etc...., it's enough of a challenge for them just getting here. Although, as difficult as the parking has gotten, anyone who makes it in deserves a prize.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
A) For a new customer, if they have to make an appointment... They might be uncomfortable with the implied obligation to purchase, even if they don't like the ideas or options. They might end up loving your options, but this would potentially weigh on them. Probably not a concern if you're only relying on existing customers, as they already have a relationship with you.
I have never found that to be a problem, in fact I found it to be the exact opposite. I don't know the exact number but I am estimating that 15% of my customers are new and have never been to my shop before. I have never received a single complaint from those new customers about having to make appointments, in fact the majority of them do comment that it makes it so much easier for them to schedule their other chores/running/errands because of the scheduling. What do you do for the customer that can't meet you during the day? I have scheduled many appointments after midnight because their work shift gets over then. Appointment Only is not for everyone but I have found it to be totally acceptable and I have 3 Michaels, 2 Joannes, 1 Hobby Lobby within a 6 mile radius of my shop - none of them do appointments so I do have to do something different.

B) Open hours allow for people to find time in their day, at the drop of a hat, or when inspiration strikes. Which counts for both existing customers, and new customers.
I can say exactly the same thing about appointments. People can schedule their time around the appointment. At least they will know that I will be there when they come and that they get the one on one attention that they deserve. Open hours can be very disturbing when someone walks in and you have to stop the design interview to go talk to the person that just walked in - I find it very rude to the person you are working with to have to stop to go talk to the walk in and at the same time I find it rude to the person who just walks in if you were to ignore them. That's not cool at all.

when I read "by appointment" during a normal day that is normally "open" for others, I read that as "I don't have enough confidence that I'll have business"
Well, that sure isn't the problem here. I read it as "the store is so considerate of people's time they make appointments so the customer is not wasting their time by waiting around to get the professional service they deserve; and the store is also so busy that they schedule time so that they can work professional with all customers, new and existing". People are use to appointments, can you say Doctor, Dentist, Oil Change, Hair Cut, Fine Restaurant, Plumber, Electrician, and the list goes on and on and on...Are you saying that all of those industries "don't have enough confidence that they will have business"? Again I think it is the opposite. People like to schedule their day and do their other running and errands around a certain time frame.

Doing "Appointments only" is not for every shop but it is sure worth looking into. I get a lot of business after hours when all the other shops are closed. just saying Joe B
 

shayla

WOW Framer
Joe, do I recall correctly that you frame from a home location? That would make 'appointment only' much easier to pull off. Our shop is on a downtown street, with a gallery space, so even during open-day design appointments, we greet everyone who happens in. People who make appointments for open days know this will happen, and those who prefer otherwise come in when we're closed. We still get plenty of design drop-ins, some regular and some new. Depending on what's shaking, I either design on the spot or ask them to leave it and come back to see ideas.

On a broader note, it's great having this forum, where we can see how people make different approaches work. It can also take awhile to figure out what works and what doesn't. There have also been some methods touted here that turned out to not have worked so well. Growth and survival work a lot better when we're willing to learn.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
do I recall correctly that you frame from a home location?
Yes, you have recalled correctly, I am home based but am in a stand alone building away from my home. It may make it a little easier for me to work strictly by appointments but I don't really see why. People still know my address, have direct access to my shop, and are not restricted from just walking in - I do get walk ins who I do schedule an appointment for. When I have found it necessary to schedule an appointment time for a walk in I have never had one declined the scheduling, I'm sure that there will come a time that someone will though.

I agree that in a mall type setting you cannot do strictly appointments due to the requirements of the mall. If I were in a brick and mortar on a busy street I would still have appointments even though I would have significantly more have walk-ins. It is as much of a convenience to the customer as it is to myself. I sell the "By Appointment" scheduling and like I said, my customers like the appointments. I have not seen any resistance to the "By Appointment" scheduling but I am sure that it will definitely will not work for everyone. At least my customers will not be sitting around waiting for 10, 15, 30 minutes waiting for me to finish with another customer. If I were that customer and was forced to sit around and wait, I would leave and it is doubtful that I would return. Just my opinion. Joe B
 

neilframer

PFG, Picture Framing God
We often schedule appointments with our corporate clients.
The other side of the coin is that we are in the center of one of the largest population centers in the U.S.

