The Second Major Obstacle

Part 3 of our ‘Industry Pain’ Series

Last month we talked about a study that showed the reasons why people don’t do more custom framing. There must have been something to that study because 92% of all potential customers do not use custom framing. That means there must be a LOT of perceived pain built into the process of shopping for what we do. The way I see it, there’s a lot of opportunity here- but the old ways of doing business just aren’t going to get it done.

The first obstacle  cited by the research was that custom framing takes too much time.  Some great ideas were sent to me but one that I really liked was the comment by Sarah Adams, CPF from Indianapolis who is taking this restriction on time very seriously. Sarah says,

Now I offer a MOBILE business. I discuss the piece, pull samples, drive to the client’s home/office/meeting place and design with them in the space the art will occupy. I take the art back to the warehouse/shop, frame and then deliver and hang it.”

Now I know mobile framing operations are not new, but this is an example of committing to a new model of business. This is someone who realizes the old way is working anymore.  Sarah is taking an aggressive step to remove the hurdles involved with custom framing.

The second obstacle to growing custom framing sales is the ultimate price is perceived to be unknown and elusive.

Sure, it’s a custom product. We are creating the price as we create the design. But the study shows that people find this painful. I’m not saying that the only way to avoid this pain or change perception is to create packaged pricing, however, many framers have found ways to effectively use  that strategy. What I do know is that people find something unpleasant in the way pricing is revealed to them in our industry.  Now that we know,  we must remove the problem. You don’t have to publish prices to address this problem. There are many ways to help customers overcome this pain, but the key is that you cannot ignore that it exists. It does. If you believe the study is correct, if you believe our model for serving customers needs a correction, what do you suggest should be done to overcome the obstacle our customers have toward our unknown or elusive pricing?

Keep the ideas and answers coming. The more we understand what holds us from growing, the more likely we are to fix it. The survival of our industry depends upon it.


  1. Ken, Sticker shock is a really tough part of our business and we have to do what we can to alleviate this pain. I often give two price points and I tell the customer that I will do this in advance. One price point is the package price or a ready-made option, and the other is a more custom design. Once the customer knows that there is a fall-back, or a lower cost option if you will, then he can relax and concentrate on what he really likes. Our package prices are on the wall and on our web site and we have ready-made frames stacked in quantity within site of the front doors. We want to create a comfortable atmosphere from the moment the customer walks in the door, while still displaying beautiful, inspiring designs in both the shop and on the web site. I will be interested to hear what others have to say about this topic because it is really important. Thanks for bringing it up.

  2. We address some of this with our framing software – Lifesaver. We take pains to make sure we are comfortable with the pricing in the software and people seem to be more comfortable with the fact that we are not pulling a # out of thin air. We also have the same image framed eight different ways with escalating price points and different techniques. It works wonderfully.

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