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Opinions Wanted Why do I need a POS?

Grey Owl

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
If I had employees I know I would need a POS, but I am a 1 person shop. I might look at POS systems at the WCAF, but I don't believe I need one.

I price based on Materials (plus material OH) plus Time (includes shop OH plus profit margin). My 2 primary moulding suppliers provide me with an Excel spreadsheet of price changes, so it takes me approximately 30 seconds to update my prices in my Access Database. My database gives my all of my reports, sales tax info, etc.

I don't use united inches except to figure minimum moulding length requirements. Also, I do allocate % costs for the 20+ solid Rag matboards I carry in inventory. Otherwise I include the total cost for the mat because I will probably never reuse.

For Moulding I use actual costs, unless carried in my moulding inventory. As an example, customer wants 10 X 14 moulding, 1" width. Three different vendors pricing: Vendor A=$10.00/ft; Vendor B=$15.00/ ft; Vendor C (Roma)=$20.00 per foot.

Vendor A: length only - 10 feet = $100.00 + $6.00 del = $106.00
Vendor B: Has Straight Cut option - 6 feet = $90.00 + $12.00 UPS del = $102.00
Vendor C: 1/2 stick option; 5 feet = $100.00 + $11.00 Fed-X Ground Del = $111.00

In this instance all 3 are approximately the came cost, but I can get the higher quality Roma frame for a small incremental cost; I explain the deal to the customer, as they get the savings too. (However, if the frame size was 12 by 14, the frame would be twice the price.)

Can the existing POS systems price this way?

thanks for your thoughts.
 
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John Ranes II CPF GCF

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
How to approach this question...

Russ,

You can always live without a POS system - many framers do.

The question is not so much about if any POS system can price the way you've been doing things. The question is more about can you adapt to any POS system and recognize the things that it will do for you?
  • What happens when you decide to add a couple more moulding vendors? What if they don't provide you with the Excel spreadsheets that you've been receiving?
  • What happens when your business grows and you're so busy that you find yourself desperate to hire that first employee? Will you have enough free time then to go through the process of adding a POS? (There are some growning pains with everyone regardless of background or brand.)
  • What happens when you decide to expand your business with other merchandise? Gifts? Artwork? Supplies? This is another area that a POS has benefits.

Overall, I don't see any business growing substantially without the benefits of having a POS system.

John

P.S. Specifically to your question, Specialty Soft will allow you to price frames in specific frame sizes with the Configurator > Price by Frame Size
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Just as you have done with the spreadsheet you use now you have to set paramaters in the POS. You can set minimum moulding length and fixed cost to the frame. Most shops don't have a good working program such as yours and don't have the knowledge and time to set it up. What you are using serves the same function but without the automatic updates. As long as you keep it current it works.
 

Dancinbaer

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Russ,
I am (was) also a 1 man show. The time savings of a POS is well worth the cost. Like any computerized system, setting up will take some time. But once installed all you may need is a few minutes a month to tweek it or update it. I went with Lifesaver and I tell people it is truely a Lifesaver.

Others will fill you in on the pricing. With my schedule I found the updates to be the greatest time saver. In literally just a few minutes over the internet my moulding and mat prices were updated, my moulding and mat data base was updated and I could print out a list of discontinued moulding and mats as well as a list of new moulding and mats.

Just my 2 cents,
 

Emibub

PFG, Picture Framing God
No opinion either way Russ, but I never advertised my FrameReady to sell. If you make any decisions to get a POS keep that in mind. It's going to go for $600, which is a steal.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
I don't know of any that will price that way but I suspect that they have pricing schemes that will be equally logical and much more accurate.

None that I tried price exactly the same and the one I choose seems to be quite unlike the others.

Pricing is a very important part of what pricing software does but it's hardly the only reason. It's more like a suite of little programs that make running a business easier. A few functions I use often is

-weekly order sheets
-printed easy to read work orders
-digital customer data base
-printable work log
-customer history
-accounts receivable
-vendor price updates and discontinued mouldings
-professional printed invoice

Others may use different things more often than these. I suspect that no matter how we use our software is it a tool we all use hourly in our shops.
 

Kev@Frames

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
1.
biggest advantage is that they make the customer confident that you have already given the price, because its on a computer they rarely ask for anything off the price.
2.
next biggest advantage is that once you have produced a printed docket you find they have often got their card out to pay without any prompting.
3.
third biggest advantage is consistent pricing like for like on jobs.

