At your shop, you refer to your customers as.....?


PFG, Picture Framing God
Founding Member
Aug 12, 2000
San Diego, CA
I'm an old guy, I like to call a duck a duck, a car a car, a dog a dog, and a customer, a customer.

No matter how Target and other corporate speak outfits refer to their customers, to me, and them, I am sure, in reality, they will always be customers.

If I was a professional, like an accountant, I would call them clients.

If I was a doctor, I would call them, patients.

If I was having a party, I would call them guests.

I'm an old guy though, that is how I was raised. to me, it is still a T.V. set, not a home entertainment system.

Just can't get excited about giving my customers cutsie names.

If I had an open shop I would call them CLIENTS, PATIENTS and in the odd situation GUESTS. I frame for neighbors, some dentists, a few museums and galleries. I don’t make money from the museums or my neighbors so I uses client with the dentists and galleries so I can make up the difference. A little vanity now and them can help the bottom line.
Perception, though a small thing sometimes, can go a long way towards shaping reality. In stores I have been in where the staff refer to the people who buy their goods and services as clients, they tend to put themselves in a mindset of a professional. It changes the way they present themselves and their offerings, as well as the way they interact with their clients.

In a "customer" store, you see this kind of intercation:

"Ok, so what did you want to do with this?"
"Would you prefer regular glass or UV?"

I'n a "client" store I think you're more likely to hear:

"Now, based on what you've told me about your room, I'm going to recommend we use..."
"I understand this photo is very valuable to you, so we'll want to make sure we use conservation glass to help protect it."

I think it's important to make a distinction between a customer and a client. A customer buys things. Mats, frames, glass. A client buys service. Design, talent, delivery, etc. Of course the mats, glass, frames, etc that you sell can be found at nearly any other frame shop in town. It's the professional design and other services, sometimes intangible, that allow one to sell premium products at a premium price.
I call 'em marks.

In person, I refer to them by name.

I like Target, but I get supremely annoyed at being referred to as a guest.

Guests are invited, not lured, and they don't pay to be guests.

In my new job, one of the first things I need to figure out is if I'm talking to a provider, a member, an employer or an agent. Sometimes, they don't seem to want to tell me. They'd rather just launch right into the guts of the question.

Most often, it's a provider (doctor's office or hospital) calling about a member - who then becomes the patient. The patient may or may not currently be a member (the insured.) This all takes about 2-1/2 minutes and the average call time is supposed to be under four minutes.

In some ways, life was simpler when I had very little trouble figuring out that the person walking through my door with a mailing tube was a customer - or least a potential customer.
Fresh meat.

Sorry, just couldn't resist.

Or customers. A lot of them, I get to call friends.
I call 'em clients.

Except for the ones who are mean to me. I can't write what I call them after they leave.
"The Boss", because I work for them.

Most would be under the heading "Neighbor",
Some "Sir" some "sweetheart"

almost all "Hi, how are you doing?"

On occation, I can remember their name. I'm better at remembering their dogs.
This is where things can get confused. A person you have never met before, comes into your shop and spends five thousand dollars on framing. You do the work, get paid. You are telling your CPA about your good friend, who you have never met before, spending all that money. Seems odd to me.

A guy you grew up with, went to school with, camp with, you know his family, he knows yours. He comes into your shop with a bunch of pictures to frame. You do the job, it comes to five thousand dollars. He comes in and picks them up. Your uncomfortable because he is making no attempt to pay you. You finally ask for the money, he looks at you like you are nuts and says, "We are friends, we look out for each other, you don't charge your friends, whats the matter with you?"

So your explaining the five thousand dollar loss to your CPA and telling him about your friend.....

Their is an old adage in the business world, "Your friends and family will put you out of business faster than any other factor."

It is true.

The ones who PAY you for your products and services are your CUSTOMERS.

I'm from an older school John.

You're the boss, so YOU get to decide what you do or don't charge.

If you give your friends or family a discount, you will hear about how it wasn't enough or why didn't you do this, or it comes back with the mat cocked a little..... you get the picture.

If you charge full retail, then they have the right to bring it back if there's a booger in the package. And they have the right to go elsewhere....

And occationally I am a real a**88*e, and charge exactly what I feel like charging them $0. When they whine about how I gotta take something...blah, blah, blah.... I just look 'em in the eye and say "yes, and this one is on me. ANd because I set the price, you don't get a say in it."

I made a deal with my nieces and nephews (I love being an uncle. I get to play favorites.) they graduate from college with good grades, they give me their diplomas, and they get no imput in how I frame it. If they don't like it, I'll redo it exactly the way they want. :D so far I've been 8-0. Lot of tears, but no complaints.
Here is how I see it:

Hair designers, lawyers, accountants, and any other professional service providers have clients.

Hotels, hosts, and hostesses have guests where they are treated with warmth and generosity.

