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Opinions Wanted Picture framing is so expensive ! NO IT ISN'T !

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by Keith L Hewitt, Mar 10, 2019.

  1. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Yes, it might have been me - I've described this pricing method before:

    I wanted my prices for Museum Glass (or ArtGlass99) to provide 3X the gross margin dollars of selling Conservation Clear (my shop's default standard glazing at the time) in the same frame.

    To get to that, I calculated my gross margin dollars for Conservation Clear in four different frame sizes. Then, I multiplied those gross margin dollar amounts X3, to arrive at gross margin targets for Museum Glass in those sizes, and worked backwards to determine the proper markups to apply to cost. Once the markups were balanced as I wanted them, the proportional differences between CC and MG followed the future price increases in my FrameReady POS software.

    Sales of Museum Glass increased immediately and in the last few years before I sold the business, it provided more gross margin dollars than any other single line item. About 25% to 30% of my frames were sold with Museum Glass after I made it my shop's default standard glazing.

    Hope that makes sense.
  2. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    yep-that was it and we applied it to suede mats. It became so effective that we started ordering suede direct in box lots creating lower costs and increasing GP$ even more

    thanks, Jim, but I was supossedto be the 'biz guy'?:confused:
    Jim Miller likes this.
  3. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Yea, you should see my glass bill. :eek: I have a picture above my fitting table that has Conservation Clear, Conservation Reflection Control, and Museum butted against each other. I also have a light directly over my fitting table so it is sort of like the lights you may have in your home. When the customers see their reflections in the CC, and the slightly distorted look of the CRC, it isn't hard to sell them the Museum which when sitting next to the other 2 appears to have no glass.

    Now to clarify 1 thing, 65% is for the art and posters of significant value which is the majority of my framing. The art I frame for myself to sell at shows or some of the customer's very inexpensive art and posters used just for temporary display is always either the inexpensive acrylic, plain glass or cc glass, this is about 10 - 15% of my sales. If they want inexpensive framing done for temporary displays I definitely don't sell them Museum glass.

    Bob Carter likes this.
  4. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    Sometimes, and I know I might get cr#p for this by certain folks but I really don't care, I will throw in a piece of Museum glass at no extra charge on a smaller piece to the customer over Conservation clear.
    We often may get some small pieces in for framing and after giving the customer the various glass prices they select CC over the Museum because of the price.
    Well, if the picture is small, 8 x 10, 11 x 14, etc, I might say to them, "hey I will give you the Museum glass at the CC price"..
    I make sure that they know that I'm giving them something of value for No extra charge.
    (I don't mention that the glass is just a scrap);)

    We have SO many scraps of glass including Museum that it really costs us nothing and after giving the customer the prices, they are very happy with the offer.
    Plus, as I mentioned, we have SO MANY offcuts, if they don't get used they might get scratched and then they are garbage anyway even though we try to store them carefully with cardboard between each lite.

    I have worked in a shop that paper wrapped EVERY scrap piece of glass..How much does the time spent and the paper wrapping cost?
    It's really no-cost promoting, a Win-Win situation and everyone is happy.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  5. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    You won't get any cr#p from me about this, I do the same thing. Not only is it good PR but once they get Museum on one piece hung in their home they will always seem to buy Museum there after. It is unreal how that happens. Like you, I hate keeping those small offcuts because they seem to always get scratched chipped and I end up throwing it out.
    Rick Granick, Dave and neilframer like this.
  6. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    we do the same as well.
    neilframer likes this.
  7. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    One thing, I never mention the "scrap glass" part to the customer....:p;)
    As usual, all of the great minds think alike.;)
    Joe B and i-FRAMER like this.
  8. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    My tongue in cheek response was implying that framing is so expensive because framers pay themselves well enough to buy that Museum Glass or Cadillac...
  9. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    You say expensive, I say good value. Either way, I enjoy my Audi. And my Chevy. And my Mercury.:p
    David Waldmann and Joe B like this.
  10. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    David, I have to say that good moulding is darn expensive too. But then I could buy that inexpensive plastic, fiber board, or rotten Asian moulding. To be truthful, I would rather sell the moulding that you manufacture though I'm sure it is much more expensive. :rolleyes:
  11. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hey, I had to pay for my Porsche somehow!
    (never mind that it cost less than most, if not all, of my employees' daily drivers)
    Keith L Hewitt, Joe B and Jim Miller like this.
  12. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    OK, here's a value comparison for you. Today I spent $221.00 to have my Grandfather clock cleaned and adjusted. No parts were needed - that's just for the home visit and labor. And yet, consumers complain about spending similar money for a framing project that could become an heirloom for their grandkids. Go figure.
  13. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  14. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    'Expensive' is a subjective term. People use it when they really mean 'Exorbitant.'

