Lunch Time Pressure


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Apr 8, 2004
Hi everybody,
Has any one else gotten the "This is my lunch time and I still have to pick it up so let's hurry.." line. I just had a somewhat fussy customer tell me this and plunk down a wedding portrait and limited edition lithograph. and she wanted to be out in 10 minutes. At 9:55 into my time with the portrait design looking great she said she would come back maybe tomorrow. Now we all know that the majority of "I'll be back"ers aren't coming back or aren't satisifed. As a last minute ploy to guilt her into coming back I gave her a new plastic sleeve to carry the portrait in so it wouldn't get damaged (she did not want to leave the art with me...not looking good is it)I thought at most it would get her back ... at the least I'm out a sleeve.
The thing that is driving me crazy is that she is the first person to leave my shop with her artwork unframed. In a new shop that is slow, this is REALLY bothering me.
I don't really have a question but I thought maybe some of you know what I'm talking about.
Well Happy Turkey day all, Bob
All year 'round you get the I-only-have-five-minutes-to-decide-on-$500-framing types; this time of year you get more of them.

One solution is to sympathize with her busy schedule and offer to work up some designs for her to look at when she has more time. This necessitates the customer leaving the art. If she doesn't want to do that, you're right about a return visit not looking good.

I understand what you're talking about. Since August, I've had ONE person walk out with unframed art. And I still hate it.

I have asked people to leave the work and come back sometime when they can devote their time and attention to what they are doing. I use the same approach when I am working with one customer and another comes in.
The design process deserves both yours and the clients undivided attention. Anything less and somebody is going to be disappointed.

I no longer get upset at a potential customer walking out with their work if it looks like they won't commit the time to the design process. Often as not they won't be happy with the results and regardless of the situation the framer usually has to accept the outfall from that situation. Let 'em walk and make some other framer's day miserable.
I find that the sales that I have to work the hardest to save are usually the more difficult customers in the end. I had one last week that was in a big hurry, paid in full ($722 for 3 pieces, 2 with multiple openings), and was on her way. The next day she called saying that it was too expensive and wanted her money back. She had called another shop and they said they could do it for her for $700 to $1000. I was working on saving that sale, until I realized that I was at the low end end of that price and she she still wanted a refund. A big red flag went up!!!

Yes, some will walk, but many times those are the ones that will be bigger headaches in the end and you may not end up with any profit on those jobs.
When someone doesn't really have enough time to be involved in the design process or just isn't interested, I'll have them take a few minutes to access what their taste is and where the piece will hang. Gather as much info as possible with what little time you have, then have them leave the work and e-mail a photo or two of your suggestions. If you ascertained their taste well they rarely ask to change your design.

I have three jobs like this in house now. I like to take my time designing their project after hours when I can sip a glass of wine, relax and not worry about the phone ringing or another customer needing attention. It actually is enjoyable when approached this way and the customer obliges. It sometimes can be difficult to be creative if other pressures and time constraints are pressing. This also gives me time to properly assess what work is required and price the job out accordingly.

Dave Makielski
Dave, do you ever invite the customer to join you for a glass of wine after hours? I'm thinking that it might be a good way to make them feel special.

I'd be your customer for life if I got that kind of personalized attention - unless you were serving Pagan Pink Ripple.

**************** UPDATE ***********

The customer actually called me to let me know she had to lunch with relatives today because of thankgiving and wanted to know if I had time for her next week. I told her I worked up a couple other designs (without the artwok) and that I am always here for her.
Now maybe my wife will take out the earplugs and listen to me now that I'm not going to comlain about this to her until at least next week.

Thank you to everyone that posted, it helped hearing your stories and suggestions.

Happy Thanksgiving all, Bob
That’s a good idea Kit. I prefer Bud Lite but that isn't foo-foo enough for the art world. So I think Friday I will buy the best bottle of wine at CITGO. Then invite the rushed customers over for some personal attention. I can't believe I hadn't thought of getting my customers drunk before. They will love my designs then. I'll bet on the first beerrun I can talk them into stopping at their house to get more stuff to frame.
Right out of college, I took up residence in Washington DC and went to work as a framer in a gallery just west of Dupont Circle. My boss would always have a really good bottle of sherry open, and really good coffee brewed. Whenever a customer would come in one of the first things he would do is offer them a glass of sherry or a cup of coffee or tea.
He was a dealer in Islamic antiquities, raised in Beirut and schooled in England. Quite a charming host, but quite the opposite as an employer. I learned a lot in my short tenure there.
Jay, allow me to recommend McEwan's Pale Ale. It's not only foo-foo but darn tasty as well. Scottish beer - who'da thunk it?

