Why Custom Framers Struggle to Find More Customers

Almost every gallery I work with has the same trend occurring; diminishing gallery opportunities offset with a higher average ticket per sale. The better average ticket allows for increased productivity and profits, but the long term truth is that unless we begin to attract more clients and more frequent purchases from the clients we have, it will be very difficult to grow revenue. So how do we find more sales opportunities? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Find new clients where current ones exist. If you have a strong sales history in a certain neighborhood, it’s highly likely that others in that same area are potential clients. Find a way to tell them you exist. Offer referral discounts to current clients in that neighborhood. Try neighborhood association advertising or event sponsoring. Use the post office program called Every Door Direct Mail to reach these homes a sequence of postcards. Try one card every month for six months.
  2. Create programs for other custom framing markets. The typical frame shop serves residential The custom products offered in shops are priced and designed to appeal to clients who want one or two pieces where price is not the overriding issue. This is NOT the case for business clients who need art and framing. You will find it difficult to make sales to businesses using a residential program. Businesses expect lower pricing and many more services. Discounting a residential program to attract businesses will hurt your profitability. Instead, create programs which appeal to different types of clients by finding materials which can be sold at prices they expect without lowering your margins. Growing business by doing more framing instead of adding new types of businesses to your shop is always a better alternative.
  3. Get out of your gallery! I hear every day that framers are too busy to network or look for additional opportunities by building professional relationships. It CAN and must be done. Waiting for business to come to you is a dangerous and obsolete strategy. Devote 4 hours a week to finding new opportunities and it will open your eyes to many new possibilities.
  1. Support and brand with a popular not-for-profit. Teaming up with a cause that is embraced by your community can go a long way in improving your appeal and helping you find additional clients. You don’t have to donate huge amounts of money to make this happen. Get creative and find ways to help the organization and in return ask that they promote you to their membership as a partner of theirs. Doing this with the right organization can really help your business, while offering your team an opportunity to make a difference.
  2. Ask for referrals. If your clients are happy, they are also happy to share their experience. Ask them every time you provide them with your products and services. Let them know you could use their help in growing business. Many current clients would love to help someone they value- they just don’t realize how much it would help. Ask for their help and they will.
  3. Be sure your internet marketing is correct. The days of just having a website to talk about your business are well past. If you don’t treat your site as though it was the front window to your shop, you are underestimating its impact. You must constantly update and change the site and talk about your clients- not about the business. This is essential in today’s world- not an option. Next, you must have an e-newsletter that your clients and their friends can subscribe to. This is the key way to communicate and keep your business relevant. The website and e-newsletters should be a huge focus of your marketing. Social media can also bring you good exposure, but the website and newsletters have far more impact.
  4. Track and study how new clients find you. I’m still amazed how many framers don’t track how new clients find them. Almost every type of POS system has this capability. Using it and looking at it each month tells you how new clients find you and how much they spend. I can’t think of a more valuable tool for understanding what is working and not working in growing sales.

The custom framing industry is no different than most small industries. It is experiencing difficulty changing its old business model to one that is more effective in today’s world. Finding people who want what you offer is still possible- just like it was 10 years ago. The main difference is how you find them. You must go and get them. You must create programs that appeal to the group you are seeking and you must grow your understanding of how people find goods and services in 2014.

The good news is that those in our industry who understand these things are continuing to build sales and generate profits. The challenge we have is making sure enough of us make these changes to keep the industry healthy. Jump on board- go find some more business. It’s not as hard as it seems and once it happens you will love the results.

Originally Published in PFM

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