Too Efficient?!

Lauren Tanzio

Grumbler
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Posts
46
Location
Metairie, LA
This morning the owner came into the frame shop today and told me that I was too efficient and that since the shop was so neat and clean, it didn't look like we were doing any business and could I maybe take some customer's work out and lay it on the table and pretend to work on it! He thinks that if I look busy framing, somehow magically, more customers will come through the door and say "Hey, they do framing here!" This happened at 9am before any deliveries arrive and is the only time I get to do any paperwork.

Does anybody else feel that pretending to work and having a slightly messy shop attracts customers? Or am I wrong?
 
You do framing in your sales area? Do you have customers who ask to be there when their pieces are being worked on?

Customers like seeing more customers there in the shop. If you want to leave the impression you are doing many orders leave some great design or shadowbox pieces waiting for pick up near your sales area and maybe they can inspire folks to frame something else of their own.
 
At least a couple of my 5-6 (I lost track) locations over the years had very open workspace and I actually DID notice that people like frame shops that appear to be busy.

A crowd of people in the shop inevitably brings in another, bigger crowd.

Having every square inch of work space covered with work-in-progress brings in that rush refit.

For a very short time, I started dressing better at work (I was, after all, the CEO) and people were skeptical about whether I actually did any framing. So I want back to jeans and polo shirts.

I think it's possible, though, that your bosses time could be better spent out drumming up some real business instead of pretend business.
 
BTW, my suggestion was in addition to the owners... I wouldn't do it but it's his shop.
 
Ah, this is a double edge sword topic. I hate to appear to be something I am not. But this is a case of your being very organized - whether busy or not. But looking busy when you are not is a very hard job. I had a boss that had that exact attitude/mentality - he'd come in a say my office was too neat and it "should" "look like" a production office. Hey - I am neat at getting my work done... but when I am in the midst of "work in progress - it looks it!!
 
For the first few months of operation in my new location everything was extremely neat and tidy. A regular customer came in in the first few weeks and again several months later when things were getting what I thought to be quite disorganized due to the volume of work and being a one-man shop.

Her comment..."Now you look like a frame shop! When I was in before I was afraid you wouldn't make it here because it looked like you had no business."

I think there is a happy medium somwhere. If you are a gallery you absolutely must keep things tidy. I think customers like to see work in progress and finished work hanging on the walls in a frame shop though.

When I work at the design counter with a customer, there tends to be moulding and mat samples everywhere and I often don't get the opportunity to put things away until closing or the next morning. I've not had a single customer comment on the disarray and when I apologize as I clean off a flat surface to work with them they invariably comment that it's good to see I'm so busy.

So, glean what you can from the experiences I'm relating.

Dave Makielski
 
Well, see, my problem is that my work table is also my sales table, and I am hesitant to leave customer's work out in the open. We have about 10 salespeople(who's main job is camera sales) who also take framing orders, but also will use my table for various other things- putting large orders on it, laying out frames with broken glass, laying out large photo orders...

I understand that people attract other people, but he wants me to leave work out on the table even when I'm not here, and that's what bothers me the most. I'm pretty good at looking busy, but there's only so many times you can organize the mats...
 
Too clean!? That’s a problem I would like to have!

Maybe, you could make a fake-work-in-progress. Have some cheap poster half framed that you can pull out and put on your bench when you're not using it.
 
Yeh, but rotate it freqently or regular customers will come and say, "Geez, are you STILL working on that poster?"
 
When my shop was in a gallery, in a room at the end of the hall the gallery owner told me, "Your area is too neat and tiddy."

I asked, "How can anything be too neat and tiddy? And why because it makes your area look bad?"
This got loads of laughs from her because I was always hounding her about organizing and putting stuff away. She's a potter and always had clay everywhere. But clay is very messy. Exactly why I was at the opposite end of the building.

She said, "I mean it's always so neat that it looks like what you do is so easy people will think it should cost less."

I ponder it for two seconds and said, "And you have work to do somewhere." I just can't operate in an unorganized or messy place.

Adding 'fake' busy-ness would only add clutter in my opinion. I'm sorry your boss feels that way. I'd think you deserve a bonus or lunch or both for being so effecient.
shrug.gif
 
Well, he may become enlightned after the first customers wants to speak with the owner because their artwork got dinged. Sounds like a self-rectifying situation. :D

If there is a large emphasis on photography maybe he's thinking that he wants it to be blantantly obvious that you're into framing professionally, not just as an add on?


Originally posted by Lauren Tanzio:
Well, see, my problem is that my work table is also my sales table, and I am hesitant to leave customer's work out in the open. We have about 10 salespeople(who's main job is camera sales) who also take framing orders, but also will use my table for various other things- putting large orders on it, laying out frames with broken glass, laying out large photo orders...

I understand that people attract other people, but he wants me to leave work out on the table even when I'm not here, and that's what bothers me the most. I'm pretty good at looking busy, but there's only so many times you can organize the mats...
 
The frame shop has been part of the store for over 8 years. I think the real problem is that sales are down since his previous framer left in December. He never had to advertise framing since she had so much personal business. When she left, so did the money and he doesn't realize that it takes years to build up personal clients. Now he actually has to *gasp* advertise that we do framing here. I'm trying my best, but he's kind of impatient...
 
