Pricing Software?

jkoyas

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East Hanover, NJ
What are your reommendations for pricing software for framing orders. I've heard about Lifesaver, & Frameready but they are quite expensive and are somewhat difficult to use.

Thank you in advance for your help.
 

MerpsMom

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I think there was a thread on this not too long ago. You might hit the Search and type in Pricing Software to see what you get back. I bought EZFramer; and while it has some glitches, it seems to work pretty well. You can always get tech support, and the company was running a good special last month. The website is ezframer@nutech.com. I think. Or is it nutech@ezframer.com.? You can e-me if you want more info.
 

silentpix

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We use Frameready: first because we use Mac computers and second because it cost 1/2 as much as Fullcalc anyway. It has been the best thing I've ever done for the business. Keeping track of mats, correctly pricing orders (without raised eyebrows from customers as I used to have when I would tap on my calculator), mailing lists, looking up or duplicating past orders, etc. I feel that there are probably many other things the software could do for me, but right now I just use it for inventory, entering work orders and tracking clients. The software is as complicated and involved as you want it to be. I just don't use the things I don't need. I highly recommend getting any kind of software you can, it has cut my work in half, and I order mats & supplies much less because I have a better tracking system of what I have.

Kara
 

MerpsMom

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Silentpix, I have a question for you. Does Frameready calculate exactly the way you would by hand with regard to finished size? When doing a fillet and a stacked frame, for instance, you take what the vendor has supplied to the software for the fillet size. E.g., LJ198825 (?) is listed in the downloaded catalog as 1", but it's actually 3/4". They're adding the lip which you can't do to achieve valid measurements. If you use the software, your frame is the wrong size. I asked EZF's tech support about it, and he said that's what the vendor gives him, so....

I have found that I calculate my measurements quickly by hand, then use the software for pricing, which is close enough for that task. What about you? and does this seem a duplication of process?
 

silentpix

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Merpsmom,

It's true, Frameready does it that way too. What we do is use the computer first while the client is in the shop and enter everything & give them a price. If there is ever a price difference because it adds in the lip of the liner, stacked frame or whatever then at least it's a price difference in our favor and I probably need all the extra charges I can get on those types of things. Once they're gone, I go over the measurements and change them myself.
We ususally get liners chopped and wait to cut the frame till the liner is joined to get an exact measurement. Fillets always go last too. Since we chop ourselves, most of the time it doesn't make any difference because we doublecheck measurements last minute anyway, but it sure would be nice if the numbers were accurate so that one time you have to order chop you don't get burned because you spaced checking.
A question for you, were you one of the people researching software a while back? How are you liking ezframer?- Minus the measurement issue.
smile.gif


Merry christmas y'all

Kara
 

Bob Carter

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We use Fullcalc(another long thread) and found that we have to enter all sizes into the database to ensure accuracy. Once you've done it for the initial load, it isn't that hard. It also allows us to add items as we wish, and as quickly as we need. So much for their service agreement. It's a little more work, but not as much work as having to do a project over because of inaccurate sizing from them.
 

MerpsMom

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It might have been I who mentioned looking at a bunch of packages. I bought in October, I think. Including updates/downloads/tech/and basic program, it was $500. I think the next year's updates/upgrades are relatively expensive--something like $300.? (Hope I'm wrong: that's high.) It's fairly easy to navigate, but I don't use much of the reporting features.

Buying one of these things is pretty much like buying anything else which is somewhat pricey and specific: you're not inclined toward a do-over. FramerReady was the next choice, but at the time I was interested, it was $950., and I thought it was a little too detailed for what I wanted. Glad you like it: Bert and the group are very helpful.
 

Mitch

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Bob: Speaking of Fullcalc, Have you heard anything about Michael's plan to drop Fullcalc in the near future?
 

Jim Miller

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I'm surprised that anyone considers the up-front price or annual update price of framing software to be "expensive".

