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Musings from Carson City

Rob Markoff

PFG, Picture Framing God
My musings re: my recent trip will now be found here.
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Rob Markoff

PFG, Picture Framing God
Post Number 1

Some observations from Carson City=

And this is nothing that Val hasn't heard from me through the course of the day and dinner last night)-

Man it is hard to get any work done with the phone constantly ringing, receiving flower deliveries then cleaning up all of the tears, psyching Val up for the reporter coming, interview with the reporter, telling Val how great she was, ......and customers bringing in new work while we are trying to get the old work out.

Seriously, there was probably one new order taken in for every two that Baer and I were cranking out.

PLEASE do not tell Val to go home and rest. I do not think that there was one work order written with the expectation that anyone but Val was going to do the work. Many of the work orders did not have enough information to allow for anyone else to do the work and only Val could help us figure out which piece was where, which materials go with which piece, if they had been ordered, and where they were.

It appears that Val was so busy prior to getting sick that there were mat samples in the sleeves with the art because she didn't have time to complete the orders before she had to design the next one! And, with no POS, a lot of information was in her head and not on the work orders. We are doing the work but Val is providing much needed direction and final inspection.

I think the key for people coming to help out is to stage a bunch of work, so that as you finish it, you can move onto the next piece without asking what to do next (and with what materials and where they are). And keeping Val's energy focused on what needs to get done so she does not get distracted and tired. Enough chit chat- get to work!

There is a lesson here (which I am still trying to digest) that a one person shop still needs to be run in anticipation of growth. Delegation is a means of multiplying your output and it is a learned skill. Systems need to be in place so that someone else can do the work, even if you were expecting to do it.

Properly maintained and operable equipment not only allows for better quality work but keeps the frustration level in check. The new V-nailer had to be set up and I am so happy that it was in the box waiting to be installed! The old one slowed things down and produced poor frames. The new one will pay for itself quickly in the time savings alone.

Better yet would be for a shop like this to move to chop only or joined frames (the prices being charged could easily support this) and the labor/space savings could be used to grow the business (and focus on a POS system).

I am impressed with the selection of mouldings being offered and the wide variety of things that are being framed. Val is a great designer and I am very proud of the product we are producing.

More so, I am proud of the love and support that the Grumble family has shown for Val and grateful to be a small part of it.

More later-


Rob Markoff

PFG, Picture Framing God
Post Number 2

Today was a tough day. It is hard for me to be the guy from out of town who comes in voluntarily (remember, Val knew nothing about this) and then begins to make unsolicited (but much needed) changes to an existing business, then jumps on a plane and leaves - leaving a shell shocked Val as Baer drove me to the airport. Thankfully, Baer will be there tomorrow and will continue to tell Val that it was the right thing we did....and help her plan for the next wave of help.

There is a real learning curve for a one person shop to not only know how to tell someone what and when to do something, but to also ALLOW them to do it. Not from a position of weakness, but from a position of strength. It is a GOOD thing to have "employees" helping you multiply your output. It doesn't mean you are not capable, but it is also not something that is easily accepted, understood, or embraced. I think the reality/enormity of all that is happening is beginning to sink in. I mean it all has happened so fast-

Again, I don't think I am posting anything that Val and I have not already discussed. I have such respect and admiration for her and all she has accomplished, plus I see SUCH potential and a very realistic future for her business. She is one talented designer/framer and I would be proud to have her working for me.

I don't see this effort as a bail out for a business doomed to fail, but friends helping in the short run to overcome a situation brought on by a series of life-changing events. If anything, this business can be better and stronger than ever.

In my classes on "Creating the Perfect Space" I suggest that you take pictures of your shop (everything - workroom, design counter, bathroom, closets, EVERYTHING) from many angles (not posed or staged, just walk around with a camera and shoot.) When you look at the prints you may have a different perspective than you would just looking at the areas.

Such was my morning as I woke up and saw the pictures that Baer posted of Val being interviewed by the reporter. What I saw was a pile of C R A P infront of the Wizard in a very "public" area and as Baer was driving us to the shop, I mentioned it to him, and then to Val as we started our day.

Of course Val had intended to clean it up, but as her health/energy began to fail, it was the least of her problems and it just didn't get done. Baer then began to examine many of the "piles" of materials leaning against the wall by the mat/glass cutter, in various baskets adjacent to the chopper, stacked under tables, etc, etc, etc. He/I determined that there was NO EASILY RETRIEVABLE SYSTEM to determine what was in which pile or what was where.

I am not airing dirty laundry here, it is a "what's so". It happens, even in my shop (OK I admit it, I can be a pack rat too).

We analyzed the "cost" (at $1.00 per minute if your shop rate is $60 per hour) to sort through the materials and the cost to replace with new (and there was no "system" in place, nor location ) to put things away (Val says new bins/racks/shelves are coming - she KNOWS she needs them and has them on order with plans for their new locations). We determined that the "cost" to sort everything and the "return" in sales value of the fallout/scraps/cutoffs in question was out of balance.

SUGGESTION: As you cut a mat, write the mat number on the fallout at the time of cutting, so you can store/file the fallout in numerical order by vendor. Don't have enough time to file them away? Temporary labor from an agency is available in almost every city (or high school/college students - even "customers" who might want to trade their time for framing). It isn't that "skilled" to put them into a filing system that is numerically based if the numbers are written on them. So you can hire temporary help to clean up....if you have a system. It would be foolish to take specifiers (or mat samples) to try and backtrack and numbers the fallout months after the fact. Sounds simple - but it is a LEARNED habit.

I mean honestly, how many pieces of 8" x 36" glass do you really need, and when are you going to sell it, and if there are 100+ orders waiting to be fit, what is the likelihood that more will be generated? Same for mat fallout that is smaller than 16 x 20 (and fome-cor and acrylic).

