What Would Donald Trump Do?


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Founding Member
Jan 1, 1997
Fort Worth, Texas
On Kathy's (emibub), topic "Who needs reality TV with this going on" someone asked "What would Donald Trump do?"

I think it is worth some brain storming. Trump has been down and out and come back bigger than ever. How could a frame shop owner turn the business around like Trump does his businesses?

My first guess is that he would CONVINCE someone who can help him to BELIEVE in him and take a chance. Could a frame shop do that? Is this business too small for venture capitol?

Good on you, this brain storming idea is great….we can all most likely learn from it I know I can……I hope people can be constructive in there postings and be a little less contemptuous than on the other thread…..Kathy is part of our community here and it would be a sad reflection on all of us if we did not row in and try to come up with some solution…….or suggestions…

The reason I feel so strong about this is that a number of years ago I had a good little business distributing glass to framers in Ireland…….it had a cash flow of just under US$200K about US$160 + VAT (Tax) of 21% I had a mark up of about 125% on my COG…….the business ran me into the ground…for two main reasons…despite it been a good little business I could not full accept that I had a business this was just a mind set I could not get my head around…..and the other main reason I had problems was that despite having a good business knowledge I found it next to impossible to put good business practice into operation for my own business….I could do it for years for others but when it came to myself I just could not get it together……..anyway I have moved on from there and I’m a whole lot wiser today.

With regards to Kathy and her BUSINESS and she does have a BUSINESS despite what she thinks or what others think……her first job that she need to do is to assess where she is with her BUSINESS…..without having any numbers (there is no need to post them here)….it is some what difficult to go forward……BUT and this is a big BUT we can offer help regardless……Kathy need to look at some things….again it is back to the list idea.

(1) How much framing is Kathy doing at present ……not necessarily value….just honestly how many hours actually is spent framing each week……this need to be a cold calculated look at her working week…….been on the G is not framing though it can go into the area of business development……is there a danger that she may need some help!!!(too much woork)…or is too much time going into each job!!!…

(2) How good is the framing that she is doing!!!….I brings this question up in case there is a danger that she is over engineering work for her market place….

(3) The question of her premises need to be addressed once and for all….with no disrespect to Bob Carters reasoning about location…..for a pure or almost pure framing business….I do not buy in totally to the argument about location after all for the most part framing is a destination business and location whilst important is not the only consideration when someone goes looking to get something framed……of course the dynamics change if pre-framed/gift products in other words impulse buy type goods make up a considerable part of your business…..the big question that need to be asked here is how well known is Kathy’s business in her natural business hinterland….and lets not get caught up in “The Far Away Fields Look Greener” ……out look on this lets be realistic…Kathy has a business premises….and I have seen no hard facts that another location could be justified……..

(4) Etc.Etc.Etc……lots a very hard and disturbing questions to be asked…..but then this is a very necessary part of having a good business…

What all this boils down to is that Kathy needs to dust off that business plan….yes I know her business plan was written on the back of an envelope ……or some thing like that……but one way or the other it was a business plan….now that business plan need to be refined and developed……..I suspect that whilst money might be one of Kathy’s problems it is not the only issue she may have to deal with…..bottom line she has a BUSINESS…..all be it according to her in bad shape……then again others may see it in a different light…and I suspect that there is still plenty of life in that business….perhaps it a bit of track……but we all know that things like that can be rectified…….the possibilities are endless as to what can be done……once the will is there to go forward….

A possibility is that Kathy might look for a partner who wants a few more years in business before hanging up there hat…..this way she would have the possibility to take back ownership of the business at some time in the not to distant further and with a partner like that she would also have the opportunity of shorting her working week at the framing shop…which could afford her the opportunity to take a part time job that could alleviate her immediate personal cash flow situation…

I really hope we can get it together and help Kathy……….it’s a big challenge for all of us……I hope the community at the G is up to it….

I can't add anything useful to the business part of the discussion, but I do want to say that I think you're a really great guy. I am so impressed with your ability to honestly access and share your own business problems, and our willingness to use that to try and help a friend, using a team approach.

Good for you, and bless Jo's little heart too.
Carry on!

This wouldn’t be helping just Kathy. I for one get the most out of business topics on the G. I grew up in a frame shop so techniques have never been difficult for me to learn. Plus I never really WANTED to be a framer. I always WANTED to be a business owner. I opened this business on the theory that “You have to start somewhere.” I knew how to frame so I thought that owning this business would be a good place to start (sense I didn’t give college a try). I’m already seeing the folly of this approach but drive, desire to learn, and advice from Bob, Mark, Vivian, Jay, and the like will keep me going.

I would suspect that the problem I am having is real similar to others. Maybe Kathy! That is GETTING PEOPLE IN THE DOOR! The real problem for me is that marketing is the trickiest, gray, mysterious, unnerving, expensive, scariest, and important thing to learn. (note to self; Junior Achievement wasn’t just for hitting on girls. You should have paid attention.)

Running a business has always been a dream of mine. I look forward to playing Donald soon. It almost comical when I look at my 10 year plan now. When I wrote it, I was either under the influence of something or a silly dreamer (maybe both). If I were to follow it, I have 2 more shops to open and have them for sell in 9 years and 11 months. Boy do I have a lot to do! I had better quit chatting on here and get to work.

Great thread Jo!
Dermot said:

"...despite having a good business knowledge I found it next to impossible to put good business practice into operation for my own business….I could do it for years for others but when it came to myself I just could not get it together..."

I think that is a much more common problem than most would admit to. I know it's been the case with me. It is SO hard to be objective, and when people give you objective advice, it's all too easy to get into defensive mode and try to justify why you have been doing something. (Or NOT doing something.)

I remember a few years ago when I was having a real problem with people not picking up their orders in a timely manner. I had read over and over that one should get 50% down up front but I couldn't bring myself to start getting down payments from regulars that I had never required deposits from. I was so afraid that they would be offended, and the interior designer warned that it wouldn't be a good thing to do.

Long story short--someone on Hitchhikers was adressing another problem and simply signed off with "be professional--run your business like a business."

Those 8 words turned my attitude around and greatly improved my cash flow. Yes, a couple of people were offended. Guess who--the ones who were always late.

I was finally ready to hear what I needed to do.
I think it took getting backed into a wall (even though I had a good business, the cash flow was tight) before I was willing to admit that by trying to be "nice" I was risking my business.

I think a truly good business person has to be able to take a step back and ask "what's the best move for the business" in a particular situation. I haven't always been good to do that when problems first arise.

Jo, good topic! I think that a frame shop first has to convince the public that it can give you something outstanding--design and service.
Sometimes that means getting out among the ones with discriminating taste and income and "selling" your talents, instead of trying to sell one frame at a time while standing behind a counter.
OK, here goes nuttin' ........... honey! :D

I do not feel that Kathy's shop interior or her signage or her competence at framing and the design thereof are the main factors in her not-so-good financial position right now. Some of the problem may, I say, MAY be her location, I haven't visited her shop nor the neighborhood and can't judge anything about the location above what Kathy has told us.

I have preached to the choir for years now that you can be the very BEST framer in your area and go broke IF you can't get people through that hole in the front of your shop wall!! As Jay said, if you can't get them in the door, you can't do business with them!! Plain and simple!!

I have told Kathy this in numerous conversations with her over the past couple of years so I don't think she'll mind me sharing. Her negative thinking on each fluctuation of her business SUCKS!! There just isn't any room in our heads for constructive mental composition (creating an attitude that will be conducive to creative thinking/planning) when there are all these little negative thoughts taking up space. You can say what you will about positive thinking and attitude but I am here to tell you that it works and, alot like your relationship with God, can do wonders if you are sincere and heartfelt about it and make it a part of your waking life.

There may be some other contributing factors to Kathy's situation such as poor money management, poor business acumen, believing that she is a better framer than she actually is, but I am convinced in MY mind that none of these apply to Kathy.

This location problem that so many allude to has a simple answer to it but it also has some tough boulders to move out of that field before it is ready to plow and plant.

