take a stand - make a decision!!

Handy

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We have this one customer who has been coming in for over a month now.

She came in with 3 lovely watercolors - long horizontal - but not very tall ones.

Well, she had the WORST time deciding what matting to pick! She drove me about nuts!
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Finally she took some mat samples home with her. Not a problem - we do that quite often. Thing is she lives out of town so it always takes her a couple of days to get back with them.

So a few days later she came back and decided which mat to use, but couldn't decide on a frame (still...) so she decided to just get the matting at first and then take them home and decide on framing later.

So we did that and since then she has come in 3 different times and taken several frame samples home each time with her. each time she comes back and says "my husband didn't like these..."

Now what's getting me is this: If he's so darn picky about this why in the heck doesn't he actually COME IN with her and help her pick something. She's been in about 6 times now and he's never shown his face, but yet each time he seems to have quite an opinion when she gets home.

This isnt' a big deal - but I just don't understand people like this! Maybe I'm just one of those "liberated" women - but if my husband was doing this to me I'd eventally tell him "listen - get your *** down to the store with me and if you can't be bothered to do that - then shut the **** up!!!" :mad:

(btw - I'm quite sure that he has no disabilities or anything that are preventing him from coming in)

This sort of thing happens quite often. Sometimes after the frame job is completed and then they want to change the matting or the frame or something. What do you guys do? Do you charge them for the new or do you just cover it your self? For us it depends on the customer - but I have a hard time with changing it for free when it's a case like this. If both parties care so much - they should both make the decision in the first place.
 

Jay H

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I'm wondering if have any of the visulization software programs on the market these days? That would certianly help.
 

Paul N

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If they took their sweet time and went back and forth with mats and samples and finally decided, then you should really charge them for any, after the fact, changes!

You're in the business to make some kind of money. Don't act like a charity.

They won't get away with this elsewhere, whether it is a frame shop, a custom paint job or a suit made to order.

Given, sometime we make an exception and redo something for an excellent customer, free of charge (doesn't really happen often, that's why they are good customers....). But this is the exception, not the rule.
 

Baer Charlton

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Charge them! Along with an Un-fitting and fitting fee....

Then maybe the husband will kindly grace his presence.....

and THAT is when you make them BOTH sign off on the work order....

Same thing that happens when a contractor re-does your kitchen. You sign-off, and any changes are an additional charge.

With some [rare, thank goodness] customers, its the only way to keep them in control.
 

HannaFate

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I had someone bring back work their sister had done. She didn't even live there, but thought they were ugly. I told her her sister was the only one who could order a change.

Once an artist had some things framed to hang in a little coffee shop. One of her art teachers told her the mat colors were "wrong". She came in all worried that she had made a mistake. I pointed out that, as the artist, she could show her work in any color mat she wanted. If they were hanging in a snooty gallery, maybe his preference for an "off white" mat would be best. But these looked really nice in dark earth tones, and the dark earth tones looked great in the coffee shop. She bucked up and said she would keep them in the mats they were in. She sold them all, too.

Then, there was the daughter who brought in the wedding pictures her mother had framed for her - in pink foil, and enormous ornate silver frames. She raved that we "should not have let her frame them this way!" I let her rant and threaten to sue until she ran down a bit. Then I asked her, "Have you ever been able to change your Mom's mind about something she liked?" She stared at me for a moment, and then sheepishly, said, "no." I did offer to frame another set of pictures at a discount, so she could hang them up instead, and just swap the pictures when her Mom came to visit.
 

RoboFramer

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Ah, so glad I'm not the only framer with customers like this.

These days though we can handle them. All we do is remember the very basis of our framing service - "You bring us the picture (etc) then you return in X days and pick it up framed"

Taking mount/moulding chevrons home for hubby to see? OH No (generally)


Some seem terrified that some types of customer may go elswhere until they find someone that will pander to them.

Well, this will sound smug, but I don't care - customers can pick and choose where they go, well we can also cherry-pick the type of work we want to do and the type of customer we take it from.

You'll be surprised how many customers actually appreciate a bit of 'bullying' into a decision.

Play things by ear though ... e.g.

1. "Hey man, what were you thinking of when you talked my wife into THIS crap? I demand you change it free of charge AND pay my expenses for bringing it back"

2. "Excuse me, I'm ever so sorry but I'm afraid I can't live with this frame my wife chose, I'll pay to have it changed of course..........."

Guess which one get's it re-done for free (or has more chance)

Oops off at a tangent here, customers huh? who needs 'em!
 

Barb Pelton

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Sandra, I'd bet money that the "husband" isn't the one with the indecision problem. If he were really that controlling, you would have seen him by now.

