How do you handle quote requests?

Sherry Lee

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 25, 2002
Phoenix, Az.
This subject may have been saturated in the past, but since I see quite a few 'newbies', I thought I'd raise the issue again.

When I have a customer call to ask for an approximate price to frame something, I simply explain that "in fairness to you, you need to come to the studio".....and I go on to explain the variations and huge selection of mouldings that range widely in price. Most appreciate that and come.

I have only had one customer ask for a copy of my work order (as a quote) and rather than give her an item by item breakdown, I gave a paper with the written total and explained in detail to the customer what this covers. I emphasized that she be sure to ask for conservation treatment.

I have taken items to a competitor to work up having it framed and it was incredible to me that they were going to use materials other than conservation grade!! I had to ask for it!! Well, that would make a 'job' less expensive........but done correctly???

Then there is the issue of "Integrated Framer" or "Picture It Framed" - once worked up and a customer asks for a printout of the picture and a quote.......hmmmmmmmm. I don't think so!

Does anyone go to a mechanics, ask for a diagnosis and an itemized quote? And if you go to their competitor and they look at it......what are the odds they'll say, "I can beat this!"....but whose to say you won't receive the cheapest of replacement parts??

Someone on HH's mentioned that they had a customer alter the quote! It takes all kinds, eh!?!

I've always pondered this and wonder how all of you handle quotes.
I don't have Integ. Framer / Picture It First yet (soon, if they iron out all the bugs and shortcomings like no multiple openings and can't handle ornate corners). But when I do, I will not be printing any pictures.

Essentially, if you do, you're doing all the work for your competition, and then they will beat your price, by any margin ("hey, it is $15 cheaper here, so let's go for it...!!").

I would just tell the customer, that the vis. software is not connected to a printer. Period.

As for a quote, sure, I will quote them a job and a total; no details beside that it is double matted, framed, glass type, conservation material, fillet, liner, etc.
With POS Software there is no need to NOT give a quote over the phone. Its a fair question and deserves an answer. No it’s not an ideal situation but to say "I really don't know" is likely to send a horrible message. No shop can give a very accurate estimate. Why not take that opportunity to set your self apart? It’s not a common request and one that should not be avoided.

Again most POS Software also has "quote" invoices. On that have in the description "Frame print with double suede mat and UV filtering glass". This isn't rocket surgery.

Conservation, or not, is a pointless topic. Frame how you want. But if you ONLY sell conservation this and that blah blah blah, when the piece doesn't require it, you should lose the job. Sell the product for what it is. To do anything more isn't a service to the customer.

Fight the viz software revolution as long as you want. It’s inevitable and you're likely already losing customers to shops that have it. There simply isn't a bigger wow factor in a frame shop these days and you can bet that there is a shop near you wowing the heck out of your customers right now!

I don't think they have or will address the ornate corners but the muli opening has been addressed already from what I have heard.

How do I handle quotes? I think the only way is to be honest. Have faith in your products, service and price. If you start purposefully holding out information customers will know. That doesn’t create a positive shopping experience.

You can see in the thread "Sears, what a racket" that I was on that end of the counter. I did NOT like playing ring around the register.
Sherry, et al...

When I give a "written quote" to someone "pricing" a job, I write the total price on the back on one of my cards and, like you, explain to the customer that I use conservation materials and practices only and, to compare "apples to apples", they must specify the same when comparing prices. I probably have a 75% "success rate" of the customer coming back. I do not give them a copy of my "work up" sheet with the exact specifications as to mats, sizes, design, glass, etc. I will not give a competitor the benefit of my time and expertise.

Bottom line...when like materials are compared among the four shops in our small town, my rates (and everyone elses') are comparable. Then, it becomes a matter of reputation, customer service, and quality...I usually win.

I also tell them that all the framers in our town are good, but....I'm the best...and smile! I'm certainly not the best in the field, but, I've been doing this for 11 years and I'm pretty good.

I also posted this on HH's.

For what it's worth....

Gene Scott
The Framery
Elizabeth City, N.C.
We treat commercial and residential customers differently.

“Residential” customers get a bottom line price (no breakdown) with the only the moulding number (and sometimes a mat board number) as a reference. This makes it more difficult to compare prices if they are comparison shopping.

We deal with several large commercial companies whose purchasing departments require written quotes if they are sending stuff out for bids. In this case, since often the price inquiries are done over the phone, we will fax them with an itemized line-by-line quote after we have done our homework.
Jay H is on target when it comes to Picture it! Most shops look at stuff like this as , we don't need customers such and such. Well it is difficult to imagine a finished project for most folks. So it is a great system. Wait as long as you wish, it will get better and better and you will still wait. But why? Why not get it now and make advances with your business?

This is one big plus...think of a commercial job where you send in blind quotes and they go over the details without you there representing your shop. So you send in the paper work that saids your fifty maps will have a four inch mat with a gold fillet, a four inch wide gold frame and it is $500.00 a piece. Ok that sounds like alot to me. Now what if I include a picture of this all finished? You get a visual saying hey here it is done, this is what you are going to get. If you send in the same quote as another shop and they got a picture of what it is going to look like done....I know who I am going with.

Patrick Leeland