    Someone who has never had a picture framed before might think "Four bits of wood and a piece
    of glass?". How much could that be. I often get people who having baulked at a quote will ask it I
    have any cheaper moulding. They are fixated on the materials. When you pick the bones out, if I
    offered a moulding that cost half as much it would not make a serious impact on the price- Maybe
    £60 instead of £65. It wouldn't look as good, so they are paying 60 for a mediocre frame when for an
    extra 5 they could have a nice one. Go figure...

    I once had a lady who walked in the shop and made straight for a painting hanging on the wall. The painting
    was in fact a customers framing job which I just hung in order to see how it looked. It was for sale, but not
    by myself directly. She asked the price. I explained that I would have to consult with the artist, but knowing his
    price structure I said, rough guess about the £8000 area. Then she looked at some more framed works I had.
    She asked why the one over there was only £300 and it was bigger.

    I said why did you go straight to the £8000 one?

  15. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I just sent my cuckoo clock to WI to have it cleaned and fixed. It cost me about $315 with shipping both ways. And that was after I had already spent $275 to have some guy in NH return it in worse condition than it left...
  16. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Yes, exactly. The same person who would spend $1200 for a designer handbag, because its perceived value (in this case really just an assignment of social status to an object) is created and reinforced by advertising in advance of the purchase, might balk at spending 1/3 of that for a beautiful custom framing project of truly lasting, intrinsic value. Why? Because our industry does not have the wherewithal to create advance perceived value. Therefore it falls to us to establish this value while designing and selling with the customer. Fortunately, our culture often depicts art and fancy frames as icons of social status while promoting other things but, unfortunately, the framing element doesn't seem to register on its own in the public consciousness. I think this may have to do with the fact that most of what people buy now is mass-produced, and most people don't have the experience of ordering something to be custom made for them. A possible similarity would be having a house built, or remodelling an existing one. Doing that can be a motivating factor for having something custom framed.

    :cool: Rick
    prospero likes this.
  17. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    What? You should have taken it to a big box cuckoo clock repair emporium.

    :rolleyes: Rick

    If you were a fan of the show Northern Exposure, you might remember an episode in which Maurice spent a lot of money to buy a beautiful antique clock, and unrealistically expected that it would also be a very accurate timekeeper. A young german clock technician said he would try to regulate it to his satisfaction, and maurice replied, "You bet your Nordic hiney you will." :p
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
    Jim Miller and shayla like this.
  18. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    Neil, I equate it with a drug dealer...

    The first hit of crack is free. When they come back for more, then you make them pay for it as they are hooked!! :confused:
    neilframer likes this.
  19. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    It has to be said that a lot of people are Philistines. :D They wouldn't pay $50K for a 500-year old vase when
    they could get a new one for $5. I had a chap in one day asking if I had any Constables in at the moment. Originals
    that is. As if I could pick up the phone and order another dozen.

    I tend to hand-finish my frames nowadays. I often say to people "That is the only frame like that in existence". which is
    true. I sometimes mill my own moulding, which makes to frame even more exclusive. If I were in the fashion biz I could call
    my work 'Haute Couture'. As could most of the other members in this place. Do I charge 'Haute Couture' prices? o_O

    Perhaps there should be a flashy French term for custom framing. :p

    The word 'Giclée' sounds impressive. "Oh that's a 'Giclée' print you know....." :) It is derived from the French for 'to squirt out'. :rolleyes:

    John Lennon once said that 'Avant Garde' is French for B######t. :cool:
    artfolio, neilframer and Dave like this.
  20. bruce papier

    bruce papier MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Just to add to the pile of examples of how expensive is a relative term- Fort Wayne is well known for its affordability. The average Fort Wayne citizen loves to eat. I mean we all eat A LOT. And yet, as of maybe ten years ago, $25 got you the most expensive steak dinner in town. We then had a couple of high end independent restaurants that pushed that up to $35. Ruth's Chris just opened. Both of the independents now charge $45 for the same steak.

    Part of our problem is there's no Ruth's Chris for framing.
  21. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    i wonder if that is the same reaction from the jewelerabout the picture framer that won't spend $10k for a ring, or the luxury car dealer or the Ruth's Chris owner? Point is many of framers use 'it's expensive' every day in purchasing decisions
    RC's have succeeded in branding by doing all the things correctly; from location, to ambience, to product. all the things that take the sting out of price. Denny's could go all Prime tomorrow and miss the mark

    Blaming the consumer is not a good path
  22. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think there is a bit of a difference.

    The difference between a $10k ring and a $1k ring is probably not longevity or integrity of the mount. It's more likely the 5Cs, none of which are likely to be visible to friends of the wearer.

    The difference between a Chevy and a Mercedes is more about prestige or features. They will both get you from A to B just as proficiently. And the Chevy may last longer and provide less problems than the Merc (it may not, too).