I do reach a point where I will no longer let them tie up my time.
I think in this case, I would tell her that since she keeps telling you that it is indeed the husband's opinion that obviously has to be satisfied, that he should come in himself. If he is physically unable to do so, tell her you will travel the distance to them for a reasonable design fee. If you can determine that he is able, then insist that he is present at the next design session.

You say this happens often? If that is the truly the case, you might want to sit down and examine the why. (I am not picking on you, here, so please don't be offended.) Tomorrow, go into your store with the eyes of a brand new customer. Pretend you are one who is intimidated and knows nothing about custom framing. How does your store earn their trust?
How does the designer at the counter earn their trust?

Each case is treated individually, but whenever
someone is unhappy with a selection and wants a redo, (and it was their selection), I tell them that it is like contracting a painter to paint their living room. Like Paul said, the painter would not repaint it back to the original color for free, just because they didn't like it once the work is done. I explain to them that this is a very labor intensive job, not unlike custom upholstery or contract labor, and that is why they are involved in the design process up front--to insure they know what is happening. Yes, we do make informed suggestions, but ultimately it is their decision.


Think of it this way. You'll always recieve x amount of bad chops. You'll always recieve x amount of matboards that were pulled wrong. And, you will always have x amount of time wasting customers. You just have to figure out a way to keep these things at a minimum, and know when it is time to cut the culprits loose.
 

imaluma

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Originally posted by Barb Pelton:
Yes, we do make informed suggestions, but ultimately it is their decision.


I have worked with a lot of framers and designers and whenever a particularly terrible design came around the excuse is always the same. "it was the customer's design."

while it is easy to pass the blame to the unwitting customer who will forever be known as that lady with the blue mat i can't help but feel responsible. as I see it, it is our job to inform the customer, yes indeed. but when I have a customer leaning towards a less than complimentary design I do whatever it takes to steer them back on course. if a customer chooses a bad design, it's because I let them, and ultimately it is my fault. I feel a design guarantee is more than fair, and if we are doing our jobs then we shouldn't have to worry about having to uphold it. Besides, if a customer is particularly in poor taste, you can always include a disclaimer in that particular design, just as you would for a too-narrow wood frame, regular glass, etc.

If you have jobs coming back because the customer didn't like the design often enough to worry about it, you seriously need to take a look at what's going on on the design table and make some changes.
 

Dave

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We shouldn't blame customers for making the design process too laborious. It is a professional designer's function to lead the customer to a good design in an expeditious manner. A customer who is allowed to not make a decision needs to be told what they want in a nice, but authorative manner.

(This ought to get some comments!) :eek:

Dave Makielski
 

JRB

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Gotta go with Barb on this one. After all my years in this business I would be willing to bet that:

.Husband is completely unaware of this project.
.Husband is aware, could care less.
.There is no husband to start with.

Asking her to bring in her husband would be busting her outright, so of course, for any reason she can dream up, husband will always be unavailable.

We all get these types from time to time, it's just part of the turf. We all handle them on a case by case, mood by mood basis. There is no real pat answer. You have to decide who is running your business and go with that.

A lesson I learned many years ago, you have to be the one in charge of the sale, not the customer. Once the customer takes over the sale it always ends in disaster, much like you described.

People come to us for our expertise, not in just our design or craftsmanship, but also our ability to make decisions easier for them.

People honestly do not want wishy washy sales approaches. They want confident straight forward answers. You have to be able to give them that. I have flat out told people right to their face, "Are you kidding me, that will be absolutely perfect in that room". Having never seen them or their house before. Works just about every time, or at least gives em a chuckle.

It's amazing what a little confidence will do.

John
 

Handy

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There is a fine line between being too pushy with your opinions, and not being pushy enough!! LOL!!

When I said that this happens often - I didn't mean every week or anything like that - I meant every few months - like about 4 times a year or so.

We are very careful of how much we "push" design on people because there have been times in the past when they come back and say "I don't like this - you are supposed to be the professional - you talked me into this" - Now, I know that we are not perfect - but really - we've won several awards on our frame design and quality - and 99% of our customers are thrilled with our work so I really do think that we know what we are doing.

Unfortunately, there are some people who's taste is all in their mouths and they think that a 1" mat looks good on a 30 X 40 picture, or that because their best friend's brother's uncle is an artist who thinks that everything on the planet should be in a white mat and silver frame then it must be gospel!!

