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For you home based framers that moved to a commercial space.

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by KevinAnnala01, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. KevinAnnala01

    KevinAnnala01 True Grumbler

    Hi grumblers.

    I'm currently working in a double car garage, and want to get into a retail space asap. Actually, I have a realtor out looking at this time. I'm a bit freaked out with the move, as I'm hoping it results in a very quick increase in business. I guess I'm looking for you to share your experience with moving from being home based, to a commercial space.

    Looking at the search data, I do have people looking for, and requesting information as to my hours (currently by appointment), and my location. I suspect that being home based is costing me business, however, to move to a space I need to essentially 2.5x my sales almost immediately to support the change.

    When you made the jump, did you see sales increase? Any things else you can share about making the move would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Gilder

    Gilder MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    If I had a double car garage and some business I would stay there as long as possible. And longer.
    About the space: I would be looking for it myself, no matter how long it takes. Location and right space
    is essential. Don't rush Kevin, if you can of course, because I don't think you can increase your sales
    that much right away. Your goal right now is finding right place to rent. If it's good, you good. If not,
    you're going to have really hard time.
    shayla likes this.
  3. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm with Gilder on this one.

    One option you might consider is to pursue business that doesn't care if you're home based, such as meeting at the clients' site - decorators, interior designers, commercial, etc.

    BTW, IMO you already have a leg up on many home based framers in that you have a ground level (possibly detached?) space in which to meet. As a "sometimes sales rep" I've been amazed at some of the locations our customers work in as it's very invasive to their private space. Our town allows a small sign for "home businesses" in residential zoned areas. If your locale allowed that, and you have a stand-alone building that is paid for*, I would be hard pressed to up the ante. I know someone in a totally different business who wants to expand, but they are currently working out of their (paid for) garage, and the amount of business that needs to be generated to just break even by moving to a pay-for site is staggering.

    *By which I mean, if you take your business elsewhere, you will not "save" any money by not using the space for the business. You are paying for it, or already paid it off, personally, and that will not change if the business starts paying rent elsewhere.

    BTW, welcome to The Grumble. I wish you the best.
    shayla and Rick Granick like this.
  4. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I would stay home based for a bit longer until your current sales warrant a retail space, not vice versa.

    Start by keeping some regular hours, not just by appointment only.
    Maybe update your current space a little to make it more customer friendly.
    If you don't have a website, create one now
  5. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I have a tiny space, 200 sq feet, in an Artist Studios building and its working out pretty well.
    No walk by traffic, but can meet by appointment, can receive deliveries and I keep it very tidy.
    Customers can sense that overhead is low and it reflects on their perception of pricing.
    Many comment that the location is 'cool'.

    If you do go more retail, signage is crucial!!!!
  6. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I am home based and am extremely busy. I'm in a stand alone 24 X 24 garage behind a privacy fence and meet with customers by appointment only. I would never go to retail space because I would have to triple what I'm doing here to come close to what I am doing here. I have 3 Michaels, 1 Hobby Lobby, & 2 JoAnnes within a 5 mile radius and I do not consider them as competition. Several of my framer friends have gone from store fronts to home based and are glad they have.

    If you are doing business being home based stay there if you can and if you have significant space. Go out and promote your business. Introduce yourself to resturants, hotels, hospitals, and so forth and give out your card to the buyers explaining what you are doing. All three of those industries are always changing out old art. Hand out your card to everybody you meet, you will be surprised by the return. I have even had a couple people at the garage that changes my car oil come to my shop for framing.

    I promote my appointment only as a convenience to the customer, which it is. My customers don't have to wait around while another customer is getting waited on, my customer gets one-on-one attention, there are no disturbances, and I will be there and not out to lunch or picking up supplies when my customers show up. My customers love the appointment only and I'm sure that me being home based is not costing me any business. Promote being home based as being home based, don't be embarrassed about it. Make sure you give you customers their money worth with your knowledge, designs, quality of your work, and your person to person attention.

    Above all, don't give away your work. If you undercharge you customers will think that you are cutting corners and are not doing quality work. No matter what you decide, lots of luck. Joe B
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  7. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter PFG, Picture Framing God

    Another opinion...

    determine your goals and see if your skill sets can attain that goal. The biggest mistake, IMO, is not being honest in that inventory. There are many self-employed framers that are perfectly content at your current level

    However, if you expect/need more consider the option from a purely biz point of view. Pretend it's a muffler shop, florist, shoe repair

    If you go 'storefront' you might be wise to create a list of 'new requirements' a store need. I mean signage, displays, employees, etc. A keen sense of business management is essential. You might privately seek some guidance from many grumblers. Count on a pretty sharing group

    Lastly, my personal opinion:It concerns me that you seek opinion on taking a step. I might suggest you build a better plan before engaging a RE Agent. First, I would do a personal inventory on your abilities. I used to teach a class on determining strengths/weaknesses on you, your competition, your market

    I can't tell you how many legal pads I have gone through starting several businesses. But, lets say case lots comes to mind LOL. You would be wise to seek a mentor outside the framing biz, too
  8. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    This is just an idea. Have you looked into setting up a retail space (basically counter and samples) inside another existing business. You could still do the chopping, joining, mat and glass cutting at home while taking orders and fitting at the retail space. This could be considerably less costly depending on the arrangement you can set up. You might be able to work with a gallery who does not currently offer framing or a sports memorabilia shop or any number of other compatible businesses.