1. Move to a better location.

So what makes a "better" location?? Is Bob Carter in a position in Phoenix to judge for Kathy in Denver what a "better" location may be?? Am I qualified to make a judgement here in Florida?? Sure we can all tell her what makes up a "better" location but, on the 4th and 10 play, can we decide for her?? I think not. I could cite other framers who have what some consider a qualified POOR location and they are making a business of it. Two that come to mind are Betty Neuman working out in the country on her farm and Mark Greene who had his shop buried in a little burp of a town that you couldn't even find on the map let alone get any kind of driving directions that made any sense! (Try finding Wamac on a map of I*******!) It's not even a word, it's an acronym for Washington, Marion, and Clinton counties!!

2. Deal with the present situation.

So Kathy is nearly broke, and doesn't want to quit, and can't move, and here we are sports fans, sittin' and watchin' the half time show and wondering what will happen next. Oh, the game isn't over yet so Kathy can't just pick up her toys and go home! She has some more plays to run only she isn't aware what those plays are at this time. WE are her playmakers!!

She has had a pretty rough first half and isn't feeling good about herself or her game plan. She got kicked in the teeth a few times and was thrown for a loss here and there but she isn't a quitter or she would have already taken that easy road and we would be talking about dog farts or well hung skwirrels!

So let's look at how to get people through her door. Kathy, (I am going to address you directly now) how many of your customers have been in your shop in the last month? Since the start of the year?

How many have only been in once?

How many new customers are you drawing in? From what source? Are you asking each new customer, "Where did you hear about my shop?"?

Do you do active marketing on your own wherever you go?

Do you look at the framing in other businesses and make any suggestions about what you can do for them?

Do you ever just walk into a store and introduce yourself and hand them a business card with an invitation to try out your services?

Do you keep your ears open for a chance to promote your framing in some unlikely places like church or the local neighborhood?

Are you attending C of C meetings and marketing your business with other business people?

Do you wander into stores or look around and offer your services to them for framing when you have an opportunity?

Have you sent out notes or promotions geared just to your customers and worded them to reflect your gratitude for their business?

Are you marketing your services to targeted groups? Right now is the prime time to be approaching high schools with graduation promotions. Bridal framing is now. Mother's Day is too late but Father's Day is coming up.

Get some wedding announcements and frame them and hang them in your shop. Get at least one bridal portrait and hang it in your shop. Hang a graduation certificate or a graduation announcement with the school colors reflected in the matting and a tassle and a photo of a graduate in your shop.

What is Denver noted for? Hang a shadowbox with some Broncos memorbilia in it in your shop. If you need some ideas other than the ones that I already have posted, I will be honored to post some photos for you to give you some ideas.

Find out if there is an advertising media that actually WORKS for you in YOUR area and use it. You said that the coupon mailers were bringing in customers. Funnel some advertising dollars from news ads or anywhere else to use that mailer more often. If it brings in 2 new customers, at least you have paid for the advertising. And you never will be able to know how many others have that little "seed" planted in their minds just from seeing your coupon.

Attitude adjustment, yes, well that is a high hill of sand isn't it? You know most of my thoughts on attitude by now. My punchline to most negative attitude is, "Don't give up, give in, or feel sorry about your situation. Do something about it!!" You'll find that, when you throw a pity party, you hardly ever get alot of people showing up for the party. Some will take this as a cruel statement but I think that you understand where I am coming from and what I mean as I have talked to you about it in the past.

I have a little cartoon hanging above my desk here at work that shows a big heron type bird with a frog in its beak and the frog is reaching around that bird's beak and has a death grip on its neck! The hand scrawled caption is, "Don't Ever Give Up!" That has been on my wall for the past 16 years. It is more important to me than my business license!

Now I am going to take a nice lunch break and relax and care for myself for a few minutes. That is another important point that keeps me going when times are rough. I am fully at peace with myself, I really like myself and have respect for who I am. And that shows to everyone who comes in my shop. If you allow your financial problems to override your daily life, your attitude will show it, your approach to others will be affected by it, your face will be a mirror of your frustrations! I don't intend to wax philosophy here but you have to come to terms with YOU as a person and as a part of a much bigger plan for you than you have for your business.

I can't wish you any more luck than I have in the past since you and I have so much in common in our lives.

But I do wish you peace.

A great thread and some good brainstorming ideas WILL come out of it that we can ALL benefit from.
Some random thoughts on the subject:

Barb's right about being objective where your own situation is concerned. Maybe getting someone from outside (SCORE or someone similiar?) to look at the business and get a feel for what's working and what's not would be helpful.

Advertising and marketing is the MOST difficult thing to spend money on. Every other pitch from an ad rep sounds like the "magic bullet" to fix the business. (Except phone book covers - pitch of the week - they stink). When the latest and greatest idea fizzles it REALLY leaves a sour taste - "wouldn't it have been easier to simply BURN that $1000?!?!" It's easy to buy into everything. Stick with what works. Our newsletters are the best thing we do. We accentuate them with postcards and thank yous. It keeps the Applewood Gallery in front of their eyes.

Get out in the community. As a 1-man shop maybe it's hard - but opening late one day a week to go to a referral group breakfast, or Chamber event, etc. will pay off. We belong to 2 different groups and it's beginning to make a difference - especially with referrals.

If ad money is tight, ask about bartering for services. We have a group we work with who prints some of our flyers and cards - and they'll take half the invoice in gift certificates. This particular company runs all kinds of "events" in town - new restaurant openings, wine tastings, etc. and now we're taking part in those. It's amazing who you meet at these things. And all they cost is a few hours after the store closes.

Offer additional services - not just framing. Find someone who can repair old/damaged photos and offer that service. We are working with a very skilled custom carpenter who is building some custom furniture for 2 of our framing customers - all we did was make a phone call and we'll collect a commission for the work. Now he'll refer his people to us....

Any other ideas???

Its way to soon to tell right now but Thursday morning I went to the chambers monthly breakfast. I sat down and introduced myself to the guy to my left. He is a freelance photographer. I have posted on the G, sent letters to every photographer in town, and brainstormed till I thought I would bust about how to get my name in front of photographers. I met one at my very first Chamber event.
When I sold cars for a living (lasted 2 weeks) there was a woman there who was a top seller. She said that she went through 10 times the business cards that any other sales rep did. She put one in every power bill and bank deposit. She handed one to her dentist and his receptionist EVERY time she saw them. One to the check out person at the grocery store. One to .... well, you get the idea. She put her name in front of every single person she dealt with, every single day. Notice she didn't give each person one card once. She did it whenever she saw them! And who did they think of when they were ready to buy a car? You guessed it!

If you gave out business cards and hand wrote "$20 off" on the back,it would look like you didn't do this for everyone. You raise your prices by $20 and you make the same money (or more), the person you gave the card to feels that you are giving them a "Special deal only for you" (and who doesn't want to feel special?) Or just skip the personalized part.

Gotta go order more cards....
Hi guys-I have no argument with those that don't/won't get the best location possible. very few of us do, and some of us are doing pretty well in spite of our locations. It's no panacea.

But, if you asked me what I thought Donald would do, I'd have to go with his site choices of his properties as pretty much first rate locations.

The risks are higher, but so are the rewards.

As Tom correctly suggests, I am in no way competent to make site location suggestions to anyone not in my immediate area. Even here,I'm not so sure about my expertise.

That's why I often suggesting to look at the neighbors. especially if they are of the National variety and if they have demonstarted a savvy sense of real estate.

Very few of us have the ability to determine great sites-it's easier to ride some strong coattails.

But even fewer of us have the capacity, resources or funding to turn a lousy location into a "must go to" location.
I'm with Rebecca on this one, I don't have to much to add right now as I am just getting started in this business. Sure do appreciate all of the imput from the Grumble thus far. And I agree, that many more of us, besides Kathy will learn from this discussion.

I have already heeded the advise of Bob Carter and others here in finding the best location I could. We are going into a newly build plaza with a Major FoodStore / 6000Sf Hallmark as anchors and many other good support stores and Major Restaurants as out lot tenants. This plaza is a destination for upscale shoppers. I am paying almost $400. per month more than for a place across the street in a much older/smaller plaza, which has a bar as one of it's tenants. One of the restaurant chains moved out of their buillding on that side of the street, and build an identical building on one of the outlots in the new center. I assume their marketing expertise told them something!
Keep all of the advise coming everyone. Then we must all weigh it for ourselves.
Jeepers, of all days to be without the internet. I didn't even see this til just now. I am sooooo tired I can't even read it all. Some good stuff here. I will read it again tomorrow when I am more awake.