If we disagree that a design isn't right - we will always say "well, I like this better and I'll tell you why..............., but ultimately YOU are the one who is going to look at it every day so you should decide how YOU want it to look." (with the exception of frames that are too flimsy and won't hold up - then we out right say "that's not going to work")

When someone is indecisive we will start to give them a gentle nudge - but we are very careful about doing it. However - unfortunately there are SOME people who you just can't nudge and it seems like the harder you try the harder it is for them to make a decision.

Maybe the next time she comes back in and if she still wants to take more frames home with her I'll suggest she bring her husband in with her and see what the response is.

She's a very nice lady though. I think part of my frustration was that during out busiest time of year (Christmas) with all the work to do and the completion dates looming - it was just such a pain to have to repeatedly deal with.

thanks for the input all! Nice to know that it's a wide spread problem! LOL!!
 

JRB

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Sandra, it is not a matter of forcing your taste on a customer. You are right on the money about that. It is a matter of learning to read what a customer actually wants. I have found that whatever occurs in the first fifteen minutes, the correct design for that customers home and taste will show up then. Your job is to spot it, then sell them on the idea.

Customer comes in, lays down her artwork and gives you no clue as to what she wants. You have fifteen minutes to pick her brain, and that's the truth. After fifteen minutes, she will go blind and will not be able to tell if it's good, bad, stupid or beautiful. The things she gravitates toward in those fifteen minutes will tell you the story.

What this means is you gotta quit the small chat and start laying out designs. It's OK to chat, as long as the designs keep getting out there. If she does not give you a response to even one design, STOP, flat out ask her for a response, you like it? You don't like it? What? Do not give the impression you are rushing her but keep pumping out the questions. Always start with the mats, never start picking frames until the mats have been agreed on. Ask her what colors would go in the room, yada yada, make darn sure she is actively involved in the design process. Set everything that she gravitated toward in those first fifteen minutes aside so you don't forget them, keep your eye on them and do not let them get mixed up with anything selected after that. The design that will work is there, believe me.

Then go onto the frame, same story, fifteen minutes.

I have spent several hours with an indecisive customer, the sale has always been concluded with what she leaned toward in those first fifteen minutes. I usually am right on target about 99% of the time.

The worst case scenario is she gets it home and hates it, big deal, change it out for her. I average about two or three change outs a year. I do not advertise or tell her I will do this, I just do whatever it takes to make her happy.

John
 

Handy

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You're absolutely right John - so many times we end up going back to the first things that we showed them. They just want to see "other" things that they had in their heads already before they came - and then they realize they don't look very good.

We also start with matting. There have been several times when customers will start grabbing and frames right away and I always say to them "we really should decide on a mat first otherwise it gets too confusing and we'll be at this forever" and they always just say "oh - ok then"

I clean the table as we go along. If something is a maybe - it gets to stay. If it's a definate NO then it goes away back on the wall/shelf.

The WORST people to help are the ones who just don't say anything at all - in a case like that I'll say "ok, you really need to tell me what you are thinking so that I have some direction from you. Don't worry if you don't like something - you aren't going to hurt my feelings! haa haaa "

I would say with 85% of our customers we are able to make the sale in a short time. But then there are people like this. I didn't mention this - but this lady came in with an exact scaled drawing of her living room - couch, lamps, other furniture, etc. Wanted to pick out frames and have them drawn out to exact size on her picture of placement so that they will all fit over the couch and between the lamps.

Problem is - until she picks a ##@!!***# frame we can't tell her a definate size. That's another reason why she had the mattings done first - so she could take them home and measure everything all over again. BUT!! she's not exactly sure they should ALL go over the couch or not - and maybe one or two of them will hang on this wall over here............ blah, blah, blah!

I'm tellin you - at some point during the initial dealing with her I was wishing someone would blast through the door with a gun and put me out of my misery! LOL!!!! There are SOME people who you can't just cut out the chit-chat! Ha! Noooooo more chit-chat for you!!!! (think of the soup natzi from Seinfeld! LOL!!
 

RoboFramer

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I will never feel responsible for a customer's bad taste or decision. Their choice will always be an informed one and I won't spend too much time informing either.

The most eye-rolling comments I hear are

"Oh that's much too heavy"

"Yes but my curtains are....... and my Sofa is........."

(Thinks) "SO WHY HAVE YOU BOUGHT A PICTURE OF A FREAKIN' ICEBERG THEN?"

"Well, what do YOU think?"
When they look up they see me covering my mouth & making heaving noises. This is after rejecting my ideas and asking to see a double mount - magenta and avocado - and a red laquered frame, around an old sepia photo of their Granny.
 

Jack Cee

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You might want to "go the extra mile" with this customer. Pick the matting and frame that you would use and would want in your house and on your walls and also pick two or three alternatives and offer to visit her home and meet with her husband and show your suggestions. You never know, you might get a sale, you will certainly impress the couple with your diligence. We do this on a regular basis with difficult customers; it works wonders.