We are near the center of the city, which is great, and people will just come in based on our website or Yelp reviews.
If we're not open or we're not there, goodbye new customer and "hello" bad reviews.

We also sometimes sneak out to do installations, some retail and some corporate, sometimes even out of state. (got about 5 coming up in 2017 out of state...:eek:)
We still maintain the walk in retail part of our business by having the shop open and available 6 days a week.

Again, whatever floats your boat, go with it.
I've been doing this for 48 years now and I might have to use a walker on my next install...:rolleyes: (not)...:D
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
e are near the center of the city, which is great, and people will just come in based on our website or Yelp reviews. If we're not open or we're not there, goodbye new customer and "hello" bad reviews.
That's exactly what I am saying, it won't work for everyone. I've been doing appointments since I have opened, my website states appointments only, my facebook page states appointments only and I don't have the foot traffic that many stores have on the main drag of a city. If I were on a main drag I would still try to work by appointments but I do agree that it would be necessary to also take the walk-ins, of course I would try to have the walk-in schedule an appointment if I were waiting on another customer at the time.
Neil, you are right, "what ever floats your boat". As a business owner you have to find out what works best for you and appointment only may not be that answer as an open door policy may not be either.
 

cjmst3k

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have never received a single complaint from those new customers about having to make appointments
Understood, but you have to admit its a self fulfilling skewed audience to be getting answers from. If making an appointment was an issue, you'd not know about it because the people who are put off from the idea wouldn't have made the appointment.

However, many people enjoy doing things on a schedule, and that is fair enough for them.

What do you do for the customer that can't meet you during the day?
I make appointments for after-hours, and also at their homes. Sundays are my busiest appointment day after we close.


I can say exactly the same thing about appointments. People can schedule their time around the appointment. At least they will know that I will be there when they come and that they get the one on one attention that they deserve. Open hours can be very disturbing when someone walks in and you have to stop the design interview to go talk to the person that just walked in. I find it very rude to the person you are working with to have to stop to go talk to the walk in and at the same time I find it rude to the person who just walks in if you were to ignore them. That's not cool at all.
Agreed. That's why when someone comes in, and if I just started with another customer, I'll kindly say "We're going to be about another half-hour, if you need time to get a Starbucks next door". But for customers who may be hyper sensitive to it, then I'd recommend appointments strictly after-hours I suppose. It hasn't been a constant issue, unless someone comes, and is in a super rush, and then I'll have my framer come out to help them.


People are use to appointments, can you say Doctor, Dentist, Oil Change, Hair Cut, Fine Restaurant, Plumber, Electrician, and the list goes on and on and on...Are you saying that all of those industries "don't have enough confidence that they will have business"?
No, I'm not saying all those industries don't have enough confidence that they will have business.

I would, however, say that none of those are true comparable businesses. I have to book a flight a few months in advance, but I wouldn't compare the airlines to framing either. I guess the restaurant is the closest. But I tend to frequent restaurants where I can go when the mood strikes, and not restaurants I have to plan far in advance.


However, point taken. Appointment-only may work for some, and not others. And I certainly have my notions on the business, as others have theirs. I had a customer upset that they came by on Easter Sunday and that I took the day off. So, we can all make a point about how I should have been open, or how I should have been closed.

I consider framing (from a customer's point of view) a retail business, like going to a gift store to buy a gift, but with a level of customization. Even though, in reality, its closer to a haberdasher where a product is tailored. My store hours reflect the accessibility I believe my customers to expect, based on their perceptions of our business. Also, we have a fine art gallery on-site too, so that gets people to visit in between framing customers. And we're located in one of the busiest areas in our region. Across the street I'm looking at a Macy's, Nordstrom, and surrounded literally by about 2 million square feet of shopping retail.

I would just not want a frame shop to leave money on the table by not being accessible to their customer base, when the customers want to shop there.
 