A couple of random thoughts......

First off, Dylan, you are a prince among men. Tom, you are "da man" too.

I don't mind a little <strike>barnstorming</strike> brainstorming.(Private joke) Nothing but good can come from that for me. I think we could all learn something here. I don't mind admitting I am struggling. My fervent wish is to someday get beyond the struggling. I am most definitely stuck. I know I can't continue to operate in a stuck position. I thought I was making progress but here I am again flailing around.

My fear is that after the brainstorming my only conclusion will be that I should pack up my toolbox and go home. I don't want to take my tools and go home. It's my store, I mean I have made a store. I've got the key components to make this work. I know I do. I couldn't possibly have come this far only to cave in. Since business has pretty much sucked pond water(another private joke) the past couple of months the thought of possibly losing colors my every move and has basically immobilized me.

I've got lots of answers to some of this stuff, but first I must sleep.....

You guys are having a great conversation without me anyway....
I cannot think of any one thing that has gotten people in the door. It has been alot of little things added together that have helped to build my business, step by step. These are some of the things people have told me when they have come in:

They saw my shop when driving by.

They saw my shop when the visited a neighboring business (unsually Dunkin' Donuts)

They saw something I had done hanging in a friend's house. Beautiful frames and great presentation get noticed more than run-of-the-mill jobs!

I run ads whenever I placed in a competition. I've gotten numerous customers from those ads.

This year being my twentieth anniversary year, I have been sending out gift certificates to customers. I never run sales or give discounts, so these gift certificates have been appreciated and used. I have sent them out over the course of the year so they haven't been used all at once. Only past customers have received them, so new customers pay regular price.

I added a small antique photo restoration service. We do a couple a week, and usually get the framing job.

Look for any chance to get free advertising from the local or daily newspapers.

There must be more, but this is all I can think of.
My sign and referrals are how most of my customers find me.

After those...
Networking seems to be the best source of advertising for me. Best, because it yields more new customers per dollars spent.
I meet potential customers every time I go somewhere and take the time to talk to a new person. I have learned to pass the business cards out to everyone.

Ellen's idea of writing the % off on the back of a business card sounds good. That is a lot more personal than a printed version and the personal service is what sets my shop apart from the big box shops.

Building a business takes time and money. If there is no money (or very little) the time seems to go on forever with little result.

Like Tom said, it is important to keep the postitive attitude and stay focused. If we can't do that we can't move forward.
In order to do that sometimes we have to step back and take a little break from the everyday routine.
There has to be a point when we realize that killing ourselves isn't going to make the business grow.

I really have nothing new to add to the conversation but thought I'd stick my nose in here anyway since I was prompted to do so.

Good ideas from everyone.
Now to get busy and act on them!
Originally posted by Bob Carter:
Hi guys-I have no argument with those that don't/won't get the best location possible. very few of us do, and some of us are doing pretty well in spite of our locations. It's no panacea...
Very few of us have the ability to determine great sites-it's easier to ride some strong coattails.
But even fewer of us have the capacity, resources or funding to turn a lousy location into a "must go to" location.
You've struck a fresh nerve, Bob.

I moved into my present location almost two years ago, knowing it is the most desirable strip center within twenty miles -- thousands of cars going by every day, a major movie theater, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Barnes & Noble Bookstore are anchors. What could go wrong?

Well, we did pretty well through 2003. January & February were not great, but OK. March was great. But in April, my world collapsed. What could be happening??

Around the end of March, my next door neighbor, LA Weight Loss, suffered a break-in. No big deal, very little damage or loss. But as a direct result of that event, all of their dozen-or-so female employees decided to park their cars in front of our stores, instead of in back (where they belong, and used to park). Lo & Behold, my customer traffic has dropped to a trickle, and new business in April was down significantly.

All of a sudden, I realized that parking here is a major problem. The ladies next door can be made to park where they're supposed to park, but the final solution will be more complicated. The last empty space in this new strip will be occupied within a month, and the parking problem will only get worse. If the landlord & I can't work out a fast & effective solution, I'll have to move.

Can't wait to see what happens next...
This is without a doubt, one of the better Grumble threads. What is really amazing is that it hasn't Frakelthreaded yet.

I only have two things to add that may or may not be worth anything.

First one is Denver, things are not well with the economy there. My employee is from Denver, she has six, college educated brothers. Of these six, only one of them is gainfully employed, although a few years ago all of them where. They are scientists and engineers. My point is, perhaps there really is not too many locations in Denver that would do much better for Kathy.

My second thought is Kathy has always been upfront about her situation, from day one she joined The Grumble, all of us have been aware of her ups and downs. Framerguy brought up an interesting point about attitude. What if Kathy has not only been up front with us on The Grumble, what if she has been as informative with absolutely every person she meets? That alone would just about guarantee the demise of her business. The one thing I have learned over the years is that no matter how bad things are, me and my banker and a few creditors are the ONLY ones who know about it. If business is down, and my brother asks me how things are going, my answer is ALWAYS, "GREAT".

Framerguy is absolutely right on target, attitude is everything. Not just in business, but in everything you are involved in. I can not think of any situation where anyone would want to help a crybaby or a down and outer. This type of person will push away just about anybody who they happen to come in contact with. When you meet them on the street, you give em a buck, or sympathy, and get the heck away from them. You darn sure don't take your business to them.

I am not suggesting that this is what Kathy is doing, I have never met her. I am only offering a an opinion on what could possibly be a problem for her.

Wow, lots of comments to make, sorry if this gets long.

Inportant things first.....I don't know why I say Dylan when I mean Dermot. I've done it before. The only thing I can think of is Dylan McDermott". I apologize to Dermot. I meant "Dermot is a prince among men".......

First some of <strike>Dylan's</strike>Dermot's kwestions......

For the most part my framing issues are minimum. I'm not too terribly efficient just due to the current set up but in reality with the current volume that doesn't effect me. I have a big advantage working in a BB, speed and volume was the only issue there, so I mix that element in with my needed quality and framing is a nobrainer for me. Although, I find myself annoyed at the process. I wish I could hire someone to do the simple tasks of framing so I can focus on the business.

One of the things I gleaned from my visit with Jay Goltz is that I needed to mix in more of the basics, like a wedding picture, diploma, sports jerseys etc. He thought I was alienating a certain segment(a large one) because I was concentrated heavily on antique items. I mistakenly thought showing the possibilities and creating a look would set me apart. Why on earth I didn't want to display things on my walls that everybody was buying was beyond me. I think he was telling me I'm not in the market where I can afford to be different and I might spook potential customers if there was nothing in my store they could relate to. So, I have been adding some of those items to my walls. It isn't like the concept was foreign to me either. I know what you display sells. I just got very caught up in the look. He did tell me to order Liebermans top 10 selling posters and frame those up. I ordered the top 5. I hate this stuff, (Vettriano ugh)swore I'd never have it in my store. But, I am going to frame it with pride and display it prominently and see what happens. Again, why on earth would you not want to have available to sell what everybody wants to buy at the moment. I'm still offering the stuff I love to frame too, just trying to appeal to more people. I am here to be a business person first, framer second. Very hard lesson for me to learn, but I do get it.
My location is a hard one. I am stuck here, I don't have any way to move right now. So, I am trying to make the best of it. But, the big problem is that I don't have the funds to start a full on advertising campaign. This store has been here for 11 years and I sincerely don't think anybody knew it was here before I got here. Heck, when I got my sign changed to say "framing" I actually had someone come from the dentist office in the center who had worked there for 15 years come in one day and comment she was glad to see a frameshop had opened up in the area. She couldn't believe it had been here all along. She is 4 doors down from my store. :eek:

My landlord is pressuring me to sign a new lease. I have told him I can't even discuss it until I know who will fill the vacancies. I guess the pizza place is reopening as a surprise... pizza place. Third one since I have been there but at least it won't be a check cashing store. He says he is working on another dry cleaners for the one that just folded but there is still the big 3,500 sf space that somebody was entertaining the idea of an arcade or laundromat neither of which will do me any good. Plus there has been a bit of a parking situation caused by the new yoga place. I've had the spaces in front of my store filled up for up to 2 hours at a time. In fact, last week one day when it was snowing one of my customers had to hoof it in from way down on the end of the parking lot in the snow. She almost didn't bother. Since there are three vacancies here I was amazed that the whole parking lot was full but sure enough it was. All yoga people. the landlord says he will work it out but I can't afford to have my store further impacted by a parking problem. After reading Jim's story that spooks me. People know Jim is there and it is hurting him. I'm not even on the map yet, no parking will surely hurt me. Plus, what happens when the rest of the business's open?

