How long does it take you?

Donna at MetroAF

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
May 6, 2005
Roseville, MN
Ok, I know we live in a world where convenience is directly tied in to the perception of what makes good/bad customer service.
So, here's the thing:
How long does it take you to complete a frame job? From the layout to the finished product. We have Fast Frames here that are 3 weeks out. We are 14 days- at most (unless a moulding is backordered until the end of space and time), yet our clients question even that. Are we slow, or are people just too needy?
The shop I work in now has a 10 business day turnaround, but I usually get them done in 6.

However, every other shop I've worked for had a 14 business day turnaround. The fast turnaround here is because we only deal with local companies, and thus, get the supplies within 1-3 days.
14 or under. If they are in a rush and pick a close supplier (sp) I can do it under 48 hours or less.

Some shops I know of were over 2 months.

Just got a sale from a former FastFrame customer this morning.

Nothing against any FF'ers on the grumble but she said the other price she got from them made her not want to frame it but tried me on her way home.

She said my price and turnaround were better.

Made my day.
Our normal turn-a-round time is posted as 10 days.

However we offer 24 hour service, based on availability of time and in stock materials (frame, simple mats and simple mounting). We have a large sign stating this in our window.

Few individuals have taken us up on the offer. The offer is the same price as the 10 day service.
Two weeks is the "default" schedule we have programmed into our FrameReady software. But when a customer asks for quicker delivery, we will do it if possible. Usually, material delivery is the only obstacle.

I'm thinking of offering a fast delivery cycle for some added cost. Any comments on that idea? Do any of you do it? How do customers react to the extra cost?
The only problem with doing fast turnaround jobs (48hrs or less) is that sometimes a client will get used to that completion time and on future jobs you do for that client that can't be turned around that fast they will be dissappointed. I do offer fast service on some jobs and I have clients that because I have done it for them expect it every time now. Not because they just want it fast for no reason but because they tend to wait on their plans for framing till the last minute. I am not going to turn the business down and do tell them to try to plan a little further out but that rarely happens with some of them. My employees hate these jobs and I don't blame them but money in the bank is money in the bank. 2 days or 2 weeks.

All that being said 1 1/2 to 2 weeks is my standard turn around.

We usualy don't charge extra for fast turn around jobs unless there is added costs in shipping (red label, under minimum order, etc.)
7 - 10 days unless something is back ordered. If someone is in a panic and friendly I can do next day on somethings. If they are in a panic and hateful they can wait!!!
2-week default. If we're slow it gets out quicker..
We have done some amazing things in 3 hours too.

Tomorrow I will go in at 6 am, and "knock out" one we've had for two months....customer was in Hawaii.. now home so it's time. Museum OP3, fab mat w/ fillet 41x64. :D Any wonder I've been putting it off?
We have a 14 day turnaround but do it more quickly if they desire. We add cost for rush orders only if we need to have the materials shipped. The customers seem to think that's fair and don't balk at the cost.
Right now I say, "Two weeks but it may be sooner and we will call."

That’s temporary. As soon as possible I'm going to mess around with doing things in 1 day or 2 days if possible.

Jim, I'm not sure I would charge for a rush because you usually have the benefit of selling some scraps or if it’s an instock item, you paid less for it anyway. What would be added intangible benefit if you didn't charge. Unless you’re paying overtime, it’s not costing you more.

I asked an employee at one of the best galleries that I have ever been about their turnaround. She answered, "Oh well I ask them when they want it."

I looked at her like she had antennas.

"Well if they want it today we do it today and if they want it tomorrow we have it ready by tomorrow."

They were set up to frame every piece in 24 hours. What was no big deal to the shop, absolutely wow'd their customers. They have a selling advantage that can't simply be copied.

On the flip side of the coin they didn't have 4800 profiles or order 8’ lengths at over inflated prices they way many do today.

It was an interesting experience.
10 days is where I shoot for. I order all chops and mats for the job, so if its something I happen to have in stock its always quicker. Or if its on back order it can run just a day or two more. I averaged out my work orders and 6 days is it.... The other two shops in town will not even consider rush orders, 3 weeks is there time. I'm new, and hungry so I'll find a way.
It will be ready a week from saturday.
This allows us to gang like jobs together.

I am planning an operation with next day or 2 day max service on every job.
I listened to a talk with Vivian Kistler and one of the first things she said was to get it done in at least a week if you can. She said most shops she asked said they run two weeks. Most don't need to. Some have a harder time getting in supplies, so the longer delivery time is understandable. But, why make them wait two weeks if you don't have to. It is really easy to slip into that two week wait if you allow yourself to.

