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Think again...

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Elaine, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Good point

    Doug, you're right. In the hypothetical case descirbed, or any other similar outcome, it's the PR value that is most valuable. That's why anyone using decpetive and unfair trade practices should simply change their ways now.
  2. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Ieka's Frame Dept.

    I went to Ikea today to buy more front room shop stools for elderly customers and aged owners with bad knees. I might have gone to a local furniture shop, but they, like so many small businesses, are gone.

    While there I visited the frame department. Here's what I saw: Three sets of customers, mostly 30-40 somethings, buying "art" -- stretched scholck canvases and shrink wrapped prints. Then they carried them across the aisle to the frames--the same black and maple ones which come into our shnop for fitting on a regular basis--where they tried thier best to find a frame to fit the art. Having made a successful match, they put the art and frame in thier cart along with thier new sheets, lamps, dishes, and kid's quilt. The BB frame dpet. in action.

    These people used to be my lower end market. In the 70s and 80s, we sold tons of posters in metal frames. There were few, if any BBs in the area. The 30 somethings bought thier cheap art to go over the den couch from me. Now they go to Target, Ikea, and Bed, Bath , and Beyond. Its about price and the generation XYZ's desire to have instant art, ready to take home, pop in the frame, and hang on the wall.

    My teenage daughter has gallery wrapped $20. fashion prints from Bed Bath and Beyond in her room--pictures of high heels, perfume bottles, and hats. Need I say more? She finds my art and frames boring. She has a multiple window frame from Target on her desk--sort of a layered affair in black for five 5x7 photos. She thinks they are "cute" and wonders why I don't carry anything like this for Cal students. Honestly, I don't know where to find them. Target brands thier own from China.

    Where does this leave us independent framers? Again, I ask, send us your ideas, tell us how you compete. While we wait for Paul's breakthrough, tell us what YOU are doing to keep up with the times and serve the new generations.
  3. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Kirstie-Great story

    Made me think of my "early" experiences with custom framing, too

    I had a Rosamond print that the "current girlfriend" liked, so we went into a frame store. They price, whatever it was, so significantly exceeded our expectations that we left giggling and found an "outlet" store that was less, but still exceeded our expectations

    It was a "standard size" so we went to Pier One, bought a "nice" readymade and went to dinner on the savings. Kept it for many years

    I'll bet that when we walked out of those stores, the owners must have thought about the same as so many today about bottom feeders

    Back then I was driving a Porsche, so I'm certain that the conversation started with "This young couple driving a Porsche came in...."

    Let's face it-if we were not in this trade, would we think our prices were "reasonable"?

    Bottom line: A lot of people do think we are expensive and we don't do much to change that impression

    You asked about some of those "cutsie" frames like atTarget?

    I think we turn our noses up at these items, but your daughter is right

    The problem is we keep being told we need the Roma and Cornel style of readymades at $50-60-70 and more. My take? Carry some Cornel (They are gorgeous and fit a small portion of that buying public) an dcarry some Target-type at competitive prices.

    So, you don't make as much margin as you like, but how do you calculate the value of "price impression" to your future custmers like your daughter.

    Consider that mark down as a "Business Promotion expense"
  4. loganframer

    loganframer True Grumbler

  5. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I gotta agree with Splenda on this. Hey if you make a cake from natual ingredients, such as sugar, flour, milk and eggs, the cake is still made from natural ingredients even though it's now in cake form.

    What Equal should have said, and what my beef is with Equal, is their claim that it's little bag is equal to 5lbs of sugar or something like that.
  6. lisamarie_b

    lisamarie_b CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Big Box store not MY competition at all!

