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Still Discounting?

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I used to think discounting would bring customers through my door, but now I believe the opposite may be true. So, I have pretty much stopped advertising discounts that could be compared.

Has anyone else taken this approach?

Some number of consumers, having consumed the mass marketers' KoolAid, would not believe a smindie could beat their deep-discounted prices anyway -- never mind the reality of it. So, wanting price to no longer be a competitive issue, I just don't mention it in ads.

Local consumers know about my store, but they can't find my non-existent discount coupon in the Sunday paper or anywhere else. If I publish a discount less than another's, that alone might put me out of the competition.

By not discounting, I might actually avoid being pre-eliminated.
 
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Steph

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I did Jim, and it has paid off. Again not everyone is going to agree with this approach, and I truly feel it depends on your area, your customer, your location and what may be missing in your neck of the woods.

When I first opened I did a few things the first year...thinking I had to. But that was the wrong approach for my market. Since I stopped growth has been steady as I approach my 3rd anniversary. I'm not saying I am out of the woods, but I am pleased with the growth....very pleased.

My belief is if that is what you want to offer be prepared to offer it for the long haul. Because that is what you will have branded yourself as...the discount framer. It's an illusion no different than the BB's in many ways. If I were going to do that I would raise my prices to an obnoxious level and open my doors to those penny pinchers.

I am not in a mall, I am not even in a strip center (but I would be comfortable having my shop only in the later) I am in a free standing building on a heavily travelled road..I am a destination stop. I know who my customers are...I also know what the other shops are doing.

At this point I do not carry ready mades, (some photo frames), I do not offer a poster special, but I am considering it. I take careful comsideration as to whose mouldings go on my wall. I carry a handful of stock length profiles.

About once a year I send a thank you certificate for $25 or this last Jan I sent out a 20% off framing , strictly to my existing clients as a thank you for your support. That is where I draw the line. I think I have developed a nice niche for myself, and I WILL make it through this year.

This approach is not going to work for everyone, IMO this depends on many factors I mentioned above as well as some other things. Know Your Market!
 

Dave

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I ran my first "Sale" in the four years of my new business model this past month.

40% off selected mouldings. Discontinues and some special buys, etc.

Biz picked up because I had a sale sign out there but very few takers on the sale mouldings. I think it was just the attention drawn by the sign.

Storm came ...sign blew off my changeable sign. Biz died again...

You tell me.

I think I know the answer...

:shrug:
 

j Paul

PFG, Picture Framing God
As much as I don't like it Dave, I have to agree that the word SALE brings them in.

I have a banner that I put out "Custom Frame Sale" and it brings them in. Only though, like you a handful of select mouding are on sale they are not by and large the ones that are sold.

People are "programmed" to respond to that word, SALE!

If we admit it, most of us are too!
 

SusieQ

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Tracking?

Hey Jim,

I usually put some kind of offer in the ad so that the consumer has to bring it in. With a staff of 10, that seems to be the best way to test & measure my break even point of that particular publication or mailer etc. I've got 10 great people, but only 2 are good at asking new clients how they happened to choose us.

I HATE discounting, but...
How do you track your advertising if the customer doesn't need to carry the ad in for a special deal?
Susie
 

TessaE

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I am only doing two things this year that offer a discount. I send out handwritten thank you cards to customers who have spent over $500 in the last two months and during december I offer a discount on instock mouldings. Other than that I offer incentives, like free photo frame with purchase, upgrade glass, gift certificate drawings, etc... we will see how well it works.
 

PaulSF

PFG, Picture Framing God
I did a lot the first year I was open. Typically, the offer would be 50% off the moulding, and it applied to all mouldings. I did it to build a customer base, because I wasn't buying an existing store, I was starting from zero.

The discounting helped get me off the ground, but it had some unwelcome side effects. One is pretty obvious -- I wasn't making any money. The other was that it brought in a lot of very price-sensitive customers. For many, even the generous discount wasn't enough, and these people wanted to haggle further.

Last year, I stopped doing any discounting for a while, and the change was dramatic -- and for the better. I had fewer orders, but the total revenue was the same or better. I was bringing in people who weren't price-sensitive. If they saw something they liked, they bought it, and they didn't argue with me about it. Since then, I have run an occasional sale, and I will be doing more this coming month, but like Dave's offer, it's limited to a selected group of mouldings on which I have favorable pricing.