    A steak dinner is a 2 hour event that has no lasting effect after about 24 hours, other than the memory, which may stick to varying degrees based on the circumstances.

    But the difference between a $50 frame job and a $500 one - it combines all three of the above; the quality will be better (even if you can't see it behind the dust cover), it will look better (it better!) and provides a memory that requires no remembering - all you have to do is look at it.

    OK, enough preaching to the choir, the question is... how do you convincingly demonstrate the value of good framing to the public?
  23. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    I do like me some Ruth's Chris. There is one at our local Casino and after a good day at the poker tables I will occasionally treat myself at Ruth's.

    The name bugs me though. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse???? That name doesn't make sense to me, but with the quality of their beef, who cares.
  24. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I've heard it said that the difference between a vase (pronounced VASE) and a vase (pronounced VAHZ) is that the latter costs more than $50.
    ;) Rick
  25. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    What wrong with Ruth owning Chris Steakhouse. She renamed the restaurant she bought after a fire, when she reopened in a new location in NOLA. :D
  26. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    Cadrage personnalisé.....?o_O

    I never thought about giving small pieces of Museum glass for the price of CC to a customer as "the first hit of crack" and then they are hooked and come back next time to pay...:oops:
    I like this analogy....;):p
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
    tedh likes this.
  27. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That's a $1000 name if ever I heard one. :D
    neilframer likes this.
  28. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    she has a book out about her success story. Anybody owning a small biz ought to read it
    i often use RC as an example of taking a 'high priced' item and being successful; always lessons to be learned. She didn't have any formal rest biz education, but she knew what she wanted, listened to her customers and figured out how to get it done. I'll guarantee she never called a customer a Phillistine or told them to go to WalMart

    But, i'llbet she promised them the best durn steak they ever had. And, delivered it as promised. She did what Jim Miller has said repeatedly...'sell the sizzle'

    it was just that simple
    Rick Granick and shayla like this.
  29. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    Or maybe a $10,000 name...:D
  30. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not a problem. Just perplexed. Not with the Ruth's part of the name but with the Chris Steakhouse part which was the original name when Ruth bought it. Why wasn't the original name Chris's Steakhouse? If it was Ruth's Chris's Steakhouse all would be well.

    As Ruth herself once said: "'I've always hated the name, but we've always managed to work around it."
    cvm likes this.
  31. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I had a 'casual' relationship with a group of steakhouses in Texas called K-Bobs. Thought it really a silly name, too. But, folks remember it and that was the 'name' of that game
    prospero likes this.
  32. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    There may be several differences in the perceptions of consumers about framing, and also differences in the perceptions of framers about consumers.

    Yes, that's a key question. Some framers have found good answers for that, and their biggest task is to get consumers to come in for show & tell.
  33. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    One thing that's true. If you're offering the same level of design and service as a place that does it for less, you'd best support those prices with other qualities that make it worthwhile to buyers.
    (Hypotheticals abound, but a classic one is the trope about two identical cups of coffee selling for different prices, based on location, decor, branding, etc....). There are shops that suffer because
    they really don't offer anything better than the big box options. On the flip side, there are also shops that suffer when, after years of high-end positioning, they find a diminishing customer base
    for their style of work. Resilience and flexibility are key.
  34. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I saw a very interesting doco a few years back hosted by the cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. He was basically
    taking a swipe at the art business. One stunt he pulled was to get a pitch on the London embankment
    where for years artists have been selling their work. (The pitches are harder to get than a Bond Street
    gallery, but that's another story). Anyway, he displayed a few weird paintings he had done but also borrowed
    a small original Picasso from a museum which he put with all the rest. Then proceeded to film all the passers-by.
    The comments were priceless.
    One chap who obviously thought himself one of the art cognoscenti made a few of the usual pretentious remarks
    about the work on display. He was then asked what sort of value he would put on the Picasso. (He didn't recognise
    it as such). His 'guess' was about £100. It was insured for $750,000. Perceived Importance. :cool:
    Keith L Hewitt likes this.
  35. Gilder

    Gilder MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I push more and more frames we make in house from scratch. Every time I hear from supplier that this molding
    has been discontinued I make it and tell the customer we made the frame. Not the same as corner sample but for
    their idea it's actually works better because we make it for specifically for that. Like this one designed for the
    shovel that will be above the frame. IMG_0590.JPG
    Truly don't like calling the customer and ask if they can come back and pick out another
    frame just because my supplier decided that they don't want to produce this molding anymore.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
    DSR7, tedh and shayla like this.
  36. artfolio

    artfolio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Prospero's earlier post reminded me of a rather snooty customer who came into my shop years ago and was looking at a print of Constable's "The Haywain" which I had displayed in my front window. He was quite taken by it and when I told him it was quite a well known Constable picture he innocently asked "Oh, is it an original?
  37. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Not really framing related, but very revealing.....:D