So, I took it to heart and I now run 7-10 days, but generally I can get them done in 3-5 since I have so many local suppliers.

I'd be happy to have enough work in the shop to command a two week waiting period. If you reconfigure your work schedule it is really easy to tighten it up and have a shorter turn around time.
If the material is in house, I usually get it done in 24-48 hours. If things have to be ordered, then I finish the job as soon as possible after the material hits my door...usually 24-48 hours. I don't mind working into the night to get work out the door and go home before I hit the mistake stage. Sometimes that's 6:00 pm and sometimers after midnight. Average turn around time is 5-7 days if I don't count cleaning and restoration work.

Dave Makielski
7 days. We complete them in 6 because promising they will be done in "approximately 7 days" sometimes means they are at the door on the 7th day at 10am. It's happened with enough consistency that we've adjusted. There are several jobs per week that need to be done in a couple days or same day. Heck, I had someone dissapointed last week at 1 hour, they just can't be pleased.

At any rate, for our normal turn around we complete the jobs at least 1 day before the promised date. On average, it makes for a happier customer.
I worked in a few places and the turn around time has been two weeks in all of them. They were different sizes, 2people-one full time one part time, nine people all full time, and three people two full one part time. Now I find this to be pretty normal from talking to folks. Could it be quicker, yes. At each shop I worked at they had some length on hand, so the next day was possible even a couple of days before Christmas. It should always be possible to push one through here and there. Remember you never want to say no to a customer. If the customer was pushy they might have been charged, but most understood how things worked.
And we never really had folks that took advantage of us being able to turn around a job quickly. And if they showed up late, like a week after "it is so important I need it tomorrow." We let them know when it was done, and asked casually if all was OK since they were not able to show up.

Patrick Leeland
Originally posted by Donna at MetroAF:
Ok, I know we live in a world where convenience is directly tied in to the perception of what makes good/bad customer service.
So, here's the thing:
How long does it take you to complete a frame job? From the layout to the finished product. We have Fast Frames here that are 3 weeks out. We are 14 days- at most (unless a moulding is backordered until the end of space and time), yet our clients question even that. Are we slow, or are people just too needy?
Wow.. must be your location, the FastFrame here is five to seven days, most of the time less, and the BB's and independents are three weeks +.

yes, most of the time it is five to seven days, if it is an order, however for those of us who have decent stock we can do up something in a little as an hour or two.

A lot of it is "when does the customer need it"? We try to accomidate most anything within reason.

[ 06-02-2005, 06:22 PM: Message edited by: DenKym ]
I can't help but wonder about a few things in this thread.First my default is 2 weeks .Some times less some times more and some times I ask "when do you need it for?".But I can't be all things to all people.

My questions are : Isn't there a lot of variables here that aren't getting mentioned? e.g. How many frames do you do in a day?How many framers are there on staff? Isn't there a limit to what can be accomplished with out increaseing either of the first two? Isn't there a differance in the numbers based on what needs to be done to each frame?

But most importantly would the better question be how many standard frames can you produce per man /hour?And also wouldn't it be prudent to build in some cushion just in case the inevitable does happen?

I get the impression that some have NO LIMITS to how many jobs they can do in a day and therfore they can promise what ever each customer wishes.
Is it just me or are we omitting some very important variables ?
Typically a week. If it is something that they bring to me and say, be creative, well, I warn them that it may be a few weeks. I may be more inspired away from the design counter, and the designs are better if you let me contemplate!

Have also done things in a rush situation, but I am wary of having people come to expect the impossible, too. Rush fees usually take care of this.

The only time I haven't charged a rush fee for- framed pcs. for funerals.
Buddy, You have a good point there; but when the question is so generic, I think at least 94.78327% of us knee jerk to our general default of what falls out of our mouths on any given day when a customer asks "about how long".

We usually get blank stares when we start ticking off the size, moulding number, UPS zone counts, use of CMC diagnostics and the cost of lunch... don't you?
Our stock order is 2 weeks, unless it is truly a custom job. Since I do my woodworking work out behind the shop, I am constrained by the weather. I explain to people that those jobs may take 3-4 weeks.

The 2 week estimate is based on our phoning in orders on Wednesday for a Thursday delivery. I try my best to have all work orders complete by close of business Saturday.

There have been a few rush jobs where we finished up the pieces in as little as 3 hours or so. We even had one person who called at 7:45 saying that they had a piece needed for 10:00. It was to be presented to a distinguished visitor and someone dropped the ball and forgot to get a poster framed. Luckily we had an old frame hanging on the wall in the back that just fit it.
Less than 2 weeks

I always ask during the early stages when they need it. Very important - before choosing stuff. We have done things in an hour.

