Customer asked if I "teach framing"!!


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 13, 2002
Fingerlakes Region of NYS
How would you deal with this.

The flat answer is "no". I don't teach. (Although, at some level, it could be another profit center!)

But why would someone want me to teach them something that I am doing for them so they can do it for themselves?

Would I walk into the bakery and ask them if they would teach me to bake? Even if I were willing to pay them, I don't think so!!

Good one, eh!?

You know Roz, it could be an op to let them see how hard it is and how much equipment they would need........
I agree...sure teach framing...$ 60.00 per hour.

If it was easy, everyone would do it...right?

Dave Makielski
"It costs approximately $800,000 to train a doctor! Framing doesn't require quite as much knowledge as a doctor, .....lets say 10%. I would be happy to train you for $80,000!"

......or words to that effect!

I certainly would not offer to train anyone for an hourly rate, unless it was a really high number with lots of zeros. After about two hours, I'm sure they would think they knew it all and would open a framing shop in competition with you!
Osgood is correct.

If you really must train one person, it should be a package, say $12000, which includes X number of hours for theory, Y number of hours for hands-on practice, etc. Plus, a few hundred $$ for material.

ALL NON-REFUNDABLE, and no discount for missed hours.

Expensive? He11 yes, you are teaching a profession after all.
OK, I'm missing something here. Do y'all only hire trained employees? The best employees I've had I trained myself and they didn't pay me - I paid them! There's no difference between training and teaching and I'm sure lots of employees move on to open their own businesses?!?

:rolleyes: :confused:
It's Ok to teach elements of framing for small clubs and organisations.

I've done washlining (F***ch Matting) for an art society and needlework stretching for an embroiderer's guild.

In both cases it drummed up new custom, from those that couldn't do it (washlines) to those that couldn't be bothered (both)

But the whole works only gets taught to employees, and a couple of them should have paid me!
Roz, just like you said, it can be other revenue. We teach a matting and framing class 3 times a year at our shop through our local school system. Very basic stuff, students are always amazed at how difficult it is to "just cut a hole". We have actually gotten quite a few customers from the class. We can then direct that customer who just wants to know how to frame to the class.
"How would you deal with this?"


I would say, yes! I do. If you and 6 or 10 friends would like to arrange a time we could all meet I would enjoy showing you how it’s done. (Think 6 or 10 new prospects for customers.)

The class objectives would be:

To introduce the participants to the importance of conservation techniques and conservation vocabulary.

How to design a framing package.

How to choose mats for color and texture.

How to choose a frame- size, material, color.

I would then demonstrate; how to cut a single mat and backing, hinge a reproduction, fitting it in a ready made frame, and then the application of a dust cover and hardware.

Give them information that would make them better customers. Hint to them that to do proper framing; you need a dedicated space, proper equipment, and an investment that most do not want to make. If they don't realize at that time that it is easier to let you do it, they will soon enough.

One of my best customers worked for a framer for five years. When she comes in - what she knows makes my job very easy.

Robo: did the powers that be "blank" your matting? Or did you say a a dirty word???

Sue: I think you're missing the point. This person wanted to be taught framing. Period. When you hire someone, of course you'r going to train them, hopefully tomake you a profit, or at least to make your business more profitable.

I see no profitability in teaching someone your business if you aren't hiring them
Do we teach framing? In our shop, that is not a silly question.

Although we don’t advertise it heavily, we still maintain a “do-it-yourself” workroom. During the process, there is a lot of heavy teaching involved.

Because we can’t have them leaving with fewer fingers than they came in with, for the first time, at least, we do all the cutting. If people we trust return with other DIY projects, we gradually let them use the mat and glass cutter. (We never let them use the saw or chopper citing insurance concerns.)

And, several years ago, we used to give classes every month at the local Ben Franklin craft store – before they got wise and opened their own framing department. (Now, they are out of business – HA!)

It reminds me of the old saw in medicine: “See one; do one; teach one.”

Works for me.

I still kinda enjoy the few DIY customers we get.
I'm in a college town and have been asked this question, too, more than once. A lot of my customers believe in obtaining knowledge; a lot just think this would be "fun". I always tell them my insurance coverage won't allow them in the work area - I don't even know that it's true but it sounds good and it works! So, Paul, no I wouldn't teach my customers for free or otherwise but I don't charge a trainee employee $80,000 for my knowledge, either! I guess the first couple of posts just sounded like big egos to me and I thought my example would deflate some hot air!

I see your point but there is a difference between training an employee and a customer.

With the employee, you have a vested interest that this employee would make you, and your business look good, by adhering to your high standards.

But with a customer, God only knows where that will lead them to. You might be building your next competition!

And yes, your insurance / Workers Comp and lawyer would really not like it if somebody who is not an employee got hurt in your workshop.
Originally posted by Mike LeCompte CPF:
Robo: did the powers that be "blank" your matting? Or did you say a a dirty word???

That was self-censored, we Brits do not like the "F***ch" - it's the law. This is why we say 'Washlines' and you say F***ch mats.