When I ran that more limited offer last year, it brought in two kinds of customers. Some came in because of the offer, but if the frame they wanted wasn't part of the sale group, they paid full price for the frame they wanted. The second group was only interested in the sale frames, and if they didn't see anything they liked there, they left without placing an order. Even if they really liked something that wasn't on sale, they wouldn't buy it.

Now, I know there are some people here who believe adamantly that you must never ever put anything on sale, anytime, for any reason. There are times and places where it makes sense. It's a good way to bring in new customers -- the sale reduces the risk involved in trying out a new shop. It's also a good way to clear out unwanted inventory. Mark it down, get it out the door, you aren't making any money off it when it sits there at full price.

Now Jim, with your specialty in shadowboxes, I would absolutely NOT discount. I think it's a specialized service, and people should be willing to pay full price for it. Otherwise, they are welcome to put their beloved grandpa's Medal of Honor back in the shoebox under the bed. Or they can honor their beloved grandpa by doing it themselves with a $15 shadowbox frame they buy at Target.
 

moglet

PFG, Picture Framing God
I did a lot the first year I was open. Typically, the offer would be 50% off the moulding, and it applied to all mouldings. I did it to build a customer base, because I wasn't buying an existing store, I was starting from zero.
Similar situation here, although the way I tended to work it was with free upgrades rather than discounting materials. Gave me a chance to demonstrate techniques and get some of my work onto people's walls (my best form of advertising to date! :) )

I'm thinking of running a sale this summer to clear out the dogs and overstocks from my moulding racks.

It's tricky to hold firm on one's prices in southern Ireland, as haggling seems to be a very cultural thing. It doesn't help when boutiques and the like volunteer discounts over a certain spend: tends to make people automatically expect a discount. (sigh)
 

JFeig

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Aine

Do you use a POS or do you write up orders by hand on a form or scratch pad?

When I put in a computer system, the haggling (middle east bazaar) mostly ceased.
 

Dermot.

In Corner
Áine

If you were not to discount or haggle where would your customers go!!!!!

Think about it………..just as the Irish like a deal……….likewise most of them also understand the word NO…..

I have found one of the hardest things in business here in Ireland is to learn how to say NO………..believe me it gets very easy the more you practice it…
 

PaulSF

PFG, Picture Framing God
I have a POS, and it makes absolutely no difference with the hagglers, as far as I can tell. It's a cultural thing, as moglet says. Out here where I am, we have some Middle Eastern customers, and they will typically want to negotiate a bit. We have a ton of Asian customers, and the Chinese want to haggle. The Japanese don't, on the other hand. And the haggling is much more prevalent with the older Chinese customers, especially if they are first generation. When I first opened, Chinese people would stop in with their artwork, and they'd try to haggle with me. After a while, I noticed a dramatic dropoff, and I think that the word spread throughout the Chinese community that I wouldn't haggle, so they don't bother coming in anymore. I don't know where they are going, because they aren't going to be able to haggle at Michaels, Cheap Petes, or Aaron Brothers. Maybe FastFrame is haggling with them.

Of course, there was the really unpleasant lady who came in at 5 minutes before 6 pm, and kept me there til 7 pm, trying to haggle with me. I steadfastly refused, told her so, and 2 or 3 times walked to the front door, opened it, and thanked her and her husband for coming in. And she had the nerve to be saying really unpleasant things about me in Mandarin to her husband, right in front of me, as if I couldn't understand what she was saying. At one point she asked what discount I could give if she paid cash, and I calculated the 2% credit card fee and told her she could get $5 off. Eventually, her husband overrode her and handed me a credit card. So I'm ringing it up, and she asks why I'm not giving her the $5 discount for paying cash! I told her because she was paying by credit card, all the while envisioning my hands closing around her scrawny neck and squeeeeeeeeeezing hard. Then, after they've signed the slips and are getting up to leave, she hands me her business card, says she's a real estate broker, and asks if I know anyone interested in buying or selling a home?
 