Of course, when I "price the job out accordingly", I add the cost of the fine cabernet! Inspiration doesn't always come cheap.


Dave Makielski
In the late 80s, I ran a shop in a nice "downtown" location that had people at work.

When they would stop in at lunch and ask about a few things, I would ask about "all that stuff you have been meaning to frame".....

And if it's in the evening, why not meet next door for dinner with the spouse, then we can all come back over and be relaxed while we work out the framing for the next 30 years of your life....

I (and my girlfriend) dined on the customers dollar more Friday nights then not. Customers who are comfortable at that level know that this is not about doing those two posters for $59.95 each.

Most of those night ended well over the $2,000 mark, and usually led to a hanging, another dinner, introductions, referals..... and Christmas PARTIES . . . Oi! One night I think we hoped around to 7 or 8 parties of "good" customers.

Speaking of which . . . a nice English couple (no T-day for them) are coming in Thanksgiving morning to go over some 18th & 19th century prints that they NEED done... :D
I opened last January in this location and had my second customer "walk" yesterday. Framing two 11X14 oils simply at $ 60.00 each was too much.

The first one that walked brought in a job that framed right would have run around $ 175.00. She said she didn't have very much of a budget for it, so I compromised some things and showed her a $ 120.00 framing...too much. Went down to a job that should have cost around $80.00...felt sorry for her...made it $ 60.00 and still too much!

Goes to show you that no matter what you price things...some will walk. They don't understand custom framing.

Dave Makielski
A customer brought in 2 prints she wanted framed alike. I helped her decide the frame design mat(s), glass type, etc. She was in a rush, so it didn't take her long to decide. I started printing an invoice for her and a copy for me. When the first copy was printed, while waiting for my copy, i told her the price... $98.29. Before i could say "for BOTH", she threw a fit, raising **** about the time she has "burning up" to get a price she couldn't afford. To get even, instead of telling her the price was "for BOTH" I said i would give her a 10% discount if she got both framed at the same time (at this point i just didn't care if i got the job or not!). Well, she said "now we're talking". A new invoice was printed with the total of BOTH: $176.92! She paid for it and her husband will pick it up this Tuesday... she will be "out of town". lol
Price is the last reason people go to a particular custom framer.

Well before price, they want someone:

1.) They trust with there work.
2.) They get along with.
3.) That has a good reputation.
4.) Is not located in Timbukto.
5.) Whose atmosphere they feel comfortable with.
6.) And a multitude of other reasons other than price...

Then they still want to feel like they got a good "deal". Although, if your reputation is good enough, they want to feel that they paid a lot and brag to their friends they got it framed by "So and so".

Framing is one of the most "invisible" items there is to most consumers. Read "Up Against the Wal-Marts". Great read.

Dave Makielski

"You can't change the direction of the wind...but you can adjust your sails".
I am really stung by Kit's unkind reference to Pagan Pink Ripple.

I have many fond memories of romantic, moonlit interludes on the roof of my college dormitory. Pagan Pink Ripple was nearly always a part (sometimes the best part) of these special times.

It was also perfect for basting a ham.

BTW, it was a FLAT roof, though sometimes we'd forget how we got up there.
Ron, are you referring to yourself as a ham that has been basted?
Ron, it's the curse of the Saggitarian to wander through life blithely stating opinions without the slightest idea that they may be offending people. We get away with this by being so loveable that no one minds. That's the theory, anyway.

You have my most sincere and groveling apologies for casting aspersions on your youthful drinking habits. Of course, that's assuming that you have left the PPR behind.

If you haven't (and it's getting harder and harder to find a liquor store that stocks Ripple) you can create a close approximation by mixing Hawaiian punch with vodka. Please don't ask me how I know this.

I suppose you could toss an Alka-Seltzer in there to get the bubbles.

The bubbles are critical.