And, with a SMALL shop, and with 100+ pieces to frame, and with barely enough room for Baer and me to stand side by side (and we have BOTH lost weight), something had to go. All the 6" - 14" pieces of moulding that "someday" would be become readymades were just in the way. (I learned a new expression from Baer today - "bin rattled" - the stuff that had been "stored" in piles leaning against the wall, stacked on top of each other horizontally, or just in baskets lined up along the wall that is damaged by just being there).

So, with me holding Val (restraining?) And a good friend who came to "visit" distracting her, Baer and I made trip after trip to the dumpster (and then Val got on board and actually asked her neighbor if we could also use her dumpster too as we had FILLED the first one).

Baer said it was like pulling off a band-aid, you just have to do it, and do it quickly. I found a ten foot stick of metal moulding lying on the floor. Val doesn't have a metal saw. It was there when she bought the shop, but it is now living in the dumpster waiting for tomorrow's trash pick-up.

While we were frustrated that we weren't "framing" anything (as it was noon by the time we had filled the dumpsters) we are confident that those that follow will have more room to work in, the shop looks cleaner, and I actually saw Val throw out small pieces of fallout from a multi opening mat she was working on. Baby steps..........

So we think it was time well spent. And, when it came time to frame I think we did more in four hours than we did all day yesterday given that we had to do some equipment tweaking and climb over piles of stuff (or move it from one place to another) just to have a place to work.

More later-


Rob Markoff

PFG, Picture Framing God
Post Number 3

I had a real hard time sleeping last night. Too many ideas, too many things left unfinished. Wish I could have spent the entire week with Baer but now I have to go and throw away a bunch of stuff too.........

It would be very helpful if, on another thread, you all would share your customer's artwork storage and retrieval methods both for unfinished work and for finished work as well.

Val needs to implement a system where ANYONE can be told the system and then find the art to frame (or give to a customer when finished). It has to encompass a wide variety of things to frame as Val has THE most eclectic bunch of stuff coming in from flat, rolled paper art to needle work, to garments, to paintings.

So, I could tell her how I do it, but it isn't the Rob show and I am hoping that if she sees (can you also post pictures?) a number of methods, she can adapt some of them into what works for her. But seeing/reading about them would be very beneficial. Someone PLEASE start a new thread and tell us where it is!

So on with this morning's ramble......

As I understand it, Val purchased a business and didn't create all of this mess on her own. A lot of it was inherited and Val's energy was focused on turning around a failing business so she could make a living. And it is hard to drain the swamp when.......you know how it goes. But in our conversations, I can see she had a good grip on what needs to be done (without my suggestions) and only needs the time (and resources and manpower) to get it done.

So what is Heart and Home? A frame shop? A Gallery/Frameshop? A Gift Store? An Art Supply/Frameshop? Which are the most profitable lines? Lines that have profit POTENTIAL? Lines that are ENERGY SUCKS? And, if you are going to transition from one to another (or drop the unprofitable space and labor consuming ones, how do you do it?)

My observation is that Heart and Home should be focused on being a FRAME shop, and a darn good one. I see the most profit potential there since the footprint of the shop is small, there is work coming in on a regular basis (and more that CAN come in) and her only real competition for framing is from a big box store (the M word). The space/time devoted to selling art should be focused on selling custom framing and ALL of the old art needs to go.

OK so there is some art that was there when the shop was purchased. And is still there. And yes, it has some value to someone (but certainly not to the people coming in for framing or it would have sold.) Or maybe they don't know it is there (pure speculation on my part but I was there for two days and I still don't know what is available, where it is, and I would be afraid to step over the piles of stuff both finished goods & things waiting to be framed, incoming deliveries etc.

So what to do? Val already has come to the conclusion that Heart and Home Custom Framing is not going to be a gallery. And she has come to the conclusion that in today's economy, many people are not buying original art. And artist's are a needier group than dare I say Picture Framers? And they can be demanding of your time and inpatient if you don't show performance. So Val has already started to ween herself from this energy suck (without my suggestion, but with my hearty support and endorsement) and is getting rid of the consigned art.

We both agree that her walls would be better filled with framed examples of very cool stuff. But what to do with all of the other flat art she inherited? It is "VALUABLE". So she can put it on e-bay....yeah, in her spare time. But it ONLY takes ten minutes a day.....maybe. Or she can find a service that sells on e-bay for you. Sure she would make less money, but have we learned ANYTHING about delegation yet?

Zero is a larger number than a negative number. A number larger than zero is even more. It is better to make a little money than none at all, and paper is a fragile commodity.

Val suggested that she wants to have a bin (hopefully in the Design area, not in the Framing area) with a sign that says, "Free Art With Framing." Go for it! And once your customer base in is your POS, you can also mail this idea to your customers. But give it a time limit. If "x" number of pieces don't sell by "a specified period of time" then......and have a plan. Baer and I have already found two large "storage" places outside in back that could be utilized. And at the end of the week they would be empty.

How about e-mail? The forms Val is using for order writing do not have a pre-printed place for an e-mail address. So, I don't think that there is a e-mail address list being built. Anyone have suggestions/ideas on how to start/build an e-mail list?

Kirstie, PLEASE start a new thread on this topic and tell us how effective your e-mail marketing is. How did you start? How do you have time to send all of those e-mails? Privacy policy? How do you convince your customers to give you their addresses? Those of you who are successful at this, PLEASE join in.

I gotta go. More later.


Rob Markoff

PFG, Picture Framing God
Post Number 4

Paying the price for being away....lots to do but little getting done-still thinking about the trip.

From the minute Baer picked me up in Reno, I knew this was going to be a great trip. The drive from Reno to Carson City at dusk is breathtaking, especially with the snow covered mountains peaking out through the passing storm clouds while Enya played on the very fine stereo in Baer's amazingly spacious Prius. The lake, fields of cows and sheep, wide open country.

Now I guess I take driving by the beach every day for granted, but the change of scenery at 5,000 feet was refreshing. And a small town with a bit of history has a wonderful charm.

