What would you charge?

Rob Markoff

PFG, Picture Framing God
Mar 8, 1999
San Diego, CA USA
Potential customer comes in with 10 precut mats. Most are small (8 x 10 - 10 x 12)

She wants to have new openings cut into the mats, some of which are identical, some of which are not. It probably takes longer to write up the work order and confirm what she wants and to package the mats after cutting, than to actually

The borders on the 8 x 10's mean cutting by hand or using rail dodge on the cmc.

Mat color/brand are not determinable for replacement in the event of screw up.
I normally charge the same as if I supply the board for a walk in customer. I have a local framer down the street that I charge $4.00 per window for her ovals and circle mats........ She does not have a CMC nor oval cutter.

When you add up the time of write up and then cutting...... you are talking 5-8 minutes each.
Rob, this seems like there is no good answer. The assumption on the client's part is that they are saving money because they are supplying material. They are probably unaware of the time/money relationship ("time ain't money when all you got is time"), and your intuition and diplomacy are all you can really go on.
I would explain that at those sizes, the material costs are minimal and the price will be the same as if you were to get new mats.
I have a general rule of thumb about not working with customer's materials because of the potential for irreplaceable loss, even if it is a die cut pulp wood mat from 1958. Then again, I've been known to have a soft heart/head, and not follow my own best advise.
Your turn...what did/would you do?
The same as cutting it out of a new board.

The labor involved will more than eat the savings on materials. I would tell the customer this politely of coarse. If they insist on using the old boards and cutting (again for full price) I would warn them that there is about a good chance of failure. Cutting 10 I would say there is a 100% chance that at least one will get fouled up.

If they buy new boards for the same price, there is a 0% chance they will less than satisfied.

Its is what it is.

It’s like dropping off a whole car in little boxes to a mechanic. The price to assemble will be much more than just buying one off the showroom floor.
A buck a minute.
Including write-up, addition and subtraction time.

It's usually a bit less than buying a new mat, but not by much. But that's only cuz I'm good and fast.

edie the goodandfast goddess
In a perfect world, I would charge the same as a mat purchased from our shop. In reality, I've done it for 75% of the cost to a few dollars for a college student.

If it's an ongoing thing for someone, I wouldn't be inclined to give them a break. I would explain that it costs the same as purchasing the board from me and the quality of the matboard is probably better - since they were saving money, they probably bought the paper mat.

If it's a student who needs to save some pennies, I've done it on the cheap. If it was a one time thing at Christmas time because they're trying to put together an economical present for their ten aunts and uncles, I would probably cave.

If it was one of those things that I really didn't want to do for an a$$, I have told them that my machine is calibrated to the matboard that I buy and sorry, I can't cut your mat. But as Jay mentioned, always diplomatically.

It would be nice if you could tweek every possible penny out of your customers but it just doesn't work that way in reality. You have to pay for goodwill, word of mouth advertising, the "oh, what nice people they are to deal with" factor, and you have to do this without becoming a sucker.

[ 12-06-2005, 04:43 PM: Message edited by: Maryann ]
Why is a guru like Rob Markoff asking this question? IS the teacher trying to learn from the students?

Sorta like Jay Goltz asking a question on profitability.
Not a trick question. We charge $5 per hole, so we quoted $50. Client thought the price was absurd and walked. I just wanted a reality check.
$50? That's cheap enough.

BTW that was no client, just a tire kicker.

or think of it this way: Did you know if there wasn't something foreign in the mat board that could have potentially injuried an employee or machine...

Anytime we take in a customers "_____", we run a risk of injury, contamination, unknown infection, or damage to equipment.

This is the very reason the hospital won't let you bring your own medicine.

Rob, you may be easy, and you may be inexpensive/cheap; but you're not a slut. :D

Your reality check is in the mail.
Just cut them with a smile! I might collect $2.00 each for so many, but would do 1 or 2 at no charge) with the understading that the customers pays regular price if any need to be replaced. The other thing is, do them while they wait. Then you don't waiste any time writting up slips or packing when done.