Dave

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
...Then, after they've signed the slips and are getting up to leave, she hands me her business card, says she's a real estate broker, and asks if I know anyone interested in buying or selling a home?
Don't ya' just love it ...ask her if she'll give a a 2% discount off the price if you buy or sell a home with her.

Ha!
 

alaskanframer

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
We used to do a direct mailer to our customers and additional addresses. People would wait till the sale bring in multiple items. We advertise in the paper biweekly same day same page, on the radio 2 stations daily. We no longer but any custom framing on sale but instead stress the quality of our framing and design. The only discounts we give are if multiple items come out of the same sheet of mat and or glass. Our buisness is up we no longer have people looking for the sale and they bring items in when they want instead of waiting for the sale. We stress the preservation and presentation. The others can have the discount items.
 

PaulSF

PFG, Picture Framing God
People here are pretty shameless about wanting discounts. I had a lady recently, she brought in a print she wanted to frame and give to a friend as a gift. The whole design time, she's going for cheaper and cheaper, and I can tell she wants to haggle, but I just won't. So she finally places the order, and two weeks later she comes in and picks up the piece. A couple of weeks after that, she comes back in with another copy of the same print. She tells me she left it in the car overnight, and her car was broken into and the framed print was stolen. She she got another copy from the artist, and is there a discount available for this? Ummmm, no, I didn't leave it in the car overnight. It's not my fault, so why should I suffer?
 

EllenAtHowards

PFG, Picture Framing God
Lady brought in 11 family photos in back-loading gold frames with various junk mats. Wanted just to have the mats replaced and wanted to only spend $150. Uh. Huh.

Said "Let's play around with some designs and prices, if you have the time." We came up with a design she liked with a moulding we have on our ValueLine wall.
I priced out one of the larger ones, which came to, say, $180.

She: Can you do them any cheaper?

I: Let me talk to my husband, the money guy. (did I tell you I used to sell cars? )

I come back after consulting with Roger, who says we have a ton of that moulding, and he would LOVE to convert some of it to cash.

I: How about if we do these for $140 each?

She: Why, that's $1600!

I say nothing (first one to speak loses)

She: How much would I have to put down?

I: Only half. That way it feels like it only costs half as much...

She: How about $1000 down? Will you take a check?

Yes indeedy!

This whole discussion is because of you guys, convincing me that you CAN shave a little here and re-figure a little there to allow the customer to feel she got a good deal.

All the same moulding, all the same mats, all in stock.

I think that worked out pretty well....
 

NcFramingChick

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
I have been considering doing a framing sale due to the fact that business is so slow right now. This has been the worst month in history. The only thing is I absolutely hate to discount anything!! But I would love to see a increase in April. Seems like you just can't win these days. :icon45:
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
I would think the purpose of a promotion would have to be defined before you could determine what kind of sale to run or know if it worked.
 

PaulSF

PFG, Picture Framing God
I love the way customers never seem able to make the connection between the piece costing only $100, but they have 15 of them so the total is $1500!
 

FramerDave

PFG, Picture Framing God
People here are pretty shameless about wanting discounts. I had a lady recently, she brought in a print she wanted to frame and give to a friend as a gift. The whole design time, she's going for cheaper and cheaper, and I can tell she wants to haggle, but I just won't. So she finally places the order, and two weeks later she comes in and picks up the piece. A couple of weeks after that, she comes back in with another copy of the same print. She tells me she left it in the car overnight, and her car was broken into and the framed print was stolen. She she got another copy from the artist, and is there a discount available for this? Ummmm, no, I didn't leave it in the car overnight. It's not my fault, so why should I suffer?
Well geez, Paul, she was doing two after all. :icon11:
 

moglet

PFG, Picture Framing God
Aine

Do you use a POS or do you write up orders by hand on a form or scratch pad?

When I put in a computer system, the haggling (middle east bazaar) mostly ceased.
I have a POS system, Jerome (which I firmly believe helps), but as Dermot quite rightly points out, the Irish just love a deal.