    Joe B and neilframer like this.
  38. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    This artwork should bring in Millions in the right auction..:rolleyes:
    Unknown-2.jpeg images-1.png images-2.png images.jpeg images.png
    shayla and tedh like this.
  39. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Go there for 'happy hour' (every day except Sat). Even though my wife and I don't drink alcoholic beverages, we go to RC happy hour a couple of times a month. Everything on the bar menu is $9 and the portion size and food quality is excellent. A couple steak sandwiches, zucchini fries, some crab beignets...
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  40. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Mighty expensive zucchini fries!
  41. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    I eat at the bar most of the time. Lobster Bisque or French Onion Soup and the Steak Sandwich most of the time. If I've had a really good day at the poker tables, I will splurge for a sit down with the Filet, New York Strip or T-Bone with all the fixings.
  42. Frame Lady

    Frame Lady CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Picture framing is NOT expensive, it is the perception. Why, because you can't feel it, touch it, play with it. It just sits there on a wall for our enjoyment. And lots of times while looking at "it" it will spark a memory, or not, the mind travels to other areas while looking at it. But.....it will outlast that Apple I phone that you spent $600 for every three years. It will outlast that couch/sofa or appliance that you change out every 5-6 years. And the car/automobile that you are making payments on and depreciated the moment you bought it. What is the average life of your art on the wall without changing it? Five to twenty years. When you break it out it is pennies per day. Almost everything I can buy is premade, but picture framing is designed and made by me especially for you. How in the world did the moniker "Picture Framing is Expensive" ever get started anyway !
    Joe B and Keith L Hewitt like this.
  43. Keith L Hewitt

    Keith L Hewitt SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    One of the best replies - thanks for posting and sharing.
    Agree How in the world did the moniker "Picture Framing is Expensive" ever get started anyway !
  44. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    pretty certain it was started by a customer:)
    Joe B and Keith L Hewitt like this.
  45. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I really like this explanation but most customers will never agree. I've tried that type of justification, though not using the same wording, and have been met with blank stares or all knowing smiles. It never hurts to try using that logic though - it may even be a nice sign on the wall or a nice Q&A on your website.
  46. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Some people have items framed regularly and know what to expect. Others might never have anything framed
    before. So what do the framing virgins do? They go online and find a frame for sale for say, $15 that is about the size
    they think they want and that becomes their price expectation - imprinted on their consciousness. So off they go to the
    local framers and get quoted $200 for the job. What a rip off. :eek:

    Thing is, they are not buying frames. They are paying to have a picture (or whatever) framed. I get red flags when people
    ask "Can you put this in a frame...." o_O. Or "Have you got a frame to fit this...." or "How much is a frame []"(air-draws with fingers).

    Had a lady who wanted a small bridesmaids dress framing. I quoted her £400 which was very generous of me but enough to put her off which
    was my intention. She blanched a bit and said she would just get a poster frame from the local discount shed and put it in that. I said "Fair enough"
    with a smile and thought I would love to be there when she tried to put it in. :D
    Gilder and shayla like this.
  47. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Is everyone ready for another price sticker shock comparison?
    Let's say that you need windows and see one of those 50% off TV commercials for replacement windows for the house, you get a price for those "inexpensive" vinyl windows and they get a price for solid wood windows. Talk about sticker shock !!

    They are only 4 pieces of wood and some glass.
    Frame Lady, Gilder and ckelley like this.
  48. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    we just replaced windows with Andersen; quality product and price to match. They had less pricey options and others were less pricey

    the difference was a great salesman that was able to determine our needs, his product and craft a 'selling' message. may I suggest learning to 'sell' is something most framers should learn. When we would do ourin-store market research, most counter people just weren't that good

    Customers respond more favorablyto Conversation than Conservation

    Did you buy the windows or were they 'too expensive'?
  49. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    You want to see expensive frames? Go to LensCrafters.
    :cool: Rick
    Dave, Joe B, shayla and 1 other person like this.
  50. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm about to have to spend $7500 to have my roof re-done on my house.
    I have an excellent roofing company that I trust.
    I have no leaks and I have a one piece coated foam roof that has served me well with no leaks or issues for about 20 years.
    I have had it re-coated a couple of times in that time but now the foam needs to be replaced due to age.

    So, I will get it done and yet, It can't really be seen, I can't "play with it or feel it" (unless I want to go up on the roof with a ladder.o_O).
    It isn't really a part of the memory or enjoyment of the house, it's just a part of the mechanical "bones" of the house.
    So, how expensive is that?
    I could get a lot of pictures framed for $7500....
    Oh, wait...I'm a picture framer and I can frame the pictures myself....:p
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
    Keith L Hewitt likes this.
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