The best thing that could happen is moving when my lease is up but I simply don't have the resources, so I am stuck in my current location. I do agree that being a destination store I don't need any big anchor store. But, I do need a good enough location to have some walk by traffic and an upscale feel to it.

So, the location isn't ideal but it is all I have to work with. I definitely have had results with the people who have found me, just need more of them. But there are some months that I just feel like a sitting duck waiting to be picked off.

Enough on location.............next installment....Barb said something so dead on about "standing behind the counter selling a frame one by one" that sums up so many things..........Barb's so smart....

Take advantage of the parking situation and put advertising fliers on the winshields of the yoga people... better a bird in the hand and all.

Oh, and I wish to make a small correction... I didn't say "write a % off" on the back, but "write a $ off" on the back. Here is one way we can be sneaky against the Big Boys. 20% off looks a lot like $20 off, but is a whole lot cheaper on the bottom line. And most folks read it the same.
Kathy-An observation on your landlord's attempt to fill empty spaces: It scares me.

He is looking to like-use tenants to replace failed ones.

What does that say to me? He is attracting bottom feeder operators that are trying to get into business on the cheap.

For example, when the old pizza guy moved out, a lot of the equipment and fixtures stayed behind. That makes it less of an investment for the next pizza guy. So you are attracting a lower level operator than if it were a totally new concept (read: underfunded).

I am suspecting that a fresh coat of paint and some ballons aren't a definitive answer. The same holds true for the dry cleaner.

You have to realize that if Pizza Hut (or whomever is the pizza king in Denver is) passed on this property.

I realize that moving may not be option, but that doesn't leave signing a new lease is all that good, either.

But, this effort to collect rent is a lot diffeent than the effort to re-market and re-merchndise your center.

This guy is becoming a retread landlord-not a good sign

Jason may have a good suggestion although I have had little success with fliers on windshields here. But, a few steps out the door to place some fliers on vehicles in the strip mall isn't as time consuming as driving 10 miles to another mall to stick fliers on windshields.

Maybe you could come up with a snappy phrase to catch their attention like, "Now that you have your chi focussed, why not focus on Out on a Whim for your custom framing?" :cool:

I also suffer from a parking problem. Some of it seems to be seasonal such as a huge influx of taxpayers to the Jackson Hewitt office during the months of March and April and the customers at the insurance agency next to me. The insurance guy is moving to the extreme North end of the mall so that may minimize his client's parking in front of my shop.

I think that Bob is correct in that it seems like your landlord doesn't much care who he gets into his mall as long as the rent is coming in. I wonder if a sitdown heart to heart talk with him about what would happen to his turnover in renters would be if he put a little money into a spruce-up and trying to attract business that would compliment what is already there wouldn't hurt. Heck, the worst he could say was "Mind you own business!" You would surely get over that little setback to your intentions, eh?? My next door neighbor is a flower shop and she sends me business and I send her business. She supplies me with fresh flowers in a nice vase each week and I display a card holder (hand made by STB, no less!) with her business cards in it next to the flower arrangement on my customer counter. I would like to call this "symbiotic marketing". We "feed" and grow off of each others customers. I have a nicely framed bevelled mirror and a canvas transfer hanging in her front customer area and we just try to help each other out when we can.

If you are "stuck" with a pizza joint next door, make it work FOR you! Offer to frame some of the guy's stuff when he is getting set up and treat him/her like a friend and who knows what may come out of the offer?? (You may gain a few pounds from "pizza gifts" but you may get some business also from his customers.) Keep your eyes open for pizza related images, posters, pasta prints, etc. and make him aware of them. He may not even know that they exist and might get you to frame some of them for his pizzaria.

I am getting alot of useful information out of this thread myself so don't feel that this is all pointed in your direction. This thread will be of help to all of us so hang in there and take some careful notes.

I am.

Bob, you are exactly right with your evaluation of the landlord. He is the original owner of this center and owns at least two others, I can't say what those are like. But, my feeling is he is looking to fill up the center to make it more appealing to sell since he apparently has the center on the market. Although, I can't imagine it would be very attractive to sell if he has unsavory business's filling it up.

He does qualify his tenants though. The dry cleaner lady had a buyer and the landlord wouldn't approve them because they weren't credit worthy and didn't know the dry cleaning business. I think I was marginal when he approved me. He questioned what I was going to support myself on. My response was "the proceeds of the business of course". He went with me because I had a high credit score and I had been in the business for so long.

But, this center is tired looking and probably about to become a dinosaur shopping center. Could be possible that whoever buys it might want to revitalize it, but it could just as easily be they will fill it with whomever can pay the rent without regard to who they will attract to the center as patrons. Another reason to not sign a new lease I suppose. Although, part of me thinks I should be protected with a lease if new owners do take over. They might want to level the place and start over. If I leave myself exposed(Intolerable Cruelty phrase)it would be so easy for a new owner to not allow me to continue and tell me to pack up and go home. Argggghhhh!

Bob put the fear of **** fire and damnation in me last year to find a way to move. He said the consequences of staying in a dying location would be more expensive than finding a way to move. I tried so hard to find a better location. I had to stay in the neighborhood in order to keep my customer base as I was in no position to start over completely. I came up with nothing. Any place I found I could afford would have only been slightly better and it just didn't seem worth the move. If I move I need to make it a real step up. So, I had no choice but to stick it out here.

When Jay Goltz visited he didn't think it was the worst of locations. In fact, I had misdirected him and ne ended up in a center up the road and when he called for more concise directions he said he was relieved to see it wasn't the one he ended up in. He was prepared to tell me to throw in the towel if it were. But he said my location could be a lot worse. It is a busily traveled street and I do have good visibility when you are pulling in to the center. Not a resounding endorsement but he did make me see it could be a lot worse. Of course, at the time there weren't any check cashing stores, or laundromats on the horizon......

I do wonder with the efforts I have put in over two and a half years why I haven't taken off yet. There are so many new centers all over town that I just think people just naturally migrate to the bigger prettier ones. I've spent considerble effort overcoming the previous owners follies. She always had a 50% off moulding sign on display and was closed more than she was opened and did lacklustre poorly constructed work. I do think I have overcome that aspect. I rarely hear anything from anybody about the previous owner now, but effectively I have had to start from scratch since this location was tainted to begin with. I hope the new pizza people bring a big banner that says "Under New Ownership" because they will have two, count them two bad reputations to overcome........ :eek:
Yes Bob (S), that would be my ultimate goal to work towards a more suitable neighborhood. Unfortunately, I can't afford to move next door much less to a high rent district. I think if I got my location in one of those artsy areas like LoDo I would thrive. I love the overcharged atmosphere of those places. My goal would actually be to relocate in one of the older neighborhoods in old Denver. Especially in the Cherry Creek area, lots and lots of beautiful yuppified old homes in that area. Those people know how to live and even have taste. I've never gotten closer than a house tour in those areas but I would love to have a neighborhood business right in the middle of them.

If wishes were fishes.

Are you from Denver? You have mentioned these shopping areas before......
Kathy, I've sorta stayed out of this, but have found it extremely interesting.

I think you may have (unknowingly) come up with a plan! Create a flyer with pictures of some of your super duper frame projects with antique stuff and hit the streets in that "yuppified" area. Either put them in paper boxes, or hand deliver them. (Maybe even take a sample with you.) Introduce yourself as a new custom framing business. Tell the folks that you do pick up and delivery if they don't have time to drive out to your store.

As for doing the designs, I just had the most exciting thing happen this weekend that I think will revolutionize my business - and will work for you as well.

I do a lot of pick up and delivery. Some of my very best repeat customers have never been to the farm. What I did in the past was pick up the piece, pick several designs, take them for approval, then do the framing and deliver. After the customer got acquainted with my work, they usually just said "do whatever..."