So, perhaps it is a quite a distance, enjoy the trip and tell the customer so.

A point to remember, "be at your best for the most difficult" you may win a nice sale and make a friend. Compliments on the couples decor would be in order even if there is none to be observed.
If you cross your fingers when you say this, do not let the couple see you do it.

Jack Cee
 

framah

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I have closed a few sales with the enjoying the trip comment. Up here, most trips really are beautiful and it gets me out of the shop. I thank them for giving me an excuse to get out and take a drive.

Just before "Xmas" I delivered and hung 2 framed mirrors for someone. It is what clinched the sale for almost $600. While there, she showed me around the house and the other pieces I had done for her. The best thing about this is that i get to see the final pieces in their rooms.
We were both noticing that a couple of ones looked dark where they were but looked great in daylight. She mentioned that the room is only used in the evening/nite time so we both agreed they should be matted for that type of lighting.
I never would have understood that with out seeing it first hand.
I offered to redo the mats to a lighter shade after the season now that I saw them in place.

Which gets me to thinking... we usually frame in strong lighting which, I'm sure is unlike what is in their homes. Should we have a different lighting approach here where the sales counter is lighted more like a living room?
Whaddaya think??
 

Rick Granick

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I agree with many of the comments made here, particularly the 15-minute rule, and the clean-up-as-you-go policy. I also find it helpful to remember specific things a customer mentioned so I can use them to bolster my design statements as meeting needs that they themselves claimed to have.
Whatever approach we use, I think Dave summed up the goal nicely:
It is a professional designer's function to lead the customer to a good design in an expeditious manner. A customer who is allowed to not make a decision needs to be told what they want in a nice, but authorative manner.
:cool: Rick
P.S.: Don't continue to discuss after the close. Move on to deposit and pickup terms.
 

imaluma

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I had a woman and her daughter come in today with two paintings from africa. we (they) started designing one and kept putting together some god awful designs. the daughter was pulling out mats (yes, mats) that were awful and did not match at all. all the while I was trying to figure out how to frame with mats and glass instead of stretching on bars. I decided to let them play among themselves and quietly put together a design for the second piece. it was painted on a sort of lightweight fabric that was really flat and not very big so It could be matted under glass. I put a design together with a fabric mat, fillet, rag mat and frame (frame and fillet were larson juhl's hammered iron- you know the ones?) the daughter looked over and say's, "that looks perfect!!!"

they let me put a new design together for first piece from scratch, paid, and left.

i guess i showed em who's boss?
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Jay H:
I'm wondering if have any of the visulization software programs on the market these days? That would certianly help.
I was wondering if Jay's comment would spark a conversation on visualization.

Our visualization software has been in use since October. After these three months, it is obvious that this is the best and fastest way to help indecisive customers decide on a frame design.

And when they see the difference between a 2" mat and a 4" mat, they often go wider.

And they decide more quickly.

And they spend more.
 

belinda

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Originally posted by imaluma:
the daughter looked over and say's, "that looks perfect!!!"

they let me put a new design together for first piece from scratch, paid, and left.

i guess i showed em who's boss?
I have been through this so many times...Customers will come in and say they absolutely do NOT want my help...an hour or so later and they are still trying to use a fillet as a frame, despite me explaining and I can walk up and show them something and they will immediately go for it.

I try to explain to my coworkers (who like to coddle customers FOREVER) that it should't take more than 20 minutes on each piece and if they don't have it by then, get some help from someone else, because eyes get tired, and people just get tired of staring at thier pieces for that amount of time. It seems like we are giving them good service, but what we are really saying is- "I'm not sure what to do."

You would not believe how many times I have walked up from the back when a customer had been there 40+ minutes, grabbed one frame, set it down next to the other framer and the customer went- THATS GREAT! Then the coworker would say 'phew, thanks, she/he/it/them was taking forever' and I respond- "No, you were"

Last bit- learning how to ask the right questions makes all the difference in the world.

If the customer keeps coming back saying something is wrong- as for specifics- Is it the style/color? Is it the size? What exactly is making this such a ridiculous decision?
 

Rick Granick

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Belinda, I couldn't agree more. People want to be told what is best. If you can convince the customer you are a confident, authoritative source for design advice, they will trust you and take your advice. Plan and practice ways of describing what your design intentions are, why these ideas work, and how they fulfill the customer's stated needs. If you can express them in a sincere and friendly way, you will help the customer overcome any nervousness or uncertainty. Put some personality into the process. It's part of "experience" selling.
:cool: Rick
 
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