Last edited:

Robbie55

Grumbler
I regularly do appointments for customers that want to come in the evenings or on Sundays and there are a couple framers near me that don't list any opening hours and are strictly by appointment only but I have found appt only doesn't really work for me for a few reasons:
1. I'm in my store and working all of my opening hours anyway so although I could argue that my time may be better prioritised by having appointments, when I'm here I'm happy to take in any work regardless.
2. One of the first enquiries I get from people on the phone is "do I have to make an appt?" but their tone often implies that they just want to come in at a time that suits them, perhaps between other errands etc and they're not really sure at what exact time they'll get here. Discussing this further with them when they come in - many say they outright feel obligated to proceed with a job when they have made an appointment, which I suppose could be seen as a good thing initially from a framers perspective but I don't think it puts the customer at ease (especially for a first time customer). Few people that come to my store with their artwork walk out without going ahead anyway so anything that makes them less reluctant to walk in the door in the first place and more comfortable when they're here, I can only say is a good thing.
3. Although I am well off the main strip I do find that many people will pop in as they are passing and just view the range and have a brief chat - admittedly the majority will be time wasters with "how long is a piece of string?" type questions but many will mention they normally go to "xyz framing" and upon seeing the store and building a bit of a rapport they'll bring in a work or two to test the waters. If I was open by appt only I don't think I would've had the same opportunity to win them over.

Still I think it's horses for courses and owners will find not only works for their own business but works in with their outside lives too.
 

Scout

Grumbler
We are also a home-based, appointment only outfit. -Mostly by necessity, our shop is in the rural outskirts of our town and it would take the average walk-in some time to get out here. Plus, we are constantly in and out as required by our family/personal commitments (kids have to go to school, etc...)
This thread is really informative! Thank you all for your insights. As new frame shop owners, we have so much to learn and many questions about the business side... it's great to get honest talk from you all.
Thanks!
Scott
 

KevinAnnala01

True Grumbler
I'm by appointment, as my studio is home based for the time being. I do know based on data and inquiries that I have lost some business by being by appointment. With that said, I also have an almost 99.9% close rate on people that come in. I'm looking forward to moving into a commercial space as soon as I can. I might have some time set aside for appointment only, maybe 1 day of the week or so. Will have to figure that out when I come to it.
 

cjmst3k

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
To your point Kevin, only people 100% confident they are going to use you will be comfortable scheduling an appointment.

Though home-based is a different animal than a retail location, and the expectations of having standard hours is not there as a retail location does.
 

KevinAnnala01

True Grumbler
I totally agree. I'd like people to be more confident in coming in, and to remove the barriers to do so and this simply isn't going to happen until I move into a space. On the plus side, I do not have to waste time on "tire kickers". On the down side, I don't get the opportunity to serve people who are just having a look that might bring something in later.... I really can't wait to get a commercial space.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
To your point Kevin, only people 100% confident they are going to use you will be comfortable scheduling an appointment.
And again, I am totally going to disagree with you. The majority of my new customers that are not referrals come to me from my website. I probably get 2 to 3 customers a week from my website that has never heard of me or or have been in my shop before. I have received "0" "zero" resistance to "appointments only". Maybe what makes me different is that I do put in hours that I am open daily to meet with customers and I am willing to bet I put as many hours in my shop a day as you do and maybe I put in more than you.

I do agree, if I was in a mall setting, or on the main drag I too would receive walk-ins, I understand that is a necessity when there is a lot of foot traffic past your door. The one thing you haven't said is that a Custom Picture Framing Shop is a destination not a random walk by with people seeing your sign and saying "Oh I think I will get something framed". If you have a gallery connected or if you sell art that may be a little different story but I am talking about "Custom Picture Framing" only. By "Appointment Only" has not hurt me. Before you criticize it I believe you should try it, if you are unable to try it because of your location then you shouldn't be criticizing it because you just flat out don't know and I would really like to know where you are getting your percentages.

