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Opinions Wanted Post Election Pricing

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Jeff Rodier, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Just wondering what category each of us fall into since the election.

    1. Raising prices

    2. Lowering prices

    3. No changes.

    I fall into #2.
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  2. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Good question. I just had a potential customer leave, he had a 14x18 poster for a movie he made, and Michaels' price for single mat and black metal frame was $60 (after the 50% off). Mine was over $100 for metal, and $80 for my poster package frame. He didn't want to have Michaels do the job because they don't cut their mats in-house, but he's got their price point stuck in his head.

    Now maybe I should have tried harder to sell him on something that looks nicer to get the job, but he came in at 7 minutes before closing, and he's looking at his watch and talking about getting home to his wife, and he's fixated on skinny black metal frame with as little detail as possible. And even though this is a poster for a movie that he made, he doesn't value his own work enough to want to put money into framing it. I just didn't think it would be worth my while, not when I want to get out of here too.
  3. DanPat

    DanPat CGF, Certified Grumble Framer


    But... I have ordered several moulding styles specifically to sell at a lower price-point. Since I don't sell readymade frames, I like to have a few profiles on hand that I can sell at readymade prices.
  4. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    No changes. I can't see the value in lowering prices when fewer customers are coming in. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. We already have DIY and low cost poster packages and ready mades. I also purchase close out moulding when I can, but only if it is useful.

    Consumer confidence levels are at record lows, and I for one, am very concerned. Each day the news sounds worse. Even the luxury stores are suffering. I have spoken with suppliers in other industries, and owners of neighboring shops, and none of us have seen anything like this, ever.

    Even the White House dog is biting reporters.
  5. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    How big was the mat? Just curious about the overall glass size on thier quote.
  6. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Well, if you listen to the President-Elect, the economy grows from the bottom up, so start marketing to the people who will be benefiting from his economic policy. I suggest switching to all Bonanza Wood and charging $4.95 per frame.
  7. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I am still trying to find one of those Bonanza trees. I don't use any MDF because the price is not very good compared to what I finding on Ramin, Basswood and recently found some solid Walnut at half the cost of MDF. The profile was 2' wide by 1" deep.

    My material costs have been dropping since I am willing to buy decent quantities and it turns out that there aren't many of us left doing so.
  8. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm with Kirstie and DanPat. I'm not making any changes in pricing, but I do have some lower-cost items for people on a budget. This particular piece was a 14x18 poster, with a single mat, bringing it up to an 18x24 frame size, roughly. I design with at least a 3 inch mat width, but the guys at Michaels may have been doing a 1-inch or 2-inch mat. They clearly weren't showing this guy the triple-mat plus Masterpiece Glass design that they are supposed to be showing to every customer.
  9. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    I don't see the election as having anything to do with pricing. I am however working towards a line of in stocks designed with value in mind.

    I too just had a customer in yesterday with a quote from Michael's. She wanted a simple 3/4" black frame with clear glass and nothing else. She wants to do the fitting herself. Michael's price was around $60 after their half off coupon. I was $68 retail, but she had one of my $20 coupons so I won big time. BTW my material cost would be about $7 on this job.
  10. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I think in this market, more so than ever before, it is critical to have a good blend of price points. Every store has a Balance of Sale; in essence we all sell so much Opening Price Point, so much Tonnage (middle of the road) and so much Top of the Line

    Most of us really do not monitor these components and do not buy (or adjust) inventory to support those categories

    But, better believe customers do come in all categories-often the same client will dip into differing categories for their framing needs

    Ignoring any category is probably not wise

    Of course each category requires differing selling skills and merchandising skills

    It's just as true for grocery stores, gas stations, car dealers and general retailers as it is for picture framers

    i could be wrong about this, but I doubt it

    I think we ought to incrementally raise prices 1 or 2% a week until Christmas. Especially that last 2-3 weeks when the Big Boxes simply cannot get to the masses. Much like most "timing driven" industries that live and die on "High" season pricing, we continue to work harder to satisfy a captive market for exactly the same money

    At 1% weekly increase, that might mean about 8% difference. I cannot imagine any consumer that will know the difference and it might be a needed relief from holding prices as long as most of us have all year long. Assume you do $50,000 during the holiday season. Depending on when you adjust that might easily generate an extra $3-4,000 for the exact same work

    And that goes pretty much straight to the bottom line

    It's a matter of having the will (I'd rather say guts) to do it and not blink

    BILL WARD SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    "recently found some solid Walnut at half the cost of MDF"
    Jeff- care to tells us who/where?????
  12. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Why not go straight to 8% right now? Unless you have someone coming in every week getting the same thing, no one is going to know the difference anyways.
  13. DanPat

    DanPat CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    If you chop your frames, push your reps to give you discounts and to let you know about closeouts on length.

