I 'd like to ask this one more time.


SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Founding Member
Nov 23, 1997
Mandeville, LA USA
Recently There has been a rush of people down here getting LSU National Champion memrobilia framed. I have done a few .But the largest to date was a young man who brought in 15 4X6 photos of the Sugar Bowl game,all the Ticket stubs for EVERY game LSU played includeing the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl and then he had me cut National Champions at the botton and 2003 LSU at the top of a 28.5 X 39 in. double mat (Imperial Plum and Rose Gold Florentine)in a OEM Gold metal frame similar to Nielson #15.
While none of this was CP grade all the tickets amd photos were window cut(26 in all) with our Wizard as were the Upper case 1.25 in. letters.All were hinged mounted (yes to the mat) and the glass was regular float .
I am just curious how our priceing stacked up with others around the country, espeically since we used the Wizard.Our price came out to be $200 and some change. What would others have charged? And yes, I fully realize my price has nothing to do with yours especially if you don't live or work in the Chlmette area.

[ 02-19-2004, 11:29 PM: Message edited by: BUDDY ]
In either of the last two places I worked this job would have been well over $500 without the words cut at the top and bottom.

The matting would've been about $360 on its own

(Those shops were both in the NYC metro area)

edit: I didn't factor in any additional labor for setting down all those tickets. I'm sure that the job as you did it, words and all would have been over $600 in either place

[ 02-20-2004, 08:56 AM: Message edited by: Meghan MacMillan ]
Ready-to-hang: $400 even plus tax. (I swear - NOTHING ever comes out even, but this did.)

$267 for the mat alone, unless the Mat Maestro is having a bad day. Then it couldn't be done for any price (unless I could get Jean McClean to cut it for me.)
So far so good ! I 'm having my suspicions confirmed. First that their are regions that priceing would be WAY higher than mine,next that without CMCs these jobs would be daunting to say the least not to mention more costly.
But finally that I may indeed be priceing my work too low due to the ease with which these jobs are completed with the help of CMCs.
I have always been accused of underpriceing by my wife but she somiled this price.We did indded fine this job much easier to complete but it had a large factor for material waste if done incorrectly (even slightly) since in used almost 2 entire shets of mat .
I hope I get more input.,and I'm sorry for being so anxious for replies.

These real world pricing questions are near and dear to my heart. I ask myself everyday if I'm too high or too low on everything. I am without a doubt the cheapest framer in 2 towns. I don't advertise or promote this fact but it is true. I shop my competition on a regular basis.

Now I don't have a CMC so something like this would have taken me forever to do. I do have friends in a nearby city that would cut the mat for me.

By my figuring using FrameReady and kicking in some extra to pay for cutting I'm around $275 for this project. If you rent your Wizard, you used a lot of corners!

You need to think about bumping up your CMC cut prices a little.
I would probably price this job at about $450.

Have you considered the amount of time that you will need to measure, layout, and mount all of these items ? I try to time myself on this kind of a project to see if I am charging enough labor time. Next time something similar comes in you have a better idea of how much you should charge.

[ 02-20-2004, 10:43 AM: Message edited by: Bob Shirk MCPF ]
Buddy: I think this has been mentioned before on CMC pricing topics but the general rule of thumb is even if you own a CMC you need to price the mats out as if you were doing it by hand. That is the only way you can pay for your CMC and turn a nice profit. In the Minneapolis/St. Paul area I would guess that this job would go for between $450.00 and $600.00.
I'm too low. But I already know I need to increase my prices. I probably would have priced about the same as Buddy and wondered how loudly the customer would squeal before walking out the door. But, they haven't been walking out the door so prices are going up.
Well Buddy, I have been thinking my "specialty" cuts are WAY too low and I came out about $375 plus tax for that job.
My computer tells me the price should be around $500 without the lettering.
Don't make the mistake of pricing too low just because the mat cutter makes it easy.
That is one of the reasons I am finding the need to sell the mat cutter I own.
I've left too much money on the table for fear of losing business because of pricing.