Dermot, I'm practising the "No" thang. When I catch myself waivering, I try to remind myself of the monthly bills: Helps enormously! ;) :)
 

PaulSF

PFG, Picture Framing God
Yes David, in San Mateo, 1 piece qualifies for the quantity discount.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
Hey Jim,

I usually put some kind of offer in the ad so that the consumer has to bring it in. With a staff of 10, that seems to be the best way to test & measure my break even point of that particular publication or mailer etc. I've got 10 great people, but only 2 are good at asking new clients how they happened to choose us.

I HATE discounting, but...
How do you track your advertising if the customer doesn't need to carry the ad in for a special deal?
Susie
Welcome SuzsieQ. Do you have a web site? We also have 10 employees, and tracking advertising is certainly an issue.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
We don't respond to hagglers. Our regular customers get the monthly coupon in their newsletter. Good response. I find that newspaper coupons don't work anyway. Sales don't work either. I'll run one in rare circumstances, not more than about once a year and always on framed art.

All discounts are via the newsletter. You have to open it, read to the end, and the click through to a member's only page whose address changes from time to time. Along the way I will track what else you click on, and how many pages you visit on the site. Not individually, but group stats.

If a customer asks for a discount and we oblige, then we are demeaning our services and the value of the product. I would rather steer them to a less expensive moulding, a poster package, or a ready made frame. These are legitimate ways to lessen the cost of the job without giving the customer the idea that we must be reeling in the profits if we can discount at will.

Our barking spiders, moulding from supplier casualties, and so on, are now on their own web page: My web designer and part time manager did this as a surprise for me. Not too much response on the web, but we are closing it all out in the shop. Can you imagine the sales we are making with customers who are balking at price? "Well, madam, this one is $2. per foot. Let's try this." Believe me, there is more where this came from. We are serious about getting rid of slow selling moulding taking up valuable space. Once it's all gone, the page comes down.

Volume discounts may be worked out in advance in special situations, but then that's usually a bid situation. If a customer walks in and asks for a volume discount they are referred to an owner or manager who makes the call based upon true volume. I don't do artist or student discounts, although once a year I have a special coupon for artists getting ready for open studios. Even that only brings in a few responses.

Generally people come to us because they see us as a less expensive alternative to traditional framing. And we are. Then they may work up to more elaborate custom jobs.

I refer students to our bargain price offerings available to everyone, and I sign them up for the newsletter. I get everyone to sign up for the newsletter! I just put the finishing touches on the April issue, due to arrive at 10:30 AM tomorrow.
 

Class

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
When I took over the shop here there was a part of the wall that had a huge 40% off sign... at first I saw this as a way to get rid less wanted molding, it actually was a distraction... along with the sign that 50% off ready made frames, and the sign that said poster special ($59.99). Some people would not stop trying to get a "good deal" rather than pay attention to a "good design". So I scraped them all. Sales are up!
 

SusieQ

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Thanks for the welcome Kirstie.
I own my domain name, but have never gotten my website off the ground. It's in my marketing budget for this year, I plan on tackling it in July.

You site looks great! I want a site that I can partially manage myself. I don't want to have to call the web master everytime I need a small change and none of my current staff are web savvy at all.

I have tracking sheets for my front counter staff to fill out after they help a customer. They fill out "new" or "returning" customer, if "new", how they found us. Most of the time that spot is blank. I have great designers and framers, they just don't always ask everything I would ask if I were out there. Yes, they have a script they are supposed to follow. It's always hard to get people to care as much as you do.

Susie
 

Mike Labbe

Member, Former moderator team volunteer
Most POS systems can ask this question and track/report on it, so you dont have to have additional paperwork to do at the front counter. If you have a POS, check for that feature. It'll track what brought them in, the # of framing orders for each campaign or referral method, and the dollar amount each generated.

Mike
 

Paul N

In Corner
I don't advertise discounts but I do discount mouldings I bought in box quantities or when the price was very good (summer usually), in some instances (like the one below).

When a customer brings in x number of pieces to be framed and 1 or 2 of those they want done cheaply because of "....insert reason here" then I point to those discounted mouldings. But the bulk of the order itself is not discounted.

Other customers who come in and like those same box mouldings, do not get the discount.
 