    I've bought some closeouts for under .25/foot.
    (I recently saw a basic rounded black for .09/ foot. You had to buy 1000 ft, but that is only $90.00. This moulding was normally $.75/foot - box price. You do the math.)

    I've also got a few companies that give me box price when I order 50 feet or more of 1 profile. This allows me to buy several different styles, and still keep my final invoice low. Instead of ordering 1000 feet of 1 moulding, I will order 50 feet per profile of 20 mouldings!
  14. evartpat

    evartpat PFG, Picture Framing God

    No change in pricing.

    I also have my reps give me the heads up about close outs. I stock about 10 "house mouldings" that I buy either as specials or by the box. They are a good deal for the cost conscious customer, and actually my profit margins are way better than on the rest of the mouldings we offer. Win-win.
  15. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Prices up for my richest 1% of customers. They can afford it! 16X20s for them now have a $250 surcharge on them. But it is counteracted by the $300 rebate I am giving all my other customers. So far it isn't balancing out in the cash flow arena, but by years end it should. ;)
  16. Pframe

    Pframe Grumbler

    I am raising my prices a few percent, but I haven't raised at all this year! I too am able to purchase 50' lengths of moulding at box price, this way I am saving a ton without having to stock a ton. I have always had a countertop display with 10-20 instock mouldings to choose from. We then offer a 15% instock discount and it works really well. The nice thing is that you can purchase many different styles of mouldings to test the waters, some mouldings that I probably never would have bought are now regulars in my instock lineup of mouldings. Most of these mouldings are lower pricepoints, however I do purchase some midrange and higher priced mouldings from time to time for these instocks. People love to get a discount, expecially on the higher priced mouldings. I can get smaller quantities at box price, the instock discount doesn't hurt all that much....at the end of the day, everyone likes to think that they won!

  17. jim_p

    jim_p SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm not changing any pricing as a result of the election. I am about to raise my "standard" prices a few percent because of rising overhead, but that was planned anyway. On the other end of things, a few months ago I introduced a "value line" of frames -- standard sizes, only a few easy-to-join moulding choices, limited mat selection -- for the price-conscious customer. I've had sales go both ways with the value line. I've had some customers balk at the regular pricing but I salvaged the sale by being able to offer the value line. On the other end, I've had people come in to look at the value line and end up buying a full custom frame.
  18. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    As far as I am concerned the election means nothing to how I price. The last thing I would do is lower my prices......why would I my suppliers haven't lowered prices, and I would never expect them to. I made several changes in the last year, as I do every 6 months to year. I increased my offering in bread and butter mouldings...I also increased my offering in higher end mouldings. I buy most of my short length through truck delivery suppliers, and have decreased offerings from companies I would have to pay shipping. I increased my mark ups slightly for my lower end mouldings...and make sure that I price as if I did have to pay shipping and chop on all.

    Now I am in the process of reworking my pricing for elements such as dry mounting, fitting, extra labor, etc. This should be part of the natural process year round. Do whatever you can to lower and/or keep your costs in check.
  19. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I tried the price increase just before Christmas last year, just by tacking an extra $15-20 onto the ticket (unless it was a small job, under $150), and every single one of those potential customers stayed exactly that -- potential customers. Most of these people were referred to me by Michaels after Michaels stopped taking orders, and even though they wanted to get something framed as a gift, they walked. So my advice, contrary to Bob's, is don't do it. Don't do any pricing shenanigans. Unless your prices are already too low, or unless you already have dozens of people coming into your store every day, don't raise them, not at this time.
  20. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    No change
  21. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It all depends in what happens to the local auto industry here....... how many plants will be left and how many will still have a job.................... :(
  22. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Paul-No problem, but may I add a caveat