Charge fairly for your services. Don't give it away for free!
I don't usually do pricing threads, but for you, Buddy, I will. My price would be $460.00 c/p. Non-c/p,$40.00-$50.00 less.

I'm not seeing much difference from region to region. Is it really the region, or perhaps the operator of the business who may be afraid to charge more? Or the location of a shop within a region, where customer base might determine price? I couldn't charge, or sell, what I do if I were located in Springfield instead of East Longmeadow.

Buddy and katman, your prices are less than HALF what the rest of us would have chrarged. That is way too much difference from the rest of us in my opinion. I don't care where you are located.
My computer tells me $380.00 just for double alpha mats with the 26 openings and 7 letters. Thats $5 for each rectangular opening, times 2 because of the double mat. For the letters I used $10 and assumed that would only be in the top mat. Hinging all the tickets and drymounting the photos would be on top of that--I don't know, $50.00?
About $500 for the mats, but I'd send it to Deb since (well for now) she has a Wizard.
Pamela--yup, I'm way too low. It will be another couple of weeks before I complete my comparison shopping, but I expect I'll be making some significant adjustments this year. I am concerned that I might find I need to change locations, but I've been in this spot for only two years. It's not a terrible spot so before I move again I'm going to play with the signage and advertising.
We'd be in the $400 range. Just because the Wizard makes 26 openings quick and painless doesn't mean you have to give them away. I've already learned the Wiz lets us do things we couldn't do before - and we don't give those things away cheap just because.

Just on speculation I designed a "Carolina Panthers Super Bowl Champions" mat (don't need it this year) that ran around 250 corners - It would have run $55 FOR THE CUT plus the cost of the mat. Maybe next year....


[ 02-20-2004, 04:29 PM: Message edited by: AWG ]
Pam I understand were you are coming from and where you may be heading. However I do also suspect that if honesty would allow my closest competitors to participate you'd see why my priceing is what it is.( perhaps the operator of the business who may be afraid to charge more? Or the location of a shop within a region, where customer base might determine price?) I have gotten myself in an akward psition of doing little extra hand carveing for very little and now that my fiercest local competitor has a Wizard they are professing QUICK RELIABLE service and i suspect sending all the bottom feeding ,specialty seeking customers to me.( an old trick which i know as well)
But when we do limited price checks in this neighborhood we are right in the ball park.(If everyone is being honest) this encludes consumers who often walk when we quote prices.
However I did up the price and probably will a little more. But I for one have a hard time chargeing the same for what is sooooo easy,especially when i try to compulate what to charge for hand work which I still do a lot of.
Thanks for all the answers and keep them coming along with the explanations.
The next time I get something like that in, I'm shipping it off to Buddy. He does good work. He can charge me full retail and I can charge my regular price and stay home and watch Dr. Phil.

How that sound, Buddy?
Hey Buddy-I'm with the rest of the group and suggest that you might be a tad on the low side.

Have you done a Cost of Goods anaylsis to see how you came out? I suspect that you did fine, but that doesn't mean the consumer should win this one.

You are most correct in understanding what the market will bear by shopping the market, but on truly specialty items like this "The sky is the limit".

I'll bet you could have added another $100 and sold it as easily. Then you could have taken Miss Marie out for a little etouffe.
Oh sure, Bob.

I'm closing in on a plan to stay home and let Buddy do all the work, and you're trying to get him to raise his prices.

Leave Buddy alone! He knows exactly what he's doing.
Buddy, how does your WORK compare to the other places? I've seen examples, and you do nice, creative, work. Shouldn't better workmanship=higher prices. I hate to see you leaving "money on the table" by not charging enough.
Cut with the wizard our price as specified
402.68 + tax but I woudld have shown a much nicer frame and archival mats and added another
150-200 dollars and told them they would have an Heirloom worthy of a Champion!!!!!
$369.03 that's with tax - ready to hang.