But most of all No. 1 above. Your POS will pay for itself in weeks.

and many other advantages depending what use you make of the data garnered during the process.
 

bordgarr

Grumbler in Training
Don't forget the inventory & tracking capabilities and marketing tools to take advantage of in seconds. You can filter your customers for $ amounts, zip codes, specific time periods, etc., and then export to create sales tools to encourage or reward existing or new customers.
 

janetj1968

PFG, Picture Framing God
1. It gives a more professional appearance
2. You can price more aggressively
3. Eliminate calculation errors
4. Eliminate discontinued mouldings
5. Integration with credit card payment systems
6. Keep track of your customers
7. Easily look up old orders
 

TSF

True Grumbler
Russ
POS systems have many more advantages than can be listed here.
If your considering taking the plunge try out Frameready's free 30 day trial. It's a great way to check out the program without the cash outlay but I think you'll buy it after trying it.
 

Terry Scidmore CPF

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Being dragged kicking and screaming into the new world!

Russ,

I am about the oldest, dumbest framer out there, and I have POS.

For all of my frustrations with it, I still think that it is a good idea to have some kind of POS for all of the reasons people have given here.

I have smarter framer friends in the same age group, and their son (computer guy), wrote their software program for them. It functions like the ones you buy, but was tweaked for their specific shop. It also allows them to update online with all of their vendors, like you are doing. They have employees and use Quickbooks for their accounting software.

I would suggest getting everyones demos, and using them before you decide. You want the way it works to be similar to how you think and work without it.

Be sure and try to enter all of the kinds of orders you take on it, run the reports, try out the pricing options (really important, as some products are sold to you by the square inch, or the lite, etc. - if the software doesn't let you price by how you buy, it will frustrate you.), and look at how you can use the information that it generates.

My biggest problem with POS is that I have to adjust how I do things when taking orders to the limitations of the POS. One I tried had you enter the order information on different screens, so that you could not see the entire order at one time. Drove me crazy.

My POS has too little room in the customer address part. I run into troubles when I print mailing labels where the husband and wife have two different last names (IE John Jones and Sarah Smith) long hyphonated names, or when the street address is long. Another problem is customers who have both a street address and a mailing address. The software only has the city, state and zip for one, so there isn't room for the other address. Quite a few of this type of address here have a different city and zip for the mailing address.

But do consider getting it - either used, or by taking advantage of specials.
 

surferbill

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Russ,
I'll be the dissenting voice. I've been in business for 27 yrs, and I've never had a POS. Just don't have the time or patience to set one up.
When I'm pricing a 50 or 75 frame corporate job, I go from cost, not what a POS might say.
Somehow, I've managed to do pretty well without one.
Warren from Wilmington never had one either, and I'll put his revenues up against any other framer on the G.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Warren from Wilmington never had one either, and I'll put his revenues up against any other framer on the G.
That's not completely accurate. He doesn't use one to price or keep track of clients but he does have much of the framing building process automated with software.
 

surferbill

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jay, having a programmable, computerized Cassesse and double miter saw is not the same as using a pricing POS. IMO

I would love to be able to afford both of those toys, since it would speed up production.
At this point in my life, I have no urge to get a POS. I fully realise that not having a POS runs counter to most grumblers idea of the perfect frameshop,.

,
 

Framar

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Well I figure my shop and me only have another ten years or so and with the small number of customers I have a POS, like a CMC, would be downright silly to spend money on.

LJ sends me their updated pricelists and I manage with other vendors. I use about a half a dozen vendors so it is not much of a problem.

No one ever gives me arguments over hand-written invoices - I have designed a nice two page invoice - I give the customer the top sheet and I keep the bottom sheet. It has all kinds of boxes to tick off for glass and such and methods of payments - heck, I know some framers who still just have a small generic cash book kind of invoice and they have to write everything in a big blank area.

Old dog.....no new tricks. Not enough business to bother. And I never had any plans to "grow" my business - (!) - I just want to be able to support myself.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
We wrote hand receipts on NCR self-designed quadruplicate forms for 30 years. The last 18 months have been bliss with Frame Ready. No lost orders, no lost art, no frantically searching for an order to match a frame from 5 years ago, no errors in pricing, in fact no guessing and raising everything by 5% and hoping it is right, no flipping charts around and using a calculator to figure out the price of a hand wrapped mat, no more wondering if we have more 16 x 20 ready mades in storage, no more price per foot or alphaneumeric characters representing prices marked on samples, no more crates and crates of old order forms, and no more having customers question our pricing! Scan in the price. Too much? Scan in another until the customer is comfortable with the design and price. The scanner doesn't lie so the customer just doesn't question.

