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Price Check! Please? I'm so confused....!

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Pangolin, May 19, 2012.

  1. Pangolin

    Pangolin SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I had a customer come in a week ago. Placed an order and promised more work later on. (I hate when they do that.)

    Here is what he picked out:

    Image Size: 26" x 19.75"
    Frame Size: 34.5" x 28.25"

    Frame: Either Culver 3340 or International 485-50 (It's a 2.875" silver ripply frame.)

    Crescent 9554 Pharoah
    Crescent 9556 Tempest

    Museum Glass

    Acid-Free Foam Core


    Fitting Charge

    He placed the order, was thrilled with his choices. Then Tuesday he came in wanting a breakdown of the order. I told him that I don't normally do that, but that the parts for his piece were already ordered. I wrote down really basic info for him, leaving it pretty ambiguous. Two days later he came back and wanted to cancel his order. He had driving an hour away to another frame shop, and supposedly got another quote. (I have no clue how, since they didn't have the sizes!) This other frame shop offered to give him the Museum glass at cost, he claimed, and the total this shop gave him was about a quarter of what I had charged him. I'm thinking this was more a case of buyer's remorse than anything. I looked a tthe "quote" the other shop gave him, and there was no sizes, no breakdown of pricing or materials. Huh... just like my policy he had a problem with... He stood there and yelled and threatened me, so I finally gave in and gave him a refund. I'm super glad I hadn't order the Museum glass!

    So, now I'm wondering how this other shop, assuming they maybe were able to guess on the size at least close, could have come in so #### cheap on something that I couldn't even get the materials for the prie they quoted.
    Sponsor Wanted
  2. auntiesarahjayne

    auntiesarahjayne MGF, Master Grumble Framer

  3. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    My price would be about the same as Sarah including a discount.

    They gave him a bogus lowball figure and hooked him, in the end the either your customer or the other shop is going to regret it.
  4. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Shana, somethings squirrly. Why in an area like Columbus, would he have to drive an hour away to get another quote? Maybe a family/member friend of friend that he found and they just wrote ridulous quote so he could gert a refund.
  5. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'd say good riddance. If he placed an order then came back and cancelled after you had ordered the material and then pressured you to give him his money back.

    I don't know about you, but boy would I love to get more business like that from him :)
  6. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I don't carry the mouldings you mention, but without the frame I am already at around $400.....

    Buyer's remorse if you ask me....but too bad it happened to you.
  7. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    You did get your money...right?
  8. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Yeah, just had to go in with a quote from Bill Henry... ;)
  9. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    Guess I'm (shuddddddddder) channeling Bill today.
  10. wpfay

    wpfay Angry Badger

    Why don't we all have our refund policy printed at the bottom of the receipt, AND have the customer sign off on it? I understand that a lot of what we order can be repurposed, but that doesn't mean we should be left holding the bag when someone else changes their mind.
    I have no idea what the other company is up to, or if there really is another company. Doesn't matter. The guy really didn't need an excuse to cancel his order since there is no policy in place to protect you and prevent it. You can always wave the policy terms if there is a reasonable excuse, but you can't put one in force after the fact.
  11. Pangolin

    Pangolin SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Luckily all I had actually ordered was the two mats. (And I got lucky that an order I took yesterday is going to use one of them.) IF I had already ordered the atual frame and box of museum glass I wouldn't have given him a dime back. He was threatening to call the credit card company and dispute the charges - I'm not sure what happens if someone does that. I told him that he'd better be really sue he's getting what he askd for, because you could buy museum glass wholesale for the quote the guy gave him.

    I'm going to change the refund policy on my order sheets. Probably to "no refunds after 24 hours".

    On th other hand, I've had two other orders in the last two days who thought my prices were fine, so it waas probably just a 'buyer's remosre' thing, or a wife who yelled at him for spending so much on framing an ugly Picasso print like it was an original.
  12. Warren Tucker

    Warren Tucker MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Typically a job that size could be done in either of your stores for under $200.00 using rag mats and regular glass. Going full out with museum glass would still be under $300. And why museum glass on something that's been dry mounted? Either of our treatments would look good. (We've been in business going on 34 years and have been profitable) We could get it up to the $800 range with a closed corner frame. I can't imagine a customer spending $795 on a custom frame that size. No wonder the framing industry's shrinking. It's pricing itself out of customers. My reaction would have been, “you must be kidding”?
  13. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'm getting everything that comes in my shop framed by him !!! ^^^^^^^^
  14. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Because Museum Glass is more than just about preservation. It allows the most visible spectrum of light to pass and also helps eliminate reflections allowing for the best presentation.

