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How's business?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by cjmst3k, Jul 19, 2016.

  1. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I asked this a couple of months ago. Generally pretty good is what I heard, with some exceptions.

    Speaking with a vendor they said the last month or so has been the worst he's ever seen, and his company is a big one (not the biggest, but pretty big). This is in line with what I've been seeing.

    How's business by you?
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  2. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Might be living in a bubble, but we're busier than usual.
  3. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Strangely bad here. Volume is down. Our side busness, boat rentals, way, way, down.

    Used car business is really down. Because of the low Canadian dollar, all the best used cars go straight to the USA.
  4. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    OKay here. Can't complain. Not breaking records, but not sitting around either.
  5. StephC

    StephC True Grumbler

    I just started managing my shop 6 months ago, but comparing it to previous years, business is good. It's in line with the ups and downs of the last few years but the lows are not as low and the ups are much more "up."
  6. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Overall, about the same as last year. The summer tends to be slower for us, with business picking back up as vacations wind down, kids back-to-school stuff is purchased and the reality of life comes back on the horizon.

    However, it does seem to be picking up a bit earlier than usual, although it could just be a short term anomaly. I'll tell you in September.
  7. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    For July... pretty darn good. Thankfully.
  8. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hmm... good to know...

    Gotta get on my game!
  9. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Last week was busy, but this week is crazy. We've taken in orders since last Monday, that if we maintained that rate for a month, we'd be well over double our largest ever sales month (if we could produce it all...).

    Most of this is for flooring, but I see flooring and framing in the same category - home decor/furnishing. Once the house is done, it's time for frames, so get ready :D
    shayla and cvm like this.
  10. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    For me, unfortunately, I have the same response as before. We had our worst Christmas ever, down something like 25%, which is what I said before. This year most months have been significantly down. May is kind of like our 2nd Christmas each year. Except this year we were down about 35% in May. Worst May ever. Followed by our worst June ever. The bottom has just dropped out of it, and my new competitor (HL) hasn't even broken ground yet. I expect my sales this year to finish down about 40% compared with only 3 years ago.

    On the other hand, I opened a trophy shop 2.5 years ago with the idea of supplementing my income! :) It is doing better all of the time. Not enough to make up the difference from the frame shop, but my costs are also less and my margins are more than twice as good.
  11. Twin2

    Twin2 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Still busy for me.
  12. mlmintz

    mlmintz CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    We had a great June but July has been flat.
  13. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    July for us ended up being similar to the last 3 July's. Previous months were off. Hoping August is better to make up for it!

    GUMBY GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Overall framing on the weak side but art materials are way up.

    Thank you colored pencils, coloring book craze and copic markers.
    Next time if you need a marker for touch up give me a shout. I will give you best price around on Copic markers.( I can even beat Amazon or dick blick. They are refillable and the tips are replacable.......
    FramerInTraining and cjmst3k like this.
  15. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    and.... no. A solid dud so far. Doing some renovations since not much else to do. I just don't get it.
  16. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We had our best ever July. Actually 51% over our best previous July.
    Finished July with YTD up 14.8% over last year (our best to date)
    August came and I keep checking to see if someone blocked the street.
    Oh, OK, that's an exaggeration. People are coming in, but it's mediocre at best.
    I think we have to accept that this business is a bit of a whim business and we just have to hang on until the next wave of whims hits.
    shayla, cjmst3k and Dave like this.
  17. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Yes, back in "the old days" a graph of business over a year looked like a sine wave, with gradual dips and rises at various times of the years. Nowadays it looks more like a square wave, which means busy/slow/busy/slow...
    :cool: Rick

    P.S. Elections are generally not good for business, because uncertainty makes people nervous about spending money on non-necessities. The primaries are over and the general election season is now in full swing, so...
  18. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    With one exception. I have framed over a thousand Obama newspapers from the first election, the second election and inauguration day. I am still getting the occasional order for Obama frames.

    Rob Markoff and FramerInTraining like this.
  19. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I would agree. But in the last month we have sold the top two most expensive floors in our history. Plus two more in the top 20. So there are some people out there not afraid to spend money.
    Rick Granick and shayla like this.
  20. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Up 12% YTD 2015 over 2016

    However July was 4.33 X sales in 2016 over 2015 and August MTD is so far 24X over 2015. Great summer going forward.
  21. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Dave, is the PP helping, or not a factor yet?
  22. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Not a factor yet, Cliff... we are just getting around to finally launching a frugal framing program.