    Know your market pricing

    It may be as simple as reviewing a 24x36 lite of glass. I have a well founded opinion that if I know two or three items in your pricing, I can determine all of them easily. So you can easily determine market pricing with a minmum of effort

    Now, if your prices are not in line, then, raising them above market may not be wise

    I often ask (and you may remember) class attendees what they charge for a 26x36 uvclr glass. Most (pretty much all) look down and try to not make eye contact; a few will guess. But, no one really knows, yet we think the consumer will know if you went from $36 to $38

    The point is we have items that should be higher just as we have items that need to have a strong price impression statement. I remember not long ago that many right here decried thing like "value lines" or "packages" because we are "custom framers" and custom, professional, framers don't do stuff like that

    I think as a trade we just leave too much money on the table without much conscious thought and we are scared to death to raise prices because as you suggest that those "potential" customers stay "potential"

    I do not know your business but will suggest that you may wish to do some follow up on why those customers turned you down. I suspect that if you were able to get it done when the BB's could not, a slightly higher price may not have been the exclusive reason

    I would suggest that there was a reason why that consumer did not come to you first and that may not have been cured when they did see you (and did not buy). Make no mistake, this was a serious shopper-they went to at least three places (the BB, you and wherever they actually got the work done)

    Contact me offline and I'll try and see if we can't find a way to close that deal next time. I just think that the difference between $150 and $160 is just not the real issue

    And, Dave, I agree with you, but am trying to make it more palatable to th eframers that simply hate to raise prices. Maybe it's just a "mental hurdle" thing
  23. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Bob, I hear you, but when the customer is standing there and exclaims "$150 to get this framed??????," and this is after she has already mentioned that she's splitting that ticket three ways with her siblings, so her real cost is $50, why should I think that there's a problem with my selling skills, when I sold two designs for $500 each yesterday? Some people are just cheap.
  24. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Sorry Bill but when I received the box and went to cut my sample (I use 9" Chevrons) I realized it was solid walnut and turned off the saw and called to have them send me all they had. It was completely gone but at least I got 350 feet at 45 cents a foot so I didn't cry.
  25. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God


    For those I offer a 'poster frame special'. If that is still too high adiós.
  26. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Send them here I'll convince them to buy something from me. They probrably want to visit the beach anyway.
  27. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    For those, I resurrect my Summer Poster Special (with mouldings that I buy by the box @ .77 / ft but look great). Works always and customers don't mind paying another $20-30 for a mat as well either.

    I agree with Bob C, one should forget "value lines" or "packages" at their own risk. Especially in this economy!

    That's a huge segment of the market that one would forgo if one doesn't offer that.

    As to lowering the prices, no. I see no reason for that!
  28. Warren Tucker

    Warren Tucker MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I’m afraid that Bob and I fundamentally disagree on pricing. I strive to produce my product at the lowest possible price through a variety of strategies: buying length and in quantity and utilizing labor saving equipment, among others. I’m much more worried that another shop can under price me than I am about “leaving money on the table.” In fact, I find it comforting to be able to leave money on the table, to give a customer a really great deal. It’s a mind set. We just want to give our customers a very good deal. We’re simply not intent in squeezing the last dollar out of a sale that the market at that moment would bare. On the 10% of sales where we have to order chop frames, we explain that these jobs aren’t going to be a good deal and why. We’re having to buy the moulding for their frames in the least cost effective way. In about 10% of our sales that doesn’t make any difference.

    I think it’s a big mistake to seize a temporary advantage (the Christmas rush) to up charge. The customer may accept the deal, but he’ll remember that I was more expensive than a BB shop that couldn’t finish the order before Christmas.
  29. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree with you on that Warren. In fact I like to leave some money on the table so they will have some for the other 10 or 20 items they never framed because it was just too much. I have actually had quite a few customers rush back before their piece was framed with several more pieces just in case I decide to follow the crowd by raising my prices.
  30. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    My friend Warren and I do not disagree at all. In fact, I think his strategies are much better suited to these economic times than even mine

    And, if you can leverage the forces that Warren brings to bear, I say "Full Speed Ahead"

