Larson-Juhl web site

keiki

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Left FL for IL...
Up to now, I haven't been one to 'bash' Larson but I think that's about to change.

For the last 4 years I have had a link on my web site to several of my supplier's web sites, including Larson-Juhl. Since I am going to rework the site I thought I should check the links.

In checking Larsons site, I noticed they had changed since I had last been there. In looking around I found the page that will refer a retail customer to 'their closest Larson framer that carries the best selection of their mouldings. Yes, I looked in and entered my zip code to see if I turned up. There are 3 shops in this zip code and 10 in town.

Well.....There were about 12 shops referred, 2 in town and mine was not one. They referred shops as far away as 30 miles but, you guessed it, not me, and I carrry over 700 samples of Larson. This business has been a Larson customer since before Larson bought Juhl.

You can imagine my incredulity! What does it take to be referred by one of my major suppliers???

I of course called my Rep, and was told I didn't purchase enough to qualify. I understand that I would have to purchase at least $25,000 a year or carry only Larson to get on the list.

After 30 years in business, has this business not qualified through loyalty?
shrug.gif
No, only the almighty dollar counts.

Just what is the percentage of small shops compared to larger shops? I'm betting most of the independent shops are like us, one or three working in the business and carrying the best selection of the local suppliers, but not just one supplier. My supposition is that About 80% of the business Larson serves is in my category and Larson is supporting the minority not the majority of their customers. Where is the best possibility of increase???

Oops, sorry, I'm not thinking in the corporate frame of mind. Just help the big guys and let the little guy sink or swim.
faintthud.gif


I have been seriously thinking of removing Larson from my wall for the past two days, but I thought I would vent my frustrations on the Grumble and see if anyone else felt like me. Go online to Larsons site and see if you are there.

I have talked to two other shops in town and they are just as frustrated as I am.
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What do you think about this situation, is it worth removing Larson and going with other very eager suppliers???
 

Ron Eggers

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keiki,

This is another L-J policy that we may not like, but I don't think it's immoral. Dollar volume earns perks. That makes perfect sense to me.

When considering whether to pull the L-J samples, you have to decide whether it will make any impression on them or end up just hurting you. It's hard to be objective about that when you're mad.

BTW, after 27 years of doing business with them, I never did qualify for this perk. I asked about it, the policy was explained to me and I moved on to things I COULD control.

I don't think I'd put an L-J link on my website, though.
 

JPete

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Do you really want to cut off your nose. Life isn't always fare, but be careful what you wish for. I felt the same way about 5 years ago but it really hasn't changed my selling and purchasing habits. If you've just discovered this, then it probably has done you too much harm because the site has been like that for a few years now.
 

wpfay

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Larson knows what they are doing. It is very deliberate and has specific goals. If you don't believe this check out the 4 page spread in Gourmet magazine and participate in their on line "survey" of custom picture framing.
You can ride the gravy train or get run over by it...there will be few unaffected.
 

FramerRandy

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Montana
Keiki,
I don't think that the lack of a link/reference by LJ affects you, or me, much.
I try to make sure that my web site is linked with the on-line yellow pages, etc.
When I talk with my kids (in there 20s/ 30s), I find that they search for things and use the internet's yellow pages to find what they want.
They don't even know about LJ's web site.
Just make sure your being found by the main methods being used by the folks you want to reach.
That's just my opinion
kaffeetrinker_2.gif
 

Mike Labbe

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That listing is one of the "perks" of being on the LJ Partner program. They are up-front about it and they're promoting shops that have a vested interest in promoting their products.

We almost made it last year, and hope our numbers are up to qualify soon.
 

Sammy

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I had a problem with LJ, a few years back and took every sample of their's off my walls, since then my shop has grown, my suppliers that had good business etiquette have benefited from my growth. Don't let Larson control our industry if you don't believe you where not treated fairly then stand up for what you feel you deserve, and allow the other suppliers to show you that they can give you all that lason does and with good business etiqette.
 

justbecause

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I had a big fire pit and burned all the samples about five or six years ago $500.00 worth. I had to pay for them. What freedom I felt!! I have more work than I can handle. Kim
 

Baer Charlton

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Funny thing. I could have sworn that we have been doing about $30K a year with LJ.....

