1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. WELCOME Grumblers
    Backup is now done at 3PM EDT. You may find the server down for up to two minutes at that time.

Opinions Wanted I do it for free sometimes

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Mark D, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. Mark D

    Mark D CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I find myself prone to doing little things like putting a wire hanger on a
    customers smaller size frame at no charge. I realize every penny counts but I use the opportunity to ask the customer to remember my shop for any custom framing they may need done. I also ask if they would be so kind to send their friends in if they could use my services.
    I have had many of those people come back with custom work to be done. So am I doing a smart thing or throwing away money??:kaffeetrinker_2:
    Sponsor Wanted
  2. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    You nailed it.
  3. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    i do the same, although i don't ask for anything in return. I hope that my deed will be remembered. Oh, i only do it free for existing customers. If someone new walked off the street i would charge them $5 for an average size hanging system.
  4. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I do stuff like that all the time - for new customers and regulars alike. I figure what goes around comes around.

    If they insist on paying me for some dumb little thing, I point them towards the "kitty" jar - wherein I collect $ for the cat rescue group.

    They remember me - they return.

    Works for me.
  5. Kev@Frames

    Kev@Frames CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

  6. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    We do it also.
    If a regular customer comes in and wants a photo of someone who has just passed away framed for a memorial service, we often do that at no charge as well.

    Often when we do the little "freebies" the customer insists on giving some cash for it and they insist that we take it and will not take "no" for an answer.
    They remain loyal to the shop and remember the personal service.
  7. ArmyFramer

    ArmyFramer MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I do a complete frame package for all Rangers KIA from the Ranger Regiment and Battalion on post. Thankfully I have only had to do 12 or so in the past 8 yrs, but I have now gotten that units business. Its the unit I grew up in while serving.

    Your doing the right thing.
  8. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's a good way to generate good will.

    In my shop, normally we do charge for this. $5 for hangers and wire, or $3 to install only the wire on their existing hangers. I value my time, and I think my customers should value it as well. However, we do some little things as freebies here and there, and customers always offer to pay, even when we tell them "no charge".
  9. Jos

    Jos Guest

    Me too, small things like that are appreciated I know, often I will bring the person out the back and fit screws and wire while they watch, it makes a good impression to see my tidy workshop as well as seeing some of the variety of work that I am currently working on. It may well spark something they have themselves or they will mention it to a friend.
  10. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    If somebody wants a ton of such work done, you can always quote them your shop fee,
    but otherwise, I agree that these value-added services go a long way to create goodwill
    with customers.
  11. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I do the same. I know how much a full spool of wire costs but no idea how much per foot. So if someone wants 6ft, I would lose more money in lost time working it out than the profit thus gained. Put it down to the advertising budget. :D Little gestures go a long way in today's world.
  12. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    My mechanic doesn't give me freebies. My landlord doesn't either. The grocery store doesn't nor does my pharmacist.

    I was in the habit of doing backings and wiring for free. Then had a woman show up with 20 frames that 'only' needed free wire... Sold frames made from remnants for $2. Then had a customerer place an order for 25 and insisted they should be $2 each as well. I have a recurring customer that comes in for glass and easel backs and all kinds of oddball repairs, a vase a clock... Wanting each one for less than a few dollars. She does not bring big framing orders here.

    I guess my lesson is if you get known for free and cheap then those same people don't see you as capable of doing 'real' work.
  13. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    My mechanic has done the odd job for nothing, my landlord replaces the flourescents with his, and my pharmacist erases his $1.22 charge.

    The grocery store gives out free samples.

    MacDonalds was giving out free samples Saturday.
  14. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I was very pleasantly surprised when I went into the local jewelry shop a couple years ago to get a tricky watch band adjusted and they didn't charge me anything. The fact that I had bought our engagement, wedding and 10th anniversary rings there didn't play into it as the person that helped me didn't know me from Adam.

    While I may well have gone there anyways when I wanted to get my wife a 25th anniversary ring, that free visit led directly to me going back where I ended up spending over $10k...