    In reality most of us do not have those "necessities". To which Warren can completely and correctly suggest you can start buying effectively one box at a time. It's called "Turning a Buying Advantage into a Selling Advantage" (someone ought to give a class like that)

    So, if you can do it and you have that critical ingredient called "Are you another Warren", listen to him

    If not, you may wish to look at other options

    If I were starting out today and wanted a nice, solid business in a mid sized market, Warren and I could be partners

    There are many paths to success and one of them just might be a combination of several factors

    Let's not confuse the fact that, just like the Jim Miller's, there are not too many Warren's out there. Lot's of wannabe's, but not many real deals

    Warren and I do not disagree; we just do things a little differently. Kind of like Wal-Mart and Nordstrom's (and I am not suggesting we are Nordstrom's at all)

    Find the approach that matches your ability, your personality and your market.

    There are many that do it even differently than both of us that can claim great success. Find what works and work it
  31. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    I do like lively business discussions like this one.

    Paul N, Bob did not say to forget the value line. On the contrary, he states that the lower priced option is a part of a three tiered approach.

    Were I starting over, I would make all my mouldings part of the value line, stock way more mats than I do now, buy in greater quantity, and purchase faster machinery. As it is, we are a composite of various business styles. We have DIY, were founded as a DIY shop, and stock much of our moulding. Now we do a lot of custom framing as well. We also have a hefty selection of special order mouldings. We also have a value line comprised of box quantity purchases and close-outs. We also have a section of closed corner samples, which we do sell occasionally. We also have a good selection of well priced ready made wall frames. and so on. I know that Warren also has higher end mouldings and closed corner, which he does sell.

    But as I said, given what I understand about markets now, starting over, I would cater to the more price conscious customer as, IMHO, that can't fail if you have enough stock, and do it well. Do it well means delivering the better than expected customer service with every sale, and having a great looking, well managed shop with earned buying power. We have moved in that direction in many ways over the last few years, but to lower one's prices without all the other pieces in place would be suicidal. Moving slowly in that direction--more in-stock moulding, value lines, and so on--is doable for many, but only for those businesses who have the space, staff, and sales volume to support it.

    We don't raises prices by season. In fact, we recently lowered a few of our price categories to make sure they were in line with the prevailing local market. People are price shopping, believe me.
  32. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner


    Maybe my post was not clear: I said "I agree with Bob C, one should forget "value lines" or "packages" at their own risk". Essentially, not a good idea to forget such lines.
  33. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Ah, got it.
  34. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I believe that many framers are also bound to where they reside in the food chain by many factors such as rent, employees and customer base. Those such as Bob need to be very diverse in their offerings because he pays more rent (shopping mall), has much longer hours and a lot of staff to operate his business than most of us. I certainly wouldn't be residing in the price point where I exist had I done a mall store or high end shopping center. That would be the death of the business because most of my jobs are at extremely discounted prices.

    I only need about 4k gross to cover both my business and personal expenses after cost of materials. This is a very good thing for me because I was going to lease a much more expensive location. When my mother had a car accident this summer I was closed on and off for half of the summer taking care of her and had nobody to do the framing while I was gone. The shopping center that I was looking at filled up immediately and after 6 months half of the businesses went out of business as a result of the economy.

    I have been open here for one year now and when I have a good month I smile and put money in my pocket. When I have a horrible month all of my personal and business expenses are covered and there is still a little left over.

    Every day of the week I reevaluate my decision because I would love to have a large store again. Years ago I had 2 locations, one was 5000 sq ft and the second was 1200. I love the fact that my normal hours are 11-6 Tues through Fri and 11-3 on Sat.

    Right now I have been considering a 2500 sq ft store but it came up too close to Christmas and I have moved so many stores in the past that I didn't want to do it right now. Moving would require me to change my business structure in that I am set up as a Sole Member LLC and I would have to take on employees. The new location would also include a portrait studio whch would mean more expenditures in a declining economy. I tend to change my mind on my business direction almost daily so until after Christmas I won't make ay decisions.
  35. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God


    I'm curious to know if that philosophy applies to your Cruse Camera and digital printing business?