Another thing to consider is that people are getting much more use to making appointments, they do it for just about every type of business that is service oriented. It is just more convenient for them, they schedule their appointments around their errand running, work schedule, family time, or what ever. Haircuts, oil changes, contractors, baby sitters, doctors, dentist, and on and on, and don't say I'm not comparing apples to apples. We are all service based businesses, appointments are not frowned on anymore. If you are retail selling art, nick-nacks, in a mall setting, brick and mortar on the main drag, then yea, appointment only may not work for you. And finally, I have never had anyone miss an appointment without calling to change the time or date and I have never, and I mean never, not made an appointment because I operate by appointment only - I have found that people like appointments.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I totally agree. I'd like people to be more confident in coming in, and to remove the barriers to do so and this simply isn't going to happen until I move into a space. On the plus side, I do not have to waste time on "tire kickers". On the down side, I don't get the opportunity to serve people who are just having a look that might bring something in later.... I really can't wait to get a commercial space.
Please explain why you thing people don't have confidence with you since you are doing appointments? I just don't understand. I have not found that to be the case what-so-ever. I'm interested in hearing your take. Joe
 

shayla

WOW Framer
I often have people drop off work and make appointments to return and see designs.
 

cjmst3k

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Joe, I'm not sure what you're trying to prove when you write:

Maybe what makes me different is that I do put in hours that I am open daily to meet with customers and I am willing to bet I put as many hours in my shop a day as you do and maybe I put in more than you.
My wife would be surprised to hear my working 7 days a week / 60 hour average is not at my full potential. But, if you're working 70 hours a week, then you might want to consider hiring someone to help, as that many hours can be draining. But, onto the topic at hand...


Its ok to disagree with me. :)

Here's an example. If you look at a review of an Adam Sandler movie, and you ask random people on the street to sit and watch it and they say its bad, but the patrons who wanted to see it say its good, who is right? The random people have a wide variety of backgrounds and interest in films, whereas the patrons who saw the movie specifically were prone to liking it because they voluntarily went to see it based on their interest in it. So, if you're only asking the opinion of the people that wanted to see it about their thoughts on it, then of course the answers will be heavily skewed. Similarly, when relying on the patrons of a frame shop who are comfortable making appointments on whether they like appointments they made is, again, a skewed group to be polling and relying on.

So when I read:

I have never received a single complaint from those new customers about having to make appointments.
Of course not. 100% of those people made an appointment.

And similarly:

I also have an almost 99.9% close rate on people that come in
This makes sense, as people likely feel somewhat obligated to fulfill a purchase when making an appointment, and have a comfort level with that.

Totally fine if you disagree with me, Joe.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Totally fine if you disagree with me, Joe.
All I am disagreeing with is when you say people are uncomfortable with appointments. What I am saying is customers find making an appointment is very convenient because they can then fit it into their schedule or fit their schedule around the appointment - everybody this day and age is on a schedule of one kind or another. It would work for many of us but we have been so brain washed that we have to be in our shop every open hour to meet with all the people that are knocking down our doors to get in and give us money. Another thing, making appointments is also convenient for me. By making appointments I know when my customer is coming in. In that way I can do my running for supplies, frame installation, work on a rush project, or do a ton of other things. It works for both the customer and for me. And again I will say, NO, "BY APPOINTMENT ONLY" WILL NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE - but it will work for more of us than you think and we have to decide what is best for shop.

My wife would be surprised to hear my working 7 days a week / 60 hour average is not at my full potential. But, if you're working 70 hours a week, then you might want to consider hiring someone to help, as that many hours can be draining. But, onto the topic at hand...
I did not mean that as a slam and I'm sorry if it came out that way. The only thing I was trying to say is my "appointment only" policy is so resistant to my customers that yes I do have to work 60, 70, or more hours every week. I say this because you believe that people are resistant to making appointments, if they were so resistant I wouldn't be working so many hours. No, I will not hire any help, though at times I wish I did have an assistant. The reason I won't hire someone is because I would have bring in that much more work to support another person in my shop. No, I will keep it the way I have it and I will keep on putting in the hours if my customers keep bringing me the work.