SusieQ

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
The POS I use is FrameReady - love it - been using it since it was a baby. I have the ability to track how the customer found us in the software. The problem is in the "asking" not the "recording". If the customer carries a piece af direct mail in, or has an email printed out, then I have a hard copy of what drove that sale in my door. But that means I have to have an "offer", which is the part I don't like. I have very reasonable prices, so I feel like discounting devalues the service I provide.
 

shawart

Grumbler in Training
I don't own the company I work for, so I don't have any say in discounting. I am unaware of Mr. Miller's situation as far as his competition, but here in west St. Louis County, you can throw a rock in any direction & hit a frame shop. And the big-boxers are practically paying the customers to let them frame their art-it's like "110% off AND we'll wash your car/walk your dog". Ridiculous.
This is all very interesting to hear- especially from you very experienced "lifers".
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Does it demean the product from Roma or Larson when you get a discount from them?

Usually the buyer (on whichever side of the counter) feels better about his purchase when a discount is obtained

If you buy mldg at 20% off Roma, doesn't that mean that they have simply overpriced that product by at least 20%?
 

Steph

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
So...is the suggestion that we should be discounters?
 

DLB

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
It's a cultural thing, as moglet says. Out here where I am, we have some Middle Eastern customers, and they will typically want to negotiate a bit.
This is VERY VERY VERY much a MAJOR part of any sales transaction in the Middle East, as is also trading pleasentries for quite some time before actually getting down to business. Americans want to come into a meeting, talk, and leave. Middle Easterners will sit down drink a cup of coffee, eat lunch, talk to you about whatever's on their mind, have another cup of coffee, and then slightly tread into the business end of the meeting.

dave.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
So, Steph....Did Roma artificially raise the price or not? If it's evil to sell at a discount, isn't Roma evil? Why isn't Roma's product demeaned?

We all discount at one time or another

Some of us are just a little more honest than others

And, Dave, walk into any booth at any trade show and see how quickly "discounts" and "trade show specials" come up

Anybody buy a car at sticker price?

An airline ticket?

A hotel room?
 

Emibub

PFG, Picture Framing God
I think there is not one clear answer here. Everybody has to do what is right for their market and situation. When I took over my shop it had been run for 9 years previous with big signs posted outside saying 50% off Moulding. I literally found the Grumble and took all I read to heart and took down all the signs because I was going to be the high end shop and I would not devalue my work. Yada yada yada. Back then people were mocked for even suggesting discounts here. Taking those signs down almost did me in before I even got my ears wet. When I came on and asked what people would do in my situation the advice I got from those I chose to trust was to put the signs back up and thankfully I did. So, I've been forced into running discounts and I have scaled them back considerably, no more 50% off the moulding. It is simply what my customers have come to expect.

The last thing anybody should do here is take verbatim what you read on this forum. There are a lot of well meaning people here but there are way too many suggesting theres only one way to do it or that you will demean your work somehow by discounting it. Any of us look for value when we purchase anything including high ticket items. There is no reason you can't give value to your customers and still maintain your dignity. You can't do it randomly, you do have to protect your margins and buy as best you can.

I'm not saying those of you who have been able to get away from the discounting are wrong. Any one of us would kill to be set up to be able to attract customers on quality and service alone. But in todays world I think it is the exception rather than the rule.

I know for a fact if I hadn't tossed out the bread crumbs to lead customers to my door I wouldn't have lasted a year much less 6. That is what has worked for me and my situation.
 

Maryann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I discount mouldings I bought in box quantities or when the price was very good .
Same as Paul, We have a value line of mouldings that we bought in box quantities that we offer at a better than average price. We discount our metals 20% because somehow they have an obscene markup....rather than go into LS and fix it, I offer a discount. Makes the customer happy.

When someone asks for a discount my reply is usually along the lines of "We offer an everyday fair price which is less than their 50% off price." Never mention any names, because they already know who I'm talking about and chances are if they're asking for a discount, they've already shopped them.

I too love a discount. Spent two days looking for the best condo rental at N Myrtle Beach - asking whenever I called, "do you have any specials?" We all love to get something for nothing.
 