And the dynamic of the client base is quite special as well.

I was working on pieces for Val that were taken in at the end of November or the beginning of December. Again, no dig or insult intended, just a reality of the situation. Many were paid for in full by credit card. If it had happened in my business, I would have had charge-backs in a minute, plus letters from attorneys and an angry hoard with pitchforks and torches at my hospital room door........

Baer and I have both been framing for a long time. I think we have well over 70 years of framing between us. And we both do things the "right" way......just not the "same" way.........I wish we had a recording of some of our banter. Sort of reminded me of my grandmother and her sister in the kitchen cooking.

Val asked on more than one occasion if she needed to come over and give each of us a spanking so we would stop bickering. Oops, I was supposed to leave that part out. "OK you two, if you don't stop I'll turn this frameshop right around..........." Does make me realize that there often is more than one "correct" way. Unless you are taking the MCPF......and I am officially more anal retentive than Baer (and I thought he was picky).

Who knew that Carson City had such great food? Baer, Val and I had a really memorable meal at The Basil, a real find of a Thai restaurant. Those of you going really need to make a point of eating there. And Baer scored two loaves of freshly baked Squaw bread from Byron for me to take back to San Diego with me. TSA almost confiscated them as potential weapons (I think they just wanted them for themselves, but they did weigh about 5 pounds each....) but they were worth the trip! Wow that man can bake.

Forgot to mention my chit chat radar. Again, in my classes I talk about whether or not to have seating at your design counter...or allowing reading material in the bathroom (do YOUR employees punch out for toilet breaks?)

My stores are NOT the "Cheers" of frame shops. Sure, I want my designers to know everyone's name, but there IS a point in a transaction where the pop up timer has to go off and.....you go now, bye bye. ($1 per minute at $60 per hour.......leads to very expensive conversations or overtime because the work didn't get done.)

So, with all of the customers coming in, and Baer and me producing the work faster than Val could stage it, there came a time (or two) when I found myself wanting to migrate from the framing area to the design area to give Val "the look" so we could/would get back to work. But I didn't.....very often. So, if you are a one person shop, how productive are you? Having internet access in your shop can be a very bad thing.


And, if you hire someone to help you, or find yourself in a position where you have help as you have never had before, are you ready to delegate (not abdicate)? Do you know how? Will you resist the temptation or have the willpower to say, ok you go now, bye bye?

More later



PFG, Picture Framing God
How about e-mail? The forms Val is using for order writing do not have a pre-printed place for an e-mail address. So, I don't think that there is a e-mail address list being built. Anyone have suggestions/ideas on how to start/build an e-mail list?

Kirstie, PLEASE start a new thread on this topic and tell us how effective your e-mail marketing is. How did you start? How do you have time to send all of those e-mails? Privacy policy? How do you convince your customers to give you their addresses? Those of you who are successful at this, PLEASE join in.

I gotta go. More later.

HI Rob, Yes, I can do this bit by bit. I have a long to-do list right now, so I am trying to limit my Grumble time, which is often too late at night, but if I break it into small posts, I can give the forum ideas. I can also find photos of back room organization for incoming and outgoing work, mat storage, etc.

I have real concerns about the stress placed upon the operator of a one person shop. Having started with 3 employees in 1977, and now having 4-5 in the shop on any given day, working alone and trying to do everything is a scenario I can't quite imagine. I know that there are a few very successful framers on this forum who do just that, Jim Miller included, but I think they are out of the norm. There just aren't enough hours in the day and something has to give. I suspect that organization and marketing are often set aside. Please correct me if I'm wrong and if I am, I sure would like to know how you all do it.

Finding time for marketing duties is a luxury I have given myself after many years of working in the shop. Now I am only at the shop three days a week, and part of that time is in the upstairs office. The rest of my days are spent on chores like the newsletter. So that's how I find time. But the e-mail marketing will be another post.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Over the coarse of a 20 year business, I learned, by myself (the hard way). Some of the lessons I learned, through trial and error, have been touched upon here.

1. My shop was always neat. Everything had a place; even the fabric was rolled up, numbered, and stored in numerical order.

2. All orders were written so anyone could do it, start to finish. Anything unusual about the job was noted and written down.

3. We had daily sheets where all orders due that day were listed, in numerical order and crossed off as completed.

4. All problems were dealt with immediately. Customers were informed of any out-of-stocks, possible hold-ups on their orders. They were always given the option to wait, or choose an alternate.

5. All equipment was kept in top working order. I had extra blades for the chopper and the saw. Dull blades were sent out for sharpening immediately so they'd be ready to use.

6. Everything we had on had to complete a job was stored labeled and stored separately until we had everything on hand to finish the job.

7. Everyone had their own work station and everyone had their own set of tools. Yes, duplicates of everything. No one was allowed to take something from someone else's station.

8. Delegate the work. At some point you have to let go and trust others.

9. In spite of #8 rule, all work was checked by me before it was wrapped. I learned to never trust an employee to decide if the work was done correctly. I found screw eyes on upside down, the wrong glass used, and once the screw eyes poking through the front of the frame (and the employee tried to "fix" it), among other things.

10. Salesmen always had to make an appointment. They eventually learned if I did not have time to talk to them, they had wasted their time. If I knew they were coming, I alloted them the time.

The hardest thing I ever had to deal with was employees. Finding them, training, getting rid of the bad ones, finding a good one only to have them move on in a couple of years (for various reasons). # 1 reason I left framing was physical; #2 was employees.

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Great post, Pam. Words of wisdom. (I think we can all relate to that #9).
:kaffeetrinker_2: Rick


MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Some definitely good ideas here. We are two person shop and the majority of the "labor work" is done by Brenda. I usually design things and she makes it happen. I also tend to the marketing, emails, website, wizard operation, etc. We definitely need to cross-train each other in case one of us gets hit by a bus.