    When you go to sell a business "good will" isn't generally worth too much. But when you're IN business it's priceless.
  15. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We do this too. If you are worried about people taking advantage of your generosity, you can make decisions on a case by case basis. I have gotten a lot of business from wiring a picture for free. I also consider it part of my advertising budget.
  16. couture's gallery

    couture's gallery PFG, Picture Framing God

    We did it often when before retiring and closing the shop. Lot' of goodwill and the "word" spreads in a small town that we didn't nickle and dime customers. . I've had many small things at local businesses that were free when I asked how much I owed them.
    I think it's just good business.
  17. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Good advice.
    :cool: Rick
  18. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    You are awesome!!! I often do the same if I know something is being done for a funeral. :thumbsup:
    I never do anything expecting anything back. WhenI do it....... its to make that person or persons happy.
  19. Kyle Henson

    Kyle Henson CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    We have a $10 minimum charge to take anything back into the work room. Exceptions are rarely made to that policy.
  20. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Sadly, my experience is pretty much like Bob's experience. Give them a finger, they take the whole hand (literal translation from Dutch, sometimes I don't know which language has which expression).

    Seems people like to take advantage of small businesses. Not that I never ever do something for free, I do, but it all depends on the person coming in. It is different for existing customers, I do free new wires for them without a problem.

    It does go both ways you know.....
  21. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I agree that some people will always try to take advantage of any good- will gesture.

    If I give someone something, I want them to know it has value, so I tell them the price but then show them a credit on the invoice.

    I will say something to the effect that "I normally charge xxx for that, but I'll give it to you this time / won't charge for it this time"
  22. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Like Bob, I once did jobs like this for free. One time I did one for a lady no charge. Then next week she brought in 8 newly purchased pottery barn frames and expected me to wire these up for free. This pretty much ended my free wiring. I only charge a nominal fee and most of the times I do it while they wait. No one but this first woman has ever complained about being charged.
  23. Mark D

    Mark D CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Thanks for all your information everyone. As I said in my post, I do this occasionally for customers who have ONE small frame needing a hanger. I haven't had the experience of any of these folks returning
    for another freebie. That would certainly be over the top. They would be quoted full price for additional work. Seems the majority of you are in favor of an occasional hanger on the house for advertising purposes.:thumbsup:
  24. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Subway gave me a free cookie the other day. The guy that works for me told me a different Subway was doing the same thing a day earlier.

    Do it if you want. If somebody takes advantage, tell them no. Why own a business if you can't make such simple decisions at will?
  25. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    In today's economical environment where everybody and his dog seems to be intent on getting a slice of your hard-earned, it's a rare thing to get a genuine no-strings freebee from anywhere. So the sheer shock-factor is likely to be impinged very firmly on the memory. :D

    But, as mentioned, there will be peeps who try to take liberties. So you can only go so far. But sometimes it pays dividends. I did some reframing a while back and found a sort-of abstract painting in the back of the frame. Evidently the artist had previously re-used the frame and just plonked a new one on top of the old. Anyhow, I saved the 'painting' to show the customer and it turned out that it was just a board that she had been mixing her paints on. She didn't want it. I didn't chuck it out because as a painting it was quite pleasing. I intended to frame it up (sometime) and put it on my own wall. But in the meanwhile someone spotted it and asked "how much is that?". Well Honest Joe here could not tell a lie and told them the story. They still liked it, so I said it's free - as long as they buy a frame for it (from me). So everybody was happy. ;)
    I've done that a few times with stuff that wasn't really saleable as such, but there is no accounting for taste. Who am I to argue?
  26. Jos

    Jos Guest

    Good story.
  27. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    When someone insists on paying for such a quick, small service, I just tell them to bring me a cup of coffee sometime. More often than not they do and frequently bring in an item for framing too.
  28. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I got a dozen nice farm-fresh eggies last week. ;)
  29. KPF

    KPF CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I think of doing these little things for people as "word-of-mouth marketing".
    If someone insists on paying for a small job that I'd do for free, I give them a choice.
    "Pay nothing, or pay $100." This always ends the debate...:D

    They leave happy, and hopefully return, of refer a friend.
  30. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Let's not get muddled up in confusion about the motives involved. There are essentially two reasons for any business to give away anything of value:

    1. Intice the recipients to buy what you're selling. The motive is profit and it has nothing to do with kindness. Mass-market businesses offer "freebies" constantly, to acquaint their customers with new or unfamiliar products. The recipients often buy immediately on impulse, and may continue buying the product regularly. Free nibble-samples at the grocery store are good examples, which usually cost pennies and inspire purchases of a few dollars - not big money. When big money is involved, BOGO and similar promotions stem from a similar mindset, but the freebies come after the sale, not before or without obligation. Different tactic, equally promotional.