Now we scan and up pops the price. Up pops the customers name and order history. Up pops accounts receivable. It's all there. Neatly organized. We love it. The customers love it. The environment loves it. What's not to love?
 

Framar

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I would imagine that for a shop with more than ten customers a week a POS would be a godsend. I have weeks when I would kill for ten customers. (Or even 4 or 5).

Plus - you have to have an internet connection at your shop to have a POS and the only Internet I have is at home - if I had the WWW on my computer at the shop I would Grumble all day and never get any of my work done!!! ;)
 

Ruth

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
1. It gives a more professional appearance
2. You can price more aggressively
3. Eliminate calculation errors
4. Eliminate discontinued mouldings
5. Integration with credit card payment systems
6. Keep track of your customers
7. Easily look up old orders
Exactly! I bought Lifesaver in 2000 and hated it so much I refused to use it. Then in 2006 ( I think) my husband insisted I use it so I did and I loved it. Maybe it improved, maybe I did, I don't know. All I know is that I can't imagine the last few years without it.

Russ,
I'll be the dissenting voice. I've been in business for 27 yrs, and I've never had a POS. Just don't have the time or patience to set one up.
When I'm pricing a 50 or 75 frame corporate job, I go from cost, not what a POS might say.
Somehow, I've managed to do pretty well without one.
Warren from Wilmington never had one either, and I'll put his revenues up against any other framer on the G.
Even with corporate jobs I used it to show them the difference between retail and what their cost was. I always figure corporate jobs based on cost.

That said... I'm closing the end of the month. I can sell my software license?
 

Mike Labbe

Member, Former moderator team volunteer
Several POS companies will be at WCAF demoing. (Artteck, FrameReady/SoftTouch, LifeSaver, SpecialtySoft, Wizard) There are also classes available to show you the inner workings of most. Here they are, in the order they are listed at the WCAF class page. These require pre-registration:

T912A Business Software Training - Session A: SpecialtySoft Software
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Sunday, January 24, 2010 : 2:30pm - 5pm • Olivia Shaw

This informative presentation is an exclusive to SpecialtySoft customers who want to use their software to its fullest potential. In addition to a basic overview on our POS software, you'll learn how to use SpecialtySoft's comprehensive feature set to increase profits, enhance productivity, and improve efficiency. Find out how to use our innovative software for direct mail marketing, inventory management, and to keep track of art sales. See the integration with SpecialtySoft View visualization software. As an added bonus, you'll also hear first-hand about all the new features, as well as what's in store for future versions. This is your opportunity to share your ideas and get your questions answered with other SpecialtySoft users.
Presented by SpecialtySoft
FEE: $45.00

[/FONT]T904 Make Your Life Easier With LifeSaver POS Software—Beginner Users
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Monday, January 25, 2010 : 9am - 11am • Michelle Crowe

Using LifeSaver Point of Sale software, Michelle will show you how to do more with your existing resources. You'll discover how to mine the customer information you already have to generate new business. This class will also cover how to implement LifeSaver Software in your store and use it to automate pricing and inventory updates. You will learn how to write a framing order, an invoice, or a quote in seconds—and change it in a snap. Plus, Michelle will demonstrate how LifeSaver integrates with other computerized machines and software in your shop, such as FrameVue and PowerPay credit card processing.
Compliments of LifeSaver Software
FEE: $0.00

[/FONT]T912C Business Software Training - Session C: FrameReady Software
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Monday, January 25, 2010 : 12:30pm - 2:30pm • Carol Graham

Sharpen your skills with FrameReady retail management software and take your business to the next level. This class, designed for FrameReady owners, will lead you step-by-step through the software, including new version 5.0, showing you how to use it to maximize profits by selling up as well as how to incorporate flexible pricing strategies into your sales program. Learn specific ways this POS software can help eliminate costly errors, improve customer service, and increase efficiency at your design counter and in your backroom. This class will guide you through the many features this software offers. Please bring your owner's manual to get the most out of this highly informative session.
Presented by FrameReady
FEE: $45.00
[/FONT]
I'm closing the end of the month. I can sell my software license?
LifeSaver gives it out free now, for the cost of the yearly maintenance/price updates only. Because of this, it might be hard to sell.