I have a wizard and everytime I do one of these jobs I think of the time it would take me without it. (I'd probably not offer to do the job)

A couple weeks ago, I did one with 60 openings. Half way through the first mat I found an error, on my part. I'm just glad the Wizard works so fast and doesn't throw things at me when I make it do work over.
Ok here is the latest I can add to the thread.
However first let me asure EVERYONE I truly appreciate your suggestions ,advise and most of all your compliments.
Now haveing said all that ,and having already stated my position that the priceing checks we have done in this area indicate that we are very near if not dead on the average. (and NO! I don't cosider my work superior or desrving of any better prices than a lot of my co-workers in this area.)
However after getteing a bit defensive about my priceing being TOO LOW. First let me remind you of a few things. First while I disagree with Him immensely AJ who lives in LA. swares his prices are much lower than most (and that includes me) in this area. Next I am fully aware and in agreement with shopping the competition secretly to see what the market will bare. Next I have always said (DESPITE what this pole makes it look like) that different localities with their different Cost of livings can dictate a totoaly different priceing structure for the VERY same Framing.
However when I said I wish I had some direct competition's prices in the mix,I came up with a great idea. I called a TRUE friend of mine who is completely sucessful, business wise ,and who is a true artisan (both in Matting and Goldleafing) and who has a Wizard .This gentleman and his wife are the very reason I have said that i agree with cooprative shops. But their margins are far superior to mine.I called and explained the situation and asked if they would mind priceing this job without any input from me or TFG. He Turned on his POS computer and asked for the variables as though I were a customer .His price before Taxes $225.
I told yo I would adjust my price and I did in came to $239 after taxes.
While this is a very limited sampling and you may think it contrived I sware other than a great friendship our shops are in no means alike. Theirs could buy and sell mine and all common suppliers will agree. However our prices are almost Identicle.
Oh! by the way when I told him about the priceing being suggested around the country he suggest the converse of Ron's comment .He told me to offer that if you send us your work we'll gladly do it for say maybe Bob's price and we'll both have a WIN-WIN situation.
Just so you ccan understand my zeal ,down here suggesting that a Frame shop is a low baller is a very derogatory remark (no offense taken) since the guys who do this normally are the ones who aren't capable of drawing clients with their skill and try to do so with giveing the work away.But then I think we've had this conversation before.Belive me and my friend Normal customers in this area would WALK if quoted your prices ( at least until everyone gave them ,and as I'm trying to prove that's not likely)
Thanks and I hope my ranting isn't seen as an insult to all the great advise I have received.And I hope some of you may see things a little different now.
Here's one more take on pricing and different markets. If you'll indulge me a somewhat long story:

Years ago I was a DM for a large bigbox home decor chain (NOT Michaels). Had 13 stores from South Carolina to Ohio. My store in Columbus OH was the number 1 store in the chain in selling black #15 metal :D :eek: . At the same time he was in a sales slump and couldn't match, must less beat, the previous year's sales. A visit was in order. :mad:

Here's what I saw in a day-and-a-half of observation: Every time a customer came to the counter saying "I don't want to spend alot of money" he pulled the #15 black metal. Plain paper mat, regular glass and black 15 on almost everthing. After lunch the second day I pulled the metal corners off the wall (the manager was not happy about this)and we started designing what looked good. Even did stacked frames without a mat. Showed good, innovative design and no metal. At the end of the week we had the best sales week of the year and the store's sales took off :D .

This isn't meant to take a shot at Buddy or anyone else on the G - just a different perspective on things. For years as a store manager with different companies I always claimed my circumstances were different, just like the manager in Columbus. "They won't buy expensive stuff - I know my customers" he said time and again. I didn't know his customers, just brought a different perspective to the design table. The same holds true whether you're in Charlotte, Columbus, Kalamazoo or Appleton: show great, sell great and price doesn't matter as much.