    Hello, All! I opened my custom frame shop in October. I have been working in the industry for about 15 years and have listened repeatedly to my bosses (store owners) whine and cry about the big box stores putting the little shops out of business because of price. I have ALWAYS disagreed with that mindset, and of the mindset of bringing in cheap moldings and advertising based on price. So finally, I decided to jump ship and open on my own, implementing my own ideas, and here's where it's gotten me. I am a one-gal shop at this time, working my bootie off, haven't had a day off since New Year's and besides Easter, I don't forsee one coming for 2 more weeks. I have had reps come in and tell me that my numbers with them reflect the volumes that their 2-3 person shops are doing, and I'm already making money. Here are my rules:
    #1- NO cheap crappy mouldings, and NO plastic frames
    #2- ENGAGE the customer, give them MULTIPLE choices, and LEAD them into making the best decision for their artwork
    #3- EDUCATE the customer while designing the piece...explain differences in mats, woods, glazings, etc along the way
    #4- GIVE THE PRICE WITH AUTHORITY, THEN.......SHUT UP!!! Let the customer THINK for a minute. They may THINK that this was more than they had in mind, but then....YOUR PROCESS may have justified it to them at the same time. Whoever talks first loses. If they then tell you that it's too much money, lead them to one of the less expensive options that YOU"VE ALREADY chosen.
    #5- WHOEVER TALKS FIRST....LOSES!!! Seriously, if the customer is thinking about this purchase, and you start talking about, well, I can do it cheaper, or you can do this one for less, well, they're going to think that YOU don't think this job is worth it, so WHY, oh WHY, should THEY? Chances are, the next thing they'll say is...do you want me to pay for that now?

    Since October, I have lost just 3 customers to price. I'm pretty sure one of them was one of my competitors. :)
    I have had 2 customers come in to tell me that they "had this framed at (big box) and HATE it...I want it re-done".
    I have framed two 5ft x 8 ft oil paintings, each frame comprised of 4 individual frames stacked, and this customer came to me from an hour away.

    PLEASE start networking with people around you, real estate agents, architects, etc, and start realizing that we don't compete with craft stores. People who want to do things themselves go to the big boxes. If they want a SERVICE, they come to a custom frame shop.

    By the way, I also want to say that in opening my own place, I opened up 45 minutes away from any store that I used to work at, and therefore, did not bring any customer base with me. I have started from scratch and have had LOTS of referrals and repeat business.

    Have a great day, happy selling and I hope some of these tips have helped!

  7. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Great advice, Lisamarie! I think we need to be mindful of what other framers are doing, but we also need to be true to our vision of how we want to run our respective businesses.
  8. brian..k

    brian..k MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Well you sure picked a thread to jump in on as your first post. I gotta say that I agree with your opinion 99.99%. If people want to compete with the BB's then the BB's are a problem(that's my .01%). Otherwise create a marketing plan that plays to your stregnths and the desires of your community. I bet you are more flexible than your Stone Cold Steve Austin statement sounded though(though you may not even realise or admit it).

    The profit from one $500 job not discounted will equal doing 5 pieces discounted to that "get em in the door" price. If you can generate enough foot traffic (which I can't) then the discount ideas a good one. Otherwise I'm sticking with my 2 or 3 at $500 a day concept (with a few $100 jobs mixed in of course). Anecdotaly, last night I was closing up, the lights were off and I was about to close the doors. I hadn't rung up one thing all day $0 in sales. A woman walks in with a 20x30 canvas and hopes I can help her out even though I was closing. 30 minutes latermy sales for the day for one piece was $1060.80 (no discount given and no complaint about the price thanks to my integrated framer showing how perfect it was). How many discounted frames would I have to do to equal the profit from that one job?
  9. McPhoto

    McPhoto MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Lisamarie has that "can-do" attitude that we all should emulate - it's working for her in her "one-gal" shop.
    BTW Lisamarie - Welcome to "The Grumble"
  10. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Today's BB story & Solution

    Welcome Lisamarie! Your tips are good ones.

