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Why is pricing so daunting?

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Convoluted story so bear with me

In process of moving into older money pit, er home, needed a handyman to do a list of things. Called some found on internet (clue to any shop not yet on web) and repeatedly found most couldn't get out for a week or longer; too busy.

Sandy has sibling that is a journeyman plumber subject to layoffs and sporadic work. The entrepreneur in me suggests he consider the handyman biz. He likes the idea but really does know how or even where to start. Pretty good at his craft, but clueless on the biz side (sound familiar?)., So, he turns to 'family biz know it all'. So, know it all says list major skills and pricing, projected time involved and expected income to see if it makes sense to leave current job (anybody do that?)

His response? I don't know? (I know that must be universal)

So, i recommend we set 'suggested' pricing on a few key items: hang a ceiling fan, change garbage disposal, install garage door opener based on known data of time involved and known costs.

His response? don't know, too many variables

So, i suggest he call around and ask what a competitor charges for the same-see what the market charges, look for ranges. You know, pretty garden-variety type of Market Research

His response? Wouldn't be comfortable doing that (my read:too lazy). But, he says, could I do it, i(my read: very lazy)

Bottom line: Just like so many framers-looking for magic bullet pricing guide requiring minimal, if any, effort

To me a recipe for disaster

Bottom line: found a guy based on when they were able to come out and more importantly, how much. One of the things done was to take an old ceiling fan down and replace with new. You wouldn't believe there were a few who wouldn't quote a price. Really? My response? Make another call. Can you imagine something as straight forward as that? Guy who got my job? The guy that said 'normal fee is $65, but if you need more, I'll show you why.

More Bottom line: I couldn't help but make the parallel to picture framers

As a consumer would you have work done without a clear idea of what it will probably cost, and how quickly get it done? And probably go with the $65 deal over the guy at $95? I'm guessing most of us think there might be a level of competence among those we call that is acceptable

Do we think consumers see picture framing much differently

Last Bottom line

I suspect that either he won't do the deal or he'll go into it without a cogent plan

unless he gets me to do the 'due diligence'

Sound familiar? Or, is this trade that unique where normal biz due diligence does not apply?
 
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Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
So many things in one post....

As for calling around to get work done; you're lucky if you can actually talk to someone. Most is answering machine leave a message never to hear back from again.

I need the garage door fixed (opener doesn't open). I called around, emailed through websites etc etc etc. Finally was lucky enough to talk to an actual live person and set up a day when they could come by.
I didn't even talk about price.

Just happy to find someone, talk to someone and that someone was extremely nice and customer friendly.


A few years back we needed masonry work done. Called around, had 5 different companies come in and quote and the prices were between $300 and $10,000 as they all found different issues.

We decided not to do the work.

I am reasonable enough to not expect a quote over the phone if they can't actually see what the problem is, or the whole job. I know I will pay for the visit, as for any visit of plumber, electrician etc etc etc. when work needs to be done.

If I am interested in a quote, the companies come out and quote.
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
My reply to pricing is always based on package pricing. I get a few clues as to what is being framed and level of framing being conservation, decorative etc. and tell them how much. I also point out that I stock 1,000 ready made frames that offer savings in many cases but tell them if they stop in I can price it in a few seconds without having to do designing first. This quickly sorts out the Wal-Mart customers from the rest of the pack.

I make a point of telling those making inquiries that there is nothing I can't do but certain items require more time and materials and can cause minor price swings or cost a million bucks extra. I keep it light and informative and the only callers who do not come in for an exact price are ones that are never going to buy a real frame in the first place.

Many callers are nervous about a sales pitch so they will often ask about the least expensive option available. I create a bonding moment with them by telling them in order of price from low to high the options begin with scotch tape, then thumb tacks, next dry mount and command adhesive attachment, proper framing and if they really want I could find a way to spend a million dollars framing a piece of art.

Most people, no matter how valuable the artwork appreciate the fact that I understand not every piece of art is the Mona Lisa. I like people to know how much money they should be bringing when they come in for framing. Not every inquiry results in a sale but 99.9% of those who walk through the door make a purchase.
 

cvm

PFG, Picture Framing God
Sometimes it pays to let the garden weed itself.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
in my experience these handymen are really small. Everyone returned my call when needed. Several answered directly. Like framers, usually it was the owner/operator.

I guess I didn't make the parallel clear.