We have already discussed getting rid of those things we were hanging onto, just in case. THAT'S HARD! We by no means have two dumpsters full, but it made us realize we don't want to get that way in years to come (which, as we hold onto things I could see that coming).

One thing we lack, and are having a hard time parting with the funds for is a POS system. Everyone states that they didn't know how they lived without it, and I found that to be true with the Wizard, and am sure I would feel that way about the POS too.

We started using Constant Contact as a way to manage the email marketing (so much easier than maintaining it myself). Most email addresses we have are clients, friends and family and we want to occasionally target an "audience"...I have a list set up for Real Estate Agents, property managers, etc. I also try to get addresses when I give away business cards. I know Kirstie uses Constant Contact and I hope if she has time she can tell us more about how she uses it.



PFG, Picture Framing God
Relate to# 9 in a different way if you are an employee. In all the places I have worked over the years, after proving my worth, I usually end up managing the production of the frameshop allowing the owner to concentrate on the other aspects of the business. Gemsmom must have had a great deal of bad luck with employees. I know that if my boss "never" trusted my work after showing my abilities, I would be one of those employees moving on.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Relate to# 9 in a different way if you are an employee. In all the places I have worked over the years, after proving my worth, I usually end up managing the production of the frameshop allowing the owner to concentrate on the other aspects of the business. Gemsmom must have had a great deal of bad luck with employees. I know that if my boss "never" trusted my work after showing my abilities, I would be one of those employees moving on.

My sentiments exactly.

I have been on many sides of this. I have been the employee to step up and oversee production and QC and I have been in a position where I have seen bad work fall through the cracks and powerless to make any changes.

Bottom line is somebody should be ultimately responsible for quality and workers not left to their devices until proven. But at that point, let it go, man. It is such a blow to the ego to constantly have your worked checked over. It takes a couple notches off the glow of a job well done.

Natalya Murphy

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I know that if my boss "never" trusted my work after showing my abilities, I would be one of those employees moving on.
I can see both sides of the argument here, but for me it comes down to the fact that a sanity check is always a good thing. We have a part-time framer who has more framing experience and more artistic insights than I do, and yet there has been a rare occasion when the wrong piece of glass got put in the frame, or the wrong spacer (clear vs. black).

There needs to be some sort of quality-control system in place, whether it's a written checklist attached to every work order, checkmarks placed next to each item as it's included in the package, or just a second set of eyes to verify the completed package.

Natalya Murphy

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I have real concerns about the stress placed upon the operator of a one person shop.
There just aren't enough hours in the day and something has to give. I suspect that organization and marketing are often set aside. Please correct me if I'm wrong and if I am, I sure would like to know how you all do it.
Oh, Kirstie I agree! Fortunately, I've got high schoolers working part time to help with the organizational part. The marketing, on the other hand, is definitely not getting the attention it should. Press releases and e-mail notices of events are getting out close to the last minute, and sometimes they don't get out everywhere that they should. I'm seriously starting to think about outsourcing the marketing piece.


PFG, Picture Framing God
Press Releases

I feel that marketing is actually a personal job that should be done by the owner until you are big enough to hire professionals. I'm not at that point after 3 decades, so I guess it will still fall upon me for the near future. The owner cares and has the energy to give the marketing some pizzaz. Even our web master is on staff because how could he know the nuances of what we do and how to present it without being in the trenches? I know this is unusual.

Here's the deal with marketing: Break it into small achievable tasks.
Work on one category at a time.

If you want press coverage, for instance, figure out exactly why, and what you have that is worth a reporter schlepping to your store to report on. It has to be new and exciting and newsworthy. Once you have a specific topic, target the press releases. Do one of these tasks each day or week until you send them out and follow up.

Make a list of topics.

Pick one.

Make a list of newspaper people, TV people, magazine people, etc.
I suggest newspapers because they have to have daily content and are looking for news--even the big ones.

Fine tune your contacts list. All of this information is available on the internet, but it takes creative searching. Also, look at past issues in the Home and Garden or Business sections to make sure they have not reported on your topic within the last couple of years. Skim the local papers regularly.

Type your contact list--include editors and assistant editors, and reporters in departments you want to target.

Write your press release. Use proper formatting, available with a web search. Make it fun and compelling and interesting. Write the story for the reporter! Finally, for the kicker, send something with the press release. For example, when I sent out press releases about the new Wizard, I sent at least a dozen name mats to the various reporters I targeted, with their names on each one, and a symbol of a pen. My story was grabbed by a large daily but the person who received the press release passed it on. The first thing the new reporter asked was, can I have one of those mats with my name on it?

The story was passed from Home and Garden to Business. The reporter came out with a young photographer who was enthralled with all the shop's technology. The story was on page one of the business section. The large daily owns smaller papers around the SF Bay, and the story appeared in all of those papers as well. I got calls and business from all over the Bay Area, not just from the immediate area. Sometimes it goes the other way, the small weekly paper picks up the story and then the large daily that owns it decides to run it.

Finally, don't even think about bothering the same people with another story for at least a year. I have been told, "Sorry, we ran a story on you just 8 months ago. Too soon."

Just sending out press releases is a time sucker. Organize it and do one piece each night until they are in the mail. Write it all down in a planner or notebook or organize it on your computer. Oh, and send them by e-mail first and follow up immediately with a package. A package on someone's desk, with something in it, is bound to be opened sooner or later. Finally, they must be perfect. Have your press release proofed by someone who has an eagle eye. Put it through Word, put it on your best stationary, proof it again for grammar, syntax, spelling. Send it out and now...

Follow it up about a week later with a phone call. You will probably be put off. But then a month or so later when there is an empty spot in the paper, volia, you might get a call.

Press releases are like cold calling. You have to send a lot and hope for one response

Now you'll have to clean up the shop in a hurry if they say they are coming in two days with a photographer! There is rarely much notice.

Finally, put the story on your web site under News. My goal is to have at lease one story from somewhere each year and hopefully more frequently. You don't want a potential customer looking at your News page and seeing that the last press coverage you had was 10 years ago.