Yes, it is ok for either of us to disagree with the other - if we all like and did things exactly the same this would be a very very boring world. Besides, I don't really believe that we are disagreeing with each other, we just have different needs in running our shops. If I were you with that much foot traffic outside my door I would be operating exactly as you are and I believe that if you were in my shop you would do exactly what I'm doing. :):):)
 
Last edited:

1banjo

Grumbler
I would like to say that to be able to do by appointment only would be fantastic !!
I have never had the opportunity to be by appointment only!
as it always seems like you have no business until the first customer comes in and then you have 20 standing in line & your the only one there at that time!! LOL !!!!
 

prospero

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
It's an uncanny thing but I have often had the same thing. You go all day and never a soul enters
the threshold. Then three come in at the same time. o_O
Ever had a bunch of folks dithering about outside peering though the window? Another bunch come
in and the ditherers follow them in. Some people just hesitate to enter an empty shop.
Why does the phone ring the instant someone comes in?

It's all very spooky. :eek:
 

artstar005

Grumbler in Training
I have over 10 yrs experience in custom framing- From retail giant to private art galleries... Now I am back to the retail giant that most of you grumblers like to grumble about. I have mixed feelings, but I know how to frame. I'm hoping I will get a chance to show the inexperienced framers how it should be done. Leaving the private small businesses I worked for was definitely not easy. I even took a pay cut, but I'm hoping there is more opportunity to move up in the company I am currently employed by. At least I have a shot at health benefits. But my mission is to really try my best to get through to the retail giant and possibly join forces with the PPFA to actually get our framers professionally certified. This may be just a fantasy I've made up in my mind, but I believe our patrons should receive the highest quality of custom framing by knowledgeable framers- considering all they are paying for. I am open to any thoughts or suggestions! I will never not be a passionate framer.
 

aangles

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
I keep regular shop hours six days a week, and anyone wanting to come in outside of those hours, By Appointment. That way I am available if someone needs to come in outside of my regular hours.
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Joe, as a consumer, I too would have a problem with by appointment. When you make an appointment, you are, or feel committed to place the order.
So while that might work very well for those customers who are comfortable with that, there will be a certain type of customer who would like to test the water first before committing to spend money.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Ylva, I will say that I have not found that to be a problem in the slightest, why would you feel committed to buy if you made an appointment. When you make an appointment to get an estimate from 3 different body shops, are you saying that you feel committed to get your car fixed by all 3 body shops? When you make and appointment to have someone do an estimate for driveway repair just because you made that appointment you will have them do the work no matter what the cost is? I don't understand - if a person just walks in the door and spends 30 minutes or more of your time looking at moulding and mat samples are you saying they won't feel committed? I don't think an appointment or being a walk in has anything to do with feeling committed to purchase.

Frame shops this day and age are a destination. People don't walk past a frame shop and in the spur of the moment say, "Hey I'm going to go in and have something framed", it just doesn't happen that way anymore. I have found that people appreciate making appointments because they consider it more professional and a better way of being efficient with their time. Professionals, no matter what type of business they are in, are now requiring appointments. Doctors, Dentists, Realestate Agents, Lawyers, Tax Prepares, Beauty Shops, Barber Shops, Landscapers, Auto Repair Shops, and the list goes on and on. The majority of these places require appointments but I can remember a time you didn't need an appointment for any of those places. I know what the response by many of us framers are, "but we are not that type of business". I find that response complete total Hog Wash unless we consider being a Picture Framer as not being Professional and if we don't consider ourselves Professional maybe we should consider a different type of business.

Truthfully, I don't care one way or another if other framers work by appointment or not, that is totally up to them. I do know it would work for many if it was tried but there will always be someone to criticize and find fault even if it is something they haven't tried. Plain and simple, APPOINTMENTS ARE A CONVENIENCE FOR THE CUSTOMER. It just makes it easier for the customer to be more efficient with their time.

I agree, there are some shops that appointments may not work. I've been doing appointments since I opened my doors and I haven't even considered doing it differently. All business owners have to decide what is best for them.
 

aangles

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
I often have people drop off work and make appointments to return and see designs.
Me too Shayla!! It's better use of customer time if they can drop it off, and you can spend some time with it without the customer pulling all sorts of stuff that really doesn't look right or work or whatever, then present a few options to them when they return. Makes the decision-making process a lot more organized and easier for the client. Extended design sessions are hard on the customer. I do this quite a bit and even have a few clients who have never set foot in my shop; I can pull samples I think are appropriate and in line with what they want and go show them to them at their home. Only downside is when people drop stuff off and you end up waiting on them to return....