Brother, like many framers, might be talented as a tradesman, but often unprepared as an owner/operator. Face it, how often do you see a Newbie seeking the most basic biz info? And, generally show no interest in 'due diligence'. Just like many framers, too

Your bid experience kinda misses the point. If a client calls asking how much it might cost to frame a wedding dress, a visit is mandatory. But, if the work is much more pedestrian, then why not shoot a figure? Client has Beyonce poster, wants a tele-quote. Are you kidding me that you can't say "We often frame posters like that for around $60, but we have lots of options? Do you truly expect Joe consumer, a potential new client, will drive to your shop when a couple of others called offered the above response? Some won't get it done because expectations (realistic or not) not met

You want something done in your house, you don't think asking for a tele-quote for exchanging a garbage disposer deserves a quote? It's not quite as complex as installing a unit from scratch. As a consumer, you really want half dozen guys coming out to tell you that swap is $75? When a phone call would have sufficed? C'mon we're consumers, too
The point is he isn't interested in doing the 'due diligence' (like a lot of framers).

my experience was I shopped on conveinence and price and I expect many other consumers do also.

it's simply an observation

So, how do we establish effective pricing?
 

Paul Cascio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Whenever I need a handyman, I place a Wanted ad on Craigslist. I specify the skills I'm looking for and the wages I'm willing to pay. I make it a point to not that retirees are encouraged to apply.

I've set the price, not them,and I've found some great talent.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
I think you need to give framers more credit.

  • :shrug:

The Handyman analogy is awful. Find me a handyman who pays $3000 per month for a retail location.

Every single serious framer I know will handle a price sensitive, telephone inquiry with skill. Every single framer I know is smart enough to cover their butt in unusual circumstances. I don't know any framer who is daunted by pricing.

I don't get it right every single time but who does? And.... I hang with smart framers.

  • :icon21:

    Doug

 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I get a very large number of requests for somebody to come out and hang artwork. I tell them I don't do it because leaving my shop will cost you at least $500 for the hassle and I would need to be bonded and insured against any future damage such as the hardwood floors that could be destroyed if something falls off the wall or replacing the antique vase, table etc. that could be harmed. I let them know of the people who offer the service and the high cost since I know of nobody that is legit enough to offer a person they can call.

Many of the customers are asking for the service because they have destroyed their own floor, vase, table or other item and don't want to relive the experience. Many of them also expect a licensed, boned and properly insured person to offer the service for about $8 per hour and that is the reason I know of nobody that does it locally. I have often solved their problem by asking if they live in a condo and many of them do. Since this is a resort most of the condo associations have somebody on staff that does this as a service. Many of the condos that allow vacation rentals require all installations be done by their staff since it is a fire code violation to hang a plastic frame which could invalidate the master insurance policy. Installations in these cases also must be completed to specific standards to avoid potential lawsuits.

I recently had a couple in a very expensive complex ask about installation and found "A Guy with a Hammer" who was not insured or bonded or a "Huge Price Installation Firm" that was properly insured. They were looking for someone to do the work because their own mistake cost them $4 grand in flooring damage. The complex sent their guy right over and completed the hanging of the entire unit for a couple hundred bucks and it came with insurance if anything fails.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hi Doug

used handyman because it was a) recent and b) an example of a (potential) small biz aspirant and my suggestion of getting market pricing via phone.

I'm suggesting in my experience that lot's of framers steadfastedely refused to give any pricing over phone; just like several handymen

You hang with a pretty enlightened crowd

As to every single framer is not daunted by pricing, I'm guessing the overwhelming percentage let their POS establish pricing. Used to having Pricing Segment in classes. That ol' deer in headlights was a pretty apt description.

More of an Alfred E. Neuman approach 'What? Me Worry? LOL

Do you think anyone under 40 has a clue to the meaning LOL

But, I could be way off base
 

Grey Owl

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Hi Doug

used handyman because it was a) recent and b) an example of a (potential) small biz aspirant and my suggestion of getting market pricing via phone.

I'm suggesting in my experience that lot's of framers steadfastedely refused to give any pricing over phone; just like several handymen

You hang with a pretty enlightened crowd

As to every single framer is not daunted by pricing, I'm guessing the overwhelming percentage let their POS establish pricing. Used to having Pricing Segment in classes. That ol' deer in headlights was a pretty apt description.

More of an Alfred E. Neuman approach 'What? Me Worry? LOL

Do you think anyone under 40 has a clue to the meaning LOL

But, I could be way off base
I agree with you on this Bob. Particularly for smaller frame shops and one or two person frame shops.

