The Good, the Bad, and whos next?

puttyboy

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Joined
Jan 28, 2005
Posts
283
Location
minnesota
Had a wonderful new client today that makes all the bad ones tolerable.
She framed a small rendering of a home her father designed in the 20's.
Gave her three great options and without batting an eye at the price, she picks the most expensive and pays in advance. She said she'll be bringing more in after this and thanks me for assisting her.
Very nice.

Next newbie comes in w/o art.
Looking to frame some paintings she bought in the Bahamas, and would like them done in a rustic black moulding.
I picked out 4 samples for her to look at, and before I even set them on the counter was told, "No,no,no. It has to be shaped like this" and she held her hands together and formed a kinda triangle shape.
Ok.
Picked 2 that I thought matched. My bad. One had a rustic gold lip and the other wasn't "rustic" enough.
She proceeded to come around the counter to grab a sample she liked and her hip knocked my cup of coffee to the floor and spilled it all over. Without even acknowledging what just happened, she turned and asked, "How much would it cost in this?".
So while the coffee was soaking into the carpet, I asked how big the art was. Again I get hand gestures.
So I priced it for 24x36. She had picked out a rustic brown that retailed at $36/ft, and when the job came to over $400, she looked at me, appalled, and said, "how can you charge so much for a piece of wood?".
Now I have a lot of patience, but she tweeked me!
To get her out the door, I asked if she could bring the art in so we could pick out a "less expensive" option and give her more exact prices.
Of course she said, "maybe I'll come by next week, I'm just looking for now."
Now, about that cup of coffee.Its going in a different place from now on.
Did I mention the nice client I had earlier today?
 
Sipping it.

I keep it completely away from the design area on a small table off to the side. There's no way it could be bumped off, unless of course a customer walks around the side of the counter and hits it with their hip.

If it had been whiskey it would also go there.
 
He's in Minnesota... he's still trying to keep warm up there!!
 
I ask of my employees that they use coffee mugs with lids just in case this kind of thing happens, they use the thermo kind, keeps the liquid hot too.

What a crabby customer and pushy too! I try, doesn't always work, NO ART, NO ESTIMATE. Just a thought.

Lynn
 
I think the two main things that should never be even remotely close to a customers property are liquids and ball point pens.

What amazes me is even though I know this, it continues to happen. I was talking to a customer at my sales counter this morning, I looked down and saw I was making notes with one hand, using a ball point pen, while holding a cup of coffee in the other.

I guess it goes to show, no matter how perfect a human being you think you are, you ain't.

John
 
I once saw a sign in a lamp shade shop (Charlotte, NC)- I think it applies:
'Trying to find a lamp shade without your lamp is like putting your hat on without a head'.
It was clearly posted on the front door - we laughed at it but I gotta tell ya, I ALWAYS took my lamps with me when I was looking for a shade!.
...... Finding a frame without your art is like...
 
Oooh, that's good! We've gotta come up with something like that for people who want to look at every moulding you have without bringing in their art. My favorite for those who call for an estimate without any information but size (which is probably wrong anyway) is that it's like calling a grocery store and asking how much for a bag of groceries...it depends what's in the bag.

John- if coffee and ballpoint pens (two of my favorite things) are your worst vices, I don't think you have anything to worry about concerning the status of your humanity.
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Rick
 
JRB, I also love both pens and coffee. Although, mechanical pencils are coming close. They feel so good when writing.
Just for the record, I don't have whiskey in the store. Or at home for that matter.
 
For all those that seem to have a difficult time offering any type of estimate, either over the phone or without their art, please send them to me.

Heck, we'll visit with them, give them some general ideas, carefully work in that we are both guessing, and hope they have a comfortable feeling that we are people with whom they might want to do business.

Now, contrast that to "No art, No estimate"

I'll bet that the one thing that lasts in the memory of that potential client is "No", as in "No, I don't want to do business here"

It's cute when we see these signs and we giggle, except it is not a good business practice

We ought to be expanding the "Yes" side of the equation. Consumers have too many choices. Why in the world would you go anywhere to spend money when you get that kind of attitude?
 
Yes Bob, I too try to have a pleasant conversation and give estimates with appropriate caveats.

But, ... $100 to $5000 isn't a very satisfying estimate, and all they hear is the biggest number you give them.

OR, you use your 1" black and a single mat, then they come in and pick the 3" gilded with a double suede and want it for the price "you quoted them."

Lately, I've tried going for a "most likely price," but that can scare off the guy that really does want the 1" black. What do you do?
 
Cliff, generally what I'll do is either make sure they walk out with a quote sheet with all pertinent info, or at least a business card with the same. I could care less if they bring that to another shop or BB to compare prices, its their right.

Now if you were to ask me- do I enjoy the position those clients put me in- absolutely not! But if they're out shopping around I want the opportunity to let them know my price.
 
Hi, Bob. My objection is not to giving estimates, which is exactly what they are, as opposed to exact quotes. It's when people come in and want to examine every sample in the store and pick our brains for 45 minutes trying to make an aesthetic (and economic) decision about framing art that is not present (and, who knows, may not even exist). Sometimes I just get an instinctive feeling that these people are spying for the competition. Either that or they don't have much to do and just enjoy looking at pretty things.
I try to be polite and professional under these circumstances, but sometimes you could probably see steam coming out my ears when viewed in raking light.
:cool: Rick
 
Hi, Bob. My objection is not to giving estimates, which is exactly what they are, as opposed to exact quotes. It's when people come in and want to examine every sample in the store and pick our brains for 45 minutes trying to make an aesthetic (and economic) decision about framing art that is not present (and, who knows, may not even exist). Sometimes I just get an instinctive feeling that these people are spying for the competition. Either that or they don't have much to do and just enjoy looking at pretty things.
I try to be polite and professional under these circumstances, but sometimes you could probably see steam coming out my ears when viewed in raking light.
:cool: Rick
 
Hey guys-You are getting way too emotionally involved. It's just a dadgummed quote-it ain't a living will.