For me, this is an opportunity to WOW! a customer. So I spend 10 mins cutting the darn things. Big deal! How often does this sort of thing happen? Not very. Just WOW'em. Give them a great story to tell about your business. If it gets you more biz, (which you hope it will), great. If not, you can feel good about doing something nice.

The same holds true for anyone looking for a peice of 5x7 glass for a table top frame. Yup. That's free too. You can't tell me you don't have a box of 5x7 scrap glass in the back that has been collecting dust for years. Give a peice away and take a chance. Is that $3 gonna make or break you day? Probably not. But now you have a very good chance of someone telling others about your business. Worth a $3 gamble to me. Besides, in realty, the glass was more than paid for by someone else long ago.

Now. Before everyone says, "oh, but nice don't pay the bills" or "my time is worth money" or "I have to pay the rent, the lights, the lease on my Wizard,..." or some other silly thing like that, beleive me when I tell you, I agree with those statements, but if you want to GROW a successful business, I am convinced that you need to do these types of things for your customers. Again, this is only in these rare and unique situations.

Just the ramblings of one framer. So do with it what you will.
Jerome: Jay Goltz teaches that in his course on effective pricing strategies.

Rob: didn't mean to be smartaleck, so please don't consider it as such. I think the price was perfectly reasonable. Tire kicker for sure
My .39 answer is the same as if he bought the stuff from me.

Because, if I screw one up, it will cost me exactly the same as if new (because it will be)

However, if this client is a good long term client, then all bets are off.
"...other thing is, do them while they wait. Then you don't waiste any time writting up slips or packing when done."

. . . & take it in C A S H & go have a cold beer(on them) to 'cool off'
Well said, Bill. I agree w/ you & Harry. Lots of little freebies & almost freebies go into growing a business. Building relationships. Might be a "tire-kicker" or just might be a future long-term customer and some good, free word-of-mouth advertising.
Well, it's not "that simple" for me. We do all of our framing in a central location which is not located where our retail design centers (Stores) are. So, for us, we would have to write up the order (being very sure that each mat had the correct dimensions as required), transfer to the shop, execute the order (and corresponding incoming/outgoing paperwork) and return to the store where purchased.....one downside of having multiple locations with a central shop, yes our overhead is higher and we can't "just whip it out"- and.....I seriously doubt that any of you could do a quality job and, including time to write up the order, process the paperwork and payment, and cut the mats and wrap them up etc, could do it in ten minutes.

This was a repeat client who felt that because she had done business with us before, she should have been charged less. I still feel that there was a chance that something could go worng (burr on blade, mat slipping on rail dodge, etc. and I was concerned with my inability to replace mat to match set if something did go wrong.)

Sadly, I am sure she went SOMEWHERE and another framer "banged them out" for about $20, leaving me to be the evil empire......
I think there is no right answer for this one.

First - its different for a small one-person shop than a big outfit. The beauty of a 1 person shop is we have the greatest control over prices etc - no absolute standards. While this can be a disadvantage, it can also be an advantage. If a 1 person shop owner senses (as you did Rob) that the customer who is a regular might go elsewhere from now on, we can manipulate our pricing. If we know the customer does this all the time and whose friends know they are that kind of a person, we can set higher prices, but if we really want to keep them - we can even do it for nothing.

I usually charge same as my own mattes which is a minimum $10 each. Now bringing in 10 - maybe I'll give a discount - but I'll feel them out first.
Win some lose some. Personally I think you were right on the money.

I have a selection of 8x10 mats that I custom cut for $2.50. If they wanted something bigger and wanted to save some money I have a huge stack of mats we could have probably worked out the 10x12's for the same low price.

So here, there would be other and better options than recutting the mats. Now if color and other factors required that utmost care be taken on those particular mats, I would darn sure CYA.

This is nothing even close to giving away 8x10 glass.
If somebody wanted just one done I would most likely do it for free. If they wanted 10 done they would have to pay. I usually tell them it is the same price as the price of a mat, but it depends who it is. A return customer I would be more inclined to charge 5 bucks a pop. Just call me wishy washy and and inconsistent......