    July's sales were almost all framing, very little art. August's sales are due mostly to some great sales of art right at the start of the month with just a bit of framing too.
    shayla likes this.
  23. Gilder

    Gilder MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Up 15% YTD 2015 over 2016
    shayla likes this.
  24. drandall

    drandall CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

  25. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Smoken!! - not enough time in a day!
    shayla and David Waldmann like this.
  26. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    There always has been and always will be some folks with the money to spend, and not afraid to spend it.
  27. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Things just keep getting worse here. Down 25% in December, 35% in May, and now 50% so far in August. Still waiting for some of those good vibrations to filter down this way! :)
  28. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Glad to see someone's experiencing a strange phenomenon like me. Hope its just election stuff, but clearly if everyone else is doing well, it must be something else.

    Out of curiosity, do you mind me asking what end of the market you usually service? Low-end, mid-end, high-end? We're in the mid-to-high-end.
  29. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    What marketing strategies have you employed over the past 6 months and did any help at all?

    Another good question.
    shayla likes this.
  30. JWB9999999

    JWB9999999 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    As for it being something else? I don't know. Other frame shops are not growing at our expense; people just are not getting things framed. I think they are simply running out of money. Our economy is the slowest growing in the country, and recovery for us won't arrive until well after it has hit everywhere else. But I am certainly tired of 8 years of recession/hang over.

    The only thing that constantly nigles me at the back of my mind is that I raised all my prices 15-20% two years ago, and it is possible that it has simply taken this long to show up in my sales figures.

    We are the "big frame shop" for 90 miles around. We service the 90% of the middle of the market. There are some limited high-end and low-end products and services that we do not offer. It's a fairly rural area, relatively low in population, and narrowing our focus would simply force customers to travel 90 miles (at least) to get things done, as there is no one around with more capabilities than what we have.

    Nothing, honestly. Been thinking about that for a lot longer, as has everyone here, I'm sure. How do you reach customers when they listen to Pandora instead of one of the 20 radio stations near you, and you don't know which channel out of 500 they watch on TV (when they aren't streaming content directly), and newspaper subscriptions are falling as fast as leaves in the Fall? The major change at the moment is that I am finally dumping the majority of my phone book related advertising; I will still pay for some online phone book stuff like YP, but not the rest as it is no longer effective. Yes, yes, I know most got rid of those years ago, but again, we are a rural area and a bit behind the times. ;) I am considering finally paying for some FB ads, and I do need to get a webpage up (right now I have FB only). Postcards in the mail still seem relatively expensive for the expected return. And "sometime soon" a HL is going to open here, though at this point that won't happen until next year.
  31. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Website is my number one bringer in of new customers. In this day and age, you cannot NOT have a website. Even if just simple, like mine is. This is how people looking for framing will find you. In fact, when I look for something I need, I do internet search first and most companies without a website (the ones just with online listing through a yellow pages and such) I will not even consider. People want easy. People want to find information without having to call you first. So work on that website!
    Janis, FramerInTraining and Gilder like this.
  32. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I've heard from several grumblers with familiar faces that they are having slow times recently too, in some cases severe. So, I'll assume there are a number more out here that are slow, and just not wanting to discuss it publicly. What to attribute it to is not clear. I'm still hoping its just election jitters this year more than most times.

    To those who are busy, keep it up! Meanwhile, my shop has new paint on the walls, new ceilings and fixtures and a new window front display. So, if you're not busy framin', get busy fixin'!
    David Waldmann, Janis, cvm and 2 others like this.
  33. Twin2

    Twin2 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm up 48% YTD for 2016 compared to 2015. However, that is somewhat skewed as I wasn't framing a whole lot during the first quarter of 2015 due to health issues. That being said, the rest of 2015 was busy and I ended up with my best sales year ever. Comparing my YTD to 2014, when I was healthy and framing, I am still up about 25% this year compared to 2014.

    Business has slowed down a bit the last couple weeks, but I still have some framing jobs lined up. I don't mind so much as I am finally getting caught up (almost) and I am improving my turnaround time. I hate to say, but sometimes it was taking me up to 2 months getting frames back to my customers. I've had to be careful with my health and not overwork myself, though.