Rob, I'll get to the e-mail marketing soon. Much bigger topic.

Have a great Saturday everyone!


PFG, Picture Framing God
Kirstie and others -- getting an organized system into place early and sticking to it really helps with management of the one-person-shop. If I know where my newly-ordered mats are kept, I don't have to hunt for them. If I know where the specific bin is to look for a remnant of C1685, that saves me time.

Even so, there's never enough time. For the past two years, I'd go home in the evening and enter my sales receipts and checks into Quickbooks on my laptop. I've recently put Quickbooks on my shop computer (so I can save money by doing payroll in-house), so now I can do that data entry more frequently during downtime at the shop.

I've also made a commitment to do various marketing activities, and they are every bit as important as joining a frame or cutting a mat. Every other Wednesday evening, our Chamber of Commerce has a mixer. So I close the shop 45 minutes early and go to those. I try to network with people I don't know, and I try to make it clear that I do residential and commercial work. I'm going to start doing the same thing with local ASID events, the first of which is next week.

As for oddjobs like cleaning windows and taking out the trash, look to your street for help. Maybe there's a guy that does oddjobs for the business community? We had a guy that would do stuff like that -- he'd wash my windows for $5. I paid him $50 to help me set up my Fletcher 3000. The guy had a work ethic that would put anyone to shame, but unfortunately he passed away recently due to complications from a lifetime of alcohol abuse. So maybe there's a homeless guy that's trying to get it together, willing to do some oddjobs for a little bit of cash. I figure, if the guy is presentable, and sober, and not nuts, why not?


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
We have a couple of guys with mental handicaps in our town who do odd jobs like snowblowing and mowing. They seem to be busy all the time. This year we contract the snowplowing and I'm starting to consider do that with the mowing again since it gets out of hand quickly and we have almost an acre of lawn around our shop.

Natalya Murphy

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
If you want press coverage, for instance, figure out exactly why, and what you have that is worth a reporter schlepping to your store to report on. It has to be new and exciting and newsworthy. Once you have a specific topic, target the press releases.

Fine tune your contacts list. All of this information is available on the internet, but it takes creative searching. Also, look at past issues in the Home and Garden or Business sections to make sure they have not reported on your topic within the last couple of years. Skim the local papers regularly.
Kirstie, you bring up some excellent points. One good resource I've found for PR tips is Bill Stoller's Free Publicity* newsletter. Each issue includes how-tos, case studies of successful PR campaigns, timelines for what the news media is looking for each month, and even contact information for the national media outlets.

You can download a sample of his newsletter at this link: http://www.publicityinsider.com/freepub.asp

*Note: The newsletter is called Free Publicity because that's what it teaches you how to get. The newsletter itself costs $97 a year for 12 issues. With that, you also get a free 1-year membership to PR Newswire.

Baer Charlton

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I read his book about a year ago. Or "chewed up and digested" his book is more like it. The first one fell into pieces... the second is now held together with a large clip.

There was no accident that the KOLO channel 8 (ABC) sent John Tyson down to do a story on "Framers helping one of their own".

On the Wednesday before I got there I sent an email to Brent Bryson the anchor, and assignments editor. I explained that I was fully aware that their plate would be full Sat, Sun & Mon with the holiday. (showing understanding of their heavy work load). Then I pointed out that Tuesday or Wednesday would be a better day to send a news crew, in that I would have a better handle on the situation, and that Val might be either out of the Hospital, or at least able to receive visitors. Also pointing out that there might be a lull in the "occurring news" (there always is after a holiday).

We shot emails back and forth and solidified our relationship. (I now have a friend in Reno) Most importantly, he became "enrolled" in the story, and pushed for its airing.

That was the best $12.95x2, I have ever spent on advertising education.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Rob, your first post hit really close to home with me. It wrapped up in a nutshell many of my frustrations with my current workplace that I could not put into words, or did not have the backup to be convincing enough for my observations to be validated. This thread has been enormously helpful in helping me organize my thoughts and how I would like to communicate my concerns to my employer.

I am having a lunch meeting with my big boss and this is an outline of subjects I feel need to be addressed in order to maximize the profitability of the business.

I know it is a bit much, and a lot of ground to cover in one sitting but I hope it could be a starting point to prioritize and make future goals. Please correct me if it is too much. I really do not want to overstep my boundaries but since I was told there was a possible management position for me in the future I thought it would be prudent to have a game plan. These are all things not currently being addressed leaving several employees to "wing it" on a daily basis creating much confusion and wasted time.

Here it is.

Store Operating Procedures
Suggestions for submittal

A. Bookkeeping/finance
1. Merchandise SKU’s entry and usage
• Correct/delete sku’s for framed samples
• Structure formula for creating new sku’s
• Use POS for store merchandise/readymades
2. Framing charges and work orders
• Study labor and specialty charges via competition and trade information and update charges accordingly
• Use proper labor charges for orders to keep pricing consistent and reduce confusion re: special instructions
• Get proper customer support and training for POS and framing input management
3. Cash flow
• Utilize Accounts Receivable feature properly
• Understand mistakes before attempting to fix them, reference software guides and have technical support available
• Utilize Paid Out feature in POS(?)

