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Moulding Quality Hurting Business?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by bruce papier, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. bruce papier

    bruce papier MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    We have been having a lot of problems (more than usual even) with moulding not matching corner samples and frames not matching frames bought just a short time ago. We're afraid this is discouraging to customers and is making them less apt to buy custom picture framing from us. Are you having the same problem? Do you think you're losing business as a result? Do you think the industry as a whole is in trouble because of this?
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  2. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I sometimes think that this sort of thing is a result of the industry as a whole being in trouble rather than a cause. When companies are trying to maintain margins but they can't expand their customer base or increase prices they try to cut costs. A simple way to do that is to switch suppliers and manufacturers. This causes inconsistency, which causes frustration for the end customer, which causes them to buy less and causes us to buy less and causes the suppliers to look for another manufacturer, which causes more inconsistency, which causes frustration. So I guess it could be a cause or a result depending on where you jump onto the spiral.

  3. i-FRAMER

    i-FRAMER MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    same happening in Australia
  4. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    One major factor is in the high end Italian mouldings the vendors to the industry are being forced to find new factory space. To overcome many problems with the everyday black, white, and other less expensive mouldings the factories who have made the high end stuff in the past are having their capacity booked with huge amounts of footage of the less highly unique items.

    So the Italian factories are taking orders of 50,000' - 100,000' per month of several dozen different items rather than the small runs of 3,000' every 6 or 9 months per profile of the super high end stuff. Ordering chops or length of the very unique items then become difficult due to factory changes and not cheapening of the unique items. The companies supplying much of the unique items work as fast as they can to get the finish back to the corner samples that framers have in their stores since it would bury them financially to replace all of these corner samples. Since I'm buying large bathes of box mouldings the non-matching inventory is then sold to people who stock large quantities of mouldings since I can hand pick the items based on the actual inventory finish that needs to be liquidated.

    The companies aren't being cheap but rather competing for production space and when it changes the initial batch often times does not hit the mark on a corner sample match in the retail stores. The whole ordeal is very expensive for the manufacturer/importer of the mouldings when you look at the initial expenses of having to find new factories and then go through framers rejecting mouldings and finally having to sell off non-matching items at steep discounts. I buy a bunch of these items from manufacturers/importers who bring them in as factory liquidations from places like Italy since it may take a couple runs to get the finish right. Most of the people I buy it from never offer it in their regular line but only as over runs and/or liquidations.
  5. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I so rarely have to match a frame to something existing. I make sure a customer is always aware that finishes will vary. There are a lot of samples that will no longer match. If it is truly absurd, I will pull sample off wall and notify the customer. Sometimes it is a slight difference, a customer wouldn't even notice, and sometimes it is a better match than my sample.

    I have some samples where I know the finish will not match. I know most framers would pull it off wall. I look at it on case by case basis. Some are easy to refinish, some I will pull.

    Has it hurt business? I don't know, I don't think so. Too many other factors hurt business a lot more.
    Chris Chewning likes this.
  6. bruce papier

    bruce papier MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Lots of good points everyone.

    Here's my worry- I can live with a customer rejecting a frame for not matching every so often. It costs me money and is very embarrassing (and has been happening with increasing frequency), but I can usually make them happy eventually. My real worry is the whole industry is built on the idea the customer is willing to pay more because they are getting exactly what they want down to the smallest detail. What we are forced to give them is the closest thing to what they ordered that we can get them at the time. The frame will be largely like the sample they looked at. The matting will be pretty much like the sample. The price will be exactly what we said. How many people aren't complaining but are leaving our shops thinking "Well, that didn't turn out nearly like I thought it would and cost a small fortune. Maybe I'm better off buying something pre-framed"?
  7. Al B

    Al B CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    The question is "Is Moulding Quality Hurting Business?" - simple answer - it should be because a lot of moulding being made now is junk. I am comparing it to domestic moulding being made years ago like PB&H, American, and Artcraft to name a few. They were easy to cut and easy to join. There are a few now like Southwinds, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of people cannot compare the new moldings to the quality of the older moldings so they don't know that there's a difference. We spend more time working on the corners and making adjustments to the frames because we know the quality issues.
    shayla likes this.
  8. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    We weren't talking about the quality, right, just the mismatched finishes.

    Warped moulding, chipped, having to send back is costing a lot more money than color not matching. Most customer wouldn't even know, unless the color is really very very different. However, when you go out of your way to explain that a lot of the finishes are custom, hand applies, whatever you want to call it, and might vary from the sample, a customer will understand. Especially if you tell them that you will personally check when it comes in and if it is not to your liking, you will send it back or ask them to come in to approve. It might take longer, so if they cannot wait, why, why not look at some of the sticks I do have in stock.