This time, I picked up the pieces (actually met the lady at a business meeting - this is often the case) brought them home, picked several designs took digital photos, then e-mailed her the choices and prices. This morning I received the order. She said the photos came across great and was very easy to pick which one she liked best.

If the mountain won't come to whatshisname, then whatshisname will just have to go to the mountain!

How's that grab you?

"Create a flyer with pictures of some of your super duper frame projects with antique stuff and hit the streets in that "yuppified" area. Either put them in paper boxes..."

This is EXACTLY what I plan. I designed a pretty nice flyer. It prints two on a page and has some great graphics of pictures and stuff. I think that my wife and I are going to start walking in some new neighborhoods after supper and drop these flyers in the paper boxes.

A roofing company put magnets on the outside of my mailbox the other day. Does this mean I need a new roof???? Anyway I will show you the flyer and even modify it for you if you want me to? All you need is a decent printer!
This is going to sound a bit nutty, but when you think about DT and how he's come back it makes me think nutty just may be the answer. If Mt. Goltz thinks the location has possibilities then it may be worth considering some gutsy action on your part.

I think your landlord should reduce your rent considerably until you can really get a handle on the business and make a nice profit since he hasn't kept up the appearance of the property.

He should be told that you aren't able to attract the kind of customer you need because of the run down, dated appearance of the center and the quality of the other businesses. You need to impress upon him that he needs to add awnings, landscaping, good looking signage, nice parking lot with decorative lighting, etc. He would benefit by attracting better and more successful tenants that pay more rent and he wouldn't have to spend time tracking dead beat tennants to get paid. It's a win win deal for him. It might not hurt to show him some of these Grumble threads to get through to him that it's not totally the fault of the business that fails in his center.

More brainstorming here: How about handing those flyers out on the street corner when drivers stop at a traffic light?....that is if there isn't an ordinance about that sort of thing. Get a cheerleading team/ scout group, baseball team or some other agroup that you can trade framing for services. Don't let them know that you are doing it in desperation, but that you are looking for new customers. Make their team pictures look great so they will tell others.

I didn't really mean for this to be directed totally toward Kathy, there are shops in every town that are in the exact same position that she is in. Most of them, unlike Kathy, won't admit that they need help and will just slowly fade away. You won't find many framers who are articulate and honest enough to write it down for others to read, but Kathy has Grumblers everywhere searching their brains for something that will help her. Some of them are reliving their past through her writing, which means they did something to turn their businesses around or they wouldn't be reading the Grumble! So, lets get on with brain storming!
I would rather it not be just about me either Jo. I wish others who are having trouble would join in. A couple of people like Tom and Jason have shared but I know there are plenty more because I have heard from them. I've been told before to shut my yap about my situation since it is a public forum. But, it is the way I got started, it never occurred to me I shouldn't. I have nowhere else to go for answers. I actually find working my thoughts out here is rather cathartic.

Even though I've had what I consider progress obviously two and a half years later I am still working on the same difficulties. I wonder if it is me, my location the economy or if a curse has been put on the property and I need an exorcist....

Jo, you have some great ideas. Somebody else told me to negotiate for one of the bigger spaces at a reduced rent so I can get more space at the same price. The landlord knows I am struggling so I don't think I hold the cards. But you have put an interesting spin on it. Blame him and his crappy center, I like it! I have to develop a stronger sense of negotiation because any converstations I had like that would be pure bluff. I do think one of the reasons he is anxious for me to re-up is because my business adds a certain legitmacy to his center. But, it could also be because he doesn't want to fill another hole either.

Last week another Grumbler actually suggested if I can't afford to move then I should just buy the center on a note. I had a hard time understanding it, Wally 'splained it to me(thanks Wally!). It is all very mysterious and full of intrigue to me how someone who fears not having enough to pay next months rent could sign a couple of notes and own the joint. But, I think that is probably exactly what Donald Trump would do if he were me. The way the plan would work looks really appealing on paper and would of course require the landlords cooperation. It would be a win win situation for everybody and then I could lease to whomever I wanted. Ha! I don't believe I have enough business acumen under my belt yet to pursue that...............

I like Betty's idea of passing out flyers too but this city has so many ordinances. You can't use banners, your signs have to be a certain distance from the street. Every wealthy community near the store is covenant controlled. The pizza guy got called and threatened with fines everytime he did a door to door. Somebody told me to just go and do it once and to stop when confronted on it. I live in a covenant controlled community and I still get "door mail" and it doesn't bother me but I don't know if I should chance it. It isn't exactly pizza I am selling here.

Jason's idea to put flyers on the Yoga clientele cars is an excellent one. Let's see....."While you were tying up my parking space for two hours getting your "shockra" worked on I've been having a sale"..........

[ 05-10-2004, 11:24 PM: Message edited by: Emibub ]
Originally posted by Barb Pelton:

Sometimes that means getting out among the ones with discriminating taste and income and "selling" your talents, instead of trying to sell one frame at a time while standing behind a counter.
It is so hard responding to all of this, I have fallen way behind.

Barb made some really cohesive statement earlier that I quoted above. I think this is where I am having my most difficulty. I am finding it hard to get out amoungst them and self promote. It is not my nature and although I do try I don't think it comes naturally.

Tom also brings up attending CC meetings etc. and honestly I have not explored that avenue at all. Our CC here is just too big to really get any attention although I know somebody who is getting some results with a leads group. I am planning on joining one of those this summer.

Wally suggested(hope you don't mind I keep quoting you Wally) I start taking Mondays off and work on marketing and promoting my business. I have a hard time closing the store for 15 minutes much less a full day. As he explains it which is only too obvious to everybody but me, I may lose a couple who come to the door but maybe I'll gain a couple in my marketing pursuits and hopefully the two that came to the door will see I am open the rest of the week and come back. Then I have 4 orders instead of the two I gain by not closing. What a concept.

I have been attempting the past few weeks to be more agressive with getting my name out there. It is all about confidence and believing in what you are selling and I do believe in what I have to offer I just need to learn to be more agressive. People like doing business with people they know. I know if I get into the habit of doing this it will ocme naturally.

I have attempted to check into press releases that you guys all swear by. I just think this city is too big and my store is too small to be heard. I've been told if I have an event of some kind I can offer press releases to both of the big papers. We are one of the few who actually have two big papers, although they have merged on weekends and before you know it we will get our news with one slant just like everybody else.....oops, got off track.

Ultimately, I am willing to bet that networking, self promotion etc. will be my biggest downfall that I could have some control over. I can't control what the landlord does to the location, I can't control my lack of money right now. But, I can control the people I make contacts with on the "outside"...............If I have learned nothing else recently and directly from this thread, I better get my butt out there, NOW!

Whew, almost caught up, one more installment on my "Attitude"....................later.
Ok, so let's say you can't move for now.
You can have a plan of action for the future, but for now you are where you are.

I think going around with the fliers is a good idea, but is that going to get results? You have to sell YOUR TALENT, and no one is going to know what you can really do by reading a flier.

This is just my opinion (which isn't really worth too much, but here it is anyway.) At this point in the game you need to go for the brass ring. You need to find out who the socially elite are and market your talents directly to them. This will require research. Find out who they are, where they work and what clubs and organizations they belong to. Make a list.

Your goal is to get your very best designs in their homes and businesses. Join their organizations and attend their meetings. Introduce yourself. Support their charitable efforts, (with some of your best work) and SHOW UP at the events and let everyone there know how much you enjoy being able to help their cause. Give them your card.

Clip out articles in the paper about these business people and frame them up--deliver their "gift" IN PERSON (along with your card and flier) to their business. I don't care if you have to start closing early one day a week to do this, or open later--whatever. Just make sure that the gift looks gorgeous and doesn't break you in the process. I speak from experience here when I tell you that sooner or later someone is going to hand you their certificates off of their wall and ask you to reframe them.

I LOVE Betty's suggestion of putting together a couple of classy designs and e-mailing them to the clients. Professional service is impressive!Deliver them and hang them when you are done (In a very timely manner). Your goal here is to impress.

Many of us here started out in the spare bedrooms in our homes and I'm telling you, THAT'S
a tough location. You just have to make a list of all the POSITIVE things you've got going for you and quit focusing on the death-to-your-business negatives! Let the past go.