  36. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Doug, Think about this, you know how much a Cruse scanner cost. If Warren's method was not sound and successful, how could he possibly have such a fine scanner.
  37. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Back to the original post, I think Jeff is referring to lowering average ticket not lowering margin.
  38. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Thats right Dave. My profit margin on value framing is about 6-8% more than higher end framing. I can live with a little less margin on higher end framing because it generates more profit dollars. High end jobs almost always run into more extensive labor since you get into things like hand wrapped mats, filets and customized finishes. When I do a $400 frame job the customer really wants it exactly the way they want it. Design time is very extensive and everything becomes a lengthy process. The same piece in my $99 package is usually 5-10 minutes between design time and entering it in the computer. I tell them any of these 120 mouldings are all $99 and they just point to the one they like. I pull a couple more and they point to the one they like best.

    My $99 frame job takes 15-20 minutes to complete but my $400 frame job may take 2-3 hours. I'll gladly do both but I love to frame a piece, check and post on the Grumble, knock another one out and go back to the Grumble.
  39. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner


    Good concept!

    What frame size is included in that package? What do you do when they want larger / smaller sizes?
  40. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    One problem that many u sthat have had some success is that we tend to think we invented that "special sauce". In truth, we mostly are simply re-applying some concept that probably was used in a bazaar by the Euphrates about 5000 yrs ago and repeated a gazillion times since

    The real problem is that we tend to think because it works for me, it should work for you (I am speaking first person, now) and we champion our cause

    In truth, I speak to many, many framers; most are struggling ( I think the others are maybe not so "honest"LOL)

    Bottom line: If you have not changed at all in the last 10 yrs and you are still doing well-Bless you-tell us all how to do it. If you have not changed at all in the last 10 yrs and you are struggling, listen to Warren. And me. And Jeff., and Kirstie. Find a way that appeals to your ability, your philosophies, your market and your goals. And do not forget your pocketbook

    We talk about change in politics; how about cahnge in the way we do business, too?
  41. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Paul, This is from Jeff's site. Remember Jeff's store is designed to be an outlet. My thought is that customers that are going to an outlet store are not going to be as concerned about conservation as they are about price.

    Jeff, you need a comma in there unless you are drymounting glass. LOL

  42. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Thanks Dave.

    That's like the Poster Special that you and I have been working with the last couple of years! Cool!
  43. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God


    But everything in the store is a 'poster frame special'

    It seems to work well for Jeff. It wouldn't be for me.
  44. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    What is interesting about Jeff's and Warren's approach, is that not all that long ago, that was widely dismissed by most rank and file framers

    Bottom line: Many approaches work at many levels

    Find one that works

    We do not operate in a monolithic marketplace
  45. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    And we should all be thankful for that.

    I can just image a forum for New Car Dealers arguing over whether one should sell Kias or Cadillacs, Fords or Mercedes Benz.
  46. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    I have over 50 mouldings that I use for that purpose.

    I do quite well with those whenever people say they want something inexpensive for a poster, I point to that wall where I have them.
  47. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God


    50? That's a big value line. Or was it actually poster special line? That's huge! Where are you getting your bargains?
  48. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner


    I inherited a very respectable amount of mouldings from the previous owner (4 years later I am still selling them!!)

    But I also buy 4-5 of profiles at excellent prices from Decor (between .40 and .70 / ft) that go extremely well with almost any poster you throw at them, from 16x20 up to oversized.

    With such an inventory and pricing it is quite lucrative to offer Poster Specials. And many times, the same Poster Special frame works with other non-Poster Special sales (at full price).

    I have been extremely lucky with my decision to find such a moulding and deciding to buy it by the box and use it as mentioned.
  49. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    This is what I"m trying to do, and I spent some time on it tonight. I've already got one black moulding that I buy at under $0.75/foot by the box, which I use for poster specials. I'm looking to find 3-4 more at that price or lower, so I can offer more looks at the same price. I've identified two tonight, and I hope to identify a couple more soon.

    The one thing I can't do is offer mats at those price points. Fifty to ninety dollars, I can do frame, glass, drymount, but I can't get mats in there, even paper mats, without killing the margins.
  50. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Paul, ask your suppliers if they carry Berkshire. They are a Crescent product that I get well below $2 a sheet. Many distributors carry it but will never tell a customer that they do because it eats into more expensive board sales.
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