Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Forum Donor
Jun 16, 2000
Every year it seems that we have thread dealing with the same customer that visits us Dec 23rd or 24th

You know the one; it's always the "Trophy wife" dripping with diamonds and designer duds. And, she always has a Mercedes/Jaguar/Lexus parked right in front. More often than not, she has either (sometimes both) a snotty teenage daughter or a disengaged husband (he always sports a Rolex)

They always are flabbergasted at (a) your incredibly high prices and (b)that you can not have the project done by tomorrow (or earlier)

They must drive all around the country waiting to spring their holiday joy on some framer and I am surprised that no one has spotted this annual visitor.

Please, someone must have seen this client.

It is as much a part of the Holiday Tradition as people avoiding the malls because they are always so over-crowded

Don't tell me we have lost another tradition?
I don't know where that one was...my last minute customers were very nice people.
I even got hugs from a couple of them because they were so happy I got their job done...and promises of referrals and return visits.

I like that tradition much better.
No Bob, the tradition is alive and well. But it is not limited to Christmas anymore.

The creatures you described are spotted quite often during all seasons.

Relax (with them....if you can), they are not an endangered species...
And, see, I thought it was one of those "urban myth" things

But, if even Ron, without a store, gets them it must be as wide spread as advertised

One of of my goals this coming year must be to seek out some much better locations. We just never get any of the truly newsworthy (and omnipresent) clients that so many seem to get with regularity

Everyone else seems to get these clients and those with the framing horror stories from the Big Boxes and we never do

I've got to work on our Marketing-it appears that this is a vast untapped market
I'm with Deb. We bailed out a few people on the 24th....no rush fees....and also got a hug or two in return. No chocolates this year though- does that mean the economy is on the fritz??!! :confused: (Two years ago we got a Donovan McNabb's jersey in on the 23rd and got it ready by the 24th and received a giant box of truffles in thanks).

I always love to play Santa's elf and help someone out in a pinch, but I'm glad the Christmas rush is history for this year.
I never had her before, but I sure did have her this year - a last-minute out-of-towner putting on a know-it-all act for her daddy and companions. BTW, the car was a Mercedes (could have been Daddy's).
Not here Bob, but if I see her I'll let her know you're looking for her.
"Untapped" market??? How do you think she got all those diamonds? (Can I say that here?)
I had a customer (trophy wife) who was married to the weathiest man in the area (he passed away in '04). She always had the new Mercedes, diamond jewlery, and fur coats. She sported a diamond I called "the doorknob", it was so big. She was loved to tell me of the things she indulged herself in, but framing was not one of them. I think she must have been on an allowence, because she did mention spending "her" money on it. So, I guess when it was "his" money she was spending, cost wasn't an issue. When she had to spend "her" money, it was.
Well, dad-gummed, I thought for sure that this was all a put-on. That we lumped all our most hated attributes into a single mythical customer just to make us feel better.

Now, it seems to be true

I am truly amazed

I know people in all sorts of industries that all use the "old farmer in overalls" that looks like he just stepped out of Mayberry. All the sales people ignore him because he looks so destitute. Then, one helpful salesperson finally helps him and the hayseed proceeds to pull out a wad and peel off hundred's to pay for that new shiny Mercedes/Rolex/Plasma TV/Home Entertainment Center/Cruise around the World/Beachfront Condo in Maui.

Well, you get the picture. That guy makes every industry, too, and Sales Managers have used that poor slob for decades as an example of not judging the book by the cover

And, now, after all these years, it's true

I may have to go back and revist the Easter Bunny, Snipes and Nostradamus
Bob I know you well enough to see the sarcastic humor where many will see the ramblings of a cantankerous old man. But am I to assume that you don’t have plenty of customers who have impossible demands when it comes to framing? I find that very hard to believe.

This year I had a mom come in on the 22nd with several jerseys. I was rather disappointed to learn that she wanted them all in one horrible looking box. She wanted it by Christmas of coarse. She also thought that $50-$100 was fair to put 6 jerseys, one cap, and one picture into the ugliest shadowbox that you have ever seen. She even suggested that if I could build a $100 box, she would tape the jerseys in there to save money and speed up the process.

After outgrowing these jerseys of his youth, the owner went on to lead the Dallas Cowboys in scoring points for 90-91. He also holds the record for most field goals from the 50-yard line in one season for them. I’ll let a sports buff like yourself figure that out who. Suffice it to say she could certainly afford to properly frame these jerseys.

While I found her perception of my craft appalling, I didn’t come and post the story on the G. Probably because she doesn’t represent even 1% of my customers. I don’t think the odd random event like this is either shocking enough or common enough to report it. Plus I tend to like customers. Some are confused at what we really do but I like em none the less.
Jay-It was started as tongue and cheek, but, by golly, she does live and breathe

Do we get clients with unrealistic expectations?

Sure, every so often

But, they don't seem to have the same attributes and I must be at a distinct disadvantage in that I can't see their cars

Or, maybe I am just dazzled by her "trophy" assests

I must be alone in this, but I don't seem to get upset by it

I follow the 'Boys pretty well and I'm stumped. But, if I was to guess might it be Efrain?