Now as a store owner :eek: I have to take the time to make great, exciting and innovative design. The more profitable a job is, the more money I take home at the end of the week :D . Let me be clear - I'm not gouging my customers on price. I offer a great product at a reasonable price. It's easier to SHOW and sell a $900 job and re-design it to fit a $600 budget, than show a $600 job and negotiate down from there. Customers vote with their pocketbook and if I show them something too expensive they'll ask for something else, not just walk. There are 5 frame shops within spitting distance of my shop so we've got a lot of close-by competition. Very few of my customers leave to go to the other guys. Don't sell yourself short and leave money on the design table.

Please don't take offense everybody - I'm just giving another perspective on the whole price/sales/design thing.


[ 02-21-2004, 09:38 AM: Message edited by: AWG ]
Tony ;I totaly understand and (YES) agree with your concept. I fully understand that if you get into a design rut and always offer the chespest thing you can think of that is exactly what you will sell. I also understand and to some extent practice a "SElling Down" concept. By this I mean I show the nicest thing I can think of ,paying no attention to price and then if the client bawks at the price we offer alternatives that may be a little cheaper until we arive at a price they can live with. However we constantly tell them that if they liked the original design it is just a matter of a few dollars differance and a LOT of differance in appearance which will hang in their house for a LOOOOONG time.
I also understand the concept of carrying better quality materials which sell at higher prices and render more of a profit margin.
But with all of this said I think there may just be something that others aren't understanding. The people here (in this immediate area) shop price even when they spend high)As to why I can't put my finger on it. I have seen people whose income I wish I had just a part of try to save money even when they spend more than I could allow.
Next what we are differing on (Other Framers and I, are labor cost,not Materials and mark-ups).
Granted some of this is MY fault(Mea Culpa).But then I am from the mind set that permiates this area.I think it comes from an opinion that the buyer feels they could do what you are doing ,so it shouldn't cost so much. I know before I had a shop I did. In fact it was just that that caused me to start framing. Still another thing I do is to not let consumers witness the CMC cutting an intricate design. When they do they can't imagine why something that takes so little time cost so much.( this is once again the lack of understanding of OVERHEAD and what owning or even renting a CMC can cost,all they know is zip,zip and it was finished .)
It is only after getting in this biz or any other that the overly confident consumer learns there is an awful lot they haven't cosidered. It is relatively easy ( If you have natural talent) to turn out a SINGLE frame job that is attractive. But doing it day in and day out for what the customer wrongly thinks is a fair price,is a totaly different subject,along with eating your mistakes.
But they don't know this or do they care.They want it to look GREAT and at a price less than any their friends have paid.( Yes I have heard of those consumers who BRAGG on how MUCH they have spent ,but most often that is exagerated by them)
Finally I really am conserned that this seems as though I am irrated and offended by the comments of the rest of you. Belive me I am anything BUT. However I am trying to explain that there is some things that "I THINK" some of you may have the good fortune to be insulated from and can't understand.
I would LOVE to charge what the HIGHEST price was and still have customers flock to my doors. I even try. But belive me it doesn't work for me nor (As I tried to prove) some of the most sucesfull and Talented framers I know in this area.
So as much as it seems that everything is the same all over the country I sware it isn't.

[ 02-21-2004, 12:20 PM: Message edited by: BUDDY ]
Tony, I agree with your comments.

Buddy,I don't think anyone was suggesting you or your neighbors were "lowballing". I would be insulted, also. Let's face it, you know your area/customer base better than we do. If I were in some other area, I would have to charge less, also. But I also don't base my pricing on what others charge. I base it on what it takes to run my business.
A very hard lesson for me to learn was "to never set prices based on your own household budget."

I still struggle with this from time to time and practice the old adage of "do as I say and not as I do..." ;) Or more commonly known as the "yeah but..." syndrome.


[ 02-21-2004, 01:38 PM: Message edited by: B. Newman ]