I was talking to some framers before and after a class I was teaching, and I asked them what their cost (or price) was for the most popular / most used mat within their basic mat family. Eg, within a particular manufacturers mat family, all of the same basic mats have the same general cost. Well, almost everyone's answer, was "I don't know, I have to check my POS". I was afraid to ask how much a lite of glass is.

Most of the smaller volume framers just use the margin specified in the POS. Not one mentioned having a higher labor rate for more complicated techniques.

However, in speaking with the more profitable framers around the country that invest in outside education, such as attending WCAF, they seem to be more willing to look at their real costs, and also are willing to quote price ranges on the phone.
 

wpfay

Angry Badger
In the mix could it be that the "handyman" has realized that most people that call with a proposed job really don't know what they are asking? Bob, I know you are into more significant numbers, but it seems the one-offs are the ones that trip us up. Rehanging a ceiling fan=Poster job, rehanging a door=who knows what. (Done both, several times).
The handymen I employ charge a set hourly rate plus expenses, plus a small markup on materials (I taught them this, I want them to be around). Maybe you should mentor a handyman.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
We're all going to bit the dust one day.

When Bob's goes his spirit will evaluate the casket seller and price options and he'll send a message from heaven with an analogy for the average framer.

No doubt that casket will be a Cadillac.

Dougf
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hopefully when Bob reaches the Cloud he can explain to Steve Jobs that you can only sell an aluminum frame with Museum glass that breaks constantly to people for a limited amount of times. It is shocking that this trend has lasted as long as it has but eventually dads such as myself will require their teen daughters to pay for replacement on their own. My daughter got a full 5 days out of her iBroke 4s and now wants to upgrade to the iBreak 6. She is now helping at the frame shop to earn enough to buy the new iBreak 6 and since she is at $32 so far I suspect she will choose a more durable product before hitting the $600 mark.

While many people get emotional about products and desires most will reach a point of measuring cost against benefit. I just replaced my eyeglasses with the best money can buy and for the first time since needing glasses (10 years) I am absolutely thrilled that I spent the extra money for the best. Now just like framing customers I was price conscious and did some comparison shopping. I did my research and even considered buying online but found I could save about $200 by getting them at the Wal-Mart Vision center before my discount.

Price was a concern but mostly I wanted to be happy with the product and service. Best eye exam I ever had done by an independent Optometrist who happened to lease space at WM and he was a new customer. After his purchase of framing we were discussing what he does as a profession and he told me and at the same time told me he could fix my vision issues based on an observation of how I was wearing my glasses. The Optician at WM was the first ever who cared about my needs vs. selling me expensive frames. She was the first ever to find out how I use my glasses and what the primary purpose of them would be. Based on that info she once again was the first to properly measure for my personal use of the glasses.

Now this is an example of a place that can sell glasses for well under $100 and is happy to give a price to anybody that inquires. In recent years we had discussions here on the G about buying glasses online because of price and the fact that the glasses were the same. There is no way my glasses would have made me happy to wear them if they had been bought online because there is no way they could have been properly set up for me over the internet. Nobody on the internet or a boutique eyeglass store would have asked the right questions like the WM and I say that from experience at 2 chains and 3 independent optical stores in the past. Nobody would have told me that the Nikon lenses only come polished on both sides and nobody would have asked whether I am bothered by reflections on the inside of my lenses. I bought the Varilux lenses which are as light as polycarbonate lenses without static, less scratching and no reflections on the inside of the lenses because they can polish one side or both. Frames were chosen for durability and shape so not to bow lines as I align mats and other precise measurements.

So here we have a story of a frowned upon discount eyeglass center that will whip out glasses for well under $100 but sold me the $340 glasses after my discounts that would have run $470 if not for my WM vision plan. The same item would have been $200 more online with the discount glass dispensers and would not have been properly fitted for my use. I never planned to buy the $100 glasses which would have been free but certainly didn't plan to spend what I did. That is where I started my search because I knew the $100 option existed. I'll never go to any other Optometrist and will be a customer for life at the WM vision center.

By the way, if you do a search of some eyeglass specific questions you will come across a forum where they have the exact same discussions we have here. You will even find consumers posing as professionals looking for how they can avoid paying professionals and buy direct online. The forum is exactly the same as the G with all the same players, competitors and opinions as found here. Quite the eye opener. :cool:
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Well, call me stupid. (no, you didn't do that literally, I know)

I never ask for prices over the phone. Right now I have a few lights that need hanging and I call my electrician and have him do it. Same with the garage door opener. For a few bigger jobs I do have people come in for a quote as I don't expect them to price things over the phone and never have. Even before I opened my own doors. Why not have them come in and give me a quote?