Jim, we always say that we are usually at 2 weeks & check their response. If they say "Well I need it in 4 days!" I will often charge 15% extra - maybe 20% extra if same day or on Dec 22nd. If they say - well I am having company & sure would like to have it on my birthday in 5 days - I'll just do it to make them happy. If I do charge anyone a rush charge I tell them why - out of sync & extra shipping chrges etc. Of course, a very good customer will not be charged rush. I usually don't get a bad reaction. Hope that helps Jim
We have a two week turnaround plan. Sometimes more and sometimes less--mostly depending on the urgency. Buddy, you raise some good questions. There are only two in our shop. I work the normal day store hours and my partner comes in at night (he has a day job). I have to admit our biggest problem is procrastination and the customers themselves. If they are regulars and impatient, we "getherdone"; if they have had the artwork under their beds for months and tell us there is no rush, we tend to take advantage. Go ahead and scold me; I am being perfectly honest.
I think Some may be takeing my post too personally. It was not intended to be an attack or a suspicion about wether the time is honest. It is to point out that we aren't compareing apples to apples.
I have just me in my shop ,and I also sell needlewprk supplies.When I am waiting on retail customers I can't be framing. I don't stay after closing any longer either .There are some shops that have multple employees and while I do have a CMC some of those mulple employee shops have better equiped back rooms than mine. So to say that my Turn around time is to be compared to theirs just isn't an accurate comaprison.

However ,to be honest ,I must admitt like many others that I don't work to my full potential all the time.But regaurdless both of us will at some point reach our own saturation point and to say that we can offer shorter and shorter completion times doesn't seem accurate to me, unless there is some things we aren't mentioning.

It just seems to me that there are limits to what can be produced by evry set of circumstances and they aren't all the same and we should only compare those that have equal production abilities.
Hence the questions: "how many standard frames can you produce per man /hour?And also wouldn't it be prudent to build in some cushion just in case the inevitable does happen?"

And no Baer I don't even think to bother customers with those statistics.Otherwise I would only have one answer and it would never be "When do you need it?"
This is purely meant to give ourselves and accurate comparison.
Buddy, I think those variables do just that- vary greatly. I assume that any shop's answer is based on pretty generic framing volume, and what they know about their shop. If a shop does 200 completed pcs. a week, including shadowboxes, etc., I am also going to assume that the hiring's been done to accomodate that as a typical workload.

If I am sewing 45 crocheted name doilies, which is not normal volume for me, but may be for some, my standard answer is going to altered by that. If it's three weeks before Christmas, overnight is not very likely. Now, a week before, when the majority of stuff has been done and picked up, well, yeah, ya might luck out.

When customers ask us this as a way to compare us to another frame shop, they don't know what is going on in the back room.
I don't think they really care what we are doing to make a 3- 5 day turnaround happen, as long as we do what we say we're gonna do. If it is two weeks or more, some customers might think, well, hire some people!

If one is doing truly custom work, I say all bets are off, but that is going to be something specialized the customer hopefully seeks out, and knows what is involved. Hopefully.
Back when I was a customer, my framer framed something for me in 2 hours on Christmas eve. Yeah I procrastinated BIG time :) I didn't even pressure them to do it. I had spent a couple thousand on a few pieces that fall. They were a great shop. Normal turn around for them was 10-14 days. This was 1988. Two years later, they sold the business to a horrible chain that folded a year or two after that.

... because we are on a military base... these guys never find out that they need framing until the last minute. Today I finished two projects that I took in TODAY! Our regular turn around is supposed to be within two weeks.
For about 18 years I had a one week or less turn around for orders. Buddy's and Gumbogirl's comments are right on. It really depends on many variables.

For the last few years, I have been using a 2 week turnaround sign, calling when done sooner, and accomodating the occasional rush order in 1 day or less. Works great for me.

I found the one week or less turnaround for a one person shop was not as efficient in time and materials. It left little room for the inevitable problems that arise - out of stocks, warped moulding, complicated orders, long winded customers or an unusual number on a day could wipe out a lot of your work time.

I finally decided that life was too short.

Kathy, I switched to two weeks because of Vivian. In classes that I took from her in the 1980's, she suggested that two weeks were more efficient for the small frame shop - and she was teaching to shops who were often four weeks or longer on their turnaround.

I noticed a little more than a year ago, Vivian wrote in her column that we should try for one week. She is a smart lady. I assumed that she thought with technology, quicker deliveries, and the rise of BB's, small shops could use a one week turnaround as an advantage over the BB's.