    Conservation Clear glass has the same preservation qualitites as Museum Glass but has nowhere near the best presentation qualities.
  15. framah

    framah PFG, Picture Framing God

    Warren, Warren, Warren, ...

    We've been thru this many times. You live in an alternative reality where you charge almost nothing to frame stuff while we charge what we need to make a living in OUR reality.

    You need to stop posting constantly about how low your prices are and how ridiculous everyone else's prices are. You're pricing structure has absolutely NO connection to the rest of the framing world as we know it.

    Congratulations on making a living on almost nothing but, really, just stop making it sound like the rest of the framers are ripping people off because we aren't as cheap as you.

    Oh, and how does a piece being dry mounted have the slightest relation to whether to put Museum Glass on it?
    If the customer LIKES/WANTS Museum glass, we sell it to them. I don't care WHAT the piece is. :icon11:
  16. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Thank you Ralph!!!!!!!

    I have sold MG on cheap posters. Some customers will spend over $700 on a frame, for design alone. Even if it is just a poster or tourist art or whatever.

    I don't judge how other framers run their business. Please do me the same courtesy Warren.
  17. Warren Tucker

    Warren Tucker MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Actually, Framah, I don't post constantly about what I think is a good price for framing. 590 some posts in 9 yearsnid far for constant posting . I usually only post when I think my view might be valuable. As to making a living (and I make a very good one fwiw) on practically nothing, I hardly think $200 to $300 for a 28x34 framing job is nothing. We'd make at least $140 on the first one and $220 on the other.

    I wonder just how many people can afford $795 for any framin job in most markets. In mine there would be very few. It's important to consider just how many people can afford your services and the more people who can, the more likely you're going to prosper in offering them. I didn't go into this business to make a low paying job for myself and selling $200 28x34 framing has helped me avoid that outcome. It's just possible that my insights might help others prosper. Hence my infrequent posts on this subject.

    Haven't you noticed that there is something of a party line on resisting any effort to make framing more accessible to more people. If a customer balks at paying $800 for a frame it just may be that he thinks it's not worth it rather than he lacks the ability to appreciate outstanding design and workmanship. Actually we think we provide both elements to our customers at a very goop price precisely because we work hard to keep prices affordable, not "cheap." I think it would be refreshing to hear different ideas on the subject. Apparently you find it hard to accept that there may be a better approach to offering our services and products other than high prices.

    My point has always been that it's quite possible to structure a framing business offering affordable and high quality framing.

    And don't think for a moment that our shops are particularly unique. Just about every volume framer I'm aware of operates pretty closely to what I've suggested. We,re not particularly good business people, we are very poor at marketing our businesses but we've done very well striving to offer our framing at as low a cost as possible. That may be a novel idea here (where there seems to be an awful lot of mutual admiration) but it just might be a valuable one to someone with an open mind.

    GUMBY GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I like both pricing structures but back to the orginal question.....

    it does not really matter that they guessed the size.
    What they did do is they took your price and beat it.
    I think All the chains say they will match or beat a price quote.
    They may have even picked a different frame quality of mat who knows....
    Did he show you the infomation with their Quote?
    It is always easy to best someone elses Quotes.

    Lastly you may be right.
    It could have been just buyers remorse or the lady of the house blew her stack.....
    Irritating yes...
  19. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    I had one of those last week, a $220.00 sale. The guy was back 15 minutes after he placed the order. Probably talked to his wife on the cell phone in the parking lot. She told him he paid too much, without ever knowing what he picked. I tried to salvage what I could (although I had another customer / repeat) Even pointed out the value board where he could have done something for maybe $60.00. I'm sure the wife took it somewhere else and got something in her price range but she is going to assume I am way to expensive because she didn't know what her husband picked out.