    This is generally not a good reason for a small framing business to give away anything, because the recipients probably have no immediate need for complete framing, and do not remember framing-related freebies as incentives to buy. On the contrary, they welcome the opportunity to avoid buying what they need at the moment. Of course there are exceptions, but most consumers remember only the framer's willingness to work free of charge, and feel no obigation to buy in the future.

    2. Out of the goodness of your heart. This is an emotional decision based on kindness, not a profit motive. Small independent businesses, including framers, are prone to do this just because they want to, and the people in contact with the recipients usually have the latitude to make such decisions, whether on a whim or by policy. There might be no expectation of a return on their investment of time or materials. Or if there is one, it might be mistaken.

    On the other hand, mass-market businesses never give away anything out of kindness, even when it looks that way. For example, a large chain of pizza shops may provide free pizzas to the Red Cross during a crisis or perhaps for a Habitat For Humanity event under the guise of kindness. Kindness is to be touted in media coverage, but that 'donation' is carefully calculated to produce promotional value and eventual ROI. To put it another way, the pizza chain is buying media advertising with free pizzas instead of the usual 30-day billing. Managers of mass-market businesses are hired to earn profit, not to be nice, and the employees who might want to give something away probably do not have the authority to do so. Moreover, consumers generally do not expect free kindness from mass-market enterprises.

    Summary: Small businesses can sometimes operate emotionally, but big businesses can not.
  31. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That is a good analysis. Along with that, though, I have what might be an extension/variation, that basically comes down to what might be referred to as "karma". While the person receiving the small freebie might not need full custom framing right away (or ever), they probably realize that you have made their life a little easier in some way, and may mention it to a friend over lunch who has been thinking about having something framed. So maybe eventually, what comes around goes around. Although there may be no way to prove or quantify this, as long as this isn't your basic business model, doing the occasional favor isn't going to break the bank and there may be some chance that some benefit for you will result at some point.
    :popc: Rick

    When I was moving my shop in 1996 I was looking for a way to connect a small vacuum to the dust port of my benchtop bandsaw. At Home Depot they have large spools of different kinds of tubing that are sold by the foot. I found a mesh-reinforced clear flex tubing that looked like it might be the perfect size and material to function as a hose adaptor. Although there was a one-foot minimum, the friendly lady in the department cut me a 3" sample to try out. That piece still functions perfectly today, and I remember that every time I walk into a HD store. (Is that what motivates me to go there now? No. But when I buy something there, some little part of my brain is probably thinking that I'm already $5 or $10 "ahead" because of that little sample of tubing.) :icon11:
  32. Mark D

    Mark D CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Thats a long winded way of saying you miss the point . Anyway, thanks for you opinion.
  33. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'll add a third: to change the terrible reputation of framers.

    Some people are intimidated by the brazen overcharging nature of frame shops. It's a breath of fresh air when they see fairness and goodwill, instead of "let's see how many customers we can chase away forever".
  34. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    Sometimes we can analyze these things to death.
    Do it or don't do it, you make the choice.
    I would rather do it, for good customer relations, cheap word of mouth advertising, and the bonus is I feel good about it, they feel good about it. For me it's a win-win.

    We are busy shops, the customers know this and appreciate the personal attention.
    It's part of what separates the neighborhood independent shops from some of the "others".
  35. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    This just happened to me today... :D

    I redid a mat for a lady. I orignally matted it and something just wasn't right about it.
    And we both agreed to change it. Long story short..... I didn't feel right charging her again.

    I told her no worries... just want you to be happy with it... and she tried to pay me.

    I told her NO. she said YES .. I said NO......... she said YES TAKE IT.. .I said NO its no biggie and you're not paying me! She said.....FINE......... thank you.. you are wonderful and stuffed a $20 in my flower vase as she ran out the door. LOL Too funny.
  36. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I am sure that vase didn't have water in it...right???? ;)

    Yes, those situations are different. I do freebies as well, but mostly for existing customers and certainly when I feel the design choice could have been better and I replace it for free.

    It all depends on who the customer is and how they treat me. I had an arteeeeeeeest in not too long ago, never did any framing with me. Called me right before closing time, needing wire for the back. So I waited for her. She said she would be there within 15 minutes and it took 45. She knew I was about to go home.
    She treated me like dirt, not just by keeping me waiting, but her whole attitude towards me. Then gave me an evil look when I charged for the wiring.

    No way would I have done it for free in this case.