As for other pricing, I either go into stores to check things out, or check online for some general pricing. But I am talking about commodity products, not services and I think there is where the difference is.

As for using my POS, I, and many others, base our POS on actual pricing. I don't use default. I am aware of my costs. I am aware of where my profit needs to be, what my overhead costs are.

When people call for price, I am able to give them some general ideas, based on what they need. Like Jeff, I realize not everything is the Mona Lisa and not everything needs to look like a million bucks. I do ask questions to get an idea of what they are looking for and then I give them a likely range.
 
D

Dermot Cox-Kearns

Guest
Or you get those who call my office leave a great message and ask me to call them back at "this number" then hang up without leaving the number...


:thumbsup:
 

FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I know when I worked for the big boxes and some of the chains twenty some years ago it was company policy not to give any price quotes over the phone. I thought that was a terrible policy so when I opened my own shop I gave out price ranges to anyone who called and asked.

I had a terrible time with a contractor years ago who wouldn’t give me a straight answer about a price range. All I needed to know was if it would be hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars and all I kept getting was “I wouldn’t rip you off.” I just needed to know what to budget for, not whether I was getting the best price.

Bob, I agree with you that a business owner should know what they charge and be willing to give potential customers a price range. It allows them to budget or abandon the idea. In either case it helps the framer waste less valuable time. But honestly, I think most independents are giving out phone quotes these days. The framers that are still left in business are pretty smart.

Ed
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
hey guys-not so fast on my demise LOL

I liked the casket reference, though

Actually, I did have a dream that I died and went to Heaven, but as so often happens in my travels that my room wasn't ready. I was told to take a seat; it;d be about 30min. Not liking to sit around, I mentioned there were two 'H' buttons on Elevator. I asked if I could popdown for a look around. Pete sad 'Okay, but don't get off; only take a quick look and come back.'

I did and it looked like the North Pole, barren, snow covered

Upon my return, Pete asked for a review and I told him

He shook his head and said 'Oh my God, did you vote for a Democrat?'

okay, okay I don't care who you are, that's funny

Look, my observation as a simple one: when brother pondered the option, he didn't see the need for due diligence. Had he been able to find a 'recommended' pricing chart, he'd use it-no matter the effectiveness. My parallel was telling framers of the importance of due dilligence and how to collect data. The unintended consequence is one of the joys of The G

Just a passing thought
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I ask for quotes for everything from electrical work to corporate framing installation. I want bids, not time and materials estimates. When we built our outlet store, each part of the job was bid. Except for something small like an oven repair from a traveling technician, we always get firm quotes on any type of service work.

However, sometimes a phone quote will not work. I would not expect a contractor to give me a quote on repairing our ailing garden fence without coming over to see it. (The quote was not pretty, and the fence still needs work, but the person who took the time to come will get the job.)

But in the case of picture framing, this is a no brainer. That's what package pricing is for. It's all on our web site. After a friendly chat to inquire about the customer's needs, we direct them to our package pricing page, and read them the result for their desired size. I know, I know, they should read it themselves, but often they don't. Same for jerseys, photo name mats, and diplomas. Everyone is more comfortable knowing the basic price before coming in.

We also do long distance framing from web inquiries, and for these you have to be able to give accurate prices over the phone. These often require an e-mail with photos and layouts. These are time consuming, but we get a good percentage of these sales because we take an interest in the project and put in the time to give the customer a decent long distance presentation.

We always stress that this is a starting point and that they could choose something more expensive if they like, or less expensive if they are able to use a ready-made frame. We also quote mats and other components as necessary. We never want to discourage the customer with an air of pricing secrecy.

What I won't quote is something like a shadowbox or something really oversized or complicated. There are too many variables without seeing the art, and we explain that in-person quotes are free of charge.

Phone and e-mail inquiries are usually the customer's first contact with us, and our first opportunity to make a good impression. Thus they are very important. Besides a potential job, they usually yield an e-mail and an opportunity to add the potential customer to our newsletter mailing list. A win-win.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
The more you can show your interest, seems the more interested they become.

Some folks like Kirstie are just naturals in communicating empathy and understanding; critical elements in selling

If you're not good at it, work on it. If you're uncomfortable, consider hiring someone who is.

we often talk about price, quality, speed-pick two

maybe iy ought to be creative design, skillful craftsman, salesmanship-pick two?
 