We do a lot of sports "stars" and do quite a few jerseys and other memorabilia and most are suprised at the costs (pretty much true for most clients), but the clients we seem to save are the ones we use a little "salesmanship"
Bob, I noticed an article on my opening web page about an unprecedented number of bankruptcy filings, coming from credit card holders trying to beat the deadline of the new bankruptcy laws.

It seems that the law that the credit card industry purchased from our government for untold millions of dollars, is actually backfiring on them. Not only was there a huge rush to get under the wire, but they are continuing to build after a slight slowdown when the law went into effect.

Perhaps this is what happened to your snotty pseudo ten thousand dollar millionaires this season. They are part of the herd trying to get their bills paid for free.

I do know this for a fact, sales in my shop this December where down substantially over last year and I have a strong hunch that is the reason for it.

Now if only we could figure a way of having a government that would not sell our laws and our pocketbooks to the highest bidder.

Bob, I don't mean any disrespect by this, but do typically have regular contact with your framing customers? I always visualized you as the Vince Lombardi type, coaching from the sidelines.

I was always amazed that the vast majority of framing customers were reasonable, easy-to-get-along-with people. Now I'm amazed by the same thing in the insurance industry.

Still, the unreasonable ones are memorable and generally more interesting to share stories about.
Its KenWillis.

I’m with you on that there is absolutely no need in getting upset. Even if we smile and say, “yes, yes, yes…” its not enough. I think its best we have plans in place and many of these would be stories would never be stories.

I think so often the problem comes when we set minimum levels of service or framing. Almost daily a customer says “I have a question.” To that 100% of the time I respond with “The answer is YES what’s the question?” and I really mean it.
Hi Ron-If I had a dollar for everytime someone had an incorrect perception of me, shoot, I'd have more money than one of the "exotic" dancers at the local Gentleman's Club

I am one of those types that actually enjoys the interaction of customers and spend a lot of my day helping customers. This will come off with my typical arrogance, but I would be bored stiff if all I did was "manage" my empire. About an hour or two a day and then I'm making up work

Give me a customer anytime

Vince Lombardi type? Nah, much closer to the Bob Uecker type

But, I'm with you. The overwhelming majority of customers are fun, and for me they are the most memorable. Those that aren't are easily forgotten and I would suggest that many of you ought to adopt that same attitude

I promise that I remember the ones that are thankful and happy or bring us goodies or share stories so much longer than the guy that thinks we are expensive or slow or stupid

And, I work real hard on making sure the staffs do also.

We can always find unpleasantness-it's always out there. But, what the heck, let's try and find the pleasant because it's so much easier

And, I always look for the easy way out
Thanks for clearing that up for me, Bob.

I really prefer the image of you out there on the floor instead of sitting in an office planning your next move.
Ron-By design, I don't even have an office in any of the stores

In fact, my "office" at home, has Fire Truck border paper and a toy box and a coloring easel and is used much more by the grandson than by me. Okay, that was my wife's design, but she didn't get much argument

I do much of my "grand schemeing" in the typical "deep thought" environments like the shower, the back of the company limo (okay, I'm kidding again)
I remember seeing a piece, many years ago, about a CEO (it may have been one of the big auto makers) who practiced what they called "management by walking around" (or something similar.)

The guy spent a significant amount of time out in the factory talking to workers about what was working and what wasn't.

Shortly after I started working for the insurance company that is my new home, I got a note from my boss' boss' boss' boss requesting my presence at a private meeting. I thought I was going to be canned. I couldn't imagine why else he'd want to talk to me.

Turns out I'd been picked at random to talk about the training I'd had and my impressions as a new hire. The guy also talked candidly about his vision of the future of the industry and, while I thought he was talking about some distant dream, I've already seen parts of that vision realized.

I'm glad my impression of your management style was wrong, Bob.
Originally posted by Bob Carter:

I know people in all sorts of industries that all use the "old farmer in overalls" that looks like he just stepped out of Mayberry. All the sales people ignore him because he looks so destitute. Then, one helpful salesperson finally helps him and the hayseed proceeds to pull out a wad and peel off hundred's to pay for that new shiny Mercedes/Rolex/Plasma TV/Home Entertainment Center/Cruise around the World/Beachfront Condo in Maui.

I use to work in a family owned Photography Studio along side the owners daughter. She use to gush and pamper all the "well to do" families and left the poorer looking clients to me. And I consistantly had much much higher sales than she did. Unfortunately for me I was about the only non family member working there so no one would acknowledge the sales figures.

Their loss

Bob- you sound like my dad. He was a corporate executive, but very much a "people person", and I think he was really a retailer at heart. Sometimes on his way home from work he would stop by my store to see how sales were that day. If customers came in while he was there he would always wait on them, and he was a natural at it. Toward the end of his career his position involved running the retail division of his company, and he really understood the big picture view as you do. But he sure loved getting right in there with the customers too. Thanks for the pleasant memories.
:cool: Rick
BTW, my general experience this season has been similar to Deb's. I've gotten a couple of hugs, a chocolate loaf cake, and a jar of homemade egg nog.