Add labor on a frame not sold at your shop?


Inactive Account
May 24, 2002
Raceland, Louisiana
A customer came in and wanted a price on a frame, mat, glass... bla bla bla. She was outraged at the cost and said "It's only a cheep poster!" I can buy a frame elswhere much cheeper. She did. Came to the shop with her mother and a frame she purchased at 'M*c*a*l's and bragged agout the how much she saved (about $10.00). I gave her a receipt for the mat, glass, wire hanger, and foam board. Right after she left, I decided to post the following:

Effective as of April 11, 2006: When an item is brought in to be framed using a frame NOT purchased here, a charge per lineal inch will be added to cover the cost of labor.

Situations like this only happens very, very seldom, but this time i really got teed off.

Would you charge labor in a situation like this? If so, any suggestions? Tks. ajh
Each component mat, filler baord, and fitting has a labor component to it.

I also have a "Use Customer's Frame" charge of $15. If the frame looks particularly bad I may had additional labor cost.

It's not clear from your post what you did NOT charge for?

Did you hand her the material, or did you do the fitting et al?
She bought just a frame - no backing, mat, glass or hardware - you provided those and returned it with her poster fitted/frame sealed up ready to hang?
I am trying to understand............ did you sell parts or did you fit the parts you supplied into her frame.

If you are fitting everything together many shops have a "customer supplied frame" fitting charge which is higher that normal fitting charges.

If you just supplied the parts.......... there was no labor to perform.
The answer is yes, you should charge labor. At one point I was up to about 10 a week of those. It started slowing down when I started charging labor.

I will cut a mat for a customer for just the cost of the mat and they can "save money" by doing the assembly themselves, or pay me.

The real kick in the pants is when the frames come from AC Moore, Garden Ridge, etc that has a Custom Framing dept. I guess the customer is just not willing to pay their prices for add-ons.
Did ya ask her why didn't M's do the stuff you did for her?

I charge for 'their frame' and 'their glass'.
Most of the time I have to repair the frame and I always have to clean the glass. Labor, labor, labor.
We normally price every item independently of the others, and include all of the costs associated with that item. For example, the markup in our moulding prices does not include labor for fitting or anything else, other than handling the moulding.

In your case, why couldn't you add $5. to the mat and glass prices, making up the $10 she thought she saved?

Our POS software has a field where we can add any extra amount we want, with or without a description. I have been known to add an unmarked PIA charge on occasion.

I suggest you reconsider putting up a sign about your extra charge for using others' frames. It's a negative message, and it might just turn some customers away. It would be better to have them come in and judge your products, services, and prices without prejudice. That way, you may choose to add whatever you feel is appropriate for the job.
JFeig: She came in with only the frame... nothing else. She purchased the mat, glass, and hanger from me. I just put up a sign...

Effective as of April 11, 2006: When an item is brought in to be framed using a frame NOT purchased here, a charge per lineal inch will be added to cover the cost of labor.
I still don't feel I have all the info.

OK you provided a backing and glass. Was that a standard size you went to a shelf and sold her, or did you cut it to order. Did she take a bit of time to choose the mat colour and did you have to do a bit of maths because her poster was out of proportion to the frame?

This is hard work, (not doing the above - just getting the info from you) but anyway, for what it is worth - here is what we do.

A customer bringing in a framed picture that wants to change only the mat(s) is treated/charged the same as one bringing in a RMF for us to fit a picture in..... both "Not our frame"

We usually try to upgrade the sale with extra mats, wrapped bevels or fillets, new backs and hardware in old frames, even UV glass, but NEVER just for the sake of it.

All materials as per our pricing system plus a fitting charge.

Penny pincher? fine just provide mat, backing glass and hardware. Let them worry about flumbs, sealing and hardware - deduct fitting charge.

Mat ONLY? quadruple normal cost, why? A line I read on The Grumble which I love.... "because they are asking me to do work that I do not want to do"

(and taking 30 mins to choose the mat colour too)
Ron: here's "what labor"

Getting the mat out of the back room
Getting the glass our of the back room
Getting the hanger out of the back room
Puttin up with the in the first place
Did the frame have gaping misaligned miters? Show her the quality she lost on the $10 bucks.

I'm not sure I agree with posting the sign. It may cause some people to about face out the door. People seem to have fragile feelings these days.

I have to agree that silently tacking on five bucks or so and getting them on down the road is better than a no sale.

Some folks here know I don't have a store front, but I run a side bussiness in the evenings. I have to deal with the same stuff, only through email. Some people are cheap no matter what. I use the delete key.
I guess I don’t get it either.

Pronunciation: 'lA-b&r
Function: noun
The services performed by workers for wages as distinguished from those rendered by entrepreneurs for profits.

You either did labor or not. If so you should charge for it and I’ll assume you do. If you are wanting to tag on charges because you’re mad, then why not just turn the job down?

When I read “When an item is brought in to be framed using a frame NOT purchased here, a charge per lineal inch will be added to cover the cost of labor.” it makes me think that the charge is just out of bitterness or possibly your current charges for cutting mats and glass isn’t high enough.

I agree with Jim. You should charge what each item is worth.

A wise man once told me to price everything so that even if that was the ONLY think I sold, I would be happy! Perhaps now is a good time to apply that theory.
Still not clear - did you fit it up or just cut the glass/backing/etc?