Terry Scidmore CPF

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Re: salesmanship.

My friends who have worked at BB's have told me they are "taught" how to close the sale. I.E. - when they "quote" the price, they lay the "quote" down in front of the customer, point to the total, and ask what payment the customer would like to use.

The cc terminal is right there, in front of the customer, and most times the customer just slides their card through and signs.

One of my friends said it has the feel of being at the supermarket - "here's your total, just slide your card through here". Very few customers stop the payment process to ask "how much for that bag of frozen peas?". She told me she was surprised how little price was brought up at the BB. Her experience in her previous job with an independent shop was price was always brought up by the customer and was a deciding factor.

Maybe it isn't so much about creativity, price, quality, selection, or being interested, empathetic, or communicative.

Maybe it is more about setting up the selling envirnonment to mimic what the customer does without thinking virtually everyday.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
Re: salesmanship.


Maybe it isn't so much about creativity, price, quality, selection, or being interested, empathetic, or communicative.

Maybe it is more about setting up the selling envirnonment to mimic what the customer does without thinking virtually everyday.
Very interesting. So they assume the sale and the customer goes along. I wonder how that works on bringing back repeat business. Ken Baur wrote an article for PFM a while ago on the fear of framing. Part of the fear was the whole rigamarole of design, pricing, time involved, so many choices, and finally the price. Perhaps this skips a lot of that and just gets on with the sale.

How long are they taught to work with a customer's design?
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I guess when you have so many customers coming in, it might not matter. But I too wonder about the repeat customer, or the ones who regret it after they paid.

I do believe sales techniques are most important. Above design and craftmanship. I also think there is not a one approach fits all. Some of my customers want 'quick and do what you think is best' and don't like to spend the time. Some can take hours over design. You usually start to get a feel on how to approach.

So on top of sales techniques, I do think a bit of psychology is important as well (is in fact part of the sales technique)
 

David N Waldmann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
My friends who have worked at BB's have told me they are "taught" how to close the sale. I.E. - when they "quote" the price, they lay the "quote" down in front of the customer, point to the total, and ask what payment the customer would like to use.

The cc terminal is right there, in front of the customer, and most times the customer just slides their card through and signs.
Wouldn't work for me (as the consumer). Feels too much like a car sales experience.

You need to let the customer feel in control (don't forget, they are), and make them want to complete the transaction.

RE: the supermarket experience; no, when you're at the checkout counter you probably don't remember the price of the frozen peas, but you did (if it mattered) when you picked them off the shelf. That's a huge difference compared to going to South Beach Custom and getting your car made into a Batmobile - unless you're Donald Trump you probably want a price before you slide your CC across the counter. If you make the customer feel forced (either at the time, or upon reflection) you probably made a one time sale rather than a repeat customer.
 

FramerCat

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Re: salesmanship.

My friends who have worked at BB's have told me they are "taught" how to close the sale. I.E. - when they "quote" the price, they lay the "quote" down in front of the customer, point to the total, and ask what payment the customer would like to use.

The cc terminal is right there, in front of the customer, and most times the customer just slides their card through and signs.

One of my friends said it has the feel of being at the supermarket - "here's your total, just slide your card through here". Very few customers stop the payment process to ask "how much for that bag of frozen peas?". She told me she was surprised how little price was brought up at the BB. Her experience in her previous job with an independent shop was price was always brought up by the customer and was a deciding factor.

Maybe it isn't so much about creativity, price, quality, selection, or being interested, empathetic, or communicative.

Maybe it is more about setting up the selling envirnonment to mimic what the customer does without thinking virtually everyday.
I think part of this is also that the BBs have a lot more employees than the typical independent. With that many individual personalities representing your business you don't want too much thinking for themselves. Sticking to a simple easy to follow business model is probably best for them. I know I have gotten a lot of customers who went to M's and thought they didn't have any lower pricing options and I believe it was because of this practice, combined with the demerit system for having average sales that are too low. It is definitely information that we independents can use to improve our business. Thanks for sharing.

Ed
 

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
...That's a huge difference compared to going to South Beach Custom and getting your car made into a Batmobile - unless you're Donald Trump you probably want a price before you slide your CC across the counter.
That's a pretty amusing image, as I think Mr. Trump probably thinks of himself as a sort of Bruce Wayne-like figure, multi-millionaire by day, superhero saving the country by night.
:popc: Rick
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
If I'm dealing with a couple, I'll occasionally find a reason to leave the design room and give them five minutes to work with each other. This comes after I give them a couple of options and prices.