But we aren't on the list.

Only the usual BB suspects.

Hmmmmmm
 

keiki

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Left FL for IL...
Whether I take Larson off my walls is not necessarily the point, and I won't 'cut off my nose' to prove a point. The point is whether Larson wants to support loyal customers. There are plenty of other companies out there who
are willing, ready and able to provide the same or better services.

Larson specifically said on the page that "The following is a list of recommended custom framers where you can see the most complete selection of the Larson-Juhl product line in the zip code requested." That misleads if you ask me....

And like Baer, those who qualify, should take full advantage.

Sammy and Destiny, glad to hear there is life after Larson.

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Linda Rawson, CPF
 

keiki

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Sorry, repeated my self, unintentionally... :eek:
 

Art On Canvas

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St. Louis, MO
Like Mike, I've been hoping and planning to make the "partner" level with LJ, but haven't yet made their magic number.

I just noticed that at least one of the referred local shops on Larson's website has gone out of business, but I'm still here...
 

Ron Eggers

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There are plenty of other companies out there who are willing, ready and able to provide the same or better services.
You'd be providing a valuable public service by presenting a list.

People are always giving me reasons why I should be mad at L-J. Twice in 27 years, I've pulled every sample and they made nice and lured me back with exceptional products and service.

I suppose I could be annoyed that I never made partner (not likely to now, either.) I could be stung because they won't sell to me now that I'm easing into a home-based, scaled-down business.

But the two times I got really angry with them, it wasn't because of their policies - which are no more arbitrary or unreasonable than my own. It was because the service and quality took a serious, but temporary dip and made me look bad to my customers.

They fixed the problems, we kissed and made up and I'd say we had about 26 very happy years together.

Most marriages don't last that long.
 

Puppyraiser

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Good other sources
Furst Brothers, Baltimore, 800-638-9398
CMI, Burtonsville, MD
Turner Associates, Sterling, VA

All these companies sell at least regionally, and I think nationally.
 

Elaine

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Skaneateles,NY USA
I think we have to see the forest through the Trees (the big picture) How many others in the industry are spending the money to PROMOTE custum framing??? How many people do you think actually visit the LJ site besides the framers?? There may be more now that they are really mass marketing on Fine Living, and in the high end magazines, but how many up until then?

I am on the LJ partner program (I don't know if I'm listed on their site), and I have other suppliers that I use, but none of the other suppliers provide me with the services, marketing, and the quality that LJ does. They listen when we have quality issues, they give me industry information when I ask, they provide great NEW lines frequently, the requests that are made for more deeper mouldings, and stackable mouldings are being taken back to the corporate office and we are seeing results in the newer lines. I like the marketing products, the ads, the note cards, the new brochures, etc. I can't afford that level of quality printing on my own, and I also can't afford the TV and magazine ads they run. I think it comes down to... THE BIG PICTURE. We get mired up in the details and forget about that.

Also, I asked my rep what I needed to do to become a partner in the program. We didn't meet the requirements at first, but about a year later, he came to me and gave me a little presentation, and a gift and welcomed us into the program. Our numbers have been a little dippy, but they have never threatened to take the program away. The rep also sees what we are putting into place to grow the business - we are still fairly new - almost 3yrs old. We talk about growth, what we can do to boost growth, etc. I feel like there is give and take with LJ that I don't see with my other reps. MY LJ rep seems to care, and it hasn't always boiled down to numbers. The only perk I can't have, until I reach a higher level, are the TV ads that they run; until I get to that level, I'm just working the plan and seeing growth. It feels good! Sometimes, you don't get what you don't ask for...

I used to have a boss that kept telling me I couldn't see the forest through the trees. On the day he told me that "I had finally seen the forest through the trees", I had finally gotten it! Don't sweat the petty stuff, don't get mired up in the details, step back and look at the big picture. Once you do, you can see the benefits.

I was once a homebased framer and couldn't get LJ, but once I got their attention, I have enjoyed working with them. We have had quality issues, but the sqeaky wheel gets the oil - you can't let them happen without communicating to them whats wrong. Its a two-way street, and I think they are good for the whole framing industry.

my 2 cents

elaine
 

John Richards

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Keiki: A bigger question is you have 700 samples dedicated to one vendor...and this goes for any frame shop or vendor. In the past year how many have you sold?