  9. KevinAnnala01

    KevinAnnala01 True Grumbler

    "Lastly, my personal opinion:It concerns me that you seek opinion on taking a step. I might suggest you build a better plan before engaging a RE Agent. First, I would do a personal inventory on your abilities"

    Thanks for the concern. I've run the numbers, know how much I'll need to generate in additional sales per month, margins required, etc. Looking for people to share experiences with making the jump, as with anything, I don't know what I don't know and might get some nuggets.

    I agree with you regarding needing a mentor... working on that.

    Thanks all, much appreciate the replies and would love to hear more.
    shayla likes this.
  10. DVieau2

    DVieau2 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Welcome to the Grumble.
    Your smart for asking questions.

    Use care with Property Managers and Agents.
    Many use the warm body with a pulse as a standard to qualify.

    Trust your instincts when it come to a location. Go around by yourself to interview other stores in the same building or area to get a feel for the landscape.

    Be very wary of centers with lots of vacant space or an anchor tenant about to close.
    Look to the city for future road closings.

    The trend for framers is to jump in the opposite direction your headed. I spent 30+ years with a retail location and now work from my home.

    What kind of location do you visualize for your business?

  11. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter PFG, Picture Framing God

    one more thing, many framers look at rent/location as a way to 'save' money by leasing a 'cheaper' place. Many will disagree, but in Biz there is a reason for 'location, location, location' advice. Not suggesting getting 'prime location' but taking a 'lesser space' to say a small amount of rent is short sighted. I'm a big fan of getting close to places frequented by a 'target' customer. For example, a Starbucks can easily generate a lot of traffic and perhaps someone willing to pay $5-6 for coffee may not as price sensitive LOL

    may I 'volunteer' Doug? PM him to see if he might help. He has seen a lot, done a lot. He's a bright guy with a lot of experience especially at your level. I know him and he is a sharing guy
  12. samcrimm

    samcrimm CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Location Location Location, I am moving into a Building that has women bouquets in it. It got to be a hot spot! I am hoping to capitalize on the location. Rent is a little high but the location is a great one.
  13. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    2.5 times increase sounds like a lot, to me. Is there a way you can build your business more before you consider a move? As a very rough rule of thumb, I figure that, based on general ratios that I have heard, for a retail location to be successful, you need more than $100,000 in annual sales, and at that you would probably be paying yourself minimum wage, if that. And in some locations nearer $150,000 is a minimum.

    I don't know about your background in framing. Have you gone to the WCAF in January? There are lots of classes, and it offers a great chance to talk face to face with lots of other framers. Get lots of great ideas, and also meet alternative suppliers. If you can't afford to go to this trade show, you probably can't afford to consider having a store front.

    I am also home based. Pluses and Minuses. I do quite a bit of corporate, so that is a plus. For me another plus because I have lots of doctor appointments for family members I need to go to. I don't have to try to get store coverage when I'm gone. Working by appointment helps overcome this. Yes, one of the minus's is I don't get any walk-in traffic.
    Joe B likes this.
  14. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I will be the third person to say it: location, location, location. The right location will make it easy, and the wrong one will bankrupt you, regardless of anything else. But no one here can tell you what that magic location is, you will have to find it yourself using your local knowledge of demographics, shopping patterns, traffic, target customer base, etc.

    I also agree that 2.5x is a lot. That doesn't mean you can't do it. How long are you willing to wait to make it to that number? If you REQUIRE it in your business plan to happen in 6 months, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you can afford to move to a new location and can take 3 years to get to that number, then you are very likely to succeed.

    And keep your estimates on sales conservative. Very conservative.

    I started a new retail business 3 years ago (non-framing), in a retail location, shared with my framing business. I developed a range of sales estimates in my business plan, after being in this area for 8 years and learning a lot about my potential customers. But it took me 3 YEARS to hit my absolute LOWEST sales estimate that I predicted I would get in year one. Just got there this last December, and I forecast better things in the coming years. But it has been a much harder path than I'd anticipated. So far, my biggest challenge is getting the word out that this new business exists. My sales volumn could easily be triple what it is (hence my original estimates), but people don't know the business is there to serve them. It's been a real challenge in today's fragmented media market.
  15. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hey Grey always enjoy your insight. Do we have any industry numbers on average volumes? $100K Revenue seems really low to make a biz a biz. Seems like years ago, ind average was about $160K? Perhaps people can be viable at that level, but 'risk/rewards' seems awfully poor.

    Any numbers?

    I love that 'fragmented media market' phrase. It would be interesting to see if anyone has any Market Share size for BB's, indie retailers, ma and pa's, internet? Been too long since I had access LOL

    Any guesses?
  16. KevinAnnala01

    KevinAnnala01 True Grumbler

    hah... "And keep your estimates on sales conservative. Very conservative."

    I can assure you I've been slapped quite hard by that reality a few times lol I'm sure we all have at some point.

    Fantastic group here. Appreciate the feedback so far.
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