B. Customer information/marketing
1. Customer Database
• Clearly define corporate accounts, keep contacts and departments current
• Obtain email addresses for future use
• Avoid duplicate accounts/combine existing
• Have special instructions, standing discounts and repeat order information easily referenced
• Retain copies of Tax exemption letters

2. Website
• Update routinely
• Email promotions
• Email contact for clients and sales reps
3. Current communications
• Synchronize communications between shifts
• Implement system for current information re: customer orders (delays, special instructions, pending quotes, customer feedback and contacts)
• Streamline long term storage for customer information

C. Shop procedure/management
1. Scheduling/payroll
• Incorporate planned hourly budget for shift coverage and distribute to employees based on fixed allotments
• Manager schedules workweek according to employees’ availability and budget
2. Materials and supply management
• Incorporate consistent schedule to order materials from vendors based on frequency and vendor policies and turnaround
• Structure storage of supplies and stock minimums
• Create reference for specialty items catalogues and retail pricing for easy customer service
• Maintain inventory of stock materials by putting away and recording leftover materials
• Incorporate guidelines and requirements for waste materials storage
• Restructure division of materials by vendor for better access and space management
• Purge waste materials using up storage and workspace
3. Working and long term storage
• Manage amount of space used by employees
• Consolidate storage of signage and seasonal /duplicate samples
• Structure storage of incoming art so it is more consistent (use print sleeves?)
• Separate incoming and outgoing art
• Wrap packages properly to reduce damage
• Reclaim long term storage by purging old , damaged, and irrelevant art and frames
4. General work order procedures.
• Consistently describe artwork and condition for insurance purposes and to lessen confusion
• Thoroughly inspect artwork (remove from shrink wrap, unfit)
• Streamline procedures for supply ordering
• Streamline separation and organization of worktickets once materials are received, create new clipboard for specialty work (sew downs, fabric wraps, French lines, stretches)
• Maintain list of orders and reference when scheduling work, keep order status current
• Maintain training program and quality control of work
• Delegate work to staff according to skills and supervision
• Maintain communication between staff to minimize independent work and encourage team efforts (batch work)

Amy McCray

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Wow, you've really put a lot of time and thought into this! I just hope you'll have food and water brought into the meeting with your boss, cuz it looks like you're going to be there for awhile! :) Nice job!


PFG, Picture Framing God
Speaking of organization, Ellen and I spent a better part of this morning cataloging every single order that's pending, on an Exel spreadsheet, and have begun using Baer's backroom board. We now know exactly how many orders we have, what their status is (frames completed, mats cut, due dates, bin numbers, etc) and I believe if I got run over by a car tomorrow, anyone could step in and make some sense of it, without having ESP! We thought logging everything in would take a few days...took only a couple of hours!! This will work until the POS is up and runnng. First-things-first. We even got to cross off some completed jobs today, but spent the better part of it setting up the "new" system.

Between Baer and Rob's Great Dumpster Adventure, and Ellen's Plan with a timer involved (will explain that later!), I feel like a Freshman Framer, but what an opportunity to get organized and start all over again, with what works for others, and the ability to make my own choices about what will work for me...HUGE!

Ellen and I made an agreement. Rob talked about taking too much time at the design counter, and wanting to step in with "The Look". Right now, many local folks have seen the video, etc, and want to yak about it, so if the conversation goes on too long, she calls the shop number on her cell phone and I have to excuse myself to answer the phone, thus ending the yakking session. It worked!!! So...what will I do when I'm alone in there? Find the strength to say "I'd love to chat more, but if I'm going to get yours finished, I have to finish some others first." That's a difficult one.

I must also say, that it's such freedom to actually THROW AWAY matboard and foamcore and (ACK!) moulding "scraps"! Baer and Rob, you would be proud! I got into some more corners and got rid of a couple more barrels of "stuff".

Imaluma, I'm excited to see how your plan will be accepted, and how we can impliment some of it here!

Holy Flamingo, my brain's fuzzzzzed and ready for bed. Ellen's up at dark-thirty, her time, and chomping at the bit while I'm still wide asleep. Tomorrow's another day, and more will be revealed.

David N Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
if the conversation goes on too long, she calls the shop number on her cell phone and I have to excuse myself to answer the phone, thus ending the yakking session. It worked!!! So...what will I do when I'm alone in there?

Put a one-number speed dial on your cell phone that you leave within reach but out of sight (say, "5", since that has the pimple on it) and call yourself.

On a more serious note, glad to hear you're back and things are looking up!


PFG, Picture Framing God
We were feeling sooo organized yesterday! Everyone teases me because I "make a list" if there are more than two things to remember, and of course, I always start by writing "make a list" so that I can cross something off right away.

I am still in needlework mode, and have finished about half of them. I LOOOOVE stretching needlework... I really do!

Val is right about my wanting to get started in the dark. I was up again at 4am, and am killing time until Carson City joins me in welcoming the morning. But of course, by 8:30 I am knackered, FORCING myself to stay awake until 9pm, which should switch my body clock over soon (I hope!)

We are actually running two Excel lists. We have orders that we have put on the regular two-week turnaround, and another list (which I envision the Grumblers working on) that is tackling the back work.

The two of us work really well together, and the next few days should see some serious cranking out of stuff... at least that's the plan! (it is, after all, on the List)

Barb Pelton

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

I can only imagine what a sense of relief this must be for you.

Years ago, I absolutely got overwhelmed during my first Christmas rush and I suddently found that what had worked for me all year no longer worked and I was just buried. I had to bring in another framer who had just closed her store and we felt like we were digging out of a hole. It was awful.
After Christmas, we cleaned out, re organized and made a new system. I had the input of some more seasoned than I which helped so much.

Later, I expanded and grew, and went through the process again.
I guess you have to keep making alterations to your system if you continue to grow.

What everyone is doing is fantastic. I have enjoyed reading about how each stage of visitors is moving you into a position of potential growth. Lots of people could have come in and helped you get caught up, but you are truly getting some caring, constructive assistance; and when it is done you will be able to see your work flowing so much smoother.

There's nothing worse than getting clutter in the brain.
I only chime in to say this because I have gone through the process myself through the years, and you are not going to believe the peace of mind you will have when this is all over.

(Ellen, when I got married, my husband was perplexed that I would make a list everyday and that the first thing I put on it everyday was "fill up ice trays". ONE, becuase they always needed it and TWO, because it only took me about 30 seconds and then I could scratch something off my to-do list. hehehe)


PFG, Picture Framing God

I have been a list maker from way back. No Palm for me. I use a Franklin Planner and make a new list daily. I like putting pen to paper.

