I need it by...

Dateline: Yesturday.

Lady says "I just need it before Christmas, I'm not in a hurry for it!"

Actually I'm not either. I'm doing 100% custom through today as I get another truck from all my vendors next week but I'm becoming unsure if I will be able to get them all done. What kills me is that I'm caught up right now then all heck breaks loose Tuesday morning.

Bring it on!
I haven't turned a customer down yet but won't be taking anymore shadowboxes.
I had a guy come in last Saturday to frame a "hole in one" golf ball and assorted paraphenalia...needed it for Christmas. The thing was that he's had the stuff for 5 years and finally decided to do it.
I was thinking about telling him I couldn't but decided I would just charge him a premium. Hope I don't regret it!

I'm been trying to stay ahead but this next week should be interesting.
Today, Saturday, is probably the last day I'll take any more in for Christmas. Quite a few more late nights ahead next week...

Dave Makielski
Through today my answer is Sure, you can have it for Christmas.

After 5:00 today though the answer becomes yes you can have in the frame and mat I tell you to use. (Moulding I can pick up locally if need be)

After many years of taking it all personally I have finally gotten over feeling as if I'm ruining someone's by not working 'til midnight all week or discounting by half. I will do everything reasonable to ensure that even the latest procrastinator has a gift to present. What I won't do is drive to Chicago to pick up the only frame she likes, or do a $220 job for $75 because that's all he really wanted to spend.

I do reserve some heroics for students and younger kids who are doing something nice for their parents but had to wait for Uncle Elmer to send something or for Chip to come home from college to finish his part.
We're trying an experiment this year. We did the overtime LAST week and caught up to a zero day turnaround. (normally 8-10) The pieces we completed today were taken in last night and this morning. (still scheduled for pickup on the 23rd/24th)

The plan is to free up workshop time so we can take on additional last minute customers. (from stock on hand only) The big boxes started turning people away 8 days ago, and we're trying to turn this into a customer winning advantage. Their tardiness creates a financial advantage, because we're getting them into mouldings purchased in box qty.

I never thought I'd say this, but the yellow pages are paying off this week (I assume people go down the list checking around who will take them on short notice)

The jury is still out if we'll be bored or busy for the next week. I guess it depends on how many procrastinators are out there

Does anyone else do this?

I took in 10 Christmas jobs today (14 frames)...that's it! Unless Joe best customer (aren't they all?) comes in I'm afraid to promise any more for Christmas...

I'll tell people I'll do my best... but I can't promise anymore.

Still have three shadow boxes to complete and about 25 frames...

Dave Makielski
After having a customer today and on Friday place a rush order and then come back and try to cancel I think I may have to start telling them "I'll try".
BOth times the frames had already been chopped so I wouldn't let them cancel.

I'm not swamped but have a couple of shadowboxes and a good amount of regular framing to complete.
Somehow I don't think it's my responsibility to question whether they really want to place the order or not.
It's my job to take their money and get the job done!
Or at least I thought that was my job. :confused:

I've never had this happen before and it's happened two days in a row.

The framing gods must be playing games with me.
I was always surpised at how many people come in before Xmas, but didn't really want the job or at least all of the jobs by Xmas. I asked each one and often it was, "No I'm in no hurry". I always had a backlog to do after the holiday was over.

We never turned a job down, no matter what and always managed to do them all one way or another. We had to have the stuff in stock and would really clean out the bins.
Down to my last 12 jobs (and 3 of those are fairly simple shadowboxes) before Christmas. Got a bunch of work promised for January though. Feeling good about how smoothly this holiday season has gone. Today was my last day for Christmas orders but everything I took in today is for January anyway.
We're done taking in Christmas stuff after today. Lots of work still for Christmas delivery, though - lots of late nights and Sunday yet to get it all done. THANK YOU to the customers who stopped in and don't want it for Christmas. January is shaping up nicely...

Beat Dec '03 today - with 5 more work days in the year before we close on the 22nd.

A new designer came in this morning about 7am, said that she had driven by these past few weeks during the pre-dawn hours and seen me working away.

She gave me her card, we talked breifly then another customer came in. The designer quietly told the other woman to go ahead that she was just soaking up the framing styles. (curious term)

After the woman had gone the designer said. "That was a tough customer. I don't know how you got what she wanted out of her." I told her that we are really framers; we're just problem solvers, we just act like framers. (blood sugar was getting low and I was getting a little out of hand.)

She smiled and said "I have a lot of work to get framed for a few clients homes. I like your framing. And I like the way you can deal with customers. And most of all, I like your quote the other day that you would try to keep my poster frame under the $6,000 mark. When your work load is slowing and can handle some very delicate jobs, give me a call and we will schedual our framing with you."

I could have kissed her. About 2 pm, I wavered on a job for Christmas. The next customer got a "no".

I figure about 75 hours till Friday noon.. .
I'm still hoping to take in a few more between now and Wednesday. I only have 20 more to do for now, half of them waiting for materials which should be in Monday. I am determined to not get stuck in the store until 3am on Thursday night like I have in years past. But, there is always someone who shows up on the 23rd who I cannot bring myself to say no to and I always make my annual trek to the one supplier who is opened til noon on the 24th.