Here are some additional resources:

Neutral list of all POS products, with contact info for each: www.getthepictureframing.com/gfaq/

This forum's poll results for POS, CMC, Visualization System preferences for the past 7 years. This shows you what technology choices your fellow grumblers have taken, how they use the web, how they use the internet, etc. and is an interesting read: http://www.custompictureframing.com/poll_results.htm#tech

Here's a great article from our own Jim Miller, about POS Benefits: http://www.getthepictureframing.com/gfaq/Feb06_POS.pdf

It's great to narrow it down to a few candidates, try the free demos for each, and see which one meets your needs. It's probably a good idea to do this NOW, so you can write down some questions to pick the brains of the various companies face-to-face. I'll be volunteering to give demos and answer questions for one of the above, and hope to see you there :)

Happy Shopping!

Mike
Get The Picture
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Jay, having a programmable, computerized Cassesse and double miter saw is not the same as using a pricing POS. IMO
I toured so many shops that I can't remember what I saw where. I believe he has printed computerized worksheets that come from the originating store to the frame-maker. I was not referring to the equipment. If I remember correctly he paid somebody to create a program just for his needs in this area.

As for bigger projects I too do not use the POS for pricing. I still use it for invoicing but go to pencil and paper for most of the pricing.
 

Dave

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
FrameReady's pricing structure is quite different than LifeSaver. You do pay for the software but pay a lower maintenance fee. They do allow you to transfer the license.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
It would be nice if they charged for the software then charged for software updates and pricing updates all seperatly. It would also be nice is you could do the price updates yourself if you choose. I'm curious what percentage of POS owners ever "need" to update the software and how many update pricing more than once a year?

I don't think I have updated my software in over 5 years. I'm not even sure how many updates there has been in that time. I update my pricing twice a year at most. I also do that myself. Maybe that is why I picked the software I did?

I can't think of very programs that I use that require constant fees to keep running.

Maybe all these different cost schemes leads some people to just avoid the whole mess. Even with the off putting pricing the costs seems a good investment for the time/labor savings.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
It would be nice if they charged for the software then charged for software updates and pricing updates all seperatly. It would also be nice is you could do the price updates yourself if you choose. I'm curious what percentage of POS owners ever "need" to update the software and how many update pricing more than once a year?
Well, I check for price updates a couple of times a week and download them into the software. I don't want to lose money for a second. I update Frame Ready as soon as new editions appear. I also update the operating systems on my Macs both at home and at work as soon as updates are available. This helps the machines run better and faster and more safely. But I don't know how to run updates on the two Dells that we own at the shop. A total mystery to me.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
Hey Kirstie. Since I update my own pricing I get the blast email that vendors send to the software companies for processing. Because I'm also the vendor's customer I can tell you that some of the updates are sketchy at best.

I get price updates by print and get the email blast sometime in the next 6 months. Of the 4 vendors that send me this database only one updates regularly. The other three about 2 times a year on average. During that time they add on mouldings and discontinue them with no notice to the POS companies.

The bigger vendors seem to be on top of updates. The rest? Not so much. I only have experience with 4 vendors so my test group is quite small. I believe that country wide many vendors are better and many are worse. I know some vendors beg companies a few times a year for a update and even then get them interminably. I called last monday for an updated list. I haven't gotten it yet. I'll bet money that when I do it will be "CC"ed to the software companies and my request is what sparked the update that is being put together now.

Then you're trusting that the POS vendors quickly process that information for the software. The data bases come in such a disarray it is not an automated or quick procedure deciphering the info. Since I don't rely on the software company to do updates, I don't know how quickly the updates are posted. I'd be shocked if it was in the same day or even the week of an update.

I'm not sure how secure we are putting the trust of our pricing in the process that leads to software updates. It's not a flawless system and one of the reasons that it doesn't bother me to do my own updates.

I'm not making a case against software but I do think it can easily give you a false sence of security.
 

PaulSF

PFG, Picture Framing God
One more reason why having a POS might make sense: if I was looking to buy a frame shop, one of the first questions would be whether the shop has a POS with up-to-date customer history and contact information. If the person selling the shop were to haul out a bunch of shoeboxes and index cards and say that's his customer information, I would be out the door right away.

So if you are considering selling your business at some point, rather than just shutting it down, invest in the POS.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I have found that when LJ introduces a new pattern or discontinues mouldings, that the updates follow on Frame Ready within a week. I have not checked on other vendors, but for me it is a whole lot better than the guess work we had going on before.

With a POS you still have to stay on top of foamcore for mounts and backing, glass and acrylic price changes. But now we can raise those retail prices by percentage points very quickly as we need to.

