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Presto Frame & Moudling 800-431-1622

Swamped! Schedule Appts? Help!

WyomingArtFrame

Grumbler in Training
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Messages
6
My business is a @1000 sq ft storefront gallery that sells a significant amount of high end art and custom framing in a town of @45,000 in WY. The business itself has been around for about 45 years, we’ve owned it for 6. We’ve completely refreshed the business and quadrupled our client base. Currently it is myself and my Manager. There is one other small framer and Hobby Lobby recently opened (which I consider more of a relief than competition).
We are 2-3 months out year round, I work 80-90 hrs a week. I greatly appreciate the business but
I AM BURNED OUT.
we closed to the public (COVID) March 18 and only allowed people to drop off for us to “distant design” at first.
Last week we decided to make frame design available on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment. We have brought in over 70 orders during this time. I am now 5months out. I fully appreciate how fortunate I am, but am asking for your thoughts and advice especially with how unpredictable everything is right now!

Ideas:
- explain that we are not accepting orders at this time because we’re full, add to list and will contact when we’re ready?
- frame design by appointment only, permanently.
- move gallery to a separate location
- fork out the cash to expand our current building
- set it on fire, buy a sailboat and live off the coast of Spain.
 
Last edited:

i-FRAMER

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
821
It sounds like you need to employ staff or better equipment to improve operations. What systems do you have in place for operations and workflow?
 

wpfay

Angry Badger
Forum Support Team
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 1, 2000
Messages
10,530
What a wonderful problem to have.

Hire a couple framers, and get an off-site production space.
If the manager can manage the framing side, you concentrate on your gallery and framing orders, maybe even get an assistant in that regard.
Raise your prices. Get to a workable supply/demand balance with your pricing.
If you don't have them already, get framing samples from http://www.houseofmercier.com/ . Your customers will love them.

You got the bull by the tail...hang on!
 

WyomingArtFrame

Grumbler in Training
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Messages
6
It sounds like you need to employ staff or better equipment to improve operations. What systems do you have in place for operations and workflow?
I completely agree! I need two or more of everything but the question is, do I gamble and invest in those things now or ride it out until we see where the economy is going? I need more room!

Wizard 9000 (which has been nothing but an expensive and infuriating pain in the a**)
Cassese
Frame square saw
40x60 heatpress
wall cutter
Lifesaver cloud (another expensive pain in the a** that made me lose a $2000 art sale yesterday because all of a sudden, we couldn’t add an item over $999.9 to an invoice, on top of a list of many frustrations)
We use Artwork Archive for art inventory and client sales
About to go live with Simulart for simple online framing design via our website, and possibly replace Lifesaver complety.
 

WyomingArtFrame

Grumbler in Training
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Messages
6
What a wonderful problem to have.

Hire a couple framers, and get an off-site production space.
If the manager can manage the framing side, you concentrate on your gallery and framing orders, maybe even get an assistant in that regard.
Raise your prices. Get to a workable supply/demand balance with your pricing.
If you don't have them already, get framing samples from http://www.houseofmercier.com/ . Your customers will love them.

You got the bull by the tail...hang on!
I’m so grateful!
Ive been told more than once to raise prices. I plan on It.
question is: elite custom framing by appointment only? Close until we get caught up?
 
AIM: New/Used Picture Framing Equip. 330-405-9421

WyomingArtFrame

Grumbler in Training
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Messages
6
What a wonderful problem to have.

Hire a couple framers, and get an off-site production space.
If the manager can manage the framing side, you concentrate on your gallery and framing orders, maybe even get an assistant in that regard.
Raise your prices. Get to a workable supply/demand balance with your pricing.
If you don't have them already, get framing samples from http://www.houseofmercier.com/ . Your customers will love them.

You got the bull by the tail...hang on!
The lay out of my building is 1/2 gallery and design, then a separate finishing room and saw room. It is a little separated but only by concrete walls so I can greet framing customers if I’m there alone. My building is a great location downtown, and recently there have been a couple charming buildings in the retail block that I’ve considered moving the gallery into, but the economy is so unpredictable right now that I’m in limbo.
 

neilframer

PFG, Picture Framing God
Joined
Jan 27, 2010
Messages
7,960
As mentioned, you have a good problem.
It just boils down to decisions and possible risk taking.

I have been framing for 51 years and I manage the shop.
I started in Chicago, 1969 until 1977.
Then Denver 1977 until 1987.
Then Phoenix 1987 until now without a break.

I work for a high volume framing business in Phoenix AZ.
The shop owner is the former AZ PPFA president and he has tested the CPF and MCPF prospects at the WCAF in Las Vegas for a number of years.

We have a great mix of regular retail and commercial framing and installations.
We do all of the framing for a high end design company that is owned and run by a great lady I worked with at a previous job back in the 90's.
She opened her own frame design company in 2001 and her clients are hospitals, movie and tv people, sports people, restaurants, law offices, etc.
She doesn't have a frame shop, she works with the designers and has her own crew of designers and then we get the framing.

We have expanded into 2 buildings now and we have 7 people in the shop.
We are doing laser cutting, large format printing and mounting.
Each of the people working has a specialty and then there are a couple of us who fill in anywhere.
We often get very large quantity orders so we kind of become an assembly line of framing.
We also get very expensive artwork to frame and everything gets the full treatment.

Our shop has been closed by the state for all of April and part of May.
We have been open short hours in May and by appointment only.
We are still being paid and I go in each day to do what I can even though I get paid even if I don't come in.
I don't like getting paid and not working.
The main problem has been that until just now, we couldn't get moulding or supplies except for the 2 local companies in Phoenix.

The phone has been ringing off the hook with customers now.
Our shop has 100% 5-star reviews, over 70 of them and that helps bring us the business.