When I return, I'm often amazed at what they've done. They're in control, there's no sales pressure, and they're having fun.

Nothing daunting here.
 

Terry Scidmore CPF

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
I don't know, Kirstie. I was hoping some BB people might pop in here. In watching the process at a couple of BB's, my observation is they are pretty good at getting the sale, and get repeat business. Of course, the BB's I visited might not be the norm?

Ed is probably correct - with a lot of employees you have to consolidate approaches so the basic sale pattern is pretty much the same.

From my "experiment" of comparing BB apples to apples quotes for quite a while, I found all of the sales, regardless of discounts, generally landed in the same price point range, which suggests the final price is somewhat fixed by what is needed to support the frame shop. Hence, the employees have a set repertoire that nets the desired amount - I.E. - A)fabric mat with fillet, B)three mats, C)frame with fillet, etc.

In a nod to Bob's question "why is pricing so daunting" and his suggestion that many independent framers are not willing to figure out a pricing strategy for a variety of reasons - perhaps the BB's have addressed this and figured out a solution that works very well for them with their client base. It doesn't appeal to David and some other folks, of course.

I wonder if us independents do this with much frequency? Do any of you have predetermined framing options you use all of the time because you know it sells every time and you will get XX dollars in the till with less work/time? The framing value package promotions is one concept that comes to mind.

Referring back to David's post, and Bob's line of reasoning that picture framing customers are pretty similar to handyman customers (wanting a competitive price, competent work done in a timely fashion), does anyone know if there really are two kinds of framing clients - BB Customers and Indie Customers? We Indies always point out "our" customers are not like "their" customers, but is there any study that shows that to be true?

If the majority of people who are apt to get something framed might be more like the typical BB customer, us indies should realize our slice of the pie is pretty small. If our indie customer requires more time/input/stroking/creativity/communication/competence/craftsmanship/knowledge
to be convinced to buy from us, we should be higher priced than a BB, shouldn't we?
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
From my "experiment" of comparing BB apples to apples quotes for quite a while, I found all of the sales, regardless of discounts, generally landed in the same price point range, which suggests the final price is somewhat fixed by what is needed to support the frame shop. Hence, the employees have a set repertoire that nets the desired amount - I.E. - A)fabric mat with fillet, B)three mats, C)frame with fillet, etc.
One of the reasons for this is when a customer deviates from the corporate program the employees are penalized. Employee reviews, raises, promotions, bonuses and continued employment requires they keep a certain percentage within guidelines. It is better for a customer to walk out than it is for the framer to allow them to use less mats, different glass options or any lesser options than company mandated standards.

As an independent would we prefer that a customer find a new framer than allow affordable options. Most of my customers do a lot of repeat business because they know when something is important it will be framed by the highest possible standards. Items that are more casual decor items or just something that would be better displayed on the wall rather than spend another 20 years in a folder or a drawer can be completed on a budget. It is quite common for my customers to show up with an item worth several thousand dollars along with a handful of couple dollar pieces at the same time.

One of my newer customers showed up with 2 festival posters and when they found out how affordable the framing was they made another special trip to several shops and picked up a bunch of local art and some more of the event posters to be framed while they were still here from Colorado. They did over 100 miles of extra driving to get the stuff and brought it back to me 40 miles from their house here at the beach. I got most of it framed in the 3 days they were still in town and they left one more for when they come back for Thanksgiving. They will be bringing several pieces from Colorado upon their return for framing for both here and the Colorado home.

That is a case of a customer who would frame a couple of pieces per year as they have in the past turned into framing fanatics. They have 5 kids and want to do all of the senior photos in matching frames with the first child just a year away from graduating. I explained that matching frames over a decade or longer becomes nearly impossible due to discontinued mouldings over time. They will be buying 5 matching frames in one of the next visits which occur every couple of months. The husband is an Oral Surgeon and they have been conservative in how much framing they do as a result of very high prices. I'd rather frame everything they can think of or buy than just a piece or two each year.