    Can't win them all.
  20. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not germane to the original topic but I think Warren has proven he runs a unique business. I know somebody here visited Warren(jay?) and it is a real deal operation. Seems he has answered the needs of his community. It's not a business model most of us would desire to follow. Most of us are in biz because we think we are fabulous framers. (I know I was) He views it as a commodity. He's got a point. The industry is shrinking (I'm toast) He's still thriving. He's expressing an opinion based on what he knows. I didn't see his post as disrespectful. There are plenty of others here BS'ing their biz model but Warren isn't one of them. I think one of the biggest mistakes I made, other than being underfunded was viewing my business more as an art and less as a business. I shoulda done it differently. Not that I could have taken on Warren's business model. Thank you and carry on!
  21. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    My COST for museum glass that size is a lot more than $200. No wastage or mark-up at all. At that price, I don't see myself selling much of it. That's if I buy a single sheet. Buying a pack of ten is a drop cheaper. There is only one supplier in NZ that I've managed to source.

    The NZ dollar is relatively similar to the US dollar in strength. I'm presuming that it's realtively cheaper in the USA??


  22. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I've visited Warren, and he and his wife were kind enough to put me up for the night at their lovely house too. I believe Jeff Rodier has also visited him, as they are not so far apart.

    His two shops are a bit different one from the other, but both are quite impressive. I know that if I ever have the opportunity to design my own shop from scratch, I will definitely incorporate some of the things he showed me. And I learned at least one valuable framing technique while I was there. I'd highly recommend a visit to his shops if anyone is in the area.
  23. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    There you go, I knew some people had taken the time to go see his operation. I know it would be difficult to follow his model, just hate to see him be marginalized.
  24. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Warren has a reputation as a savvy businessman, but he clearly doesn't understand the difference between cost and revenue. That difference is profit. That's what enables us to eat. But hey, Warren needs to keep his staff busy cutting and joining frames for $3 each.

  25. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I hate chrome. it crashed. basically the short version is... there are expensive things in every type of business and there are cheap things in every business. Both work. I prefer less work and more money then kicking my own butt trying to please everyone. You can't!

    my prices are reasonable, and not out of the world, but in my area, it seems even reasonable can be expensive for most. I had my 2 customers walk out cause of price this week, and about 3 on the phone asking for a price. There is no good answer for them... they want a price, they don't care about anything else. ive tried everything people say they try on here, and price is the bottom line.

    the only answer is to hang up on them... i don't. i just say 100 bucks for anything and they can decide. usually they hang up on me, and it either works or it doesn't. you could say 50 dollars and they come in and spend 300 and go WHAT!!!!!!!!!! you said 50... it could happen at 100 as well, but so far it hasn't. i can work more for 100 with a small frame and reg glass for more things.
  26. Warren Tucker

    Warren Tucker MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I’d like to thank Emibub for her forbearance and JWB99999 for his kind words and to disabuse Paul of two misconceptions about me: I’m not anywhere near a “savvy businessman.” I’m an ex English assistant. Professor who went into picture framing because he had no interest in arcane research into English literature and needed a job. For example, we never had a business plan other than to earn a living; we’ve never considered a POS system (I’m offended when confronted by them in other stores), we don’t even keep a customer list. And I’m well acquainted with the difference between revenue and cost or I wouldn’t still be in business: I imagine our cost of goods sold ratio is as small as anyone’s here.

    We opened the Frame Works 34 years ago as a frame-it-yourself shop during the Carter recession which was deep and painful (Interest rates were approaching 14% and inflation over 20%). We chose fiy because we wanted an edge. Toni had a very good friend, Robert Havens, whose family ran fiy stores and art/framing galleries in SC, NC, and Va. He showed us the ropes and helped us get started (and he was a savvy business man). We also had help from Leck Helms (MayLeck industries), a very savvy businessman. His idea of a business plan was to do whatever it took to stay in business and we adopted it.

    From the beginning, we had price resistance (we were in a recession, afterall, and southeast NC was a depressed area in the best of times) and after each day the two of us discussed how to overcome it. Even as neophyte business owners we knew the surest way to overcome price resistance was to offer lower prices. How to do that?