"He thinks that if I look busy framing, somehow magically, more customers will come through the door and say "Hey, they do framing here!"
Though its NICE to know what we think, and might help us discuss a response to the owner, one of the benefits of investing hard earned money & time & reputation in a framing business is that it gets done our way.

On second thought though, that might not necessarily be a benefit.

Its still a right tho!


(And sometime us owners do actually make the right decisions)
 
I know that what it boils down to is that he's the owner, it's his shop, and he decides what's best. So I did look busy all day today and left some display things out instead of customer work, and so we both were happy. Hooray!
 
the real problem is that sales are down since his previous framer left
Can you explain that more?

I understand that people attract other people,
If your counter/work area has so little demand for use, maybe you could create presentation samples and selling materials and have mini-seminars on framing for all the photo customers.
 
There are a number of things going on here and it requires that you read between the lines.

The boss seems to be saying "wake up and look alive" business is down and we need to get something going.

You seem to have a poor attitude about the job. Is it really true that the previous employee had such a personal relationship with the customers that they all went away after she left? Oh yeah, and if the boss would only give you more time and advertising money you could get the customers back.

I would be worried about my job.

It sounds like you went to work today with a better attitude and looked busy, that's good! Be even busier tomorrow, smile all day and do whatever it takes to close a few sales.

Good Luck Lauren!

Doug
 
It's not as though I'm not TRYING to drum up business. I've gotten them to run ads in the paper, send out email newsletters, planning a framing class that is taking place next week, put up displays around the store, attended an expo where we had a booth, and we are getting new customers, slowly. And I am worried about my job because even with all this effort I'm still not getting the results he wants... The business in this store is based all around building personal relationships with the customers, and the previous framer had worked here for 6 years. When she left to open up her own frame shop (which is not too far from here) she told as many of her clients as she could, and we've noticed that many of them haven't been back. They weren't coming to Lakeside Camera- they were coming to see her. And I'm sure a lot of framers out there have personal relationships with their customers. I'm from PA and I left all of my personal clients when I moved down here, so I have to start from scratch...And that's not even what this thread started out as!! I just have a problem with being messy. It hurts me!
 
It does take time to develope a clientele. The last framer I had retired after 40 years of employment by us...He actually didn't retire, that's only what he told me. Others tell me he is working out of his home doing framing, but since he told me he's retiring, that's what I tell anyone asking for him.

I've only had one customer walk after letting them know he wasn't here anymore.

Dave Makielski
 
Dave, you had an employee for 40 YEARS?
How long have you been at this? I thought I was setting some kind of record by having an employee stay for 22 years, but you've got me beat by a mile!
:cool: Rick
 
Yeah, 40 years is a LONG time! He's the only one who was with the company longer than me and I started when I was six years old!

Dave Makielski

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks"
 
I don't know how productive I was at six years old, but my grandparents and dad made me feel productive so I stuck around.

Dave Makielski
 
A spotless shop indicates plenty of time to clean. A messy shop looks like no time to clean. Another way of judging the volume of a business is to go a look at their dumpster just before trash pick up. Is it bulging or is it almost empty? You don't want your shop to be too messy, makes people uncomfortable leaving their treasures with you. Same way if your shop is too clean, people think you do not have enough framing to have enough framing experience. This is not to say clean is bad, too clean is, just like too dirty is.

John
 
Lauren,

I see that your frame shop is part of a photo store. Considering how marginal the photo business is the frame shop manager could be the most important person in the store.

I also operate a photo store and a frame shop and I see that your business is a member of IPI (Independent Photo Imagers) Did you know that we are forming a Custom Framers Subgroup in the IPI organization? The purpose of our group will be to establish competitive vendor relationships and exchange ideas about the synergy between the photo store and the frame shop. We’re just getting started and I think we’ll have about a dozen good frame shops participating.

Talk to your boss about this (impressing him with how smart you are) and have him join us a www.ipiphoto.com If the boss is too busy (and he probably is) he can assign you a password and you can get into the forum as his manager.

Send me an e-mail if you would like more information.

With the right positive approach to your job can steal back every last customer the previous framer took with her when quit. When that happens you can also ask for a raise:)

Doug
 
Did you know that we are forming a Custom Framers Subgroup in the IPI organization? T
What would your new group do for you that PPFA can't do?

There are many photography shops and independent photographers in PPFA.
 
Jo,

IPI is primarily a buying group, PMA and PPFA are trade associations, I belong to all three. PPFA does especially well at education and certification, but as an industry trade association PPFA must serve the need of all of their members, from the smallest frame shop to the largest manufacturer. The IPI organization and its framers group have an agenda specifically tailored to Independent Photo Imagers who are also doing custom framing.
 
Thanks DVieau2! I had no clue about the framing subgroup, but I will certainly talk to the boss about it. Wow, I've gotten a lot of really great information from people in this thread. Thanks everybody! I never thought grumbling could be so educational.
 
DVieau2;
I find that information about he IPI sub group very interesting especially in light of the discoveries of many framers voiceing their amazement about PMA members suddenly being intersted in the Framing field with the joint venues of the Trade shows.

Is this a bogus explanation ,in your opinion ,or are there many PMA memebers becomeing Framers now that they see PPFA at their shows,even though there are sub groups like this IPI thing you mentioned? Also which came first the IPI sub group or the merger between PMAI and PPFA?

I seem to have heard the converse of your statement over on HH and maybe to some degree here.
BUDDY
 
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