A good software program eliminates manual price revisions,item additions and deletions; it provides accurate order history and customer database at-a-glance; it eliminates arithmetic mistakes; it allows you to set up any kind of pricing structure, discount system, and inventory tracking system you want; it mandates consistency among order-writers; it gives all kinds of management reports; and it saves tremendous amounts of order-writing time at the design table.

There's no way to achieve some of those things without software. But assuming you didn't have interest in the bells & whistles, what is your time worth?

If you spend one day every three months updating your pricing, moulding & mat samples, at $50. per hour shop rate (4 days x 8 hours x $50.), that amounts to a whopping $1,600. per year. And, being realistic, it probably takes twice that much time to do a good job of keeping up.

Compared to that, a $1,000. program with an annual fee of $500. is a great value.
 

Jim Miller

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About Michaels & FullCalc --

Last Spring Michaels bought the FullCalc source code and hired the guy who wrote it...that means Michaels *owns* the program. If I am mistaken or something has changed, please let me know.

As I understand it, Michaels contracts the small-retailer marketing & maintenance of FullCalc to Eagle Computing.

I doubt that Michaels is giving it up. More likely, they're using the original FullCalc brain-trust to write a better, new program for their own use.

Whatever the story is, it would be interesting to hear it. I've been shopping for a FullCalc replacement for months, but have not yet made a change.
 

MerpsMom

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For comparison's sake, will those with annual software update prices please post them? Did Kara mention that FrameReady is $150. per year? What's Lifesaver or Specialty? You can only go by the service and quality of the info you receive: some will be comprehensive and some will not. Info is what this board's for, so if someone will post them, it'd be nice to know.
 

ArtLady

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We are presently evaluating software. Our favorite at this point is Artisan Storefront. I think you will find the principles are very interested in feedback.
They seem to be interested in making their product the best.

------------------
Timberwoman
AL
I cut the mat, I pet the =^..^= cat.
 

Bob Carter

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Jim-What's always bothered me about annual support fees, in our case that's times 4,is that you get what they feel is a one size fits all pricing structure. Let's say that you buy metal direct from mfg at distributor pricing, but buy a seldom used upper end mldg at chop only, but because of great discounts, length from your main supplier, etc. When you download updates, you get full price length or full price chop. Wouldn't it be great if you could print out a chop report that tells you what you actually paid and what you actually wanted to sell for? If there is such a program out there, I haven't seen it. We're a little like you in doing research, maybe not taking as long as the two years on Software and a CMC. The response I get from the vendors is always "Since you buy better than most, you'll make more than most if you use our pricing".Why can't I get a program that tells me exactly how much more, and why doesn't everybody else want to know the same thing? So, instead we enter in our determined retail as the only input variable, leaving me to keep track of my own costs. I will say this much, it keeps me up to date on what I'm paying for product. But trust me when I say, just like you, I expect a lot more sophistication and just like you, I haven't found it, either
 
M

MerrillGraysonCPF

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Varied pricing for volume purchasers is not a software vendor issue. The software vendor is only formating the information supplied by the moulding vendor for you to use in updating your moulding database. The only way that a software vendor would be able to do what you want is for your moulding vendor to supply them with a pricing datafile strictly for you and then format an update for you. If both were willing to do that, you should expect to pay an additional fee for the increased work required by the software vendor.

An alternative would be to get the info in a data file from your moulding vendor and do it yourself. Depending on your software, the information is probably stored in a database file and with a database program you should be able to import and update pricing. That is what the update function does. Just hides all of the technical stuff and makes it easier to use.



------------------
Merrill E. Grayson, CPF
Picture Perfect of Nora Corners
Indianapolis, IN
merrill@customframer.com
www.customframer.com
 
T

tearose

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I'm in the process of putting in Artisan Storefront (by CerTek). For those interested in just pricing they have a new "lite" for $300 that is mostly just a pricer. You can download a free demo and get their latest version (which is continually being improved based on what we want)and they will easily help you with any questions/problems learning the program.