Steph

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Maybe I am wrong...but I don't see the Roma analogy as an apples to apples comparison. A moulding manufacturer is making their mouldings in large runs to suit the needs of all buyers, large and small. I would think if they are good business people that they price it so they are still making some money on the guy that wants 500'. But I would imagine they still enjoy selling to the guy that wants a chop or just 20'. Also, too factor in that a chop or short lenght, more hands are going to touch that product...unwrap, inspect, cut, join, wrap, box it up with the rest of the order. 500'....that could possibly mean pulling out the box they have it already packaged in and throwing on a label. I don;t know their systems so I am only guessing here.

I am going to guess that most indy's are doing more retail biz than commercial. A single job at a time.....done custom, to the design specs. If you are doing a bulk commercial job, well you are going to run it completely differently, from purchasing right down to how you put it all together, assembly line fashion. Commercial jobs are based on efficientcy and low price, everyday jobs are done with, I dare say more care, more time, and materials that many times cost a bit more. Now if you are using a stock moulding, of course you hopefully have purchased smartly and are making a higher profit margin.

I never said discounting was evil, I have been very honest about what I offer, but I do feel that having a sign up or advertising sales sends out a message to your customer. Like I said, if I was going to do that, I would raise my prices to an obnoxious level. But I don't think comparing pricing techniques of manufacturers vs a retail store front is a fair comparison.

When you go to a custom cabinet maker, do you expect there to be 40% off sale signs?
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
If I was in need of a custom cabinet maker, and I saw a 40% off sale, I would probably take a look. I suspect pretty much every consumer would

If everyone of them just told me how great they were and why they only used American Mahogany and have only Master Cabinet Builders and went on and on why their product was probably going to be "expensive", I, as a consumer that probably might easily be able to afford it, may take a look and would probably look around, too

But, I would not dismiss the "sale" as a lesser product

In think only people more interested in scoring points would

We need to put our "I am a Consumer" hat once in a while
 

Steph

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Ok lets pose it a different way, and please lets disclude McDonalds and the like.

Let's say you go out to dinner once a week with your spouse (no kids), you have many choices....a chinese buffet, a locally owned Italian resturant, a national chain like Cracker Barrel. Where would you prefer to go and why?

Myself....I would take the Italian resturant, it's the most expensive of the three. But hey there is a coupon for the Cracker Barrel...and the all you can eat buffet is only $9.95. I still would choose the more expensive one. Not because its the most expensive, but because I know the food is great, the service is great, and get a slight adjustment made to my dinner, the ambience is comfortable,and I don,t feel like cattle being herded through.

Or how is this.....you are buying an anniversary diamond ring. Do you go to a mall chain who is having a sale......or do you go to a jeweler who doesn't play those games.....they have all their diamonds GIA certified, they have a master jeweler on premises, and a knowledgeable staff who are certified through the GIA.

I completely understand about percieved value and the illusion of the deal. But here is my point, like resturants....jewelers and the like, there are different types of custom frame shops. I do not believe we can be all things to all consumers. Should we have something to offer in a range, absolutely. But you have to decide for yourself whose consumer hat you want to wear...all consumers are not wearing the same hat. Also, as I have said before, study they heck out of your area. Some shops are going to fare better as a discount type framer, others as the closed corner framer, and IMO the majority will do best as the middle of the road. Develop a niche for yourself based on many factors, the wrong niche in the wrong area will suffer.
 

PaulSF

PFG, Picture Framing God
Part of the problem is that excessive discounting, not just in our industry but in all areas of retail, causes consumers to devalue our products and services. When I walk into Macy's and grab a shirt off the table, the price tag and the "made in" label give contradictory messages. Macy's is trying to charge me $189 dollars for that shirt, but I can see it was made in China or India, so the cost of labor and materials was probably less than $5. And this shirt was mass-produced, it isn't a bespoke shirt.

Our products, on the other hand, are bespoke to an extent. We may not mill and finish the moulding ourselves, but even with a bespoke shirt you are choosing a fabric swatch.

And this leads to my day yesterday, where I spent 20 minutes on the phone in the morning, with some lady who wanted me to come out that day, immediately in fact, to hang several large pictures and a mirror. And she's arguing with me about how to hang pictures, and with my estimate based on the sizes she gave, that it was a 2-person job (anyone care to hang a 5-foot wide frame with glass by himself?). But the real issue for her was that she just didn't want to pay $100/hour for me and an assistant to come out, and probably would have still been arguing about paying just me $60/hour to come out and do it. Did I mention she lives in Atherton, an exclusive community populated by dotcom venture capitalist billionaires?