And I am the first to admit I fought this tooth and nail. My system worked for 3 decades and changing was hard for me. The set up is not quick if you have a complicated price list as we did. My employee Lisa did almost all the work over several months before we started using the POS full time.
 

David N Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
The data bases come in such a disarray it is not an automated or quick procedure deciphering the info.
They may seem to be in disarray to you, but all the POS vendors that we supply data to have very specific requirements for the format. Thus it is a very simple and quick procedure for them to put out the update. Most are very good about getting our updates out right away, and notifying us that they have done so.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that LifeSaver in particular has been very accommodating and has great communication.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
They have specific "requirements"? You provide information for them and format the data specifically to suit them and they charge for that work?

Not only are they in disarray they aren't even the same from the same vendor. Remember my excel problem a while back? In 6 years I've never gotten a database from them with all the parentheses all over the place. Sometimes they send one database for mats and one for moulding. Usually they send out a database of every possible invoice item they could ever print. There are lines for "happy holidays" and "mount to foamcore". Also every moulding had line for the moulding and another for the corner sample. That database had something like 20,000 lines. One price update didn't have any description whatsoever on it. This is the exact same file they send to Lifesaver. I guess they don't honor the requirements?
 

David N Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
They have specific "requirements"? You provide information for them and format the data specifically to suit them and they charge for that work?
As I said, all the POS vendors we deal with (I think we provide data to 8) have a spec sheet they provide, with the fields (required and optional) and format (CSV, Excel, Tab-delimited, etc). The only one that charges us for that work is FullCalc. If by "charging for that work" you mean the POS vendor charging You for the update ability, what would you expect? They are providing a service that costs them money and is valuable to you.

Sometimes they send one database for mats and one for moulding. Usually they send out a database of every possible invoice item they could ever print. There are lines for "happy holidays" and "mount to foamcore". Also every moulding had line for the moulding and another for the corner sample. That database had something like 20,000 lines. One price update didn't have any description whatsoever on it. This is the exact same file they send to Lifesaver. I guess they don't honor the requirements?
All those things you describe sound perfectly in line with the way the update system works with the exception of the "Happy Holidays" type of thing. I think the main problem is that you are trying to use a system that is not designed for you. Yes, you can make it work, but not without a lot of effort. The fact is, that even with perfectly formatted data from the supplier, the POS vendor still has to do quite a bit to make it useful and available to you. They are not just taking our file and forwarding it on.

Since they are in the business of dealing with data every day the annoyances that you have to deal with are just part of their job. For instance, you mention that one file didn't have any descriptions. There isn't any need of descriptions if it's just a price update, since the item number links them together.

I will grant that not all suppliers are going to produce updates to all POS vendors in a timely fashion, and not all POS vendors are going to convert those to updates immediately. But you will live with a whole lot less stress if you just let your POS work the way it's designed to, and do updates once or twice a week. If you notice that your prices haven't been updated go ahead and call the supplier, and follow up to make sure you actually get a new update in your POS.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
The fact is, that even with perfectly formatted data from the supplier, the POS vendor still has to do quite a bit to make it useful and available to you. They are not just taking our file and forwarding it on.
That is exactly my point. The system is not automated. I've heard from a POS company that sorting through the vendor updates is a job onto itself. Many suppliers won't send updates even when begged...nicely...for months. When they get updates they range from near perfect (as you send them) to what-in-the-world-is-this.

The claim was that by updating daily you won't lose money even for a second. I've seen the other side of how prices go from the supplier to the software company to the framers computer. It's a little like watching a cow go from the farm to the grocery. It's not a pretty process. By relying on an "update" button to keep prices accurate you have abdicated a very important part of business to a less than perfect process. If that is still good enough for you then I have no "beef" (get it?) with you. Just know that the process is somewhat complex and demands the supplier and pos company be razor sharp. I cannot speak for the POS companies because I only deal with one and I do my own updates. I can speak for exactly 4 suppliers. They vary in how sharp they are about updating this stuff and the quality of that data.

I'm not sure what great effort I'm putting out. I can't say that the work I do to update my own pricing is so challenging that I wish to hand that responsibility over to somebody else. It doesn't seem oppressive to me and about 1/10,000 the time it would take to reprice 2000 frame samples. So even though I prefer to have software and recomend it for others, I do not choose to let it tell me what to price things or how much things cost.
 

Bob Doyle

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Jay, you sound like you are using a non-standard POS. It sounds like you are taking the proprietary data and using it in your own database. Therefore why should the POS vendor, the Moulding vendor or the Matboard vendor feel obligated to provide the information to you FOR FREE?