Does your Larson Rep provide you with yearly numbers so you know what your top sellers are?

Do you actively go out and find mouldings that people ask for numerous times and if you find them from obscure vendors do you contact that company and order A sample?

Everyone is right, listing on the web site is a perk. It seems that some people get listed if they are on the partner program and some get listed if they are not. In the upper midwest there seems to be some flexibility to get on a partner program and I think it really depends on the rep. Keep bugging your rep, all the supplier reps for perks that you think you deserve, the good suppliers will come around, many when they see a dip in their business.
 

Ron Eggers

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I'm not picking on keiki, but it's probably a good idea for all of us to frequently check any links on our websites to see if they go where we'd like our customers to go - or if they go anywhere at all.

There are quite a few dead links on The Grumble link page, BTW.

For what it's worth, I was not aware until about two years ago that there was an L-J website, so I doubt that a lot of our customers are, either.
 

Jay H

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KY
I’m a new LJ customer 5 months or so.

In the areas of service and product they have already proven to lead the pack. They are second to FEW in my experience. I love what they are doing for the industry. I haven’t seen any of their magazine ads or TV ads but I’ve heard about them.

I think their moulding is a tad expensive. Their chop and join prices are disproportional to their competition.

Their “Partnership” program seems more like a “Ownership” program. They told me I could be in this program if I give them something like 75% of my business. It’s a strong-arm tactic to increase sales and I see nothing wrong with that. I equate this program with some of the “frequent framer” programs we use. We want to encourage our customers to come back. Nothing wrong with that but we have to be careful how we design the program or we will actually deter customers. “Yes ma’am if you do $30,000 in framing with us this month, we will give you 5% off you next order.” For me they just set that bar a little higher than I care to entertain. Some of you like it and so it’s working for the both parties.

I carry their original lines and will continue to. I don’t know how much differently my operation would run if I were in their partnership program. Elaine, I make good use of every single advantage that you do except the printing and their website listing. That is the only thing you mentioned that non-partners couldn’t use.

They are a fine company. I look forward to 27 happy years with them. I don’t ever anticipate them being a major player in my store. Keiki, I don’t put much weight in their partnership program. This would ruffle my feathers and I would let them know loudly. I think it would take something more than that to rip their samples off the wall.

BTW, if you do tear them off the wall, it makes me feel good to yell “YOUR FIRED”. Then slam-dunk them in an aluminum trash can so that it “thunks” loudly. That feels better than a Sunday afternoon nap!
 

keiki

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Left FL for IL...
We used to have a great Larson Rep, Van Liming, and he would always give the best ideas and advice. I really miss him. He had a tough time when his wife got cancer and then he decided to go back into teaching.
Maybe it was the teacher in him that was the reason he seemed to be so well organized and informative, but his wife owned a frame shop and he saw what was needed from both sides, too.

Now our current Rep, Tim, is not quite so shining as Van and is sometimes whining about numbers but another company has given us a great discount and, yes, I am moving alot of numbers their way. I am one of three independent shops here that have gone together to form a buying group from one of our venders and have made it work.

I thank everyone for their comments
thumbsup.gif
and you have let me cool down a little. :cool: Larson still may not be completely pulled but they may not have a third of my wall for long.

Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of Larsons lines and they sell themselves but when another instate company president shows up at my little door with offers of chop at length price and 1/2 shipping costs and new truck delivery, that brings them into a better light than when Timmy comes in and moans about my numbers and ignores comments about substandard sticks of moulding. :mad: We've never had problems about Larson taking returns but lately it seems there are more than I like.
The problem solving gets me down sometimes.
shrug.gif


Linda
 

SteveT

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I got tired of the the LJ "you can only cary our samples" line. When they raised my prices, their samples came down, and my profits went up. I threw out hundreds of their samples and I now am down to 20 of their samples. The best thing is now when someone new comes in to my store they say something like "your store doesn't look like everyone else's in town". Last thing I want to be is a Larson franchise.

