Procedure Problem - Need Help Please


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Mar 10, 2004
I'll try to make this as brief as possible while getting across the necessary details. Our downtown hosts an annual sidewalk sale and I put out mistake frames, slightly damaged frames, and the occasional frame a customer leaves from an item we've reframed and they don't want back. Well, a frame was put out that should NOT have been - it belonged to a customer and was to be returned. The problem occurred because the item had been taken to the workroom, instructions were on the piece, an employee started working on it, and for some reason had to leave it unfinished. Evidently the instructions were not with the work in progress and someone else came along and "finished" it and set it aside without identifying it properly. Thank God it was discovered out for sale before it was sold. This was a frame that could not have been replaced.

My employees have been told numerous times that all items are to be identified. I'm having some difficulty in getting them to follow through with this. This particular incident turned out okay, but it could've been a disaster that I sure don't want to have happen. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Janis -
How about "tagging" the frame with a 2x3 index card w/ the customer's name phone etc that would correspond w/ the work order - - - You DO use work orders don't you? :D
Many times during the rush of day-to-day business, we find ourselves scribbling down a quick note to keep w/ the art, meaning to write up the work order later. Unfortunately, this can lead to disaster, especially when there are several people working together. I think we all have experienced this at one time or another.
Get into the habit of writing up the work order immediately! Once you have a system of organization, your work flow will improve and you will have less "mistakes" for your sidewalk sales.
Instructions were already in place, before this incident, that all items were to be tagged. The problem came about because the work ticket was removed from the item when it was first being worked on and wasn't put back with the piece when the first employee got interrupted. It was also a problem because the customer knew the employee well, had written down what she wanted done, gave the piece to my employee in a rush, the employee was involved in another task and without thinking took the piece to the workroom without the information being input into our framing POS. Thus, there was no record at the frame desk where we track orders; and I never even knew the piece had come in.
How about implementing a "SIP" procedure? "Stop, Identify, Proceed."

If an employee cannot identify an item they are working on, they cannot proceed.

As you start this, tell them that you are going to begin quizing them periodically. Then when you walk by ask "Who does that belong to?" I would think someone should always be able to say, "this belongs to so and so" or "this goes with the (whichever) print" or "such and such order."

It's real easy to lay aside a tag, then forget to put it back on. If they (and you) get in the habit of thinking "SIP" (or whatever other acronym you choose) before proceeding with any order it would help to keep the orders (and any unusual instructions) straight.
Janis, it semms to me that you already have a good set of Operating procedures in place - enforcing them needs to be considered.

In this instance I would consider making a written notice - although not a warning - about the incident to ensure that staff member involved is aware of what could have happened as a result. Fair and firm is the approach that works best.
Name and work order # are written on all frames in pencil... and recently [for future generations of framers or land-fill archiologists] have been adding the date the order was generated.
As Lance mentioned, your procedures are already in place. It is up to the employees to realize the importance of strict adherence to those policies and procedures. And that is your responsibility as their boss. You have to be a PIA when it comes to reminding them weekly if needed that the work order is processed TO COMPLETION in every case before another thing is started.

We had a similar procedure set up at the HL where I managed the frame shop. I had only 1 incident of this kind in almost a year and I had almost all part timers who were in college and not the most focused of employees to say the least.

It will work out in the long run as long as you keep in mind that occasional mistakes are going to happen when you are dealing with the human animal.

Thanks for all your replies. I did garner some ideas. One thing I've realized is that I'm going to have to big a PIA regularly to ensure proper procedures are followed to avoid any similiar situations.

Any other thoughts are still welcome.
Whenever client brings in art in frame, we make an effort to give back frame before they leave. It's true for folders, cases, just about anything that we won't include in the project.

It just eliminates the problem before it becomes a problem. I guess we acknowledge mistakes can happen and just try to remove the probability

The extra minute or so is so much better than the 30 minutes of tearing the store apart (and i think we all know that experience)
Just keep in mind that good employees are hard to find, and that EVERYONE makes mistakes and drops the ball from time to time.

Realize this and make adjustments...don't accuse and point fingers at the one making the mistakes...that can lead to a lot more problems and hurt feelings than what the origional problem wasin the first place.

I will get off my soapbox now!
"Whenever client brings in art in frame, we make an effort to give back frame before they leave."

Certificates of Authenticity too, although we note on the order to build a cert. holder on the back.
Just wanted to thank all of you who had responded. Several other smaller incidents had recently occured along with this major boo-boo. After thinking a great deal on this and contemplating all that was shared in these posts, I realized that what I really needed to do was take steps to enforce the procedures I'd already had in place but had been lax, myself, in enforcing. I have to take responsibility for that. I've had a talk with all 5 of my employees (only one is full-time) and let them know that it's absolutely essential we follow procedures - they're there to prevent the mistakes that had recently happened and wouldn't have happened had they been followed. One major thing I'm doing is making them follow through instead of coming behind and "fixing" what they should've done in the first place - i.e. labeling items, etc. Making them do what they should've in the first place is helping them see I mean business and reminding them to follow procedures. I truly am blessed with very good employees and do try to let them know I appreciate them. And they've been stepping up to the plate with a good attitude.

Thanks everyone!
What about buying some return address avery labels. Then anytime say a project turns into two pieces (art removed from frame to be returned) then the piece without the origional work order gets an avery sticker with the invoice number on it? This way when you see some rogue frame, print sleeve, box, etc, you can at the very least find out where it came from and the sticker would serve as a warning that it does have an owner that is not your shop!
We have numbered vertical bins. So when an order is taken we'll assign a number, say B14. Then, as the pieces are completed or as old frames are disassembled they all go in B14. When the customer comes to pick-up, you just give them everything in B14.
Quote by Hanna:"Any frame that is to be returned to customer in my shop gets their name written on the back of it in sharpie.", on a piece of TAPE on the frame back. Had a lady once really mad that we "wrote on her old frame". Geeze. Was a ratty old thing.
(The frame wasn't in any too good a shape either.)
Bob wins.
"Do you want your old frame back or can we dispose of it for you?"
"I want it back."
"Here's your frame. Thank you for the order."

The artwork is generally removed from the frame in order to design the new framing and to check on non-visible damage, right? Why would you then put the item back in the frame and assume responsibility for it?
Had a lady once really mad that we "wrote on her old frame". Geeze. Was a ratty old thing.
I would hate to befoul the tip of a perfectly good Sharpie on it. :cool:

I have no problem identifying these things, or such things as the originals of articles we've color copied etc. My problem is remembering to return them to the customer at pickup time. I've got quite a collection now.