Not being the POS vendor I am thinking that maybe when they update the software they update the database on occassion as well. Then the database would have a new format and while it wouldn't make sense to an individual it would make sense to it's own software.

As to your statement you won't let them tell you "how much things cost" how do you negotiate the price you pay to your suppliers? Are you one of those PITA customers that comes in and says "can't you do better?" or "how much if I pay with cash? wink, wink"

BUT, whether you kno it or not your additions to this discussion show clearly why Grey Owl wants to use a POS he can purchase. The upkeep, the "headaches" surrounding formatting are dealt with by an engineer, leaving his time free to make frames and thus make money. Instead of reformatting someone else's hard work (database) to fit his personal "standards" (excel spreadsheets).
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Jay, look at it this way, you are the bottom of the rung on the food chain for pricing updates. The POS vendors get theirs first in the appropriate format for the software. When the framing vendors are done with that they send you whatever you get. They don't care what format you get since you are not updating thousands of framers with that info. The modern POS softwares update thousands of items in a minute.
 

hangupsgallery

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Customer came in just yesterday. Had graduation pictures for her last 3 kids done several years ago. Kid number 4 graduated and she would like a matching frame to hang with the rest of the clan.

Punched in her telephone number and WALLA....there's her last order. Duplicated the worksheet and the order was finished... 60 seconds max. And, it will be identical to the rest. Only deference was a slight price increase, which FRAMEREADY took care of for me.

The customer knows and rests in the fact that we have her history on file....at our fingertips.

Can't wait for the next kid to graduate.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
How did this get so far off topic?

...why should the POS vendor, the Moulding vendor or the Matboard vendor feel obligated to provide the information to you FOR FREE?
I am not suggesting the POS vendor should do anything for free.

The moulding/mat suppliers? I buy their product. Offering a digital price list is cheaper and easier for them than the hard copies most framers demand/expect for free. Why wouldn't they gladly offer up that information? Refusing to do so would certainly lead me to another supplier.

Not being the POS vendor I am thinking that maybe when they update the software they update the database on occassion as well. Then the database would have a new format and while it wouldn't make sense to an individual it would make sense to it's own software.
I don't know what format it is in or what it would look like to an individual either. I think some software has a proprietary format that we framers couldn't open anyway. I just don't know.

As to your statement you won't let them tell you "how much things cost" how do you negotiate the price you pay to your suppliers? Are you one of those PITA customers that comes in and says "can't you do better?" or "how much if I pay with cash? wink, wink".
I feel like we are having two completely separate conversations and I missed the other half. The "it" in that sentence was the software. That is the topic of this thread. I do not let the software tell ME how much things cost. Some do and that's great. I prefer to enter that data myself. I do feel it's more accurate and quicker. I'll admit that there is some speculation in that opinion.

BUT, whether you kno it or not your additions to this discussion show clearly why Grey Owl wants to use a POS he can purchase. ....
Once again I have not said anything except that I think a shop should have a decent POS program. How did I get placed on the other side of that debate? My only question that started this whole left turn was that the "update" on your software isn't as reliable as many seem to think. That's it. It's no more complex than that. Is it better than nothing? Sure. It is not as flawless as advertised and I've provided why I believe that.

The POS vendors get theirs first in the appropriate format for the software.
I just looked at my last email from a supplier. This database was sent to me, softouch?, lifesaversoft,specialtysoft,certek-software, and ezframer. David can answer this question better than I. Is the “appropriate format” for each of these software companies exactly the same? All of them were sent the exact same database. This is also the supplier who never sends the same database. It's always slightly different.

When the framing vendors are done with that they send you whatever you get.
Yes. Sometimes it's timely. Sometimes it is not. I often get new product updates and prices lists but rarely do SOME suppliers send out this info to the POS companies as quickly. Because I am the customer, and the POS company is not, I can see how often the reality and the software is askew. Again, this would not cause me to use pencil and paper. It does give me caution and why I choose to update the software myself. I have info that my software company, who does updates for free anyway, doesn't have.

They don't care what format you get since you are not updating thousands of framers with that info.
Some don't seem to care what anybody gets because it varies drastically and they blast it out to all the software companies. David says that the companies have some outlines that he follows. That's great that he does. If other vendors would do the same perhaps the maintenance fees that we are charged would be reduced. If the updates were sent out regularly I would have more faith in the software. The simple reality is that, in my experience, the companies have CMAC or what ever software they use create something – anything – that resembles a database and blasts that out. I'm just pointing out that the chain has weak links. I'm warning Gray Owl and anybody else who cares to be aware that the vendors sometimes don't give the POS software all the tools they need to do what you believe is being done.
 