We also have a Wizard 9000 and while it's not the best CMC it still serves us well.
It needs to be tweaked sometimes to get it right.
We have 2 Cassese 299 v-nailers and a CTD D45 double miter saw along with a couple of miter chop saws.

The decision is up to you.
Is your business seasonal at all?
I grew up and lived in Chicago and in the early 70's I rode my motorcycle from Chicago to Portland Oregon to visit a friend.
I rode thru the Tetons on the way and it was pretty cold on a motorcycle going thru there.:shutup:

I think at the very least you need a helper or helpers.
Finding good helpers can be tricky.
We have been very lucky to get great people.
You may need a bigger shop as well.

There are tough decisions to be made.
Good luck and I hope things work out for you.
 
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tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Joined
Nov 7, 2005
Messages
11,370
the economy is so unpredictable right now that I’m in limbo.
Our mini-mall has a new owner, and I just heard today that every other tenant is not signing a lease, but going month-to-month. Sucks to be the new owner.
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Forum Support Team
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 14, 2008
Messages
14,674
there are really only two things you can do.

Hire help
Raise your prices

You have been busy for quite some time, if I understand correctly. Look at your profit. Are you raking in money from working 90 hours a week?

If your profit is good, hire help.
If you don’t take in the money, raise your prices. You might get less orders, but with a better margin, working less, making the same.

Now, since the situation has changed so much, I would raise prices before I would start investing in employees and/or business.
Then review in a year from now.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
Joined
Apr 5, 2008
Messages
31,198
Right now is the perfect time to try by appointment only.
 
Presto Frame & Moudling 800-431-1622

nikodeumus

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
445
I don't have quite the volume of customers that you have.
My backlog was around 3-4 weeks for new orders to be completed.
At least that was the case before COVID.
And as I am the only framer in this small town, I expect to return to similar numbers.
There are other framers very nearby (less than 10 minutes for some).
We are all, small low-staffed independent shops with our own sort of "catchment areas" and regular customers.
Competition for customers isn't really an issue for any of us.

Hiring more staff or expanding to a larger shop isn't an option at this time.
Similar to you, finding ways to "ease the pressure" is my best option.
We have raised prices slowly over the last couple of years. I'm planning on doing another increase as we re-open.
Increasing fees for those piddly little PIA jobs that take up valuable time with low profit is on the top of the list.

As for customer intake, I am certainly planning on not allowing unannounced drop-ins for custom framing.
......
I literally just now stopped typing this message for a customer at the door.
"All she needs" is a to replace broken glass (see Piddly PIA Job remark above 😖).
I told her I wouldn't get to it until mid-June hoping she wouldn't want to wait.
She's fine with that.
OK, great. I took the job in. She didn't ask about cost.
She was perfectly nice and understanding, a lovely person.
I am still going to implement the new increased PIA fee.
After taking in her order, (outside the door, not even inside the shop), I still need to clean my hands as well as clean everything I touched since I handled her frame and the table I set the frame down on to package it in a box for quarantine.
It will take even MORE clean up time between orders when the customers come inside the store.
.....
It's going to take some time to retrain customers to not just show up with a half dozen pieces of art.
I'm thinking of using an appointment keeper on my computer to schedule appointments.
(Still need to make signs and update website with these procedure changes. Something like: "Unable to accept "Drop-Ins", please call to make an appointment, Thank You.")
Our hours are only 10am-4pm, down from 8:45-5:15 (and will likely stay that way for quite some time).
I probably will only do intakes during a set window of time, perhaps only 1 opening per hour between 11am and 3pm? That way I would only have a maximum of 4 people in any given day.
This will slow the level of intake somewhat. And will minimize the amount of possible contact with people. As well as reduce the amount of time spent cleaning up.
As you noted, there's no point in taking in work if you can't spend time doing the work.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 29, 2008
Messages
4,987
I will not do a design interview unless it is by appointment. Schedule you customers out, even if it is 2 - 3 months out - take in only what you can handle. You do not want to get the bad name of not delivering on time. Keep a call back log, when you get a break or someone cancels an appointment fill in from the waiting list.

If you can find a good framer - hire them, if you don't hire them at the very least upgrade your equipment to be more efficient. It sounds like you are making money so go ahead and upgrade you equipment anyway, it is going to save you a tone of time and in the long run money. Worrying about what is going to happen is the future is not going to help you run your business more efficiently and efficiency is what you need right now. If you are really burnt out then all I can say is sell out - being burnt out means that you have lost the fire that is necessary to run a business. I don't really think that you are burnt out though, if you were you wouldn't be asking for advise.

There is lots of good advise being offered here but in my opinion the best advise that has been given is for you to hire help, upgrading your equipment, and to schedule all design interviews and pickups by appointment. I've been doing strictly appointments since the day I opened my shop, my customers love it and I'm working 80 hours plus a week and loving it.
 

framah

PFG, Picture Framing God
Joined
Mar 15, 2001
Messages
8,694
One other little tip..if you realize that for whatever reason that you won't meet the time line you told the customer, CALL THEM.
Rather than them being ticked that you are late, they are usually happy to have someone be honest.
Been there, done that.

But, definitely raise your prices.

If I feel like I'm getting swamped with work coming in, I bump the price. Thing is, rarely does anyone walk out but I get paid more for the headache of working harder.
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 29, 2008
Messages
4,987
But, definitely raise your prices. If I feel like I'm getting swamped with work coming in, I bump the price. Thing is, rarely does anyone walk out but I get paid more for the headache of working harder.
Very good point but really keep an eye on it because you don't want your customers to think that you are trying to take advantage because of the COVID-19 virus. It sounds as if you should have increased your prices before this virus hit so now, if you do increase your prices, do it in small increments so that it won't be a big burn to the customer's pocket book. just my opinion...
 
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