Just remember, people support the winning team--few people sit in the bleachers for a downtrodden team. You had better LOOK successful and ACT successful, because people want to be associated with the best. Figure out what it is that you do best and sell that! ALWAYS BE POSITIVE.

After you get out there and get a reputation established among the people who are on the "cutting edge", they will LOVE to tell others how they have "discovered" this hot new talent and then people will be looking for your location.

No, it is not easy, but it WILL work. It will not be overnight, but you will build a foundation for your business and you WILL get referrals. People can get stuff framed anywhere these days. You need to deliver superb customer service with ease, grace and style! These successful people are BUSY!! and they appreciate people who can make their lives easier!

If you start going to them, you will choose your customers and your location will no longer be an obstacle. Later you can address that. I'm telling you that you can do this and it WILL work.
Well, I wrote the above while checking homework and quizzing science words, so I hadn't read your last post, Kathy.

Tommorrow you contact your Chamber of Commerce and go to the next meeting. You talk to 5 people and give them your card.
I suggest you find out who owns the 5 closest banks to you and start finding out what charities they support.

You can do this networking in little bites until you get comfortable with it. I knew NO ONE in this town when I moved here--not a soul. AND I was described in High school as "Not just shy, but PAINFULLY shy!" If I can do it, you can too.
Last week another Grumbler actually suggested if I can't afford to move then I should just buy the center on a note.
Okay Kathy, now how about 'splaining it to me?
Eamil me if you don't want to do it here. Okay?

As one of those other shops that is still struggling...I'm not so much afraid to talk about it as just not as articulate as Kathy. That is probably the case for many of us.

I am eagerly digesting ideas regarding the negotiation of lease and reduced rent.
I really didn't think this was created specifically for Kathy, and didn't read it for a while until I saw that it kept growing and growing. Then, when it kinda singled Kathy out, I just responded to that.

But as she said, these ideas will work for most people. If you (and this goes for anyone of us) don't believe in you, no one else will...

Speaking of banks, some banks here will occasionally have a framed piece on an easel on display. See if they will let you create a "frame of the month" display. I've done this in the offices of the local schools, too.

Target doctor's offices. Their framing is almost always outdated. Offer to do a "free" check up to look for slipped artwork, acid burned prints, faded mats (very often the case with all the harsh lighting.) And of course, if problems are found, (and they choose to have them corrected) they are fully charged for.

And about the flyers. I was speaking of creating a "Fabulous Framing 'Folio" with lots of photos of your (our) best work. With the digital cameras many of have now, it's a breeze.

And last night I created a postcard to send to my existing customer list describing our new "digital choices" service.

What's so frustrating for me is that I have all these ideas, but no time to do them (yet.)

My February newsletter featured a shadowbox with (I think) 15 antique fishing plugs. That alone brought in several jobs with about a couple of months worth of work, and a shadowbox with about 20 photos. In fact, I'm still working on some of it.

To clarify one point - I realize that a couple of months of work for me is only a couple of weeks for some of you. But then again, my mailing list is probably only 10-20% the size of your's as well.

My lessons learned from Donald Trump:

2) PASSION - passion/drive leads to success
3) LOVE what you do/sell - if you don't why should anyone else?
4) THINK OUTSIDE the box
5) NETWORK - don't be afraid to use those contacts
6) SELF PROMOTION - Never miss an opportunity to brag about your business (look at everything TRUMP is on!)

I'm sure there were more lessons from the show, but they all reconfirmed what I knew from the corporate world, but needed to have reaffirmed in a different setting.

Since Kathy wants sharing, I'll share mine - we are on about the same timeline for opening...

I have felt Kathy's pain, I opened my storefront next to a failed gallery/frameshop and everyone assumed I bought the business and had taken over her world from old frame jobs to whatever... Anyway, I heard horror stories for the first 9 months - I have never given birth, but the pain I was feeling from that unanticpated factor hurt. I call it the ANNA FACTOR - one that I didn't anticipate when I opened the business - nice girl, just not a business person. So, the first nine months of pain were spent explaining that I had nothing to do with the old gallery/frame shop, and slowly as I did work and turned around the jobs quickly, the word got out that this store was different. Things slowly picked up, but she had still scared a lot of business away from my small village and it has been tough to win them back. THEN...

I unknowingly hired the framing Nazi (like seinfelds soup nazi) "This is the way I recommend framing it, you should go home and think about it" I hired this person and fired this person, but it was for other reasons than the quote above. I kept wondering why that quote file was so large (40% of the total year sales) OUCH! - now I know. This was ONE of the horror stories that came in after I fired her. Another hurdle to get over.

Parking - My shop is located in a small tourist village where the forefathers pull the wool over their eyes in regards to the parking problem. We continually get more tourists every year and they just blame the merchants on the parking problems. My local customers seem to guage their stopping and picking up based on whether or not there was a parking spot within 50 feet of the store. I offer carry out and delivery for large items.

Existence - I have also run into an issue whereby the locals meet me and ask "where are you", "how long have you been there" - I have advertised alot, and this one boggles my mind. We even have a large ad in the local chamber phone book (just covers local area/convenience items) I just sent a LJ direct mail to every homeowner in my zip code - not cheap, and when I ask a new customer if they received it - they say "I don't think so, I don't remember seeing it" Hopefully the influx of new customers is a subliminal message from the mailing of which I am finding I have no way of measuring because no one seems to have gotten them!

NEXT... My store is off the main street by one storefront - getting people off of main street to come down my street - I've got no clue! I think I could double my tourist sales if I could get the same number of people to come by my store as there are walking around on main st. Suggestions are welcome.

I'm still working this thing, but I know Kathy's frustration. The building I am in is for sale, rumor has it that someone (the bar owner around the corner) has bought it. I had a feeling it was for sale, so when my lease came up, I asked for a longer term lease so I could have some time to figure out what to do if things changed with the new owner - I have two years. Rumor has it that the new owner is saying he is going to double everyones rent because no one has leases - guess he hasn't heard about mine in his business dealings. If I had had $2.8 mill, I would have bought it!

Kathy, I know your pain, but if you listen to THE DONALD, and apply those lessons that I listed above, you have the ingredients to make it work. The advise here is good advise and I learn something new everyday and sometimes I get stung by some comments, but I have to step back and look at the Big Picture and analyse what's right for my situation.

Good luck, and I'm with you every step of the way!

Maybe Jay Goltz would do an analysis of this type of situation like he did for The Montana Project?? I learned a lot from that, as they were running along the same path I am - I was glad to see I was a step ahead of each article and felt like I was on the right path.

my 2 cents!

Originally posted by Elaine:
I think I could double my tourist sales if I could get the same number of people to come by my store as there are walking around on main st. Suggestions are welcome.

Where are these tourists staying? Perhaps you could talk to the hotel/motel folks about your "secluded and exclusive" gallery. Perhaps a "betcha can't find us" type of map pointing out all the wonders and sights of the city, with your's most prominately showing as well. (I'm think one of those cartoonish type of prints.)

I still say, if they won't come to you, you gotta go to them.


And (in my best Forrest Gump voice) that's all I have to say about that...
Kathy when and if you do some marketing material….you need to think about the benefits that you can offer potential customers…..doing a flyer with pictures of you “best framing” is just not good enough…….you are only selling features by doing that and nobody buys based on features they only buy based on benefits…..now this is a particular challenge to people who are selling a service…..like “picture framing”……give us an example of what you think some of the benefits of having something framed are….

I had hoped that this thread would not get so hung up on your location……..reality from what you are saying this is your location for the now and you need to work with this location….I also have to take on board what Jay Goltz has said about your business location and his experience of driving the amount of business he does to a single location…..again I’m back to the fact that framing is a destination business….you need to start to get people to start thinking about your location long before they even have some thing to frame….

