Going Backwards

KL Smith

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Jun 18, 2005
Jordan Village, ON, Canada
Spent close to 2 hours with a husband and wife on Saturday. The end result was a beautiful Roma burled wood frame lined with a simple, but complimentary wood frame with a bronze LJ filet inside that, for a 40 x 30 canvas they bought in Arizona. The price was $900. A very nice job for us.

Most of the 2 hours was being very sensitive to the wife's concerns and quite frankly, not being able to make a decision. I always go out of my way to make sure customers will be thrilled with their choice. I even asked if they wanted to think about it for the weekend. They both seemed satisfied and placed the order.

Monday I come in to a phone message. Can we take the canvas and samples home just to be absolutely sure? No problem says I, as I was just about to, but hadn't ordered anything for the job yet.

Five minutes ago, he comes in with the corner samples and without the canvas. He said they are going to rethink the whole thing.

Oh well. One step forward, two steps back....
I always find that customers who cant make their minds up - especially the husband and wife team, always end up disatisfied with the finished result. I would rather they took their work away than give me a lot of grief when collecting. But so frustrating to see that money walking back out of the door.
Couples buying / framing art together usually ends up badly for us!

On Saturday a guy took a piece of art (he liked a lot) home to show his wife. I bet he's going to bring it back tomorrow and say "I loved it but she hated it....sorry".

It happened so many times that I never consider this a sale when the piece leaves the gallery and the wife hasn't stamped it "OK to Pay" ...
If a new customer takes samples home, we make sure to remove the moulding ID and replace it with the Next Higher Number in the same series. That way, when they call around to shop prices while they have the sample at home, they get the price for a more expensive than actual moulding.

The reason, a few customers actual told us that is what they do when they take samples home to "think about it" over the weekend. Other framers are quick to discount the price because they don't have design time involved.
Originally posted by KL Smith:
Spent close to 2 hours with a husband and wife on Saturday...The price was $900...They both seemed satisfied and placed the order...
So, how did you handle the deposit refund? You DID collect a 50% deposit, right?

Our posted policy says that deposits will be refunded for canceled orders only if materials have not been ordered (OK there), and we will deduct a design & administrative fee of 10% or $25, whichever is higher.

The design & adminisrative fee certainly would not cover the cost of typical design time, but it is a deterrent to those who place orders in multiple places and then go back for refunds at all but one. It happens -- consumers freely commit us when they have no commitment, but when they have to commit, they think differently.
Jim, that's an interesting policy. Have you had to enforce it?
Has the customer been OK with it?
I relize that most customers that get a quote and think were to high for them, most likly will not be back a 2nd time.
We try to make sure the customer "owns" the design, which makes concellations unlikely.

We had to apply the policy only one time, Dave. The customer protested, but agreed that it was fair compensation to us for the design, which the other framer used.

The policy is a deterrent more than a problem. We have the option of waiving the policy when that is desirable.

I have never asked for a deposit on a job yet. Maybe a bad move. I don't know, but my feeling is that until (and it will happen some day I'm sure) someone breaks the "circle of trust", then I have no need to ask for a deposit.

In the above case, this was a repeat customer whom I do expect/hope will return again some day. Yes, I wasted a couple of hours and yes they now own my design, but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes I suppose.

As I said, someday I will probably be burned, and as we live in a small old-time community that is being invaded by big city folks with different life experiences, I do expect it will be a new comer that will burst the balloon:)

Having said that, most new comers from the city are absolutely floored when I don't ask for a deposit. Just my way of trying to hang onto the past I guess:) This has also produced good word-of-mouth for me.

BTW: I come from the big city too. Moved here 20 plus years ago after driving down a country road where we stopped at a fruit stand to buy some local peaches. There was nobody at the stand, but there was a shoebox with a brick holding down some money people had left as payment. There was probably $20 - $30 in that box. I had never seen one of these before. The fact that someone could leave cash out by the side of the road and know it was safe probably impressed me more than anything else. Sure wouldn't do that where I came from! I knew this was the type of place I wanted to live in. I haven't looked back yet!

What I have gained out of this experience however is the feeling that I am going to have to be more attuned to husband-wife buying habits. A lesson learned, I hope:)
It's not about trust, it's about cash flow.
I agree with David. This may work for you but I would not recommend it to anyone else.

We require a deposit on all jobs. I have been framing for 23 years and still have been burned several times.