Actually, for the first time this year I bought weekly refills instead of daily. Now I have one weekly list and find that I don't "forget" to move it from day to day. If I don't finish the weekly list, I can then move missed items over just once a week. Pads of paper get lost, the Franklin doesn't. Not exactly portable, but it is right next to my computer all the time. My list is within sight......!

Val is so lucky to have you there. Isn't it great that she has new work coming in?

I have a surprise for Val in my July newsletter ;-)

nona powers

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I am so impressed with fellow framers such as Rob, Baer and Ellen, as well as others who helped Val. Warms the heart!


PFG, Picture Framing God
Ellen and I are ready for a day off ! Tomorrow, we're headed up to Lake Tahoe to be tourists, and maybe a visit to the Railroad museum, and who knows what else. We've worked really hard this half-week.She's been here since Wednesday and we've put in a month's wortha work, not only framing but list-making, priority-planning, more de-cluttering, etc.

A strange day today, starting with breakfast with Miss Patsy (Baer, she says tell you she's quitting now, she can't breathe), then a visit to the grocery store for thermopack pads for some aching muscles . Then, back at the shop, some "interesting" framing projects finished, and, with Ellen's hearty encouragement, I fired a customer today. Will expound on that later, but not now, as even talking about it makes my blood boil. I'm learning (slowly!) to take care of me, and NOT dealing with the stress of someone who will never-ever be satisfied, no matter how hard I try, is part of the taking-care-of-me progress. A door-mat no more!

Imaluma (Sarah) will be arriving on Monday, Amy McCray's coming in Wednesday night, Ellen's leaving Wednesday a.m....and looks like more to come.....silly people, they think they're coming for a vacation! Ha!

Actually, we're having a blast! We share framing stories, and a lot of laughing is happening. Oh yeah....framing work is happening too! I can't tell you how wonderful it is to turn it over...."I'll do this, you do that, what's this look like to you? Works for me!Oh yuck, that looks awful, I agree, what were they (you?) thinking?Time for lunch.Oh look, a shiny bird! No really, a real bird!How long will it take (days!) to write all these thank-you notes, look at that list! Mrs. Grundy really loved the lady-with-a-hat and look at those beautiful flowers that she brought! 5:30a.m. the cats woke me up, wanna go have breakfast with Miss Patsy? Best omelette in the world!"

Ellen's "doing" Obama and Kirk Douglas and Joan Fontain and LBJ in the the customer's cheapo frames with multi-openings and weird sizes - and a beautiful x-stitch Jesus and a teddy bear for the grey-bearded biker guy that stitched them, who got all teary-eyed when he picked them up...whew! A rush job yesterday (need it in the morning) for a huge photo-giclee-on-canvas to wet-mount for a customer's husband's memorial service and the frame they brought is too small, so we get creative and make it work. Obama's buttons get crooked and the glass cracks and the staple gun wheezes because I turned it off while I was firing the biotch-on wheels. supper at El Charro afterwards and we're so full and tired we can hardly pry each other out of our chairs or breathe or move, and I'm sure Ellen's waaay sound asleep (it's midnight her time!) and I'm headed there in a minute.

But....a good time is being had by all!

Goodnight John-boy. Goodnight Granmutter. G'nite Moo.

Tomorrow....Ellen and Vals' Great Adventure. Or....how to have a mini-vacation without talking framing and making notes all day long (not!).


PFG, Picture Framing God
We never see needlepoint these days. What's up with this? Do those of you who are in larger metropolitan areas still see needlepoint or is the Bay Area an anomaly?

Val, I am so glad to hear that your are feeling better and that you and Ellen are taking a day off.

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
We have a number of customers who are avid needleworkers. We've done some really interesting, even funky, designs for their work. Also, I have become friendly with the owners of a popular local needlepoint store, and they have referred lots of nice people. A few years ago I gave a lecture to the local chapter of the needlepoint guild.
:cool: Rick


PFG, Picture Framing God
Well, I am home safe from Carson City. What a wonderful experience!

Sarah (Imaluma) calls it Frame Camp, and that is about what it felt like. There were lots of "crafts" and good food. And it certainly was "sleep away"!

The thing that surprised me most was how much swapping of techniques there was. "Do you know how to make the Wizard do THIS?" "NO! That is soooo cool!"

"What a brilliant way to set up corner vises!"

"If you mount this way, it is a lot easier"

"Try using this tool."

We need to figure out how to visit each others' shops now and then for longer than a quick tour and meal (there is always a meal involved when we get together, isn't there?)

A good time was had by all.....


PFG, Picture Framing God

I'm not kidding, the hardest part of this adventure is saying good-bye! Working side-by side and swapping framers' tricks are only a small part of it. You thought we're "family" on the Grumble? A week with another Grumbler makes the bond life-long, the sharing and the laughing (my sides hurt every night!), the light-bulb moments, the sharing of meals, suggestions, this-is-how-we-do-it-in-our-shop... Priceless!

Sarah (Imaluma) leaves early in the morning, after 4 short days, but holy flamingo, we've put out the work! I have found my dream-framer!! What a pistol she is, and could easily give RoboFramer a run for his money! She is a brilliant and gifted young woman, not only as a framer, but as a human being. She has a job offer here, and I'm hoping she might seriously consider it. What we could do....shivers!!! I'm putting it out into The Universe. She has fallen in love with Carson City and the clean and dry air and beautiful landscape , friendly folks, and the fact that, for the first time, someone appreciates her amazing energy and framing talents. I'm hopeful!

Auntie Ellen whipped me into being better time-organized, creating and sticking to a daily routine, keeping up the Exel work lists, until I get the POS up and running (working on that). Baer and Rob cleared out the clutter and I'm faithfully sticking to it, although I still fish out a suede mat scrap or two, now and then (ssshhhh!!)

Two days with Mike (Romaboy) and he found out that framing is like riding a bicycle....it comes back after years away, and he said he had fun! Much different than being sales rep! He even wore shorts and flip-flops to "work" one day...guess he felt right at home, and so did I.