Also what is wrong with taking the opportunity to target the people who go into the Yoga classes …..do you have designated parking for your shop!!!….or is this you just making excuses not to go and do some selling….it came across like that to me…..start turning what you perceive as a negative into a positive….the Yoga lot are a possible customer base target them….if the car park never filled up what would you be saying!!!!!!!......some other spin on how bad the shopping centre is………I strongly believe that regardless of what business you are in there is no such thing as the perfect or ideal location…….though I do believe there can be such a thing as a near ideal location….but this is a indulgence that few if any business worldwide can attain…..most just get on with it and make the best of there location….. all locations have there advantage and disadvantages what are the advantages of yours!!!……NO I do not accept that there are no advantages…….you are doing your self no good getting hooked up on this location lark…..location is some thing you address in your further development plan for your business……. and as regard who might take up residence in the shopping centre……. again this is wishful thinking unless you are in the position to up roots every time some business that you don’t like comes into the locality……..what’s to stop in some other location you might consider having a business arrive into them that you don’t like…….don’t let these issues hold up your current plans otherwise they will only lead you into a dead end….
I am sorry that this sounds like it is directed to kathy but it goes for anyone who is in the same type of situation...

A couple things after reading the thread

1. Do not go into a meeting with the landlord and start blaming him for the tough time that you are going through. Yes you can tactfully say that the center needs a facelift and that would help get better clients in the parking lot. If you blame him then he is going to be more on the defensive when negotiating the rent.

2. It sounds like you might be starting to do this after your visit with Jay but I will say it anyway because everyone needs to do this. Do not limit yourself to only framing things that you like to do, You are not your customer! I always say that I would never have 75%+ ever in my home. It's not because it is not nice, it's because it is not my taste. Let's face it everybody has different tastes (distastses)in art and if you only have what you like then you are limiting who is going to come into your store.

3. Passing out fliers on a street corner or putting a flyer on a windshield can work but you also have to remember that that could hurt you as well. I personally hate companies that put things on my vehicle, I think that is tacky advertising. Just my opinion but remember there are others like me. Many people who do that around here are fast food, pizza, and carry out eating establishments..Is that the type image you want people to have of your business?

4. If you are having a hard time running things in your framing business because of time, money, ect, why do you want to add more stress in your life by becoming a landlord? If you "sign notes" and become the owner, you have to worry about keeping the entire center full (notes still have to be paid if the center is empty), maintaining the center, keeping the parking lot free from snow so somebody's customer does not slip and fall then sue you, and other things like that, not to mention do you know what property taxes on the center are?

5. The best thing to do if moving is not an option is to tactfully negotiate a new lease with a shorter term and at a lower rent and invest your savings in marketing. Now how can you do that? Can't give you the golden egg here because I do not know your landlord. Talk to a local commercial agent and see what they say typical rent should be in that area. Make a deal with your landlord that gives you cheap rent during the first year then raises over the term of the lease, remember invest the difference in marketing.

6. Figure out who your target customer is when marketing. Cheap advertising is always nice but you have to remember that if you are not getting the people who you know need/want your product and service to see your message, then you are wasting your money anyway. Look at your current customer base and see what demographics overlap and market to that demographic.

7. As it has been said here earlier, keep your head up and keep a great attitude. Times may be tough but if others see that, times will not get any easier.

Good Luck to all
I have to second Barb's suggestions about getting out in the community. Here in Charlotte we're involved with Charlotte VIP which is great networking option to the CofC. It's amazing who you meet at these kind of events. Most large cities have something like this group. Get involved.

We always frame our gift certificates in a nice 5x7 or 8x10 readymade that we cut from scrap. Makes a little nicer presentation than a plain envelope.

Clip-and-frame articles are great. We helped cement a realtionship with a local museum when we sent a framed article that featured our customer (the curator).

When targeting far-off neighborhoods maybe add a tag line like "Charlotte's best kept secret" or "Far away, but worth the trip". Throw them a $20 bone for the time involved. If you're worth it, they'll make the drive.

A couple words on location. Like Kathy, on the surface our location is not the best. I'd like to move, but there are sooo many issues with moving. We're in a great neighborhood on a main street, but an ugly building with a dry cleaner, a vet, a dog groomer and a phone store. Absolutely NO walk-by traffic. Lots of people see our shop every day on the way to and from work. We've made an effort to change the front of the store regularly and people driving by DO notice.
I KNOW that if we were in a better location with some walk-in traffic we'd be busier and do more volume. But at what cost? We'd be busier - and need to hire help (worker's comp increase). Our rent would go up (but would business go up enough to cover?) With the increased traffic we'd end up with lower ticket averages and more work (I like the high ticket/low piece count business model, as long as it continues to work). Can you afford to lose the customers you have if they don't move with you?

I think overcoming the location issue is a tough, but NOT impossible, nut to crack. There are so many uknowns when you move. There is a center nearby that looks like a GREAT location for a shop. The "nice" grocery store is the main anchor, lots of other places with regular vists (photo lab, drug store, kids store) that play in well with a frame shop. Problem is, the grocery store traffic eats up nearly ALL the parking. It's something you wouldn't know until it's too late. Play off your strengths, find the right people, and you can make a so-so location work.

Tim made a great point about fliers on windshields, never do it. Put them in the window of the drivers side door, if you must use this type of advertising. I agree with him though, if you are a flier type of company, could I suggest you take them to the homes in your neighborhood instead. Perhaps even knock on the doors and introduce yourself.

From Kathy:

Tom also brings up attending CC meetings etc. and honestly I have not explored that avenue at all. Our CC here is just too big to really get any attention although I know somebody who is getting some results with a leads group. I am planning on joining one of those this summer.

How do you KNOW that without ever exploring the possibilities of networking with the members of the Chamber??? Kathy, one of the things that I notice about some of your replies is that you are prejudging without ever trying and confirming.

The Chamber that I belong to here in FWB has over 1600 members, most of whom I have not met as there are only about 1/4 of them that actively attend meetings and network. The rest pay their dues so they can get their new C of C yearly sticker each year! I have picked up new customers at each meeting that I attended and I have recently missed a few consecutive meetings and special events. I have not had one new Chamber customer come in since then that told me that they came because I belonged to the Chamber. Now that may be a coincidence or it may not, but the new business stopped when I stopped attending meetings. That is fact.

I also belong to the Mainstreet Group and the Downtown Businessman's Alliance. These groups don't have the clout that the Chamber has but I am a member and do pick up new business from the members. That is fact.

I carry business cards with me ALWAYS! ALWAYS! You need to market yourself and your business everywhere you go. I have already mentioned some places where I not only found inferior framing displayed but I mentioned it to the owners and they gave me a try to see what I could do for them. If you don't make your presence known and market yourself as a confident independant business woman, they will not have a clue as to who you are. You become just another customer or patient, or prospective client for THEIR business with no reciprocation on your part. That is fact.

I went into an O'Charley's restaurant one night with my sons for dinner and noticed that their framing was crudely screwed to the walls with some large round headed wood screws. I talked to the manager about something that was wrong with my meal (another story) and I started kidding around with her about whether SHE did the framing for the restaurant!! She took it in stride and did some kidding back and I mentioned that I would be happy to take one of their poorly matted and framed pieces and reframe it for her. I told her that, if she didn't like it or felt that it wasn't any better than what she already had hanging on the restaurant walls, it would be a gift from me to her restaurant! The conversation bounced all around but you get the gist of the focus I had.

She liked what I did, she had me reframe more, and she paid for all of it up front. Ya just never know where that next customer is going to come from! That is fact.

You are getting a mountain of ideas and help from this thread!! I am getting a bunch of ideas from this thread! Hey, it ultimately becomes YOUR choice to act and possibly grow or sit protectively behind your counter and wither away. That is meant to be a statement of motivation and not a criticism so don't take it the wrong way. There is business out there for you if you give some of these ideas a try. But you have to get your mind in a positive line of thought before you take a step forward because you are letting your past experiences bog down your potential to make things turn around. I realize that it is hard for a woman to take a leap of faith when the bills are staring at her and she has no other backup income to pull her through. But you have not much to lose by getting out and seeing what will come of some of these ideas. You can believe me when I say that I have tried much of what you have read from your friends here and some worked and some didn't work for me in my situation. But, if something doesn't work for YOU, go on to the next idea and don't quit until you see some positive results. In my book, if I try something and it brings in ONE new customer, it worked!

It doesn't hurt to get to be friends with yourself either. Once you come to terms with how you feel about yourself, you can find the road much easier to travel.

I had a great suggestion from an ad rep today.
For anyone that works alone and needs to get out of the shop...look into an intern from a local college. They work for a grade (free to us) and are generally motivated and responsible.

