A non-critical Michael’s Post

Bill Henry-

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We have been bashing Michael’s in recent times to the point of exhaustion, but I thought I’d share this with you without comment.

A repeat customer came in and mentioned somewhat sheepishly that she had been to Michael's, but they had closed their Christmas orders a few days ago. She had a printed work order and wished to duplicate the frame and mat that she had tried to get.

Michael’s quoted her a price for a Nielsen #99 frame - (22” x 16”) and single Alphamat with backing (no glass!) at $69.55 (presumably after the 50% off discount).

I was able to upsell her slightly, but when I compared her original Michael's order to what I would have charged for the same configuration, my total came to $135.10.

The customer also said that the salesperson at Michael’s claimed that they could only provide her with a 2” mat – no more, no less.
 

Jerry Ervin

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Originally posted by Bill Henry:
...they could only provide her with a 2” mat – no more, no less.
That is pretty bizarre.
shrug.gif
 

Paul N

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Originally posted by Bill Henry:
...they could only provide her with a 2” mat – no more, no less.


That's why we are in custom framing and Michaels does mass-framing.

And although we are getting very busy with orders and everybody wants theirs for Christmas, we still accept orders even if that means we have to work tons of overtime hours.
 

gemsmom

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Bill, I checked Michael's prices on behalf of a framing friend a few weeks ago. Did you miss the "I visited a BB today" thread? Their price was 1/2 my friends price.

I could get any width mat I wanted, also.
 

Val

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Michael's can give you any width mat you want, in fact, their computer "defaults" to a 4" mat margin and it has to changed on purpose. Also, a memo just came out to all Michael's frame shops that Christmas orders will be taken and honored up to December 10.
I'm not coming to Michael's defense. I have been a framing manager there the past 14 months, since the small shop I worked in closed to relocate and never did.I just handed in my letter of resignation 3 days ago. I'm a framer,have been for 20+ years, not a production-line worker, and I've had it. I promise, I will never do that again, I did not know what I was getting myself in for.I've been miserable and I feel like I've been sleeping with the enemy, but you have to know your enemy to compete with them, and boy, do I know them now, and I don't care if they monitor this site or not. I'm going back to CUSTOM FRAMING,just bought an existing shop as of January 1st., Happy to discover The Grumble, I feel like I've come back home. There. I'm out of the closet. Still love me?
icon45.gif
 

Jacob

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I must be doing something wrong. I too have compared prices to Michael's. I've had customers come to me and ask if I could beat their price quote, and I've gone directly to Michael's for quotes. I use a pretty average scale for pricing and Michael's regular prices were more than twice mine on the items I was quoted. For what it's worth when the customers show me the Michael's quote and ask if I can beat it, I tell them I do not get into haggling wars over framing, but I will give them an honest quote and years of experience. Of course they don't care, they just want to save $3 on framing their precious Aunt Gertrude's only existing photograph. However my prices always do beat their quote, so they're happy.

You know, that stuff drives me crazy. Price shopping on framing. It's pure ignorance. Unless they are only framing yet another Klimt or Monet poster, they should be shopping who is going to best handle their art or memorabilia, not who will charge 50cents less. I try to educate customers as to what proper care means because an educated client is your best friend. 9 times out of 10 you are met with indifference, but there is the 1 out of 10...

If I was really snotty I'd ask them if they shop price for a doctor or a vet. But, I am in business to make money, so pissing off the customer is generally not a good idea. I suppose it's all in what they value. It just boggles the mind, that someone doesn't mind spending $40-$50 at a pub, or $100 at a restaurant, yet they will spend $10 in gas and hours of their time to get a framer to lower their price by $5. Grrrr.
 

Puppyraiser

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This, however, would be the nature of customers. I breakfast with two other framers in town every week. At the table there is usually at least one discussion of "Did the guy with the cat poster come to you?" Sometimes I get the job, sometimes Liz does, sometimes Peggy does, and mostly none of us do, which probably means Michael's does. Que sera', sera'. I just hate it that they waste my time... Maybe I should just say, "Look. If you only care about price, let's not waste time. I think it will cost about $300 to frame your cat poster. Shall we proceed?"
 

Bob Doyle

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These threads seem to always head down the same path! Can't we see what they are doing as business and respond in that manner?

Bill thanks for starting this thread as a non-critical thread. In that note how do we respond to Michael's, and other BB framing businesses? I mean other than slamming and nailing our doors shut, or getting all snooty and saying "we have experience, they don't"? I know framers who started there and broke out on their own. I also know of "custom frame shops" that farm out all their mat cutting and frame joining. How custom is that? Yet it works for them.

I have no answers, but I am curious as to how I should respond to the influx of a competitor into my territory. Especially if they sell other products to help meet their overhead. So I keep reading these threads looking for nuggets of info that I can use.

Rambling but curious. What do small time restaurants do when McD's moves into town? Michaels is our McD's aren't they?
 