Most of my customers end several more new customers to me. Everybody has a ton of items they would like to be framed and hanging on the wall but it is often hard to justify spending that kind of cash on less important items.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
One of my newer customers showed up with 2 festival posters and when they found out how affordable the framing was they made another special trip to several shops and picked up a bunch of local art and some more of the event posters to be framed while they were still here from Colorado. They did over 100 miles of extra driving to get the stuff and brought it back to me 40 miles from their house here at the beach. I got most of it framed in the 3 days they were still in town and they left one more for when they come back for Thanksgiving. They will be bringing several pieces from Colorado upon their return for framing for both here and the Colorado home.
This week, a couple from California came in to re-frame a watercolor for the man's elderly father, who lives here. When they saw my design, the lady said, 'I have a bunch of art that I want to bring up to you to have re-framed!' That sure did feel good. Some folks are very much swayed by the price, while others just want what they think looks best. When this couple came in, I showed them my favorite design idea, along with a simpler one. The favorite had triple specialty mats and museum glass, and it came to over $700.00, but they didn't bat an eye. Someone else might have chosen the simpler design, and much of it comes down to being able to read what people want.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
This thread is getting really good

May I offer a few observations?

In my few years, I've been in positions of responsibility in several trades. Of those I didn't own, better believe there were 'sales techniques' that were taught. They were used because they worked. Of course, some people were just very good at using them; some flat awful. We've all seen both personally. The really good ones did so effortlessly and those that didn't exhibited what David calls the 'car sales' model. We w ould teach 'selling techniques' all the time. It wasn't designed to 'talk' someone into buying what we wanted to sell, but to try and listen to what the client was really saying and doing our best to fill that need. Of course, w e looked for trade up options and alternate designs. The key was always designed to listen, not to tell or sell

Iwish Jared would chime in with his 'Conversation more than Conservation' thoughts

Jeff suggests that some feel it's better to let customer walk than have a 'sub par' sales impact a rating system. In all my years of tracking employee sales, I've never seen that to be true. I'll share what we did. Each designer was expected to have so many 'low end sales', so many mid range and so many Top of Line. Remember, we established pricing, so no matter the 'level' we had built in profitability. So, let's assume, by experience most designers typically sold 20% low, 60% mid and 20% Top

Typically, most new empolyees sold higher percentages of low and mid. We knew they needed some help/confidence on higher end product. Yet, sometimes we would see designers with very low pcts of low end sales. were they ignoring the 'low end' client maybe causing clients to walk? The key was to watch for trends so we could help those designers. Often, when we saw a designer with below 'averages' percentages, we might pair them up with another designer that had above 'average' percentages. In essence, if Mary was really good in Top of Line sales and Bill wasn't, let Mary teach him how she is successful

But, I will promise if we had an employee that would rather let a client walk, we would rather have that designer walk

I always enjoy Terry's post; thoughtful and reasonable. When comparing 'final' prices as being similar, Terry wonders if that price is fixed on what is needed to support the shop. I think just the opposite. Let's assume these behemoths buying so much better, pay half for a lite of glass. If their pricing was 'cost based' entirely, a logical retail price might be half of yours. But, it isn't. According to most framers, it's higher (although I'm skeptical). So, I'm an unbiased non-framer biz-minded from the outside looking in and my assessment would be they are establishing their pricing like many businesses and that is 'market based'. They use their powerful buying advantages to create larger margins, creating more ad revenues, creating larger market shares, creating larger volumes, creating better buying advantages....

Terry also wonders if their are two types of customers: 'theirs' and 'ours'. Absolutely. One is growing; one, not so much. Studies? Used to be. I've told the story many times of the 'declining' pool of framers that shop indies based on age. The 'older' shoppers' were 'conditioned' in their shopping habits when ther wasn't an internet, weren't big boxes. Yet as we moved further down the calendar, we see 'younger' consumers that make internet a first option, BB's a second. I've often suggested a simple test: ask your younger friends/kids to do an informal survey of their peers by asking 'I need to get something framed. Do you have a recommendation?'

Wanna bet how many times Michael's or Art.com comes up?

We often talk about the client that comes in from CA or CO because your work/design/prices are superior. Great! I'm sure that happens. But, unless it happens a couple of times a day, everyday, it might not be sustainable marketing strategy.
In Jeff's case, knowing what I know, think it probably is.

But, we know how I feel about his model
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Just a quick observation.

I don't believe in the 'their customers and our customers'

Sample? Some of my customers do go to M's. Some of my customers bring in the M's ready made frames and have me cut mats and upgrade to glass. Do they save money? No, not really. I always ask them what they paid for the frame. They always are willing to let me know.

Sometimes frames are so crappy that I decline to work with them.