I thought this was a great idea and just wanted to share it.
Good grief, who has time to digest all this.......I'm still working on answers from the first day...................

Yes Elaine! Thanks so much for sharing.....we do indeed have something in common. Your building situation makes me very nervous. I fear the same thing happening here if it does sell. I feel I need the protection of the lease, but, I want out of here at the earliest convenience, but the lease will protect me from hideous rent increases, but who's going to move in, but what if the future new owners level the property and turn it into a taco stand, but, but ,but.......you get the idea. The lease renewal alone has my head spinning.....

According to a couple business wiz's here you didn't need the million dollars to purchase the property, you just would have signed a note. Apparently it wouldn't even matter if you had credit or collateral. You just sign a note, collect the rent from the other tenants and after a period of time the property increases in value and you buy the owner out with the equity and the "voila" you are the proud owner of a run down out of date strip center.

That is the best info I have on that subject Deb....in the most simplistic of terms.
If fliers on the Yoga class vehicles isn't an option, why not talk directly to the owner of the yoga place and see about having a display in there with fliers. Some nice Indian art, something relaxing. Might also want to get together and discuss the future of the center and potential other tenants. This person also has a vested interest in seeing the right mix in there.

I'm also reading intently. I've just getting through one of my negative phases. It's been a tough winter for us, second one were we have had to make it on the income from the store/studio alone after my husband lost his job. I have a very low debt comfort threshhold and hate having any balance on our credit cards due or taking out more loans, even if neccessary to grow the business. It always seems like failure to me if you can't fund it yourself. I need to get over that attitude and learn to accept some risk to grow. In the last few months, we have had to rely on our credit cards and loans we took out based on the equity in our house and business, but business is starting to pick up. We just need to find a way to even out our cash flow. The photography can be real seasonal here (weddings, seniors, etc. all get mainly photographed in the summer) and the framing isn't real busy in the winter either. Many of my framing customers are snow birds.
I guess a lot of us are gleeming bits and pieces off of this topic. Hopefully it will help some of us.

I am also a small shop. Just me. Thank goodness I do not have to support my family on it. I fell into purchasing the shop 1 1/2 years ago. With a small investment from husbands retirement, I have been able to get out of our house and back into retail which I have always loved. I have been able to work this around the schedules of 2 kids under 6.

Three small areas that I have hit upon to get my name out there:
1. I clean, mat &/or refit old prints for several local antique dealers at a fair price.

2. I sell reprints of old local buildings and historical places that I mat into standard sizes. Some are pre-1910 postcards and the other is pictures from the local County 1876 atlas that was reprinted 20+ yrs ago and extra pages were run off. Found those at local Historical Society. I have them in my shop and at antique store with my stickers on them w/ $10 or $20 off framing depending on size ( 8x10 to 16x20). I don't pay for rented space, just on commision, which is lower then her standard price b/c of refit deal.

3. I also cut mats for local high school art students to use for area competitions and display. Flat fee of $8 for #921 single opening mat no matter size under 32x40. I also have started putting a $ off coupon into bag so they can come back to get framed when the art is finished traveling. Have not seen a response to this but busy season coming w/ end of term just around corner.

I have not joined local CC for county. I think the cost is a bit steep and meetings do not fit in to kids school schedule. But I have joined our local business assocation. Have made many contacts and done framing for several. The assoc. buys a booth each year at the CC business showcase ($395) and they let any member display whatever they wanted (business cards, products, sampels, etc) this year for free. I put up a bakers rack with several examples of different framing and plaques. Great networking on the pre-opening reception. I think every member of the Chamber was there. Passed out lots of business cards!!! A few have returned. It has added to my base of customers.

****Do not forget time for yourself. If you are not happy and fresh it will show.******

Just a few of my ideas that I am trying.

Still more comments......

Way early on in this discussion a couple people brought up attitude and presenting a positive image. I do realize how important that is. I may appear negative here when I am "Grumbling" of course. But, I would never pass that on to my customers.

When I first began this venture I had a ton of support from family(well kind of)and friends. As time went on I saw less and less of them and felt let down. It took me a while to realize that I was the one who bought the store, not them. I couldn't expect others to share my enthusiasm. Once I adjusted my thinking on that and I saw it was me who had changed I could live with that.

Plus, just the burden of having to support someone who is in crisis mode all the time wears very thin. Someone very smart told me to quit informing everybody about all my difficulties. I was taking them all on the roller coaster with me. One minute I am devastated due to lack of business(like now) and then the next I get a $1,000 order and I am on cloud nine. Most normal mortals don't understand the fluctuation in business and can only worry about you if you show the ups and downs. So, now, my standard answer to "How is the store?" is "Great", as I think JRB put it. Or at least I try for that anyway. I'm so self involved that if a friend asks how I am my answer is usually "Sales are up, great" or "sales are down, not so great". Not everybody's waking minute is defined by what they do for a living and I've allowed mine to be so, I have had to train myself to at least appear interested in other things.

It has become clear to me that my interests and direction have changed dramatically and I have moved away from other activities in my life. I actually like the idea of growing away and moving on, I haven't done a lot of that in my life.

I know it is so important to at least appear successful in the store. Customers don't get anything but positive comments from me. I am constantly changing the store around. Even though I don't buy tons of merchandise recycling it from season to season and moving it from one side of the store to the other keeps things fresh and shows movement.

As to going out and networking, yes, I need to do more of that. It is the one area I admittedly haven't embraced. As Barb said, just go out and do it and each time it will get easier.

I just havne't heard good things about the C of C here. A couple people who have belonged have told me it is one big clique and only certain people are ever recognized. I had a very pushy lady come in several times to get me to join. Turns out she was trying to win a contest to get the most new members. She really put me off, big time. I guess I thought if they were all like her I'd never be pushy enough to be heard. I just don't operate that way. But, to not go and find out for myself is obviously prejudging the situation. I need to be more agressive.

I did attend a business womans breakfast as a guest last year and thought it had possibilities. But they meet on Tuesday at 10AM and it didn't fit in with my store hours.

I suppose I need to be resourceful and find my way around those types of roadblocks......

Dermot brings up very good points about location. I guess he is correct that there is nothing I can do to change it so I need to find a way to make it work for me. I still have no idea what to do about the lease, I iwll wait to see what moves in before I do anything.

I hope I answered anything addressed at me personally. This is one long thread with lots of information. I hate to think I missed anything.

Elaines list of what she learned from Donald Trump is great.

Tim McCann brought up a good point about not filling your store with stuff that you like. I really did get ay too caught up in the look and totally lost the concept that I am catering to other people, not decorating my house. Although, I am retaining the style I had in mind, I do want this to still be my store. But, right now if I knew I could fill it with Britney Spears posters and whatever current fad is coming down the pike I would be a fool to not offer it.

Thanks for all the thoughts everybody. Keep them coming if you haven't spoken up!
To all - Warning, Warning - Frankenthread approaching!

Kathy -

If you do any framing for the pizza shop may I humbly suggest laminating the pieces vs. traditional glass or plexi. I've done several pieces for my "pizza parlor buddy" and the flour "dust" in the air is much easier to deal with when you can wipe the picture off with a damp cloth. Cleaning flour from glass gets "gluie" and acrylic has static issues.

Just something to think about.

I appologize for the Frankenthread - I hope that you all will forgive me.

Kathy, Having just signed a lease on a new store and having reviewed it with my lawyer several thoughts came up that might help you before resigning you lease.

As has been discussed before in other threads, everything in a lease is up for negotiation. Ask for it, all the landlord can say is no.

1.Have several spots in front of your store reserved parking for your customers only

2. Have a non-compete clause, thus not allowing any other future tenants that would be direct competition to you.

3. Have a clause that states certain other specific businesses are not allowed. ie. massage parlor/tatoo parlor/ bars/ check cashing store etc.

4. Give yourself an escape clause if these conditions are not met

5. An escape clause if the center is sold. You can decide to stay, or you can break your lease without repercusion. That way perhaps you would be more comfortable with a longer term lease right now.

You can ask for anything you want. Most leases are weighted toward the landlord, if they're dealing from a position of strength. This place sounds to be struggling, he should be willing to do what it takes to keep you. Probably would me more willing to do things that don't directly effect is pocketbook.