I had a gentleman call on Sunday evening after 7 who needed a 37x50 canvas framed. he was expecting to have it framed on the spot. I told him the best I could do would be by Monday evening since I would have to order in for something that big. He told me he was going to keep looking since he felt certain somebody could do it. I thought offering 24 hour turn around 5 days before Christmas was generous but I wished him luck and happy holidays!
Speaking as someone who has been doing this for 25 years, don't delude yourselves into thinking that folks whom you have never seen before will designate you as their favorite framer just because you bail them out at Christmas. We have gained very few new, loyal customers this way. That is why we charge a rush fee for everything under two weeks' turnaround. But, Hey! At least they can get it done here. And yes, box-purchased length (Thanks, Bob Carter!) is making both the customer and the accountant happy this year.
My favorite 'gotta have it' story took place about 15 years ago. We delivered some corporate framing to downtown DC on Dec 23rd. The High Executive said, "I have some stuff here that I need to frame for Christmas. Can you do it?" "Why, yes, we can, but there is a 40% premium for next day delivery" "40%! How hard can it be? It's only 4 sticks of wood and some paper! I'll just take it to the do-it-yourself framer near my house!" Wish I knew how the tale came out, but the company never called us again...
I just can't believe how many photo frames and gift items we have sold! We have boxed and gift wrapped so many I have lost count.

I don't know exactly how many frame jobs are due....a bunch is all I know. ( I REALLY should go look ..he he ).
On top of everything else I have to drive to Big Sky at 9 this morn . It about an hours drive over and an hour back plus picture hanging time.... there goes my morning! I have to do an install for some customers who just "have to" have their stuff up for Christmas. ( They only visit these homes about 2 to 4 weeks out of the year )
We too are only using what we have in stock.
Won't turn anyone away as long as we are healthy. ;)
Maybe our experiment was a bad idea. We've been sitting here for 3 hours this morning with nothing to do. :(

Where are the last minute customers? It's snowing pretty heavily at the moment, so that might explain why it's a ghost town in our shop today.
Originally posted by EllenAtHowards:
don't delude yourselves into thinking that folks whom you have never seen before will designate you as their favorite framer just because you bail them out at Christmas.
Yeah, I'm not courting them to fall in love with me although I have had several that have come back for more. Just as they are single minded in purpose finding someone to frame quickly I am just as single minded in purpose of making as much money as possible, so it is a mutual exchange.

I haven't seen the need to charge a rush fee though..............
Yeah, well, ok ... just don't scratch your head a few months from now and wonder why the guy who was being charged a 40% rush fee never came back ... I wouldn't, either.

You either tell them it can be done (for a REASONABLE amount) or it can't. This attitude of I've-got-you-by-the-short-and-curlies-so-take-it-or-leave-it could be one reason why framers whine. At least the big boxes are honest about it; can't be done with the time left. Sure, sometimes you take a hit, but, welcome to retailing (lets not forget the box-program extras we're making).

Thanks, I'll charge a fair amount, tell the truth, and do my best to show why the local shop is part of their lives and community. In this economy, be glad for everyone who walks in the door.

And they DO come back.
The 40% next-day-rush fee was a necessity in the Old Framing Van Days. Then it involved lots of travel time. To the customer twice in two days, to the supplier (because we didn't keep anything in stock in that business) and it all meant lots of time in Washington traffic.
Of course we don't charge like that in our more traditional storefront setting here in a more 'normal' town. It was a different culture in those Framing Van days. Corporations wanted it done now and they knew it was going to cost more because we had to step outside our normal service mode. Trust me, many called back again and again (still have a few that mail us stuff because they know we deliver when we promise and it is done right... this is an apparent rarity from what we hear)
We are still getting a few last minute framing orders and cutting lots of mats for the customers to frame it themselves. Finished the last big shadowbox (turned out coollll) and now it is mop-up time...
We're having our best Christmas season for as far back as I can remember -- at least 1999. But we were ready. Pat, Nadine, Gail, and I are working extra time and we're planning production to fit the daily needs. No problem.

If a customer asks the impossible, we offer a gift certificate (10% off gift certificates advertised in recent weeks).

I charge rush fees only on occasions when I know they are justified by known extra costs. For example, if a customer comes in tomorrow and says he/she absolutelypositivelymusthaveitbyChristmas, we will:
1. Make sure all materials are on hand, and
2. Calculate the retail price for time needed to do the job after hours @$60/hr, our usual shop rate...not time-and-a-half, just straight time.

I would never charge an added fee without fully explaining it to the customer. Knowing it is fair and reasonable, he/she can then decide whether it's worth the extra money. Also, we don't have them thinking later that they've been gouged.
How about:

"If you bring something in TODAY, and want it framed for TOMORROW, place your order before 12:00 noon YESTERDAY..."

Here in Wilmington, we've been tearing up the pea patch. Last week we turned out 330 framing jobs cutting up about 4,000 ft. of moulding; this week so far we're doing a little over 55 frames a day. No one is staying late, though. We've worked out the work flow so we can easily do this volume and like it. We'll take orders up to 2 o'clock Christmass eve. Last year, I think we did about 10 jobs on Christmass eve. The customers joined our Christmass party while we made the frames, cut the mats... There is a big demand for reasonably priced framing out there.

There are 11 of us but 2, Toni and I, are pretty much out of it so the work is being done by 9 people easily.
As long as they come, we will cut mats, put in frames, whatever. 'Tis the season to make money!