    I would say my business is mostly mid to high-end. I do a lot of memorabilia shadow boxes (military, heirloom items, sports, etc.) I agree with Ylva that a website is a must these days. Mine isn't fancy, but I get a number of new customers from people finding my website. I have a Facebook page, which helps as well, although I've never paid for FB ads. I also have a number of long-time customers that keep coming back :)
  34. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    what about direct marketing to existing customers. If you have time up your sleeve, trying phoning some customers and ask them a quick survey in return for a $10 or 10% store credit next time they come in.
    Questions should be fairly generic.
    i.e how would you rate the your consult experience?
    how satisfied were you with the quality of workmanship?
    how satisfied were you with the turn around time?
    how satisfied were you with the price?

    just half a dozen questions which should not take longer then minute or 2.

    You might pick up an area that may need improving, or at the very least you get your customers thinking about framing and the experience again.

    If you have emails you could also do an email survey.

    These don't cost anything and if you have time at least it is something productive.

    We like to run a promotion where we give away 2 nights at a resort. For every $100 spent they get a ticket in the draw. This also helps to up sell if there sitting just under the $100 mark. By offering a accommodation we know our cost for advertising is only a few hundred dollars. Better then a discount.
    you can also do this in conjunction with another business in town. i.e a restaurant
    Doing it together means you both advertise. I,e your offer a chance to win dinner for 2 at restaurant, while the restaurant offers the chance to win a framed piece or voucher etc. It means you both get to reach other customers outside your existing client tell.
    You could approach a different business every couple of months

    Just something to think about.
    I hope things improve for you soon.
  35. DanGray

    DanGray MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Our July was one of our best months we have had. We were up almost 30%.

    August is looking good so far.

    Our September will be bad, going in Sept 1 for hip replacement. :(
  36. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    A few things to do if you're a bit slower than usual:

    Contact your top 50 customers, personal email, phone call, postcard. Just asking how they are, haven't seen them in a while etc etc. I don't offer coupons or discounts, but people do respond to emails and a friendly personal chat and often come in. Maybe not right away, but a few weeks later.

    Post more samples on your Facebook business page.
    Build more samples from leftover materials. I have been framing a lot of vintage postcards of Gloucester and they do sell. If not now, then certainly around Christmas. Great small things to frame around here are shells. I make 4x4 inch frames from leftover moulding, leftover matboards and MG. Depending on how nice they come out, I price them between 25 and $45
    Other good things to sell and use up moulding: brooches. Looks very classy and easy sells around Xmas. Keeps one busy during slower times and have nice inventory to sell at busier times.

    I rearranged all my matboard stock, so can easily find what I need and threw out badly damaged ones. Everything to make life easier for the busy months to come.

    And if you're truly bored, we all have projects for our own homes, right? I can't be the only one? :)
  37. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We just got really busy in the last 18 hours, so I'm glad there's people still out there and most of them ok paying multiple-hundreds per piece. There does seem to be something funky going on in the air recently, and I suppose some shops don't get affected and others might.

    In the lull we got a good amount of renovating and painting done as well as a formalized bin just for shorts by the saw which will make life so much easier with shorts. So, we're re-organized to help us when it gets busy, and looking quite pretty!
  38. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I framer has an interesting approach in calling clients for surveys. My first thought is not sure how 'objective' a personal call might be; hard to get critical review face to face. Perhaps another approach might b pre-paid bag stuffer with a a few questions. Have a 'bounce back' offer like suggested in phone call for participating. Client responses given anoymously might yield better results

    we used to get 'secret shoppers' to visit that had specific criteria, yielded great results. It might be as simple as hiring a couple of college kids or neighbors; if you are solo shop have spouse 'hire' some unknown 'friends'

    great to get some independent critical review

    never paid much, but worth it

    just a thought
  39. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    You could do an online survey. Over the phone, ha, good luck reaching anyone, hoping they're home and answering their phones.

    As a consumer, I would find it off putting if a store would call me with a survey. I am more inclined to take a survey online
  40. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The advantage of a phone call is that, whether or not you get (and then can or do use) reliable answers, you are connecting and they are going to be thinking about you. An email may just get deleted without opening, but how many people are going to reject a call? Some, sure, but I think it's much more likely to be answered from a recognized caller.