I agree with Ellen....framers visiting framers, and the swapping of ideas, techniques, tools (for instance, Ellen calls the awl a "stab" ..."Hand me The Stab, please"). Sarah showed us an amazing way to .....well, nevermind about all that. I think I'll start a thread later about nifty and amazing stuff we've learned at Frame Camp! "Did you know that you could....let me show you."

I think Frame Camp is a wonderful idea! How can we do that??

Amy McCray arrives late next Tuesday night. Until then, I have 5 days to myself...ACK!!! Might be a good thing, since I developed a muscle spasm in my lower back yesterday and today (Pain-in-the-butt), back on my walking-stick and might need a couple days just sitting and doing paperwork.

My new bookeeper started yesterday. She has waaaay experience and will work for framing for awhile. I've signed up for on-line banking, have Quickbooks loaded, and that's one more thing I'm learning to delegate. This is a huge load off. I just showed her a pile of stuff and asked her to make sense of it, and she did!

Delegating is hard for this done-it-by-myself-and-nearly-killed-me person....but not as hard as doing it all myself, for so long. What a fairytale! Time for Valorie to grow up....one frame at a time.

Couldn't've done it without all my Framing Angels, and there are more Angels to come....

What an Adventure!!! There will be More to the Story.

I love you all...


WOW Framer
What a joy it is to read all these posts from you, Val.
I am so glad that you are getting better, and that
with the help of these good people you are getting
your life back in spades.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Thanks for the updates from Carson City. It is great to hear about all the changes going on in your shop, Val, and more importantly that you are feeling better (except for the back spasms...)

Please start a new thread on what you've learned in Framing Camp! Pretty please??? I'm sure others would love to hear about it as much as I would.

danny boy

PFG, Picture Framing God
Frame camp, schools out and its time for frame camp already! I gotta ask my mum.

I wish I could go. Things are moving to fast right here and I am a one person shop also. But if you find the time, I would love to read all the neat things you have been learning and sharing. I remember getting ready for scout camp, I loved it. Good times.


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I look forward to reading this each day...I am so impressed with the Grumblers that have been able to come and help you out, Val. I, too would like to see some pictures. Get well soon


PFG, Picture Framing God
Val, post the cool pictures we took of the frame in Virginia City, and the shadowbox we did. I can find the pictures, but lack the skills to post them. (really gotta learn how to do that...l.)


PFG, Picture Framing God
Sarah (Imaluma) leaves early in the morning, after 4 short days, but holy flamingo, we've put out the work! I have found my dream-framer!! What a pistol she is, and could easily give RoboFramer a run for his money!
I am part man/part framerbot ............................

This is an illegal gathering ......... blamblamblamblam - eat brads suckers!

There's no way I could have not contributed physically were I not on the same lump of rock as you.


PFG, Picture Framing God
Well, John, you're with us in heart and spirit! And that's worth a lot!!!


PFG, Picture Framing God
Frame Camp huh? well, NO putting each other`s toothpaste or undies in the freezer,ya hear?!I`d hate to have to call the counselor.Oh,and no visiting the boys side of the lake unsupervised! Now,get....Off to the arts cabin with you! L.:icon21:


PFG, Picture Framing God

Nope, not posted anywhere else. I can't talk about it without my blood boiling and my blood pressure and heart-rate going over the top. Maybe Auntie Ellen can fill us in about "the experience"....she was a participant, and might be able to describe it without the 4-letter words that might happen, should I try to describe it.

Or maybe we'll just let it be, and not feed it anymore stuff. Probably that's best.

It was a huge part of my "taking better care of me" assignment. Having the courage (with Auntie Ellen's strong en-courage-ment!!) to say, "I'll-never-be-able-to-satisfy-you-no-matter-how-hard-I-try-I'm-done-with-this-come-get-your-stuff-and-you-won't-owe-me-the $800-worth-of-labor-to-fix-your-stuff-that-didn't-really-need-fixing-but-your-insurance-company-would-pay-to-have-it-all-replaced-anyway-it's-not-worth-all-the-tea-in-China-best-of-luck-to-ya-glad-it-isn't-me-anymore".

Freedom begins when you can tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite.

'Nuff said.


PFG, Picture Framing God
Val, we are obviously all lovin' it. More pics!!


PFG, Picture Framing God
I'll-never-be-able-to-satisfy-you-no-matter-how-hard-I-try-I'm-done-with-this-come-get-your-stuff-and-you-won't-owe-me-the $800-worth-of-labor-to-fix-your-stuff-that-didn't-really-need-fixing-but-your-insurance-company-would-pay-to-have-it-all-replaced-anyway-it's-not-worth-all-the-tea-in-China-best-of-luck-to-ya-glad-it-isn't-me-anymore".

'Nuff said.
The story within the dashes sums up the event. I am sure many of you have had to deal with the customer who absolutely Goes Off when junk that she brings in remains junk no matter how much CPR is applied to it.

She suggested that Val should have (from her sick bed) hired a high school kid to come in and either do the work or call everyone to tell them when it would be complete. (Gosh, Val, you just weren't THINKING about the poor customers... you selfish girl!)

Anyhoo, the customer made a fool of herself, with her husband suggesting that they should leave now, they should leave now. They storned out and Val, after we talked, called up the customer and told her, in essence, that she had been fired and that they could come and get the junk, I mean framing. The customer said they were "willing to give her a couple of weeks" (as if she were bestowing a great gift) but Val said firmly, "No, you either come and get the stuff or I will mail it to you." (You go, Val!)

Of course, they came while Val was at the bank and I was doing data entry (OK, I was peeking at the Grumble). I heard a noise and turned to see the back of the husband slinking out with the box-o-junk in his arms.

I'm betting they won't be back....

What you should learn from this: If you know there is no way to please a customer, don't waste your time trying...
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