About this class

Introduction to the selling specifics of framing, indicating the client and their demands. Sharing personal experiences about the first considerations in sales and customer service.

Video transcript

Frame shops, like all other businesses, earn orders by promoting their products and services to potential customers, and then providing the framing products and services they want to buy.  In this session we’ll review the fundamentals of preparing to sell framing, customers’ first impressions, understanding customer demands, earning credibility & respect, the seller’s commitment, and the buyer’s commitment.

Preparation to sell

Marketing is the first step of preparation to sell custom framing. This is the process of determining your primary products & services, defining your target customers, and planning how to reach them.

What will be your primary products and services?

 Even if you have expertise in all types of framing, there is merit to developing and promoting one or more specialties to emphasize. This helps to define your business and establish your brand.  For example, you may wish to specialize in framing sports-related artworks, memorabilia, and garments.  Or, if your business is located in a tourist or resort area, maybe you should focus on artworks and memorabilia featuring the local attractions, perhaps pre-framed for visitors on holiday to purchase and take home. Or, you might want to specialize in framing three-dimensional objects or heirlooms. If you want to promote installation and hanging services, maybe you could promote these services to local interior designers and stores selling home décor, as well as to your custom framing customers.

Who will be your primary customers?  Study local demographics to define your ideal customers, and then focus your marketing plans, advertising, and promotions to attract them. For example, if your community has a lot of bicyclists, you could sponsor the local cycling club’s newsletter or events, and promote cycling-related art. Or, if your community has a large population of textile-artists, perhaps you should advertise special framing packages or promotions for the presentation and preservation of their cross-stitch, needlepoint, crewel, and other textile art projects.

Once your primary products and customers have been defined, plan the best ways to attract them in your advertising and promotions. The needs and opportunities may be unique for every business and marketing area, so do your research and develop a plan suitable for your unique business, and then be sure to follow your plan, avoiding delays or distractions.

Prepare your gallery’s design showroom to impress your framing customers. Throughout the customer service area, display attractive examples that feature your framing expertise, especially if you concentrate on particular framing specialties. Keep your samples of mats, frame mouldings, and optional decorative features, such as v-grooves and French mat decorations, for instance, within convenient reach at the design table. Establish a routine cleaning and maintenance plan to keep everything clean and orderly. Good housekeeping is essential in the gallery showroom.

First impressions

We have only one chance to make a good first impression. Don’t blow it. Be careful about the way you look and act, because a good first impression helps to establish your credibility as a professional. Good hygiene and grooming are essential, and I suggest wearing clothes similar to the styles your target customers might wear.  Take care to keep your clothes clean and in good condition. Wearing a shirt with smears of glue or stain could leave a poor impression. 

When you open your business each day, look around the customer service area with a critical eye. Look for cobwebs along the ceiling, dust-bunnies under the tables, burned-out lightbulbs, and other needs of attention to keep the place visually pristine.

When customers enter, give them smiles and warm greetings – make sure they know you’re pleased to have their visit and eager to serve their framing needs as a framing professional. Remember that first impressions are lasting, and make the most of every opportunity to build good customer relations from the beginning.

And speaking of first impressions, customers may fail to realize how their own first impressions can affect a business relationship, so be generous and, if customers leave a bad first impression, give them the benefit of doubt and another chance. After all, it is their money.

Clients and their demands

Customers often come into a framing shop with predetermined ideas about what they want – or don’t want, even when they know little or nothing about framing. Customers rely on their framers to provide the information they need in order to buy the best framing to suit their purposes.  For example, custom framing has a reputation for being expensive, which hints that it costs more than it’s worth. This reputation usually is unjustified and reveals a problem in the customer’s perception about custom framing.  In any case, framers need to take every opportunity to help customers understand the value of custom framing.

So, when a customer says something like, “I just want an inexpensive frame for this”, or “I don’t want to spend a lot for the framing”, or “I know framing is expensive”, or “How cheap can we frame this?” understand that this customer will be skeptical and cautious about spending more than the framing is worth. It is quite possible that the cheapest framing really is the best choice for a particular project, but that is not usually the case. When customers understand the value of what they want to buy, price becomes less important than buying framing that is most suitable for their purposes.

Be careful about your reactions to skeptical customers.  Avoid feeling insulted or reacting defensively, but offer a positive perspective in friendly conversation. For example, you could say, “I know how you feel, but look at it this way; a couple of concert tickets or dinner for two in a fancy restaurant might cost more than custom framing, but framing is a lasting investment in something that’s important to you. May I explain the alternatives we offer?” Carry this conversation further by explaining the value of the framing features you recommend, and when necessary, adjust the design to fit the customer’s expectations.

In any case, do your best to meet customers’ demands. And when that is impossible, at least try to make their perception of custom framing more accurate, and perhaps temper their demands into more-reasonable terms. The winning result is to provide value that is equal to or greater than price in the customer’s perception.

The success of every business relationship depends on the credibility and respect shared between the buyer and seller.  For instance, the framer needs to respect the customer’s stated demands in the framing design process as far as possible. If an alternative is to be suggested, it should be fully explained, and respectfully.  The respectful explanation should be thorough enough to demonstrate the framer’s credibility and to provide all the justification needed for the customer’s acceptance.  This sort of respectful communication helps to establish and confirm the framer’s credibility, not only as a competent framer, but as a reputable business operator. Ultimately, custom framing must satisfy the customer.

Determining the price: seller’s commitment

It is the seller’s responsibility to operate the business well, in order to provide competitive prices. This is essential and sometimes difficult, but keeping prices in line with the local market, while providing all the products and services a customer wants and needs, helps to assure customers that they are dealing with a credible, reputable business. Also, a clear explanation about value versus price is essential to the customer’s lasting satisfaction.

Deposit payment: customer’s commitment

After the framing design has been discussed and approved, and the customer is ready to place the framing order, it is a good practice for the framer to collect a deposit of at least fifty percent of the total price.  Without a deposit, the customer has no commitment, other than leaving the item in the shop. Even when the item is valuable, the customer could delay coming back to pick up the framing, which would impose an unfair hardship on the framing business.  The customer’s deposit represents his or her commitment to the project, and provides assurance that the design is satisfactory and approved for production. 

Promoting and selling custom framing involves a thorough plan for marketing and advertising, as well as careful preparation of the customer gallery and showroom for the framing design process. Create a successful business relationship by making a good first impression, establishing credibility and mutual respect with customers, and working to inform them about the value of custom framing features at every opportunity. 

Other videos in this sales and customer service series will include how to promote and sell preservation framing, more specifics about the framing design conversation, and more details about setting up the customer gallery and showroom.  Also, we’ll describe ways to sell strategically and suggest how to deal with objections and difficult customers.  Thank you for your interest in our educational videos.

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James Miller

James Miller is not only framer but educator on a global scale. Miller specialise in preservation framing, which means that both technique and materials are in huge importance. 
Also being an author of two successful books on professional framing, Miller is one of the most acknowledged framing specialist around the world. Now he has teamed up with GroGlass to provide an online course to invite framers aim for excellence. 

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