    We figured the best way to do that would be to lower costs, especially the costs of the stuff we were selling. Soon we were buying matboard 500 sheets at a time and then 1,000. Crescent offered a chain discount: 25%, 15%, 10% for mat board at that level. We never ordered less than 1,000 ft. of moulding to get the best discount and to save on freight costs, soon we upped that to 2,000. We kept about 300 different patterns whose samples that we made ourselves. Really, we just looked at every aspect of our business and worked to reduce costs and, thus, the prices we offered. For people who had never had framed a piece of art, a package of $1.50 moulding, paper mat, and window glass looked pretty darned good and they could afford it. Some Saturdays we’d have 25 people waiting in line to be helped. We made money from the second week we were in business. We’ve got regular customers still from our first year. For years we bought our glass in 2000 lbs. cases. The glass suppliers within reasonable delivery of us are out of business now, but our volume has allowed us to negotiate very favorable terms with free delivery box suppliers.

    Then there were labor costs associated with fiy; it’s a very labor intensive operation for
    something that’ supposed to save on labor costs. What to do? We were open to any idea and the industry offered; one was v nailers. We were one of the first shops to buy a Cassesse v nailer, an 810. I used to tell people that if you were in fiy and your competitor had one and you didn’t you were out of business. I talked 14 of my friends into buying them. Bobby Havens came down to look and ordered them for all the Havens’ stores.

    Early on, we also decided to be all things to all people; We did custom framing as well as fiy and stocked a small number of expensive patterns. Fifteen years ago we split the Frame Works into two stores. The second store, the Frame Outlet kept fiy and concentrated to buying closeouts and overstocks aggressively. The Frame Works became more upper end and custom framing only. When you’re all things to all people, when some people aren’t doing so well, there are others available. During the current recession, sales fell off at the Frame Works and picked up at the Outlet. It doesn’t make sense to me to limit yourself to a particular type of customer. Even now, the Frame Works has a “value line” of around 1000 patterns while it offers an upper end line of a few hundred. The Frame Outlet shows most of the higher end patterns that The Frame Works offers.

    We began with a strong work ethic and a determination to succeed. The notion that we’d rather work less and make one big top dollar sale rather than work more and make a lot of smaller sales would have seemed suicidal. If you loose one big sale or one big customer or one particular segment of your market you’re in trouble. Loose a small sale or customer and it’s a small hit. We’re happy to take care of all the repairs and mat switches we’re getting, the $3 frames; they keep the revenue flowing and allow us to hold on to our employees, the most recent of which as been with us for 14 years, the oldest 32 years and, believe me, that continuity and experience is valuable. The Outlet has recently concentrated on working with set directors of film production companies (we have around 30 movie credits, some big time films); we’ve spun off a cleared art company that works closely with us and recently we’ve competed successfully with cleared art operations is California. We look for every opportunity to keep revenue coming in. Last year the film industry kept us going. To get their business you have to be fast and cheap. Again all things to all people; always look for sources of revenue for the business. Segued into all this is our art reproductiuon/ digital imaging business begun 12 years ago. We scan originals, we print cleared images for production companies and, in most cases, frame them. We print small editions of giclees. The last 4 years have been tough but we’re still here with our employees intact. No layoffs, largely, I think, because we’re willing to do anything, even make $3 frames.

    Another misconception I’d like to clear up is that we don’t do anything “cheap.” Anything we undertake is produced to high quality standards. We’ve had a lot of practice, we have a long track record. Working for a living with two small children to raise tended to concentrate our minds wonderfully in the beginning and that’s worked for ever since
  27. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Cheap to me is low price, not cheap work. 3 dollar frames is very low priced... doesn't mean you join them like carp. do 100 jobs for the same as 20 jobs if it were higher end. but it sounds like you have 2 stores to do both, so that works. why did you go with 2 stores instead of one to cater to all levels of customers?
  28. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    Congrats on what works for you. I wouldn't presume to try and tell you whether you are doing something right or wrong. Except, amongst all of your excellent points there was the quoted section above. Am I to believe that you would tell a newcomer to our business now that a POS system is some sort of evil and that they shouldn't even bother keeping a customer list? I can't imagine not having the ability to mine the data associated with my business to even understand where my COGS is without some sort of system to keep track. Do you not use any accounting software or does that offend you as well? I can't imagine the horror an ATM machine would cause.
  29. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    i think what we need to do is keep in mind of profit.
    The same job can be priced differently by every shop and maintain the same profit level.
    As long as all the cost an overheads are taken into account first, even a low priced job can be profitable.