    Here's my BB story for today: Customer comes in late today with a BB frame--black metal, 11 x 14, some scratches, not Neilsen, no hanging hardware. She wanted to frame a postcard. She needed a mat. I brought out one of MY black wood ready made frames, gave her a short education, turned the frame the other way, so that the horizontal postcard was now set in a vertical frame with great proportions, and the upshot was the sale of my black ready made, an Artcare mat with a V groove, ACFC backing, UV glass, and DIY fitting. She left with her framed postcard, and her BB frame still in the bag, and was delighted with all the attention she got in our shop.

    THAT's how you beat the BBs.

    Now let's hear more positive ideas!
  11. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I don't have a BB story, but I have a wedding story. Woman comes in with two very nice photos of her and her hubbie on their wedding day. I figure this is the happiest day of her life, right, so I start out showing a fabric mat and a closed corner drawing frame. She didn't like the look of the closed corner frame (go figure), but liked a senelar frame from LJ. Priced it out, but the fabric mat is too much, so we went to an 8-ply rag mat. Still too expensive, and this is with 50% off on the frame moulding, mind you. So we put the Senelar aside and eventually settle on another very nice frame, but less expensive.

    Mind you, this woman probably spent $1000 or $1500 on her wedding dress, worn only once. Her husband probably spent more on the tux rental than she was willing to spend to get her wedding portrait framed. They probably spent anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 on the wedding and reception. Happiest day of their lives, but let's go cheap on the framing!
  12. Cretin75

    Cretin75 CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Hey LisaMarie... great advice and this is what I also go by. Even though I work at a BB.. this is the mind set that I have.

    Networking is a great idea. Business cards are always in my purse (with the phone number and location of the BB I'm at, unfortunately.. not all of us that work at a BB are the same, want to make sure that they come into my store.)

    Paul -- I get those too. Had one the other day. Designed a beautiful 3 frame combo. She was nervous about the price (the photograph only probably cost double what the framing was), the mother was even forking over some cash for it. At the end.. she didn't go through with the order... but bought a bunch of random **** (like wooden balls to put on a wooden basket on her coffee table... come on now.. wooden balls wtf).

    And the we'll get those that look like that haven't showered in weeks and have no problem with framing a Grateful Dead bandana with 3 mats, raised matting and museum glass)
  13. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Congratulations Lisamarie, you are a great example of why good sales technique is so important in this business and how much it can mean to our success.

    FWIW: I know you're running on adrenalin at this point, but be sure to build in some play time. Taking time off is probably the toughest thing to do when you're self-employed, but it's worth it in the long run.

    Would you mind sharing for us what you did as far as advertising to get your business off to such a rapid start? Also, we're curious as to where you're located, if you would be comfortable revealing that. Oh, and please check your email.

    Welcome to the Grumble and best wishes for your continued success.

    Paul Cascio
  14. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Oh great. Bad enough the BB's can outspend us, but now they get top quality people like you networking after hours. This is just too much to take.:cry:

    On the other hand Cretin, you turned a quote on triple frame combo, super size, deluxe into ...three wooden balls? Is that technique in the training manual? I think they should fire your a__. :D
  15. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Well said LisaMarie and welcome to the Grumble!!
  16. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner


    The way you operate your shop sounds exactly like mine. It works for me too..:thumbsup:
  17. Cretin75

    Cretin75 CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Shush you. Did I mention she also got some Digital Custom work done too.

    Dunno if you're being sarcastic or not.. . but I don't have enough cheese for your whine. :smileyshot22:
  18. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    LOL. Lot's of people tell me to "Shush," but they're usually not as polite about it.

    I didn't recall a mention of the Digital Custom work. I thought your just magically traded all that potential profit for a handul of beans. :D

    I'm try not to be mean spirited Cretin. I was just joking with a friend.

    Peace, Love and Profit

  19. Cretin75

    Cretin75 CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I thought so... just wish there was a darn sarcastic smilie. Maybe the big sh__ grin one that you used can be that.

    Seriously... wooden balls?? Who buys this ****.

    Ramones baby... Cretin Hop... oh yeah.
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