Jerry Ervin

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Originally posted by Bob Doyle:
What do small time restaurants do when McD's moves into town? Michaels is our McD's aren't they?
McD's never hurts small or upscale restaurants. Consumers will do business with both depending on the day or circumstances. Average people know the difference between fast food and quality food. They don't however understand the difference between cheap framing and quality framing.

There has been lots of talk about educating the public. It is the only way our industry as it is now will survive. I fear that will never happen.

I like price shoppers. I will win them over every time. God bless them and I hope they keep coming.

It is truly sad that the average consumer does not understand the difference between a dollar store frame and a hand finished closed corner.

They do understand the difference between a Big Mac and a Fillet Mignon.
 

Bob Carter

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Hi Jacob-May I offer a suggestion to your "price matching" problem?

Let's assume that your prices actually are about half of those at Michael's. In that case I would make th elargest sign I could display emblazoned with "We will beat any Michael's price by 20%"

A couple of things will absolutely happen:

First, you will have reversed the negative price impression that many of us have vis a vis Michael's

Second, for that item that they charge $200 for (and by your statement, you charge $100), you may now charge them $160 and they are perfectly happy

But, instead of getting defensive (and it shows) just say "Ma'am, I'll probably take a beating on this deal, but your business is important to me" and pocket that extra $60.

And, be sure to put an ad in the paper for another framer, because you will need a lot more help. That lady will tell her friends what a great deal she got and if your skill and design talent is as good as we all keep telling ourselves, you might install a turnstile

And, all because you turned the tables

In fact, I might try it myself in January

Thank for the inspiration
 

HB

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Only a factory can make money & charge 50% less than Michaels!
 

Mecianne

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Nope, my prices beat Michaels prices 99.9% of the time. And trust me, I am constantly comparing prices & monitoring my COGS.
 

TheDoctah

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You know, that stuff drives me crazy. Price shopping on framing. It's pure ignorance. Unless they are only framing yet another Klimt or Monet poster, they should be shopping who is going to best handle their art or memorabilia, not who will charge 50cents less.

When I read something like, I begin to wonder if I'm on another planet and someone forgot to tell me.

It's hardly ignorant to compare prices. Unless you're really loaded and it just doesn't matter how much someone is charging, it's a sensible activity. It's a data point, and an important one at that.

Furthermore, you present a false dichotomy: customers either care about the quality of the framing or they care about the price of the framing. That's simply not so. Price is only part of the equation. But it IS part of the equation, and no amount of complaining about it or wishing it wasn't so is going to change that.

And the fact of the matter is we aren't talking about "50 cents" difference, either. If we were, there'd be no motivation for consumers to price-shop because it wouldn't be worth the time and effort. $20 here and $50 there and pretty soon we're talking about real money.
 

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

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Bob,

Micheals will probably get a bigger sign, give bigger discount, just to enter a pricing war.


Second thought. I am surprised the amount of people who will travle half way across town to save a dollar on either petrol or a carton of beer, butr will not walk around the corner to save the same on a framing job, or a packet of picture hooks.
 

HB

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TheDoctah

Good points - everything is important - some customers have different priorities - we should operate our businesses with certain priorities too - and market to the customers whose priorities match ours!

Mecianne

You say you are beating Michaels pricing but you don't say by 50%.

Even if you are beating their best sale price (here that's up to 75% off the complete job) I wouldn't brag unless I knew I was still making a money doing it. (After all - aren't we in business to make a living)
 

Jacob

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Originally posted by TheDoctah:


When I read something like, I begin to wonder if I'm on another planet and someone forgot to tell me.

It's hardly ignorant to compare prices. Unless you're really loaded and it just doesn't matter how much someone is charging, it's a sensible activity. It's a data point, and an important one at that.
Doc, I have to disagree with your assertion completely. (well almost) Comparing prices for two items that are identical is of course a no brainer. I always shop price on books, CDs and cars. But as anyone who has been in picture framing for longer than 5 minutes can tell you, all framers are not equal. If a customer wants to compare prices, then they should know what they are talking about. They should know what they are getting. That was my point, and that's where the ignorance comes in. They should know better, and I try to tell them that. (in a very diplomatic way of course)

If a customer wants to shop price with other framers who are equally competant, and are using the same materials, then godblessem. But there is no way in heck I'm going to sit here and say that going for the lowest price to frame an irreplaceable item, even if it means using a basement framer is using your head. (not referring to M)

[ 12-04-2005, 05:11 AM: Message edited by: Jacob ]
 

Jacob

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HB, when I said that my prices were 50% below Michael's, I said two things. Michael's regular prices (not their sale prices), and the items I was quoted. I can't of course speak for every item that they have ever framed, but I have had a fair number of quotes personally and from customers. I keep them on file.

And I assure you I am not losing money. Regardless of overhead, there are some pretty standard pricing schedules around, and if your prices are not in line (up or down) you will soon find out. Mine are in line with the other non-M framers in town. (I do check these things out.)

And as doc said, price is a factor. So someone is not doing their homework. Michael's can have a 50 or even 75% sale, but anyone who really shops would ask the question, "Off what?".
 