    You have a warren buying bulk supplies, so is paying a lot less then others.
    Here in Australiaa and NZ museum glass only dropped from $400 a sheet last year to $200 sheet ( which i believe is still twice as much as what most of you are paying for it)

    Other factors affecting the price will be overheads including rent and staff. Do you rent or own the building your in.
    In Cairns it has been all the bigger business with staff and high overheads that have gone out of business first, the smaller businesses have actually thrived during the recession.
    They had low overheads and no staff.

    The catch is if you are that busy and have to put on staff, then prices have to rise to cover wages. if you reduce other costs at the same time to offset the wages then prices could remain.
    Every scale of business have there own risk, and staff although your biggest asset , can be your biggest liability when times are tough.

    for the record, i would have charged around $500 in our shop.
  30. kuluchicken

    kuluchicken MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Hi Mark

    I was wondering whether you manage to sell museum glass when our cost is so high. I should be up and running hopefully withing the next two weeks, but must admit that I find the price of MG exhorbitant and if I'm not confident I know it will make it more difficult to sell (which I am hoping to do).

    Please could the other forum members also give their opinions. I would truly appreciate it. I would dearly love to sell MG. Maybe in USA and other countries is may also be that dear. Opinions would be much appreciated.

    I considered starting a new topic, but seeing as this one is discussing pricing, it seems fitting to post it here.

    Thanks so much

    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2012
  31. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    we have have sold a lot more now that the price has come down. The best thing is to frame something and hang it in the shop. When people can see it properly framed, they are blown away and much easier to justify the price.
    Just remember not to mark it up the same as other glass.

    even marked up as low as 50% can be more profitable then clear glass marked up %500
  32. Warren Tucker

    Warren Tucker MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Paul, I’ll have to admit, I’ve never used an ATM . Don’t even have a card. As to POS and data churning, I wouldn’t recommend a POS to someone starting a new business. There are more important things for him to spend scarce capital on. A business like mine isn’t very complicated and I don’t need much data. I’m there every day and I’m aware of what’s going. I really don’t need software to tell me that. I’m not playing “being in business.” I actually know what I pay for materials and what I sell them for, I don’t need a POS to tell me that. Take care of customers, don’t disappoint them, keep prices low, know what the cash flow is, aggressively seek discounts, keep chop frames to a minimum, pay taxes on time; it’s that simple. Actually we do use QuickBooks Pro and we have Intuit take care of our payroll and occasionally I’ll look to see how much business we’re doing with a supplier to see what our leverage is.

    I’d advise a beginner to put his money into inventory before he got even a cash register (Leck Helms told me all I needed was a box). I remember years ago in a Radio Shack, I was buying a patch cord and the clerk asked me my first name last name, address; I finally interrupted him and said, “look, I only want to buy this patch cord, not fill out a credit application.” I’ve been off POS since then. Not having one certainly hasn’t hurt us any. It would be way down on my to buy suggestions. You really don’t need one the way our business works. I think one would limit our ability to react to opportunities nimbly. We’d be tied to constantly entering price information as we pursued buying opportunities. If you want one, use one, but not having one isn’t critical.
  33. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I haven't read the rest of the responses, so pardon me if I'm repeating. Unless you have an agreement in writing, and the customer's signature showing such, the credit card company will be on the side of the customer.
  34. Gilder

    Gilder MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I absolutely agree with you Warren. Thank you. $800 for framing poster or print whatever? Why would you even offer it to the customer? I don't get it.
  35. tfg

    tfg True Grumbler

    I'm leaning more to the Warren side here.

    My pricing is geared towards the lower end of the spectrum.
    I'm happy to offer clients a much lower price on the exact same thing as the gallery down the street.
    I'd rather have the customer come back a couple times a year then once every 2 years or even worse never come back.

    BTW: I use a product from Claryl or GroGlass Water White(70%UV for an ultra clear anti reflective option rather then museum glass which I very rarely use. I'll get Water White for $150 case(3-32 x 40) and price each full sheet at 75-100 depending on the profit I am making on the rest of the work.

    My favourite thing is when a first time customer comes to pick up their order and has another piece in their hand for me to frame. I know I've done well. :smiley:
  36. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    I always find Warren's comments so interesting because the way we started our businesses at about the same time are so parallel. We also had and have never had a business plan, we were profitable fromd ay one, and we have always been a stocking frame shop. We were also both English majors who stumbled into the framing business. We kept the DIY (FYI) at the same location and we also seve both the high and low end customer needs. Our goal is to serve our customers with a high quality product at an affordable price.