I, personally, have customers because I am a business person or merchant who produces something tangible.
my dentist sees me as no less a professional than he... just less schooling therefore less income.

I make frames, he makes crowns.... I were black t-shirts and hawaiian shirts.... he weres Dead Head t-shirts. :D

It's all in how you see YOURSELF that counts.
I have tried to call them clients but I keep ending up with first customers and then friends...even though I am a SERVICE provider (I provide the service of making people happy!)...
Agree, Framar

They is what they is, no matter what they is.

If I buy anyone else's products or services, I am thier CUSTOMER. Not their client, and certainly not their guest. Ohhhh that's so pretentious I can't stand it. Don't BS me.

I am not the "guest" of some part time clerk at Target. (Let me be clear...I mean absolutely no disrespect to the clerk at Target. In fact, I think for the most part they provide pretty good service and are usually quite helpful.) They are just doing as they have been trained to do and are expected to do. It is those that make those decisions to create such a phony relationship between the help and the CUSTOMER that drive me insane.

Sorry. I'm done now.

The problem, as I see it, is that the word "customer" has lost any essence of respect. How and when did "customer" get to be a dirty word?

I was a customer of The Big, Impersonal Phone Company until I got fed up with them and took my customerness to a local company that answers the phone and actually talks to me.

I don't think we restore the rightful status of customers by calling them something else. We do it by treating them way WE want to be treated.

it is still a T.V. set, not a home entertainment system.
I'm right there with ya, John!

We have an icebox in our kitchen and a Victrola in our family room!
I guess some of it depends on where you cut your business teeth. When I played in real estate they were "my people", when I managed broadcast stations they were "clents" .. with our B & B they are "our guests" and with framing .. it depends on the age of the relationship. Some start out as customers, develope into clents, work up the ladder to friends and while many go directly to "a pain in the a**!"
Along, long time ago, I was a member of middle management in the corporate world. (Aaron Brothers to be exact.) I can remember so darn many "Busy work" meetings, they used to drive me nuts. I drove from La Vegas to Los Angeles so I would not miss a very important meeting my boss demanded I attend. For three hours we discussed the merits of picture light and how best to display and advertise them.

I am sure that these cutsie names, places like Target come up with for their customers, are the byproducts of such corporate meetings. These companies have teams of overpaid people who have convinced upper management that they are important to the company. Upper management, I think, are not clear on what these people do, or should be doing. All they know for sure is they have lots of meetings.

I don't know if I am right about this, I think I am though. Too many people, with way too much time on their hands.

Upper and middle management in most corporations are much like government employees, the main part of their job is justifying their existence.

Hey, next time you're at Target, tell them you're tired and would like to lie down for a while. Ask them where the guest bedroom is. Oh, and you could really use a drink, too.

I'm sure Target isn't unique in their use of the term. They're just more conspicuous about it.
Don't wear a red shirt into that place, either, or you will go from guest to service provider specialist in a heartbeat!
When I <strike>worked</strike>slaved at Home Depot, you could get fired for "working off the clock", but for some reason even in a HD you didn't work at, people are so desperate and neeeedy, that they would hunt you out, even without an apron....

We used to joke/steam that HD must be carved into your forehead.
Gumbogirl, I've actually done that accidently on a two occasions (you'd think I'd learn after the first time). Had on a nice red shirt and khaki pants. I can't tell you how many people stopped me to ask where stuff is.
Seems to me, a little fun could be had here. Wear the red shirt and direct everyone who asks for anything, to the managers office.

I used to work for Dayton's. Customer's were guests. I prefer client. It is much more professional (and less lame).

If I know someone is in on a whim, and will probably never come back, they're a customer. If they come back pretty regularly, they are a client. I deal with so many people who ask for me, or another employee, and we know their style/taste, they are a cleint.
They're clients here .... of course, we have an acronym taped on the wall of the shop area (off limits to customers) that describes a particular type of customer ...when that type makes himself/herself known, we refer to them as an IDWATOSPALOMOT (pronounced as it reads) meaning, "I don't want to spend a lot of money on this".
Thanks Ron. I have been working hard.... I do have to stop once in a while to make a frame or two....

I do have a question...

Because I participate in this forum am a "Client" or a "Guest"? I am certainly not a customer because I don't pay for this fabulous service. (NO BODY GET ANY CRAZY IDEAS EITHER)
Originally posted by FramingFool:
"I don't want to spend a lot of money on this".
I hear that one everyday. The hard part is knowing what that translates to in money. Could be 50 bucks, 500 bucks, or 5000 bucks depending on the person making the statement.

If someone came in and said that they wanted to spend a bundle on a job I would probably fall in the floor.
True, there's always that variable ..... but IDWATOSPALOMAT refers to a type we all know .... maybe a 16 x 20 limited editon ... they want preservation ... but they're thinking $50.