    BTW, I would encourage everyone to note what Caller ID info is on your account. We get lots of calls from our customers that have odd or apparently non-related names on the CID. Could be the phone used to be the home phone under the wife's maiden name, an original business name that has since been changed, or who knows what. We answer the phone regardless, but a consumer is much more likely to answer a call from a recognized CID.
    Joe B likes this.
  41. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I do bi-monthly information emails to my customers, as an example: when a new impressive moulding comes out I make up a sample for the wall and take a picture and send an email with the picture - I usually offer the sample for sale too :) and get a lot of takers. But to make my point, I do follow up with phone calls to customers that I know will have an interest in that style of moulding. Many times these customers don't see these emails and when I call them they ask me to resend it. I have gotten a lot of extra business because of those phone calls. I don't believe that emails by themselves are as productive as we are led to believe without the follow-ups. Don't get me wrong, I believe emails are important as the first point of contact but the follow-up is just as important if not more so.

    Also, this is a good way to fill you slow time - customers do like to hear from us even if it is just a friendly phone call saying "Hi, how are you and your family" I don't know any of my good customers that doesn't like to talk about their family...Just saying...Joe B
  42. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Actually, it's been quite lively here as far as framing goes. Got as much as I can cope with
    and I don't want more than that.

    Just had an order for 14 middling-sized hand-finished frames by txt.
    Expecting another guy imminently to pick up and drop some more paintings off.
    And I got another job in earlier - touristy canvas. A bit wonky, but nothing I can't handle.
    Keep 'em coming says I. :D
    neilframer likes this.
  43. skye

    skye MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I am getting inundated with the weirdest combinations of stuff. 3 broken glass repairs, a nine piece order all custom, frame repairs, needy artists who 'want it now' and a phone order for some cut glass. O yeah, and this one customer I have who is always bringing me in the strangest stuff to frame for her hotel. Biz is good, if not a little weird. :confused::cool::D:eek:
    neilframer likes this.
  44. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I got a weird one in the works. :confused:

    It's an oil painting of a Vulcan bomber on the runway, which is not weird at all.

    The weird bit is the customer doesn't want any gold/silver in the frame. Or any brown wood either.

    Doesn't leave a lot of scope. :rolleyes:

    The customer is the Mrs. of a local artist. They work as a team. I've been framing stuff for them for years.

    She has in mind a sort of light paint finish which she calls 'stone'. I can do them, but that term covers a wide
    spectrum and what's in my mind isn't necessarily what's in hers. As well as this, these finishes work great on
    some moulding profiles and a bit silly on others. Unfortunately, she insists on sticking to the old favorite scoop.
    She even pulled a chevron off the wall and asked if I could do something like that. I can, but it was a very delicate
    pink and blue sponged effect. Great for flowery, feminine subjects but a Vulcan bomber?

    Anyway, I said I would have a play around and see what I can concoct. o_O
  45. skye

    skye MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    update on 'needy artist'- I chopped her 4 legs- she says she will assemble in her vises and I can V nail it after it dries... she showed up this morning with 4 unassembled legs... I just smiled and said I would take care of it. (ASAP as my 3rd grandchild is being born today and as soon as I get the call it's close I am out of here)
  46. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I had a chap in the other day wanting moulding. Do I sell moulding?
    I said in principle yes, but in practice no.
    I've no objection to people wanting to DIY, but the problem is my stock is not arranged
    so they can browse though it easily so I would have to ransack though the entire stock
    which could take all day (week?). If they know exactly what they want that's one thing,
    but I have no time for grazers. And then there is the matter of selling things retail isn't
    the same as 'trade'. people who buy material retail expect it all to be perfect. Buying
    in the trade you expect a bit of corkage. A ding here and there. Twisty bit. I don't want
    people bringing a little bit back with a minor flaw and wanting a full refund.
    In the normal course of events I have all the stuff that
    I use often handy and other stuff tucked away. So I said an emphatic NO.
    I'll do all of the job or not at all.
  47. Dirk

    Dirk CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    An interesting take on welcoming a customer to the shop.
    We've not had many four-legged customers, either, although I think Shayla has framed images created by non-humans.
    prospero and skye like this.
  48. skye

    skye MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    We will sell full sticks with the caveat that (especially if I have to order it in specially) they get the whole stick regardless of how much length they need, and it is what it is. There is not much demand. :)
  49. drandall

    drandall CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Believe me I don't want to say this but here goes anyway. I read not too many days ago one who studies these things an, "expert" make the call that we are beginning another recession. He also claims it will be worse than the last. I don't know how it can be a recession and be worse but nobody wants to say depression. I hope he is completely wrong but we are due for another downturn cycle.
  50. skye

    skye MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Yeah, I hope he's completely wrong, too. Time to take money out of the bank & hide it under the mattress. That being said, we are doing OK business wise. It does seem slowish, but then I get a flurry...
    cjmst3k likes this.
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