Of course, I always seem to be out of step and not very business like, so perhaps I should switch back to that one week or less.

But then, life is short . . . . . .
Too funny Terry! In reality I also am the one who seems to be out of step and not very business like so as you can see I compromised and went 7-10 days, that way I am only half a step out of line? Or something like that.....
We also do the 14 day thing. If you want it in a week or less 20% rush charge. If you want it more than a week but less than 14 days--no extra charge.
We usually get them done a lot faster about 10 days-sometimes less and call the customer when it's done especially if they have a balance owing--They are thrilled to get it "early".

We average two weeks or more, but I am trying to figure out a way to go to one week...we only get deliveries once a week, though. I have recently been stocking about 15 basic profiles that I can turn around quickly for "emergency" framing (as well as "promotional sales"). Our production time is awful, and one of the areas I am determined to improve. We do a high percentage of specialty work, though, so that seems to be part of the problem. Also, I am very, very picky about quality....maybe we spend too much time picking out dust specks....

I will ditto your comment about being very very picky. I know I'm not nearly as efficient as I could be and make positively sure the job is up to my quality expectations. In the year and a half I've been in my new location I have not had one job returned to correct any problem. I'm quite amazed and surprised by this as in a lifetime of working with employees doing the framing "re-do's" were quite common. I'm a one man shop now and the last step I do on each job is personally sign the piece on the back dustcover. This is my final quality control as I think to myself..."Is there ANYTHING about this job I am not proud to put my name on?". I have several times stopped at this last stage and started a job over rather than sign the work and let it go out the door.

Dave Makielski
2 weeks. Depending on complexity. Can and will do special requests more quickly - but I don't want to "spoil them" unless it is for a special occasion...

No one seems to mind 2 weeks but the benefit of sooner is the cash flow!! The sooner you do it the sooner it's ready and hopefully the sooner they come and pay the balance!!

Some people want it tomorrow - just because! Those are the customers that will jump from frame shop to frame shop...

Some projects (like Baer's reference above) you procrastinate on... or the creative time may not come according to schedule - that always takes longer!!
Originally posted by Jay H:
"Oh well I ask them when they want it."

I looked at her like she had antennas.

"Well if they want it today we do it today and if they want it tomorrow we have it ready by tomorrow."

They were set up to frame every piece in 24 hours. What was no big deal to the shop, absolutely wow'd their customers. They have a selling advantage that can't simply be copied.

Jay that is a selling advantage and it can be copied, it all depends on whether or not somebody has the ability to copy it or even wants to copy it.

In our shop we ask people if they need it by a certain time, if they do then we make it happen and make it happen sooner than they need it if possible. If they need it tomorrow we ask what time and make sure it is done at least an hour before that. Sure there are limits to what materials they can use but we have over 50 mouldings that we keep in stock plus we have extra length from past customer orders as well. Mats...we have at least one of every color in stock. Need a 48 x 96 poster framed with NG cons plexi, no problem, we have it in stock.

Now Buddy also brought up a good point, this question depends on how the shop is set up. I have talked with Buddy and I know that his turnaround is not as quick as mine (nothing is wrong with that, please take no offense Buddy). We just run our businesses differently. Warren can turn more things on average quicker than I can, he carries more inventory than I do.

My overall turnaround time is no longer than 10 days with most things being about 5 days. Many jobs in 1 hour or less.
Tim no offense taken. In fact you are closer to my point then most others may be. Previously I could see some Grumblers seeing some of these defaults and what seemed like their limitless ability to give any and ALL customers their work when ever they wanted it, regaudless of what they wanted, as a indication that their own respective shops must be lacking if they couldn't match what was being said.

This just isn't true. I also said that my comments weren't intended to be given to customers but shared with other FRAMERS as a comment of understanding that some may be able to turn things out much faster than others but it can be caused by a littany of rasons from very large well equiped staff to very low work volume and as has been mentioned ,an inability to obtain materials on a timely basis.Or a combination of all of these. But most importantly these things vary from shop to shop and you may not be doing anything wrong.
I hope I don't get anyone mad with this, but because I can get delivery from one of my suppliers, or another, five days a week, and my major supplier is only a few minutes away. I try to get any normal order out in 72 hours or less, usually second day after it's dropped off. It seems when the customer gets their order that fast, they don't care about the price.
That also helps me get my work done sooner, so I can relax.
That is a great turnaround, Sarah. Not so lofty a goal as some would think, especially with local suppliers.

I forgot to factor in GRUMBLE TIME into the equation. That has to add at least 2 days.