    Now I also had a little old friendly lady in, who needed a tiny bit of glass (like 4 x 5 inches) for a frame. I cut it, fit it and didn't charge. Not because I expect her to do any framing with me, but just because she looked like the grandma I always wanted and she was genuinely happy.
  37. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree Ylva........ I am the GODDESS of my shop..... What I say goes.
    If you are evil and you smell bad..... I will smite you with whatever charge I feel like.

    Now if you bring me an iced coffee and tell me I look nice...... my talents and creative insaneness.... is at your service. :D
  38. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    All this week in our shopping center there are all kinds of activities for "Roof Sit" where a local radio station broadcasts from the roof of the grocery store to raise money that goes to help stop child abuse.

    Each day the Edible Arrangements next door delivers to the DJ's a large fresh fruit arrangement that normally would sell for around $ 50.00-60.00.

    Isn't that nice of them? Do ya think they might have some intent that is not altogether altruistic?


    Air time, Baby! Uh huh. Uh huh!
  39. Mark D

    Mark D CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

  40. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I used to do it for free for the same reasons. "Building a relationship", "Customer building", etc. And for an existing customer, I still do.

    But I noticed over the last 10 years, of the "new customers" who came in for this who said "I'm glad to pay!" and I just said "Oh, just remember me when you need framing", I noticed that 100% of them never came in for framing.

    Perhaps it was their desire to pay for a service they received and maybe they felt awkward 'owing' someone, in their mind?

    Example, I used to go to this sandwich shop next to my old store. I would just get bread, lettuce, onion and tomato. They would charge me like $1.25. I told them "charge me what you'd charge anyone" and they said "well, we charge 50 cents for 'extra bread' and charge 75 cents for 'extra veggies' which is all you're getting anyway". If meat were added it would have been a 'real sandwich' and cost like 4x as much. I felt awkward being undercharged, so I stopped going there. Not that I want to be charged $6 for the same thing... but $1.25 was just oddly inexpensive, enough that I felt bad.

    So, for a quick wiring for a new customer I'll usually just say "A $5 bill will take care of it".

    ...but that's from my experience.
  41. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    As regards the earlier post about business freebies versus kindness-of-heart gestures:
    I don't think the two have to be mutually exclusive.
  42. pete plastic

    pete plastic Guest

    I've noticed that as well. That may be the case.

    That's why I think it's a good idea that Mar had about a "kitty jar," it helps relieve customer's unease about "owing" something, it still makes you look good for offering a free service in the first place, and they will remember you for supporting a charitable cause. I just recently started working at a shop of whom the owner fosters dogs from a rescue organization. I don't see a "puppy jar" there, but I'll see to it that there is! :D
  43. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Mar's solution is hands down the best.
  44. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    I agree and will be doing that in the future. Just had a lady back in today for a free wire on a brand new cheapy that she bought from some discount store.

    I do also like the idea of charging them $5.00 and then handing them a gift card for that amount to be used on a real purchase later.
  45. Framar

    Framar SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I figure it is win-win-win all around. Charity benefits, customer benefits, shop benefits from the cheery glow enveloping the brand new customer.
  46. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

  47. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

  48. Cornered One

    Cornered One CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Our shop fixes anything from a broken glass to cutting past a damaged corner on a frame and the subsequent mat and glass cut down to the slightly smaller size. We do this for regular customers on a regular basis no charge. This could be one reason why our shop has been very busy in our thirty years. Some may think this is crazy but we buy glass in 4000 pound cases so the cost is low. Our framers can cut, rejoin and assemble a frame in no time. So call it crazy but we have a great and loyal clientel and now we have been in business long enough to see the grandchildren coming in from our original customers. How much is an ad to advertise your shop? I am sure it is alot more than a piece of glass and some fitting time. Remember we do this for our regular customers not people off the street.
  49. Z David

    Z David MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    A couple of weeks ago I did a little frebbie print job for the chairwoman of the local newcomers organization. But, I asked her if she would be willing to let me print some 8 1/2" x 11" promotional flyers (that include a $20 off custom framing certificate) to give out with their packet of information that's given to newcomers to our community. She was more than happy to do this for me. Furthermore, the organization has about 30 regular members and they have a once a month coffee social. Today they scheduled to have their November coffee social at my shop... and I get to provide a little talk about custom picture framing!

  50. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    How about "just" stretching a painting for ctroxtell? I'll bet he would be willing to buy his own strainer frame and he surely would appreciate it and recommend you to all of his friends.
Sponsor Wanted

Share This Page

Sponsor Wanted