David N Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I'm just pointing out that the chain has weak links.
I guess that sometimes we (I) forget that any country, industry, race, fill-in-the-blank, is a diversity, not an homogeneous entity. And as such you will run the gamut form the very worst to the very best. I still remember when I discovered that not all policemen were law abiding citizens...
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
I am amazed and seriously glad you are willing to send out your database timely and in a format the vendors prefer. If all did that, I wouldn't have this one small, but serious, problem with framing software. They would be thrilled as well. Until then it's user beware.
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Jay, what sort of backwoods vendors are you using? All vendors of any real significance are providing the updates to the POS vendors. 5 years ago this was not neccessarily the case but it is now.
 

Grey Owl

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Thanks all for your discussion and ideas.

1. I currently get electronic updates from my primary suppliers. Although they are currently in Excel, I have the ability to import if it is comma delimited; special character delimited, etc. Cleaning up data is not a problem as I used to do this all the time when I was in consulting for family owned businesses. Your ideas about asking for a copy of the file they give to the software vendors is a great idea, which I will pursue.

2. I hand write my work orders, and price very quickly; I believe I can price much faster manually, than entering the info into a computer. In fact, I use pricing during the design process [eg. both of these frames go well, but this hand rubbed finish is only about $16.00 more in this size, and .....].

3. I enter all of the info into my computer after they leave. So I have all of my customer info on a computer, and I can call it up anytime. They also get a computer generated invoice, and they have the option of getting a computer printed bill of materials, if they want, when they pick up the order.
 

Bob Doyle

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I am amazed and seriously glad you are willing to send out your database timely and in a format the vendors prefer. If all did that, I wouldn't have this one small, but serious, problem with framing software. They would be thrilled as well. Until then it's user beware.
Jay what POS do you use? I use LifeSaver and have been happy with the updates I get. There have been glitches, where a vendor sent wrong info, or poorly formatted data and the prices were wrong. Obviously so. But that glitch was fixed within days of my getting it.

I have a feeling that if LS or FrameReady had the "problems" you are experiencing then they wouldn't offer that vendor as one they supported. And that vendor would hear from LS or FrameReady users until they offered their data to the POS in a format the POS could use.

But if your POS is having so much trouble with the price structure then how well is it handling the math for moulding used or mats needed? I hope you're having better luck there ;)

I personally went from hand written price sheets using the moulding slide ruler and UI and a calculator to using QuickBooks and a printed out spreadsheet on to LifeSaver.

Gotta say that LS has been great for me. It alerts me when moulding or mats are no longer available and helped me during XMas season as it caught moulding "errors" before the customer left. In the past I would have had to substitute or call and "ruin" a surprise, as well as look incompetent for not knowing that a moulding wasn't available when I said it was. Hey, XMas, customers are less rational than usual ;)
 

Bob Doyle

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Jay, what sort of backwoods vendors are you using? All vendors of any real significance are providing the updates to the POS vendors. 5 years ago this was not neccessarily the case but it is now.
Even some of the smallest vendrs I buy from send their info to LS. One company doesn't take credit cards when I order. I have to send them checks. But every Friday they are sending their newest prices and moulding numbers to LS.
 

GUMBY GCF

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
What my POS did for me last year. 2009

It actually increased my profit margin by 23%,,,,So cool!~

I installed the Wizard RM and Wizard IF that is interfaced with the Wizard mat cutter the end of 2008 so this is the first full years #'s to look at.

Surprised me I really thought I ran a very good hand system.

It has helped stay on top of price increases better.

Not forgetting to add appropriate charges to the job.

Helped forecast supplies, moulding, glass and mat board orders to make sure I had them when I needed them and for what jobs they belong to.

Saved me time of not having to go to the art work to cut the mat I just pull the ticket up at the mat cutter. Which has the measurements, color of mat.

Kept me on schedule for job deadlines automaticcally scheduling what day a job is to be don on & how many jobs for that day.

I could go on but If you have one you all ready know it is one of those tools that you put off then once you get it it pays for itself over & over again.
God I love this business.
 