And at the end of the day, a repeat customer came in with a 33x60 canvas that needed to be stretched and framed. The canvas needed to have the margins extended, because there wasn't enough margin for pliers to grip. So it was an added complication to the brute-force work of stretching a large canvas. I knew that this customer would be asking for a discount, because he had done so every time he had been in my store in the past (cultural thing, again). So I added a $100 miscellaneous charge to the order, and when he asked if that was my best price, I made up an excuse and took $100 off the order "just for him." He felt good, and I got my full price. I didn't feel nearly as dirty afterwards as I would have had I failed to mark up the price before giving him a discount.
 

surferbill

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Bob,
Don't you know that It's been proven that discounting does not work.

That's why Michael's, Joanne's, and the other big boxs still do it. You would think with all their zillions in market research, they would have discovered that giving a 50 percent off coupon will not bring in droves of picture framing customers.


When are the BB's going to find out that the customer is smarter than that, will not fall for the 50 % off coupon anymore, and will start coming back to the friendly local indie picture framer who doesn't discount?

In the meantime while I'm waiting for that miracle to happen, I'll do whatever I have to do, to get the picture frame job. ;)
 

Framing Goddess

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I look at discounting as merely a tool in my marketing trick tool box. It gives me a reason to be in touch with present and future customers.

I don't think it is intrinsically a "good" or "bad" thing. It's how it's used that matters.

I think it would be an interesting exercise to discuss how discounting can benefit even the snootiest shops. I can think of some examples right now. Nobody ever said it had to add up to a pay cut or spanking for us little guys. Anyone here who says it can't work for them, I would challenge them to think of some ways that it would work for you.

I always go back to the evening I ran into one of my wealthiest and spendiest customers at Walmart across town from her mansion on Lake Erie. She is an older, proper Southern blueblood woman, married to a former member of the Reagan Administration. She told me that she buys her cat litter at Walmart because it's the best price in town. EVERYBODY shops for bargains. EVERYBODY.

Tell your customers you have a bargain for them and they will pay you a visit with their wallets handy. You get to define "bargain."

For what it's worth, I haven't discounted custom work since one disastrous sale in 1987. But I have discounted plenty, sent out sale cards, have raked in thousands of $$$ and unloaded boatsfull of JUNK.

edie the itiswhatitis goddess
 

j Paul

PFG, Picture Framing God
Myself....I would take the Italian restaurant, it's the most expensive of the three. But hey there is a coupon for the Cracker Barrel...and the all you can eat buffet is only $9.95.

The reality is that many people will choose all three for one reason or another / one time or another.
  • Sometimes when traveling it is nice to know the consistent quality of a chain restaurant.
  • Sometimes that grab and eat buffet is all you have time for or need.
  • Sometimes you want the quality of that special home town Italian restaurant.
So the premise has been put forth before, that sometimes our framing customers are like that too! Not always as loyal as we think.
  1. For that special Italian pc. they always come to us!
  2. For that I need it Cheap and NOW! They might go elsewhere if we aren't able to service them / or at least if they don't think we can. (Like the Buffet )
  3. That other place isn't that bad, and I have a coupon, this isn't a really special pc. It is a gift afterall. I think I'll go there, this time.
Maybe we don't want the customer that always wants to eat from the buffet or use a coupon. As has been pointed out however, even our best customers, need those things on occasion. Better be able to service them, or we might even loose them on the higher end frame jobs. Just have to make sure you make a profit on all of it.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey Steph-I hope you don't feel I'm arguing with you. I enjoy your posts

Now, here is the kicker to end all kickers

It's no secret I like Ruth's Chris and it's no secret they like me (and my demographic)

And, to show how much they like me, I got a $25 off coupon in the mail from them. No exceptions, no minimum, no nothing. Except it wasn't mailed to me, but to my dad, but at my address. I have lived there for 20 yrs; my dad, in El Paso

Now, does that $25 off coupon de-value their brand, their product?

Will I use it on my next visit? Will I ask how to get on that mailing list permannently? Will I go to them instead of Morton's?