This is why you say 'French kissing' and we say
'Slug wrestling'
I have read all the replies at least a couple times. I guess my response might upset some but I have never worried about political correctness. Where did all of you learn to frame? Did any of you start as a customer of someone else's frame shop? I have had trainning from I guess 3 different framers that I had been a customer of. I still owe a lot and try in many different ways of returning the favor. When an artist from one of thier areas asks, guess who I send them to. Also having seen this from the artists eyes. They can not afford to pay the prices, frame shops charge. Not when they are getting started for sure. I don't know what the motivation of the customer in question was but there may be a simple explination like they just simply cannot afford to pursue thier lifes passion without a bit of help. I guess everyone has to look at it from thier own perspective but you might look at the motivation and remember from where you came.
Thank you for misinterpreting my post as being egotistic.

The topic is "customer asked if I 'Teach Framing'" and Roz' question was "How would you deal with this."

I answered Roz' question based on my experience with people who have asked me if I taught framing. Almost without exception, the people who asked me this question have either stated that they wanted to start a small framing business or I have come to that conclusion after a conversation with them.

Due to the fact that the area I live in has an enormous number framing businesses in relation to the population, personally, I would not consider teaching someone who has this objective in mind.

People will have many different views and opinions and this forum is a great place to gather many different opinions.

I respect your right to have the opinion that some people made egotistical posts, but I just want you to know that in my particular case your opinion is not based in truth.

The $80,000 statement was an "illustration" to make the point that Paul N obviously caught onto.

Employees learning from you is a different kettle of fish from a customer wanting to learn from you, whatever their reasons are.
I;ll try to jump in since Roz asked .And also since i see a few replys that mirror some replys that I think are in the Archives from previous discussions about the wisdom of teaching DIY s to frame.( check i know it's there)

First I have been asked by the local community collage when I was still in business and st. Bernard had such a school.

I gave it serious consideration since i thought it would spread my reputation far and wide as the most knowlegable framer around. then I realized that they were catering to my EGO.

After a while I asked a long time friend and framer who had in fact taught me ,Marie ,and our former partner.
His advise was "DON"T BE A FOOL." he said all he ever realized from it was a bad back from lugging the equipment and supllies back and forth to UNO .this ultimately lead to him ruinning one of his Xmas seasons ,for not being able to keep up with the Crunch.

He didn't teach in his shop even though another local framer did try this. he didn't for just the reason stshof said .His insurance coverage wouldn't allow it without serious increases in his liability. ( check most won't even allow customers to pass through the area where sharp impliments are available) But also since the other guy had a huge problem with not having enough space to allow easy viewing of the classes.( especially while avoiding back room hazards)

But most importantly I along with both the others learned that all those who attened these clases were trying to cut our prices no matter how reasonable we were.

I even had some who THOUGHT I was going to agree ask how I could arrange for discounts on cheap equipment that they could share to defray the expense of DIY work and then I know they wouldn't be coming back to me.

they also flat told me that they were looking for ways to not pay the "HIGH PRICES" f Custom Framing,and i have said repeatedly i was lower priced than MOST of you so guess what they thoght was a fair price.

The best result of this type of instruction was two things .One they might learn what really GOOD framing required. But then I could tell them that and did in my shop.

And secondly they might also learn that all those marvelously intriacte mats couldn't be achived without a lot of practice and not even with some very expensive equipment.They might even think it was worth the price to have someone else do it.Especially since they would probaly screw up a few jobs and see who ATE the LOSSES for doing that.
But the key word is MIGHT. they probaly and did leave that to me and rarely ask for it while they cranked out the straightcut things and tryed to tel me they knew how little SUPPLIES cost and couldn't i give them some sort of a discount.Or worse yet ( as many of the ART STUDENTS did ) they would save their mat scraps and bring them to me and ask if I could use their materials and only charge for my time.

Point being ,it was a no win situation that only lead to wannbes thinking they knew how big a profit we are making .Of course ,if you are ridding an EGO trip this is some heady stuff and you might want to consider it.On the other hand if you want/need future helpping hands do it privately and quietly with people you can trust to not cut your throat.

And no ididn't learn from shop owners but Herb and Charles carithers at PFE in Jackson Mississippi and then followe it up with that friends classes after i was in biz and continued to attend seminars at trade shows and local chapter s of the PPFA. I have seen competitors sheild their knowledge religiously when they thougt it gave them an edge over others .

But if you feel the urge/need by all means jump in.
I had this conversation with a man today. A photographer/artist, came in to buy a dozen of the smallest screw eyes I had. The conversation morphed to him asking me if I would teach a "seminar" at the local arts center/gallery on how to market your art via proper framing...mat colors, mounting, proper fitting methods, types of glass, etc. I've been asked to do this several time.I've been tempted, as some of the DIY framing in those art shows are ghastly. Tempted to put a card behind some with a "see me about matting", bugs/fingerprints/dirt behind the glass, slipped mounting,dinged frames, etc., on show pieces and they can't understand why they DON'T SELL! But I never have.
Bottomline is...I don't have time to teach a class like that, even a one-day seminar. But...I have spent much time answering their questions in my shop about the very same things, and for free!I just get sucked into it. Maybe, when they come in for "free advice" I should just tell them I'm busy at the moment, but I will be teaching a seminar on that very subject on such-and-such date, at a cost of $$ and why-don't-you-sign-up-for-it-now? Hmmmm.....
Often someone will come in for apiece of mat board or backing board, etc. I too will often spend time with them instructing them on proper framing techniques and, more often than not, throw in the extras for them...brads, hanging wire, bumpons, etc. About half the time when they find out what's involved, they have me do the work.