Jacob

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By the way, just to clear it up and keep this on a positive note, I have nothing but respect for Michael's. I'm not bashing them, hating them or putting them down. It is a successful store. Their job as an entity is to make money, and they're doing it. They offer a service, they do it, and they are successful at it. Good for them. That's business.

Small framers are facing the same problems that a lot of small businesses have faced. It is very difficult to compete with the large corporations, so you have to offer something different. My customers know me, my views on preservation and my taste. That's why they keep coming back. (or not)
 

Whynot

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Originally posted by Bob Doyle:
What do small time restaurants do when McD's moves into town? Michaels is our McD's aren't they?
Let me guess: sell healthier burgers at a "honestly smaller price" than McD?
 

Bob Carter

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Jacob does a fine job off clarifying his earlier posts, and it does make more sense. If gives even greater credence to the "Off What" charge we level at the Evil Ones.

Which brings up a great point:

Is the ignorance really on the part of the consumers for not knowing the difference (or caring) or,

On us for not making it part of our Marketing

To take it a little further:

We often think that the consumers care as much about things like Conservation practices as we do. When I speak to framers they always go way out of there way to tell me proudly that they are a "high end framer specializing in Conservation framing"

I'm not so sure that consumers are as interested as you think in that issue. In fact, I'll bet if we ran a survey and asked consumers to rank, in importance, the following:

Conveinence
Location
Hours of Operation
Great Prices (notice I didn't say low)
Conservation Framing
Acid Free Matting
UV Glass
Quick Turnaround
CPF framers

Which do you think would rate highest? and lowest?

An easy litmus test might be which keys are featured in their advertising and which are featured in your advertising

We need to be careful when we "think" we understand the marketplace. I truly think the powers to be at the Evil Empire understand the consumer much better than we, but we lay the blame at the feet of the ignorant consumer?

Make no mistake, we do have cuastomers that really need our "maximum" care and even fewer items that do. Yet, we want to specialize in the smallest portion of the market?

I'm with Jacob in my respect for the Evil Ones and their ability
 

Jay H

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Everyone reading this forum knows that all framers are different. I think its safe to assume that the majority of customers don't know the difference and don't care to hear it if there is.

You have two choices. You can either get mad and "educate" them (bore them to tears as I like to call it) or get aggressive and appeal to them in ways that truly resonate.

How is it that Bill and Pam were double the price of M and Jacob was half the price? Common folks something badly amiss here. Do we no longer have any pricing integrity at all?

We don't normally talk about wholesale prices here as a rule. I'm afraid this might be a good time to do just that. This frame requires about 7' of moulding a mat and a back. Assuming the frame is .90/ft + $5 mat and $2 backing the total cogs for this frame is under $15 and that’s if your buy horribly and are putting conservation crap on this item. It’s certainly not too important if you aren't putting glass on it. I'll bet that almost all of us could build this with all scraps except the frame. How much are we going to mark this up?

I'm not questioning your pricing Bill. However assuming you had to buy every element of the frame package, you have marked it up roughly 9 times to get to your price.

Don't kill the messenger but I found this frame online for about $22.00 and right now they have a special where you get a free custom cut paper mat with it. http://www.americanframe.com/catalog/metalprofiles.html?-session=sAFshop:E78C24399A2EFE1DD853203E8BD636B0

We have to do better than this. There is no question a custom shop should be charging way more than some website because we have plenty more to offer. But there must be some balance.

When we give our individual prices here on the G somebody always says that pricing depends on the market, overhead, cog, rent, labor, and on (and on and on). Well the customer as a rule doesn’t care one iota about all those things. We just simply have to do a better job at standardizing our prices and be competitive if only by perception if nothing else.

I didn’t read the posts about McD. But I would like to say that I have seen a decent spread in prices at McD. However I expect a Big Mac to run in the $2 range regardless of location. If framers ran McDs you could get a Big Mac for .50 at some stores and $39.99 at others. With that type of pricing, there wouldn’t be a McD for long.
 

TheDoctah

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Doc, I have to disagree with your assertion completely. (well almost) Comparing prices for two items that are identical is of course a no brainer. I always shop price on books, CDs and cars. But as anyone who has been in picture framing for longer than 5 minutes can tell you, all framers are not equal. If a customer wants to compare prices, then they should know what they are talking about. They should know what they are getting. That was my point, and that's where the ignorance comes in. They should know better, and I try to tell them that. (in a very diplomatic way of course)

That's why I was careful to say it's a datapoint. I am careful to avoid the false economy of simply searching out the lowest price and buying that. That's why when I price framing work, I specify the frames, the type of mats, the glazing, etc. Granted, I make it a point to be more educated than the average consumer.

I think the problem that many grumblers face in competing with Michael's, etc, is that they don't employ any min wage help to fit low end frames. You can lower the materials price so it closely approximates that of Michael's, but it takes a certain amount of time to assemble the frame and if your guy makes $15/hr and their guy makes $6.50/hr they are going to have a price advantage. Then it comes down to whether you prefer to be busy with low end stuff or idle.
 
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