    It is all about how you sell. You can tell how many people are one time customers and the ones who come back. There will always be one time customers, simply because they haven't anything else to frame. If you have a good amount of returning customers, you are doing something right.
    Gilder likes this.
  9. bruce papier

    bruce papier MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    What set me off this time was I have a customer who would be perfectly happy to spend around $1500 with me if only I could produce a frame that looks like the samples on the wall. So far, it's been tricky to do so and costs are adding up.

    The larger, ongoing problem I have is mismatched mouldings on long term projects and for long time customers. I've had at least a few cases in the past couple of years where customers had a series of artwork they had done the same way over a number of years. When the frames suddenly don't match at all, I have had to replace all the frames we had done in the past (at my cost) so everything matches.

    Overall quality is, of course, the biggest issue and I'm not happy there either.

    GUMBY GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    I am sure there are others after 40 years in business. We used a Lot of Ivy industries moulding. I have repeat customers who loved it and wanted matching and there are no matchs for that out there.
  11. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I don't expect something to match forever. If a customer wants to match things in the future, he or she should buy enough in advance.
    When your samples get older, there will be variation in color right there.

    What truly is more difficult is bad quality and what really hurts business is the numerous out of stocks
  12. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Yes, I've tossed out entire lines due to powder post beetles, moulding made up of random 'blocks" of mismatched wood etc.
  13. ArtMechanics

    ArtMechanics True Grumbler

    Hi I just wasted to share a recent experience. I had a 75 PC order of small frames using a white cap from LJ. I am good about checking run numbers and matching them before cut and join since it often changes color and profile. To my surprise while joining I had put together a 'grey' and a white moulding. I stopped production and checked the frames for color variations. Roughly one third of the box was a grey-ish white, the rest bright white. All the same run number, unopened box. Since this project was to be installed as one large grid with the frames close together they really needed to match. It was like pulling teeth but LJ replaced the moulding. The new box had the same issue.I lost a lot of time on the project which was a bummer.
    The photo doesn't do it justice. I keep this frame around as a reminder. I show it to my customers sometimes. And I let them know that I think it's unacceptable.

    The first line of defense is the sales counter. Talk to the customers about the manufacturing process. It can help get them on your side of there's a problem with the manufacturer.

    Does it hurt business. Yes. It's a waste of time and money to put out junk products, take them all the way to the end of the line, then have them rejected. Consistency is like a well oiled machine..
    Kristin and shayla like this.
  14. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree totally with Ylva. It is completely unrealistic for you as a retailer to be held responsible for changes in the industry outside your control. If you want to rder a chair in the same style as furniture you bought years ago, and the fabric they make the chairs out of now has changed, do you think the furniture store would replace all your old furniture with new merchandise? No way. You have to be able to diplomatically explain to the customer that materials and processes change over time, as does availability of styles. It's beyond your control.
    o_O Rick
  15. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Now THAT is Customer Service. Far beyond the call of duty. But, as a business owner it's your right to decide where "the line" is.
  16. Andrew Lenz Jr.

    Andrew Lenz Jr. MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    We've dropped lines that moulding changed too much year to year or batch to batch. Victor was one, way back.

    By far, our bigger problem these days is specks, warping, irregular sheen, finger joins showing, and other moulding quality issues. I'd say that's the #1 problem for our framing business . . . and I'm not talking garbage moulding lines, I'm talking names like Roma, Larson Juhl, etc. Granted, they say that they are working on improving—or at least, Larson says they are.

    Kristin and shayla like this.
  17. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    If you do this for one customer, do you do this for every customer?

    So, pulled out the hat scenario: customer has framed 50 pieces. Wants two more in same moulding and you can't get it to match perfectly. You pay for 52 new frames?

    I am all for great customer service, but in the end, I have to earn a living.
    Rick Granick likes this.
  18. bruce papier

    bruce papier MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    We had one customer we replaced (I think) 12 or 13 pieces. Another few in the 3-6 range. We have a customer (a large business) who has framed a photo of every board of directors since 1947 in the same frame. If that one changes past their tolerance, I don't know what we'll do.
  19. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Exactly. Do you know any other business that would retroactively replace everything the customer previously purchased and was happy with, because of some industry change beyond the business's control? I don't.
    Sometimes I think framers have a guilt complex about what they (have to) charge for framing in order to remain in business and make a living. This is both self-imposed and customer-imposed (which reinforces the self-imposed part). This leads to sometimes-ridiculous behavior in an attempt to avoid criticism. Customers have to have realistic expectations. If they don't, it's not our fault. I would love to know what Jay Goltz would have to say about this issue.
    :cool: Rick
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