My flipant comment about charging $ 60.00 per hour was to say that there really is nothing wrong with teaching framing, but cover your overhead.

I get far more requests from people wanting to come to work for me for no pay in order to learn framing. This obviously isn't the best arrangement since they would have to be overseen constantly and I wouldn't want to learn new techniques on customers work and surely I don't want someone else doing the same.

Dave Makielski
You know, we do teach the class of matting and framing as I stated before. The class is presented as strictly hobby level. We teach them how to cut a double mat on a Logan 701S. We do get alot of students who say that they just want to do it themselves because of the high cost of a custom framer. The people who sign up for the class most likely would not have become a customer before the class. More often than not we get the comment of "now we know why it is so expensive". They really appreciate the work that goes into framing. We give away no secrets and like I said before, we have gained several new cutomers because of it.

We only teach it 3 times a year obviously we choose to teach during our slower periods.

We are always in a teaching mode with our customers but if they are in search of professional classes we direct them to search the internet for trade shows and PPFA.

We do get residual sales from the classes for supplies.
Ruth while you are definetly provideing a service and instructing many on what good framing is;I couldn't help but wonder about your closing comment "We do get residual sales from the classes for supplies".

If you continue and the number of particpants grows and we assume that some of these students will frame for others who don't attend,would it be safe to assume that they may ,though slight, be erodeing your customer base?

The reason being that while they do come back to you for RESIDUAL SALES FOR supplies they are not having things framed .And if you are even chargeing RETAIL for the supplies IMHO you are still cutting your total sales.And even worse ,if my assumptions are correct this wil only grow as time goes on.So unless you have designs on becoming a retail supplyer of materials ,aren't your classes erodeing your customer base? And if that is correct wouldn't it be more prudent to decline to offer these classes?

It is amazeing to me how irrateted some of us become when the number of competitor shops increases in our areas or worse yet when a supplier decides to go retail but don't have a problem with giveing every wannabe the concept that they don't need CUSTOM framing for ALL their needs ,and in effect competing with ourselves.

But then I am not in business anymore so maybe it is I who doesn't understand which is the more profitable way to keep the public informed while not erodeing my customer base and which method is more likely to keep our shops in business for the long run.
Talk to your insurance agent before you ever let a non-framer touch either a sharp blade, saw or anything that could cause physical damage. The increased risk and rate will probably convince you that not worth the risk to train anyone except an employee.

We have given demonstrations of framing but do not permit anyone to touch the equipment. There are people out there that can be damaged by looking at a piece of glass or a sharp blade and are more than willing to file an insurance claim or sue your --- off.

Jack Cee
OK, I'm sorry for misinterpreting the beginning posts but I probably wasn't the only one who did. Let's face it - we're all passionately proud of what we do and how well we do it!

P.S. Do you remember this song? "Oh, Lord, it's hard to be humble..." :D ;) :D
Buddy, I understand what you are saying. The residual sales are not overwhelming but it does add extra $'s, they can give it to Dick Blick or Graphic Dimensions or one of the BB's, we just prefer that they give it to us. We have a few home based framers who get matboard and glass and dry mounting from us, I don't have a problem selling it to them.

We have had several students become very good custom framing customers also.
I've been asked that more than a few times over the years. I have always declined. It takes more time than I have available to start training someone who will not be producing for me.

There is also the liability issues. California now has at least one lawyer per person, the law schools continue to crank them out. These people are hungry, they lay awake at night trying to figure new reasons to sue people.

Think of what could happen if the student cut their little finger, or for some reason they felt ten percent stressed.

Nope, I wanted to be a picture framer, not an educator. If I wanted to educate, I would be working for the state, making real money.

Ruth I am glad you feel you understand my prospective. However at the risk of pokeing that buried equestrian.LOL

I am very glad you make revneue from the sale of materials no matter how small they may be.I also agree that if we are in business we should sell to whom ever wishes to buy what we are in business to sell regaurdless of where they reside.I also have helped other framers who don't have as many venues as I.

But I don't think it is prudent to help others to become my competition just as many have been annoyed at the prospect of BBs or suppliers jumping in their market.Especially when it is ourselves that are facilitateing this to happen.And make no mistake while some will become your long term customers many others will not and will drain some work from you and as time goes on this number has a definet potential to increase.

I think in some ways this question is remarkably like the question that was asked in another thread about which product is the more desireble to market the low margin fast seller or the high end steady one that earns us the reputation we got in business to portray and WHY.

But as I said ,maybe I left dollars on the table when I refused to Teach at the local community Collage . At any rate my opinion is based on my market and I am not in yours.You surely know how to analyze what you are doing as do all others .What I said was just another thing to consider if you haven't already.