    We do have a POS, however. We were a late adopter five years ago. For the price updates, and the customer framing history, the POS is invaluable to us. Some mouldings are priced accoding to a mark up schedule that we direct Frame Ready to apply, and some are priced at a price per foot of our choosing. Those are mostly lower priced value and package special mouldings that we stock and buy at extremely good prices.

    My prices came out a bit higher than average on the sample price quote asked for, but then we don't stock that moulding or those mats. In fact, we hardly stock any Crescent at all. Our prices on in-stock mouldings and mat which we buy at negotiated discounts and receive with free delivery from several companies, are considerably lower. We can serve the customer who wants truly fine moulding, fabrtic mats, MG, and the like, with beaituful framing designs, and we do so regularly, but our average customer these days still wants lower priced alternatives. If we could not offer those options, we would have been out of business long ago. A $100 to $200 sale is very common at our shop and for our neighborhood, this is still a big expense for many customers. So we have ready made frames to fall back on. I firmly believe that serving both the higher and lower end of our very small industry's needs is what works for us and has kept us going for 35 years.
  37. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Sorry to change the subject again but I just read this and have a question.....While I can see using Museum Glass when dry mounting, Why use acid free foamboard if you are dry mounting?
  38. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Why wouldn't you offer any degree of framing for anything brought into you by a customer? Are we to pass judgement on what quality of framing a piece should command? I leave that up to the customer to determine. If a customer feels something is important enough to frame then it is not up to me to presume it isn't worth anything but a predetermined amount of investment in framing.
  39. Sister

    Sister MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Have to agree with Dave on his last point here. We have an elderly female customer who brings in the most horrid prints that she's had for a while. She absolutely loves them and finally decided to get them framed...we've completed three and she has two more. While these are not small by any means, we have triple matted, mounted on archival, the whole nine yards. She loves how we give them "special treatment", and her children will have them one day (doubtful they will want).

    Long story short, we cater to the customer's value of their framing needs.
  40. Gilder

    Gilder MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Well, if the customer insist than I'll do it. But I do everything to educate them it's not worth it. I am in repeat and referral business.
  41. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Offering/making available and suggesting/pushing/exclusively offering are two different things. I think what we are seeing is soccer mom going to buy a new car and being told "this here go-fast 9000 is what you need and a great value at only $120,000". And it may very well be a bargain at that price, but she only needs a $20,000 commuter to get her kids to and from school and pick up the groceries and dry cleaning. Guess what? She'll go elsewhere to get what she needs and never come back.

    What's hard in custom framing is that you have no idea what the person expects when they come in. If you are a Porsche/Lotus dealer the customer knows what to expect when they arrive, and you know what to offer them. Likewise if you are a Hyundai/Fiat dealer. If one is trying to be everything from a Yugo to a Rolls dealer they would likely prefer to sell the Rolls over the Yugo, and for obvious reasons. The trick is knowing when you have to sell a Yugo to make a sale, and when the customer wants (and can afford) a Rolls. Assuming everyone wants a Rolls is counterproductive.
  42. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    To carry my car comparison a bit further, who am I to know, let alone tell, my customer that they are not worth a Rolls? We just did a 35 foot custom moulding run that cost the customer $1000 just for the knives to run it, never mind the setup time and 10/4 black walnut lumber. He told me what he wanted, I gave him the price, and he ordered it. It's not my place to put values in the customers' mind; in fact I can't do that - and if I try, I am likely to just lose the sale.
  43. bruce papier

    bruce papier MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I think what we have here is a failure to communicate between framer and customer. I think one of the risks of going upscale on everything customers bring in is the shock some customers go into on hearing the price. Obviously, the piece in question could have been done for much less. The frame is an expensive design, the rag mats aren't absolutely necessary, the museum glass isn't a must, but if the customer doesn't tell you it's too much, you're in a tough spot. Unfortunately, a lot of customers take a couple days to sort out their feelings and the situation we're discussing results.

    It's happened to us all and I think it's just a cost of doing business. (By the way, the customer here is obviously lying about the price he got elsewhere.)
  44. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Good comparison David. Cars have prices on the windows so customer look in their price range and sometimes choose to buy up but have the price in front of them. Dave at Frame Makers has multiple price points in his package framing selections so customers know everything in group A costs $xx.xx and group B is all $xxx.xx while group C is higher in the $xxx.xx category.