Joe B, I respect that you are a big fan of setting appointments and it does reflect organization, professionalism and structure. But you don't know how many people see 'By appointment only' on your website or wherever...and keep right on looking, often at your competition! Making an appointment is respectful and great for those who need to work that way. Sounds like it works well for you and no one is arguing that it isn't a very professional way to do business, particularly being home-based. But I can almost promise you that you are probaby losing some business from people who are in browse/explore mode with their framing project, shopping around, just wanting to look at what you have, and don't want to waste your time if they aren't sure they want to buy from you. Being by appointment only is rather like telling the customer you don't welcome impromptu walk-in visits and spontaneity, which can often be a critical part of the design/selling process. I myself don't like making appointments to do things in general and would be more inclined to be a walk-in customer than one to make an appointment. But to each his own!! In my 27 years of framing, the last 15 in my own shop, I don't think anyone has ever specifically requested an appointment under my "other hours by appointment" policy. But then I rarely have more than one or two customers at a time, and there is an art to working with more than one customer at a time. Often, excusing yourself from one to get the other started looking at samples gives the first customer a chance to play with their designs themselves or discuss pricing with a partner, making them feel less pressured to make a decision and resulting in a happier customer. A lot of people don't like being under constant scrutiny while they are debating cost or color or having a moment of indecisiveness. Just adds to the relaxed and convivial atmosphere most times. A good framing designer can gauge whether the customer is bothered by the interruption and act accordingly. Those who came in while you are with another are usually more willing to wait or browse. I too, work alone, but I maintain regular hours on 6 days of the week. I can't afford to restrict the flow of business to appointment-only because believe it or not, that does not appeal to everyone. You get no complaints about it because those who make appointments have no objection to them. No one is going to make an appointment and then grumble about it....they are just going to go elsewhere.

Shayla, I recently relocated to a more urban venue and am considering that my new urban-chic demographic has fewer daytime hours available to come in; additionally feeling like I need more time at home to do stuff there (I have a 30 minute commute from my home). So liking the sound of setting aside certain days 'By appointment only' say Sundays and Mondays, to make myself available to those who would like to come in then, without being obligated to be there if I don't need to be. As this demographic (chic historic neighborhood district) is very different from the family-centered suburban town demographic I left, I find myself needing to re-assess my shop hours and availability to maximize the number of new customers coming through the door. I don't have the 'too many orders and customers' issue that I envy a lot of you; there are a number of well-established shops within a few miles of me along with a lot of big boxes on the outskirts, including the one that forced me to move. But I think what sets us apart is a willingness to serve the customer how they need and want it, when they need and want it.
 

MnSue

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have a "by appointment only" Mon & Tues, and regular hours the rest of the week. If I have a dentist appointment - its scheduled on a Monday or Tues. If I have to pick up something..it's Monday or tue. Granted I'm still in the shop/gallery... but on MY schedule those days. I prefer appointments for scheduling ANY day just like an interior designer works by appointment. and will ALSO encourage them.

AND by the way, Joe is doing JUST FINE with his by appointment model. If someone doesn't like it, that's ok. No one business model works for everyone.
 

David Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Could Joe get more business if he also offered "drop in" service? Maybe. I can see a lot of people passing up an "appointment only" model for framing. Makes it sound "professional", i.e. Expensive, possibly awkward, and yes - some sort of commitment (almost all of the "professional/appointment" examples given are ones where you essentially agree in advance to pay for services by making an appointment).

Ok, for the sake of argument, let's just say Joe could double his sales by catering to drop-ins. Does that mean he should do it? Sounds to me like he's already got more work than he needs, and the appointment only model is comfortable for him. I'd say he'd be pretty foolish to change it.

As Ellen used to say "take what you can use and leave the rest".
 
Sponsor Wanted
Top