I also don't really like what Larson has going on with the whole Michels and JoAnn's thing. It's hard enough being a small shop, but Larson doing all the framing for JoAnn's around me and it doesn't really help. I rather buy from suppliers that are out to help the small store succeed.
 

Ron Eggers

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Rules to live by:
</font>
  • Never stand when you can sit.</font>
  • Never spit into the wind.</font>
  • Never pass up an opportunity to tell everyone how much better your life is without Larson-Juhl.</font>
Geez, you'd think we were talking about Al Qaeda here. I wonder how they got so big when everybody hates them.

I guess I'd be pretty upset, though, if they raised my prices. Nobody else ever does that.

(I like Microsoft products, too, so there must be a screw loose somewhere.)
 

Ron Eggers

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And before JRB wakes up and reminds me that this is called The Grumble . . .

I respect everyone's right to complain about nearly anything they want here. Maybe I'm just a little jealous of anyone whose biggest complaint in the world is L-J.
 

Jerry Ervin

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North Carolina ... The Picture Frame Capital of th
I wonder how many shops really get customers in from this? I also wonder how many of our potential customers use this service, or even know of the website?

It would be nice to be able to see some real numbers on the statistics. It may not really mean much to be on the list or not. Then again, it may be a way to pre-qualify your customers. If they saw a particular moulding in a magazine add that they liked, they know that you will have a real sample for them to look at.
 

SteveT

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My rep was telling me that I didn't need to do any advertising "we (Larson) do it for you".

I told him that I sure a person that is looking for framing goes to the web and types in www.larsonjuhl.com before just picking up the phone book.
 

keiki

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Left FL for IL...
Okay, okay, I've had a chance to cool down. ;)

Just to put it in perspective, all I have to do is run it past the Grumblers and I can see enough sides of the issue that I can now say that I've made a decision.

No, I'm not going to remove Larson completely. Yes, I am going to cull the non-movers and update.

Many of you are quite right in that not many customers are going to be opening the Larson web site on their own. I will remove the link from my web site.

I'm an independent framer and Larsons' requirments for special priviledges is not in my nature. ;) As I've said, I have worked out some very comfortable arrangements with some of my suppliers.

Engelsen out of Michigan and Florida has been the most supportive and best service of anyone.
The other company that is going the extra mile is Complete out of Ft. Lauderdale. They have a great trade show in their warehouse and a pretty good party, I hear.
thumbsup.gif
 

Kath.ryn

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I second the endorsement of Engelsen - they have provided our shop with consistant friendly, helpful service for over 15 years. They have great product, stand behind any problems and fix them quickly and cheerfully. Their pricing is very reasonable, and provides savings that allows me to do my own advertising (those "freebies" you "earn" at other vendors are paid for by you when you purchase that vendor's higher-priced cogs).


Looking down the road I think it is important for the independent framers to support other moulding vendors to help us keep a competitive edge. There are many vendors that have great product/service/PRICE and support - and they are not in direct competition with us. The fact is that LJ now has a nationwide frameshop business - and they are your competition. Yes, they are our friends, they promote the framing industry, they "do good things" (as many other suppliers do as well), etc. But keep your eye on the ball - they are now your competition as well.

I am not bashing LJ - they've made a strategic business decision to be an integral part of the framing industry's consolidation. I just recognize how important it is to help the other suppliers (and myself) stay viable and competitive. It is the other suppliers that can give us the best product/price/service to compete against the BB's. I know this because they have been doing so for many, many years.

I strongly encourage each independent framer to look into competitive suppliers in your area - there really are alot of good product alternatives out there!
 

Baer Charlton

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I think many of us "Independent" framers forget why we don't work for Michael's, Joanne's, or Aaron Brother's, Sear's, Craftwarehouse, etc.

BUT, There is Cresent & Bainbridge, and about 5 major Moulding Suppliers. As a rep, I see about 500 walls that are so similar, I could cry.

The "We're the cheapest in town" or "NOBODY beats our prices" has the same 70% LJ and 20$ Studio as the Elitist "We only accept Platinum Cards or better". And I look at the work and see that the designer and framer took the same classes at the tradeshow last year.

Pick up the DECOR Sources issue, or the PFM and PPFA Directory. Look under moulding mfg. There are dozens of small independents JUST LIKE YOU.
 
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