On the mat issue -- with Artisan we just enter "total mat width" and the framer has to figure out the rest, just as we've always done by hand!
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Bob Carter:
"...you get what they feel is a one size fits all pricing structure...."

FullCalc allows you to set up special vendor codes for groups of items, based on the mark-up multiplier. In other words, you could set up your own vendor codes for your items with 6x or 8x (or whatever) mark-ups. However, you would have to monitor those items and manually change their costs in the "Item Listing" when needed. We do that with about 50 items we "buy right" and stock at special retail prices. It's easy to monitor them.

You can print out all of the pricing/cost data in the program. It's good to have it for emergency use and for analysis.

"...But trust me when I say, just like you, I expect a lot more sophistication and just like you, I haven't found it, either."

My little shop doesn't need much sophistication and, to be honest, I don't use some of the features in the program. But like you and so many others, there are a few features I can't believe are missing.

Bob, are you using a single pricing schedule and networking all of your stores? Or, do you set up each store individually? Do you collect daily management data or back-ups by modem?

FullCalc used to be the best multi-store-network software, although I care nothing about all of that. But if I were in your shoes, I would want to have the program with the best remote-management data. Isn't that still FullCalc?

My biggest concern with FullCalc is that it is offered to others (us) as an afterthought; Michaels bought it for thier own purposes, not ours -- and their disregard is obvious. Tech support used to be superb but has declined terribly in the past 18 months. That's why I'm looking around.
 

Bob Carter

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Jim-We use ver 7.6 Fullcalc and while I appreciate your idea, would you pls email me directly with the how to. Presently, in the master pricing schedule for option 4, updating moulding, I have the first column for part or stock number, the second column for source, 3rd is width, 4th is code for Larson simplified pricing, 5th is bin location(we use that for description;a lot more useful for us) and 6th is price.Is that the same for you? The 6th column is where we insert our retail price and then we use our multiplier times 1. What I don't understand from any software program that we've reviewed is why not a 7th column, or drop that 5th column for another price column. One column would be for what you really pay, on an item by item basis, and the next column would be for what you sell that item for. Then when you printed reports, it could divide those two columns to give a true and accurate reflection of what you actually make on the product. I've never understood why that's not important on this very important, but under utilized tool. I think it's just plain lazy to say "well, as long as it fits into this parameter, the price is okay". Can you imagine any business operating that way. Trust me, they don't.My frustration is that in an era when everyone acknowledges the need to become better at the business side of the business, we overlook the most basic components of understanding the business. If we, as an industry, are to become more effective business people, we need the tools to do so. But I really think maybe the first step is to acknowledge that the tools readily available are inadequate. Those tools also include the most essential in our arsenal, and that's the one between our ears. I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to get theschooling and mentoring to help me understand these basic concepts. The trade has to help the rest of you that haven't. Expecting less will always deliver less. But we don't need the sophomoric responses delivered as wisdom that we too often see. Growth comes in a lot of forms, personal should be a high priority for all of us.
 

silentpix

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Merpsmom,

The annual update price is $150 per year and you have the option of going online and downloading updates as they recieve them- they email you to let you know they're there- or you can get them on cd. We go online. The software itself is $850 and it's $35 to have them install your database. Hope this helps and Merry Christmas. Kara
 
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sherry gray

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I use SpecialtySoft (just purchased last January). For the most part am well pleased with it, but tech support is not good. If I didn't have a friend who is a network administrator at Duke University I would have been really frustrated, since I am not the most computer literate person. Seems their emphasis is on updating and selling more initial programs, not supporting those they already have. Yearly support costs $295; I am going to pay it this year and decide if it's really worth it, but my feeling is that for the cost of the program and the yearly fee, I should be getting more support for my money. By the way, the program has more than paid for itself in saved time and mistakes. No matter what calculations are used on the front end, we still measure twice (or three times) and cut once.
 
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