    I use a single price point for mine and the add ons are different quality of mats, glass etc. Sure I could sell a higher price point to many customers but it would not offset those that are very price sensitive. The best part of the pricing is that design time is very quick since people choose the frame they like without worrying about being embarrassed that they have gone way out of their comfort zone.

    Custom framing pricing is one of the least transparent products in the world.
  45. Warren Tucker

    Warren Tucker MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I'm glad this subject came up because I haven't had an opportunity to comment on it. Dave asks, “Are we to pass judgment on what quality of framing a piece should command?” In the case of the Frame works/Frame Outlet, I think so. We are supposed to know what we're doing, and I think that encompasses what treatment a piece needs as well as knowing how to frame it mechanically.

    We've been in business in this town going on 34 years and our least senior employee has been with us 14 years. People know us and they know our staff. Their parents have been customers; in many cases current customers are grand children of original customers. We are trusted and we mean to keep that trust. In my opinion, one of the worst things we could do would be to over frame a piece. We'd do it if a customer insisted, but we wouldn't in a million years “offer an $800 dollar framing treatment for a decorative print or poster (Gilder's examples to which Dave responded).

    Sister's is a prime example. We actually discourage triple matting (it's mostly tacky – I said “mostly” tacky) and I'm sure we'd gently guide an elderly lady to the least expensive good looking treatment that her prints deserved. She might be happy spending a lot on her prints but what about her children, grand children, friends?In our case they'd probably live in town and word would get around. “Do you know what they charged granny to frame those horrible prints? It's outrageous”.

    We've actively tried to avoid a reputation for being expensive framers. We don't like to see big ticket items going out the door that could have done for less and in many cases more tastefully. Trust is hard to build and easy to lose. I hope our customers would have no qualms telling their friends or children, “Take it to the Frame Works; they'll treat you right.” We should keep in mind that for many people, custom framing can be an intimidating experience. Designing a tasteful, good looking inexpensive frame might go a long way to making them feel more comfortable. A customer may well want and ask for a more elaborate, expensive, treatment but why start out with an intimidating price?

    Yes, I think an established and trusted business has an obligation to its customers (and to itself, for that matter) to offer advice on what treatment a piece needs. As with Gilder, I simply can't conceive of us offering a customer an $800 28 x 34 treatment for a decorative print or poster.
  46. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Customers saying this brings the largest number of new customers to my business. If customers were saying "Their prices are crazy" even to those who can afford those prices will greatly limit the numbers who give us a shot.

    I was talking to one of our members who said he was shocked that many framers are paying 5 times what we pay for the same materials. The only reason it was surprising is because he has always stocked moulding and rarely bought a chop.
  47. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    So many act like it's "either/or" when it comes to "high or low end" framing.

    This is a business where it's really, really easy to do both.

    This statement confuses me.
    Do you really stop and give the customer an "education" when they desire first class treatment on something that doesn't have a high dollar value?

  48. EllenAtHowards

    EllenAtHowards PFG, Picture Framing God

    Once in thirty years a customer has said "I want to spend a little more than that." Show them the best, but be quick to show the 'almost as good' alternatives. And have some ready mades or sectionals for fall back.

    PS: We once put a $1500 gilded frame on a disney princess poster. Guess she really WAS a princess!
  49. Sister

    Sister MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    As a matter of fact, the customer made the decisions from several groupings of mats and frames. Wow! Of all the triple mats that we have done (and seen on upscale art by upscale framers), never considered that style as "tacky"......

    The majority of our customers are frequent framers with us, and the others usually are by referral. We, also, treat our customers "right" and value our reputation in the community and surrounding area.
  50. Gilder

    Gilder MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Here is how I see it. I offer everything in framing: custom framing, hand made and museum quality framing and I make those frames myself in the house, antique frame restoration, painting conservation, work of art on paper, photo. Good economy or bad economy I still will be doing it.
    My whole life dedicated to it so I want people to know it, I want my customers trust me, like Warren says it's hard to get but it worth it. I help my customers make an educated decision not just to make a sale, what am I Michael or HL? No, I do have a personality and I love people who walk into my shop. Period.
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