The key is not an absolute (although I have no argument with anyone that follows Jim's sage advice). The key is however to use discounts indiscriminately and when the consumer chooses where to put that discount

I'll bet we all can agree with that
 

Steph

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Not at all Bob, I am just trying to see this from every perspective.

No, I do not feel that they have devalued their product. That doesn't sound any different than when I send one out to my pre-existing customers. To me its a thank you...I think you are special...my company appreciates your business. This coupon albeit to the wrong person, right family, was personalized just by having the customers name who has shopped there before.\

That's not discounting or devaluing a product IMO.

OK.....how is discounting defined?

Maybe we all have a different definition. Discounting to me is price slashing, big signs, large ads with % off's. Large LOOK AT US signs....and for me a HUGE illusion of pricing.

What I do for my customer is a thank you for the referral, for your business..etc. I don;t consider it "discounting"
 

hangupsgallery

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
In 25 years, we've never discounted, couponed or ran sales. I cannot think of one customer who has walked out because discounts were not offered. In fact, very seldom is price a deal breaker. We can usually find something that fits their budget. Have they asked....yep! Is it an issue....nope! Have I missed an opportunity to lure more folks into my store....probably.

The reason discounting is necessary is because we (retail in general) have all dug ourselves into a hole from which there is no return. It has become the "marketing" norm.

Do the big box retailers know something that I don't...yep, they want to be the big box, cut throat, every-day-is-a-sale-day retailer. I personally have chosen not to.

Seems like the general consensus here on the Grumble is "you gotta do what you gotta do" and that's alright too.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I think this is one of the most civil threads in a long while

Everybody should remember how well this discussion developed

Agree/disagree; we can still do it amiably
 

Jim Miller

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Does it demean the product from Roma or Larson when you get a discount from them?

Usually the buyer (on whichever side of the counter) feels better about his purchase when a discount is obtained
I guess I missed the part about discounting demeaning a product. I agree that discounts are attractive to buyers, but when the discount becomes the reason to buy, or not, then the influence of the discount is more powerful than it should be, IMHO. I would rather eliminate the discount percentage from the first line of conversation.

If you buy mldg at 20% off Roma, doesn't that mean that they have simply overpriced that product by at least 20%?
Not necessarily. Maybe it was overpriced originally. Maybe it's being discontinued. Maybe it's slightly flawed. Maybe the wholesale order qualified for a quantity discount. Maybe a cheaper knock-off has ruined the market for the good stuff. Or, maybe your speculation is right.

Anyway, what led to my cut-back of discounting was the tendency of consumers to compare discount percentages.

A scenario similar to mine would be if framers knew nothing about moulding, and if Roma offered a 20% discount on all moulding purchases, and if Cheapo Moulding Co. offered a 50% discount. Without considering what is given in exchange for the money paid, some buyers -- remember we're dealing with know-nothing buyers -- would gravitate to Cheapo Moulding Co., simply because their discount looks better.

Roma might be pre-eliminated, since their discount is "known" to be 30 points less. The breadth of the product line doesn't matter, the quality of service doesn't matter, the quality of the product doesn't matter. When the only point of comparison is the percent-off discount, then that's what the buying decision becomes all about.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
Does it demean the product from Roma or Larson when you get a discount from them?

Usually the buyer (on whichever side of the counter) feels better about his purchase when a discount is obtained

If you buy mldg at 20% off Roma, doesn't that mean that they have simply overpriced that product by at least 20%?
Of course not, because this is a negotiated wholesale discount based upon volume. When you place the order for 1234 moulding from XYZ company you don't then haggle over the price of the moulding, do you? Well, actually, I might if I needed several boxes, but not otherwise.

I would rather point the buyer to lower price alternatives without slashing the price on my regular mouldings for whoever asks for a discount. If I did that I would get the reputation of a lower end frame shop where you can haggle with the owner for a lower price. NO THANKS!
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
If I was in need of a custom cabinet maker, and I saw a 40% off sale, I would probably take a look. I suspect pretty much every consumer would
Yes, and you would also say 40% off what? You would be shrewd enough to compare to make sure you were getting apples to apples, and you would check their quality against the competition.
 
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