Supply just the pieces - my markup will be sufficient to cover the labor involved in cutting and wrappint it for her.

Fit MY pieces in HER frame - ditto, plus standard fitting charges.

What's the issue? An unfriendly-sounding sign doesn't sound like it fill fix the problem, though. Charge whatever you'd like - don't be so sensitive that one person thinks you charge too much.

After all, if no one ever walks over pricing issues, chances are your price is too low.

I have folks bring in "their" frames all the time. I don't care where "their" frames come from, whether a yard sale or M's or Neiman Marcus, or how much they paid for it. It's still "their" frame.
I charge a fitting charge if I fitted (?) it, an assemble/disassemble charge if I have to take it apart, put in a new mat, new glass, dust cover, wire, whatever.
Glass ONLY? Glass charge. Mat ONLY? Mat charge. No fitting? No labor charge. PIA? I bump up the mat/glass/whatever charge a bit. No-one knows but me. Simple. Isn't it?

I do agree about rethinking your sign. Most folks are pretty decent and you might give one of them reason to doubt that you are too. Don't let one PIA ruin it for the nice ones, and for you.
I'll bet I'm not the only one who has several tiers of fitting charges, depending on the frame.

A customer's frame with a 1/16" rabbet will carry a higher fitting charge. If it's a frame that needs any cleaning or repair, it will be higher still.

If I'm not fitting, I don't care where the frame comes from or what condition it's in 'cause it won't be my problem.

If going to the back room to get some glass and a hanger is a lot of trouble, charge more for the glass and hanger.
From what everyone else is saying as well as my thoughts, we see no difference in an old frame that you made several years ago and a new frame bought from somewhere else.

Would you charge labor for a rework of an old frame you made years ago.... where you only supplied new innards and did not do any fitting?

That is not to say that the fitting charge for a frame that requires more work (cleaning the old stuff off should not demand a larger fitting charge - "refit" "antique frame fit"
I would charge for the mat, glass, mounting and fitting. No addition charges. Every step of the framing process has the labor built in based on $22.00 per 1/4 hour.

I call my fitting charge labor. Fitting makes me think of trying to squeeze into my high school jeans. I don't know how I would figure out how much to charge for that! At $40 an hour I imagine it would cost a pretty penny!
Originally posted by JackBingham,CPF:
Every step of the framing process has the labor built in based on $22.00 per 1/4 hour.
WOW! Are you really getting 88 bucks an hour labor? Good for you!

I am doing more and more restoration work on frames and I charge 40 an hour and some of my customers freak over it. I am sure I would have to call 911 for them if I said 88 per hour.
I agree with the others that each component of the frame package including fitting should be profitable in it’s own right. I generally do not add a PITA charge to situations such as yours.

I also agree that such a sign you suggested may be construed as too negative and may be detrimental in the long run.
We also explain that all work done using customer supplied materials is done on a best efforts basis and that we cannot guarantee results due to the possibility of materials being supplied being of inferior quality.
We also inspect materials in front of the customer and point out any flaws and/or defects at the time the order is being place.
In addition we do not put our label on the back of frames we did not supply.
Two "standard" charges I have is fitting and refitting. Refitting is when a customer brings in something already framed to put something new in or rematted. Although, I don't charge refitting on frames I just made when I goof and have to take it apart and redo it...

Refitting charge is generally one and one half times the fitting charge.

Dirty old dirty old glass (did I say old and dirty?) ... $ 5.00 min

Own frame... $ 5.00

(Amazing how that adds up to $ 10.00 isn't it?)

Dave Makielski
Maybe we need another poll

I get these types once in a great while

But, if I sell a piece of glass, let's say 24x36 for $22.00, the gross profit is the same if I place it in my frame, their frame or they take it home. Now, if I fit it in my frame (or their frame) I do have a fitting/labor charge. If the frame looks like it might be ready to fall apart (and that can be homemade, made by the best frame shop in town or the worst)then we might suggest the necessary repairs or decline the work and just sell 'em the dad-gummed glass

The whole time we will smiling like the Cheshire cat

AJ, I would make sure my GP was sufficient to cover these contingencies and I would absolutely hose off the sign

I'm going with your advice "If it ain't broke...."
Originally posted by Jerry Ervin:
The answer is yes, you should charge labor. At one point I was up to about 10 a week of those. It started slowing down when I started charging labor.

I never want anything to slow down. PITA jobs or not. $$$ is $$$ :D But in my POS I have a special charge specifically labeled "PITA". (It's 10 bucks & I use this for many different reasons). And if I pull the thing apart after they leave and find some atrocity, I will call the customer, discuss the matter, and inform them of an added charge.

None of this info helps your situation of course. Picky customers drive me nuts. Cheapskates drive me nuts. Just trying to empathize.
I have several different fit charges on my POS.
Fit (Regular frame bought at my store)
Fit and 1/2 (Framed piece a customer brought in but will reframe into one of my frames)
Refit (Framed piece a customer brought in or empty frame bought elsewhere into which their art will go)
Shadowbox fit - Small, Medium, Large
Considering that payroll is my single largest expense, I'm not giving away the farm just because the customer is trying to save money. And I'm not giving them a break just because they drove 20 miles to buy a cheaper frame. My refit (double a fit charge) prices definitely cover labor because I have to pay my employee to do the work. Seems fair to me.