But don't think there is 'theirs and ours'. It is more cross over than you think.

No, I do not offer package pricing. That is my decision and one I have not regretted so far. I do not get every customer who is looking for framing. I don't expect it either. I know where my strengths are and build on that.

I just sold a 2 piece order, for over $1400
Comment of guy: 'oh, that is much less than I was expecting'

I track how new customer find me. Number 1 is website. Number 2 is referral/word of mouth.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
the key is to find what works for you and keep your mind open to any/all ideas that might help

i can't begin to tell you how many nuggets I have picked up from so many; a lot from Grumblers

One thing I hear less is the notion that framing is somehow unique and therefor 'normal' biz applications are not applicable
 

cvm

PFG, Picture Framing God
Bob Carter said:
Let's assume these behemoths buying so much better, pay half for a lite of glass. If their pricing was 'cost based' entirely, a logical retail price might be half of yours. But, it isn't. According to most framers, it's higher (although I'm skeptical). So, I'm an unbiased non-framer biz-minded from the outside looking in and my assessment would be they are establishing their pricing like many businesses and that is 'market based'. They use their powerful buying advantages to create larger margins, creating more ad revenues, creating larger market shares, creating larger volumes, creating better buying advantages....
The 'behemoths' don't operate in a market vacuum, though, and are subject to the same market pressures as the poor little framer, albeit on a different scale. They compete with mass merchants above them (Target, Wal Mart), smaller merchants below them (national chains, regional chains and local independents) and peer merchants (AC Moore, Jo Annes, Hobby Lobby). Several of their competitors are also bigger and have more financial resources. They also compete with internet retailers (like Amazon) who may have more experience, selection and better pricing.

Additionally, these behemoths' operating expenses may not even allow for trimming margins to further compete on price in a category that accounts for 17% of their store sales.

I'm not saying that they aren't a threat, taking market share, etc. But they have market/pricing/margin pressures, same as the little guy. Maybe even less 'wiggle room'.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
my less than empirical judgement is they don't leave much money on the table. Coming from a corporate-trained background I can promise you they will have folks in each buying department who's sole function is to gather 'shopping', (Market Research) data on Pricing. I can guarantee there are buyers who only concentrate on buying product. While others really only concentrate on the Marketing side-pricing. The end result in setting a retail price may only review cost to ensure adequate margin. Not the other way around

Another of Bob's self-promoting side show

years ago at a PPFA Advisory Conference in Jackson, a representative from Michael's attended. PPFA was trying to get them as a Corporate member. He was genuinely disliked by almost everyone, but I thought I might learn something and encourage them to join (and their dues). Since I was the only friendly person to him, we spent some time together. He was a nice guy, pretty smart and we spoke the same language. We remained friends til he left. I think he drilled for more industry info from me than I from him. But, it was obvious they ran a pretty typical format. I was generally intrigued on how they controlled their domestic supply chain but learning China was jumping into the deep end with only floaties

Bottom line:they didn't much care about you and I as a market threat but still knew a lot about us

'Wiggle room' ? If needed.

I always thought of them as an Aircraft Carrier-slow, deliberate, hard to change courses but did so, just slowly. Carried a phenomenal punch. The indies were like a PT Boat, fast, nimble, one guy at the helm. Could turn on a dime, but hardly ever did. Had torpedos, just didn't use them. would have a squadron of boats, but each skipper sailed his own direction

just a quick observation
 

RoboFramer

PFG, Picture Framing God
Can we have an 'in a nutshell' summary because I'm getting a bit lost - y'all speak funny!

Is it "Can you give a price on the spot, either over the phone or with a real live person with no artwork"?

If so - I can, it's what I do - it might not be SMACK on (but it well could be) - in fact it might be quite a way out if I was given bum info - but because I was a helpful SOB - you're back ............... MUAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA!
 

neilframer

PFG, Picture Framing God
I'm lost too. >>only floaties<< What does that mean?

Doug
"Jumping into the deep end with only floaties" refers to the air inflated arm thingies that little kids put on to try to keep from drowning in the "deep end" of the swimming pool.
They are not very safe and don't work that well.

[video=youtube;49DOKbyf27k]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49DOKbyf27k[/video]
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey Doug-thoseof us out West grow up in pools so those references are pretty pedestrian LOL; but smoother than, say, sailing into uncharted waters

If I had said 'well, that dog won't hunt', you would have known instantly, right?

Man, I feel like i'd been rode hard and put away wet
 
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