Imagine you are out shopping and you see something in a store that makes something (and I hate to use a real example) and you are curious about it.

You walk in and ask "How much does it cost to make a swinglenorf?"

And the responses are a) between $100-$5000, b)no sample of what kind of swinglenorf, no estimate,or c) the person has an instinctive feeling that you might be the competition.

Are those really responses endearing you to want to come back? Don't you guys like customers?

C'mon, Rick-Steam?

In truth, we may see one of those requests every couple of months. It just isn't a big deal. You must have plenty of examples in your store that you can show off-find one that might be close and say "That wonderful example runs around $100, a little larger might be a little more, a little smaller..."well, you get the idea.

Sometimes folks might just be tire-kicking, some might be scouting and some might have the art in the car. Our business is intimidating and we act this way?

We do a lot of competition shopping (we call it Market Research). We, as an industry, need to learn a lot of selling skills. We are constantly amazed at the people that flat out refuse to give any quote over the phone and get downright defensive about it (sorta like what we are seeing here). We even go so far to call these people back with exact specs-even dumb it down to say it is a 23x35 Scarface poster an we just want a simple black metal frame and regular glass.

The excuses to not give a quote are mind-numbing

But, try this little drill: Pretend that your Hot Water Heater just went out and both your children are screaming because they can't take shower.

You call several plumbers and stores (because you do not have a clue what it costs to replace one) and a few give you an idea (they will) and they usually have a few qualifiers, but almost assuredly you will have a fair idea.

But, suppose, you get a bunch of attitude that they can't do it over the phone (although most YP ads even list free quotes). What are the chances that you get them to do the work?

We keep kidding ourselves that our busines is unique. Consumers can read right through the haze (or steam). Our "body language" is often terrible
 
I made a simple chart with a few different typical size choices. Then I did a price for stretch/fit/and 16.00 foot frame (canvases). I ball parked that for each of the different sizes.

Then did the prices through the run of sizes for a drymount/mat/fit/$10 ft combo. Then another run for foam/2 mats/CC/$14 ft combo. Lastly a wider mat with fabric/fillet and a $24 ft combo.

I can give an educated price range (ie. "that will be in the high one hundreds, to maybe a little over two hundred') after asking good questions and giving all the exceptions to those prices. If they continue to ask questions they are mine!!!!

It brings people back with the art and gets the phone callers to come in at least 75% of the time.
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I was kidding, Bob. Of course we will give potential customers a rough idea of what they are getting into money-wise for a particular framing approach. Even on the phone, if it is a pretty straightforward description of needs we can ballpark it. If the proposed project is complicated or hard to pin down, my response would be something like, "Well, based on past projects of this type you are probably looking at at least $xxx, but the best thing is to bring in your xxx, and let us show you some design ideas. Then we can work out an accurate cost for you."
Sometimes, however, it can get a little frustrating if someone won't accept a general answer, or if someone starts to pore through all available samples trying to "match" something and they don't have the item they are trying to match for comparison. Usually I will say, "Often some characteristic of an item will suggest a certain approach or design that might be a little different than what might have been considered...I'm sure we can find a great look for your xxx..."
:cool: Rick
 
The best way we have found to deal with the phone calls is simular to Eric's.

We have chossen a dozen or so mouldings that cost under $1.00 a foot. We then priced out 4 sizes 12x16, 16x20, 24x32 and 32x40 both with and without mats. On the phone we ask for the size and then respond that we have a package that starts at $xx.xx. This has brought in a lot of callers. They are welcome to use the packages or choose some thing else.

This saves a lot of time and is as specific as I want to get on the phone.
 
My general theory is that most people who call are price shoppers. You can't dazzle these people with information over the phone...you need to get them in the door to really make a good sale. I use Dave's method for these calls...we have a metal frame package that starts at xxprice for that size. It's my absolute lowest price on custom framing (as opposed to themn buying a readymade and doing the rest themselves). If the price sounds great to them, they come in. Once they get to the sales counter, we show the the difference between the lowest price and a nice design and the customer almost always goes for the nicer design. The key is to give them a dollar figure and get them in the door!
 
Wow, Puttyboy -- aren't you glad you started this thread? ;)

I used to work for an old curmudgeon (methinks I'm now turning into one) who when asked over the phone how much a frame would cost replied, "I'll answer that question after you answer mine: How long is a piece of string?" Needless to say, we did happen to lose a sale or two.

I always try to impress on callers that there are so many options and variables in our industry anymore (and we can show you ALL of them!), that it would be unfair to quote the lowest price over the phone just to bait them to come in the door. It would be ideal to see the art, and offer what we think are the good, better, best options for the art AND your budget. Art is a visual medium, afterall...but yes, I usually cave and give an estimate -- and remind them that it's just that: an ESTIMATE, not a quote.

And as for keeping whiskey at the shop (or at home), puh-leez -- give me a break. April 15 is 2 days away!
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