KenKBConsulting

Grumbler in Training
I too- like Jay, am unable to rely completely on the system for pricing. We manually cost out a minimum of 12 orders each month to see what markup the system is applying for each aspect of the framing process.
You would be amazed how many times this leads us to tweaking something that is incorrect in the system.
Another warning- downloads of vendor pricing are done at the "regular" cost of the item. If you get discounts or your discount structure changes, your system will apply the markups you have established to higher costs that you are actually paying. this can lead to higher prices coming out of your POS than you might want. As many of you know, there are ways to fix this, but my experience shows that many are unaware.
I had just posted a short reminder about this exact subject on my site and then saw this. I can tell you, as I help people with their businesses around the country, incorrect pricing from POS systems is a common problem.
Thanks. Ken
 

PaulSF

PFG, Picture Framing God
The POS will only do the markups you tell it to do. There are always instances where you'll look at a certain moulding, and just know that it doesn't warrant the same kind of markup as other mouldings. Maybe it just looks cheap, or maybe you are running something special with that particular moulding. You can still go in and set your own price for that particular moulding. It isn't really a flaw in the POS, and even if it were, the advantages would far outweigh it.
 

Tex

True Grumbler
CMC software interacting with POS

I have a Fletcher 6100 and was told by the rep that Specialty Soft was the best program to use with this unit/program.
Am I being fed a sales pitch because Fletcher has ties with Specialty Soft?
Or, is it a legitimate piece of advice?
 

janetj1968

PFG, Picture Framing God
I have a Fletcher 6100 and was told by the rep that Specialty Soft was the best program to use with this unit/program.
Am I being fed a sales pitch because Fletcher has ties with Specialty Soft?
Or, is it a legitimate piece of advice?
Told by which rep? Fletcher's? Specialty Soft's?

How much do you want it to integrate? The F6100 doesn't need 'depth' settings like the Wizard, so there's no genuine need for integration with the POS. In fact, the only files I ever save with the mat colors are repeat orders and complicated templates.

With our machine, whatever is "integrated" has to be moved from the POS machine to the F6100 with a floppy and then opened.

For me, its not worth the hassle. I can re-key it quicker than that.

It does have networking capability, but I'd rather not risk my F6100 getting a virus.

If nothing else, get Specialty Soft to tell you how their 'integration' works. I doubt its anything more than Lifesaver's standard 'export' capability as to my knowledge Specialty Soft (or any other vendor) was never granted a license to modify the F6100 software.

Base your POS on your POS needs, not on a dinosaur (although I love it) like the F6100.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I use Frame Ready, which does "integrate " with Integrated Framer and the Wizard, but honestly we dont use that feature. We always remeasure, adjust, tweak mats before we press the cut button anyway.

We have a network so we can transfer anything over that to the Wizard, or, what we find more convenient to use is Drop Box, which we now have on all our computers. We often drop in visualization pictures when we want to trace something for the Wizard. We open Drop Box on the Wizard computer and there it is, ready for Path Trace.

If someone can tell me how integration truly helps them, I'd love to hear it.
Sales pitch? Who knows? I would go with the POS that is best for your needs.
 

janetj1968

PFG, Picture Framing God
I use Frame Ready, which does "integrate " with Integrated Framer and the Wizard, but honestly we dont use that feature. We always remeasure, adjust, tweak mats before we press the cut button anyway.

If someone can tell me how integration truly helps them, I'd love to hear it.
Sales pitch? Who knows? I would go with the POS that is best for your needs.
True integration is exactly what you've said, Kirstie. That would mean if you make a change in the cut file size then it would be recorded as changed in the POS program. The advantage would be to always have every change documented and every work order correct in its saved state. The advantage would be accurate records.

But for most of us, where "rough" measuring is for purposes of pricing, its not like we go back and change our quotes. And very seldom do we repeat our 'custom' orders....after all, its custom. For us, a handwritten notation on the workorder of a size change is usually enough.

But the advantages are accurate records, and to save us time. Given that most corrections to orders occur between the POS and cutting, however usually any time saved is lost when we fine measure.

To be on the safe side, I always pull the workorder copy if ever an order is repeated. But if my system were truly integrated, I wouldn't have to do this.

Considering POS programs that also monitor inventory levels and reordering, these differences can add up. But again, most retail shops don't use their POS this way.

If we use these systems how they were intended, vs how we actually use them we would probably see results and improvement over time....but for the average framer, it just doesn't make a real impact.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I really didn't know that with true integration the CMC could adjust the POS measurements on another computer. Pretty cool. We actually do try to go back and fix measurements in the POS so our records are correct in case of repeat orders. We always do this on corporate orders and they tend to repeat more often.

I always thought of integration from the POS/Visualization to the CMC, not the other way around. Interesting. Can Frame Ready do this?
 
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