Project lost to readymades (cheap readymades!)


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jun 13, 2002
Fingerlakes Region of NYS
Recently I quoted on a project for a customer for a customer of his business.

They needed 85 frames for certificates approximately 8.5 x 5.5 in a small black frame, glass, flex points, sawtooth hanger on back.

The customer had gone to M's and was given a price of $21 each with their 50% off coupon. Reasonable.

I needed to beat this price, sharpened my pencil, even offered to put the certificates in since I was handling the pieces already.

I was able to get a good price on a small black moulding. I quoted a price of $12.25 each. I wouldn't be getting rich on this but could do it and still make some money.

The customer - a really nice man - called to say they had decided to go with cheap (yes, he said cheap) readymade 8 x 10 frames. I know these are probably $2.50-$4.00 each at wallyworld. Do you think any WW will have 85 on hand at one store?

I thanked my customer for sharing the outcome with me and wished him luck with his customer. He of course, thought I had the deal and was disappointed at their choice as well.

What are you going to do when this happens?

There is nothing you can do really. I lost one in a similar situation last month. The customer went to Dollar General and bought all the 8 1/2 x 11 frames they had for you guessed it, one buck a piece.

You can not compete with that. Period.

Do not give up however, you may land the next job.
You gave it your best shot so you move on to the next frame job and don't look back.

Roz I think you are kidding yourself in that you are or can make money at that price.

even if materials are
moulding $1.50
glass $ .20
hwr $ .10
backing $ .10
packaging .03
= $1.93

your margin is only about $10.32 and that does not take into account any damage or markup of materials sold. What about your heat, light, rent, insurance etc?

BTY the $21 charge would be more in keeping and down to $16.
Good grief, Jerome, what can I say? I'd jump all over that job and it would break my heart to lose it. That's over 800 bucks for scrap and some inexpensive moulding that should cost .30/ft., but even if my cost were $2.00 it would still be a good job. What do you mean,"heat, rent, lights, insurance, etc"? You got to pay all that anyway whether you get the job or not. But, wait a minute, I see it now; you're working at 100% of capacity. Well, while I'm busy, I'm not near 100% capacity and I suspect I'm not alone. What kind of thinking led to that post? I can't imagine.

I'd actually do the job for $5.00 and love it since all I'd have to pay for would be the moulding, hangers and flexi points. Everything else is scrap and that I've got plenty of. What a wonderful oportunity to turn literally scrap glass into money. What I really like about the job is the 5.5" leg; the smaller the piece you have to cut out of a larger one, the less waste; there couldn't be more than 5.5" of waste in every stick.

I'm speechless; when I first started in business, that would have been a job from heaven. Now it's only a great deal and I'm talking about $5.00 each. On a slow day, I'd probably do the entire job for $325. Man, you make money where you can and when you can. You've got to be nimble to survive in very small businesses.

I'll bet Roz would just love to have been able to count out that $800 at the end of the week. I know I would have. For the life of me, I can't see how what she pays for rent, lights, insurance, whatever, would have anything to do with her quote. How could anyone imagine that he would be worse off having gotten that job for 85 frames clearing $10 apiece? One guy takes a job like that, one guy spurns it. The taker's got $850, the spurners got nothing; they both have to pay the rent, electricity, water, insurance. I know sure as heck which guy I'd rather be.
Warren - Bingo!!

Jerry, Eric - I am moving on - just had to share the story!!


I just got a special offer from Citi Card
What if we all held our orders for 4 weeks, went to M got 50% off (lets all pick a date & time) and charged the customer our regular price? Then maybe we could get a cup of coffee with our gas. This is hipothecital of course. Can you imagine every framer going to M at the same time. heheheh.
What I really like about Warren's approach is his compassionate attitude towards anyone else's choice of jobs, materials, equipment, and such. I would probably take a job like that also if I had a warehouse full of box moulding, cutoff glass, matboard, and foamboard scraps and had the manpower and equipment to punch out that job in a day.

But sadly not all of us are as farsighted as some and can buy our buildings and land and have so much storage space that we can afford to hang onto all that scrap until something comes along (or not) that will require some of it. And I don't mean to belittle Warren for what he has built in his business, I DO feel that a little consideration should be given to other framers who may not be in such a convenient position of owning property and ample storage and all the equipment needed to make most any job through the door happen profitably no matter how generic it may seem.

Gosh, if we all were as intelligent and as gifted with the ability to land prosperous job sites and be able to own any piece of equipment that comes out, wouldn't the competition be fierce?? If that were the case I would imagine that our field would be brimming with successful big time framers who wouldn't have the inclination to waste their time on a silly forum like the Grumble!!

I'm with Warren on this one.

Unless you are running at 100% capacity (none of us are, I'm guessing), then it's tough to get a pro-rata share of expenses. Heck, supposse that client does not come in-the lights still burn-who pays for that?

Perhaps we ought to view time as an expendable commodity-like a cruise ship leaving port with unsold cabins. I'll bet ol' Capn Warren and I would rather something on those unsold cabins than nothing
Capacity is a fickle commodity and hard to bank on
One box of glass

One box of backing

30 sticks of moulding

What space is needed?
Originally posted by Jeff Rodier:
One box of glass

One box of backing

30 sticks of moulding

What space is needed?
You obviously didn't catch my drift on that post, eh??

I think you all missed the point. The shopper ended up going to WallMart. Can anyone here beat their price and still make a little pocket change?
And that's probably the realistic bottom line to Roz's thread. We can speculate all day long how sharp we are at calculations to get that sale regardless but that doesn't change the fact that Wally World DID get the sale and DID make probably MORE profit in real dollars than any of us could have made no matter what our circumstances.

That customer bought 85 of a shipment of probably 50,000 Chinese frames that had a wholesale value of maybe a nickel apiece, if that much.

In about the middle of 2004, a "new" customer came in and wanted me to give her a price on 58 - 8 x 10 frames... each with a single mat, sawtooth hanger, glass, and backing... they were going to put the photos in themselves as the frames were needed. The price i quoted was $8.87 each. I did not get it, instead, they picked up the frames at several WalMart stores. The reason i know this is because the same person came in with almost all of the frames and they put a photo in each... (WalMart stickers on the back) They wanted to know if i could solve their problem. (I'm sure all of you know how NOT to frame photos!) Their problem was ALL the photos were "stuck to the glass" and most of them could not be replaced with a substitute. She almost broke out in tears. I could tell her to go back to WalMart and ask them how to solve the