Alas, this post is distillation of many conversations, hundreds of observations and a multitude of picture framers’ trade talk over many years. While it is partly a reflection on the occasional failings of our industry’s practitioners it is also meant to be a septet of helpful pointers on how to avoid unintentionally alienate customers. Customer alienation can be triggered quite easily, and even if unintended and not meant. Picture framers do have bad their days, which can put them in a bad mood. And it is this very mood which they sometimes subconsciously mirror and inadvertently transfer to their exterior and interactive behaviour, with and towards others, customers included. And below is our list of mortal transgressions: 1st Arrogance. Regrettably, picture framers often fail by this and in this. Customers dislike being talked down by us, the ‘experts’. Framers need to be ... careful not to evoke that air of superiority, haughtiness even, during their picture framing consultations and, in addition, when explaining aspects of a picture frame of the framing of artwork. A Customer could inwardly appreciate the knowledge gained but simultaneously make a decision not to leave his or her work with you, because of the way you’ve come across. They will spend more money in circumstances when comfortable, and with people they like. Tact, sensitivity and diplomacy are called for at the counter. Avoid seeming standoffish, or sounding or adopting superior mannerisms. If you find or even think that customers seem to be leaving without giving you their framing then share your thoughts others who are close to you. Ask or quiz them about your customer consultations, and ask them for their feedback. Could your behaviour, conversation, approach, style, mannerism or a combination of all of these be, improved? You might be surprised at honest responses, learn from their replies, and improve or increase your picture framing commissions rate. 2nd Indifference. Verily, no picture framer is without sin in this area. This may be partly due to the fact that many picture framers have probably framed tens of thousands of prints, posters, photographs and other art during their careers. Framers, like most everyone, has his or her day when they didn’t feel like coming to work on some days. And who has not inwardly yawned when, yet another, blue-background Pixie photo child portrait has been presented across the picture framing counter? However a framer must be vigilant not to convey such a feeling or display this negative emotion when consulting with customers. Granted that, yet another, run-of-the-mill, uninteresting, Pixie photo of baby Jane or Johnny must be as exciting as watching grass grow to frame, but let’s look at the many positives. Putting that photo into a photo frame will help make your customer happy, it is likely to be relatively easy to frame, it keeps you employed and it helps to pay your bills and your wages. Apathy and empathy come into play here in these situations. The picture framer should empathize with the customer who wants to share her cherished memory and not display the opposite, apathy. Another akin, equally negative vibe, is inadvertently ignoring the customer or not giving him or her the attention they need or deserve. It’s not uncommon to be short-staffed one day, only to have several customers walk in at the same time and for the phones to start ringing. In circumstances like these it can be quite easy to give the wrong impression, especially if the customers have to wait. Much better to make your customer feel that they are welcome and appreciated. Approaching them, telling them that you won’t be too long, advising them that they will be next, asking to take a seat while they wait, or offering refreshments. These are all implicit ways of letting them know that you know that they are there and that you care about them. As for phone interruptions during customer consultations, we make a point of excusing ourselves so as ask of find someone else to take to call. If there is really no-one else, we excuse ourselves, we quickly note the caller’s number and advise that we are attending to other customers and that we will return the call as soon as we can. 3rd Confusion. Another peccadillo commonly committed by picture framers. Again, this is probably due to the fact that a picture frame is a construction assembled by putting together about twenty disparate methods or components. Customers want to be informed, and so they should, but how to explain each method and component without confusing them? For instance a picture frame is not a frame until cut and joined. So when people view a picture framer’s frame samples, technically speaking, they are not looking a frame samples but moulding corner samples. And what about explaining the technical nomenclature and the reasons for difference of mounting methods? The mental agility required to expound all this trade knowledge without confounding customers is that of an oral prestidigitator. We cannot expect this of mere picture framers. How many times has a customer muttered under his or her breath: “This is all very confusing”? This remark is the warning clue for you to start simplifying your choices, options and explanations, or lose your customer. For instance, we stopped called frames “mouldings” with customers long ago. As for mounting, we don’t go there, unless specific interest is shown. And with regard to production framing versus conservation framing we simple refer to these as the everyday framing or specialist framing. One last tip, as soon as a customer shows disinterest in a mat or mount colour or moulding sample, put it away, the less clutter, the better! 4th Sloth. This rather personal failing can be inconspicuous but it is often overlooked or unrecognized as a significant contributor in failing to convert inquiries into sales. Imagine a rather presentable and well-groomed female customer coming into a framing store to inquire about custom picture framing. Then picture her dismay at finding the picture framer having breakfast on the counter, or shaving, or buttoning up clothes, or grooming his, or her, nasal passages, or, Gosh!, flatulate. Sounds far-fetched? Not really, all these incidents have actually happened. And while all of the above may have cost the framer a job or two, any of them could have been avoided by exercising a little vigilance. Delving further into the sin of sloth, personal presentation also needs to be considered. Wearing leftover breakfast on one’s shirt lapels, open trouser flies, dirty shoes and unkempt, or a poorly groomed visage also do not sit well with others. Customers, in particular, may make a mental note of these unwelcome sights and decide that the store where all this happens , is not for them. Much the same goes for picture framing shops with messy tables, barking dogs, mouldings or corner samples all over the place. To sum it up, be neat, tidy, presentable and personable at all times, you’ll get more work! 5th Disdain. All picture framers have transgressed in this regard, at one time or another. There are certainly many customers out there who do not seem or appear rich, who are non-descript and dress poorly. Some of these may have been disdained by store owners labouring under the false premise that they could not possibly afford expensive Italian mouldings or conservation picture frames. And just as surely, the disdain has turned to chagrin when the non-descript, poorly dressed customer ended up spending up big on some art that never looked that expensive, either. The moral of the story here, is not to pre-judge customers merely by their appearance or outwardly, penurious mien. For what it’s worth, our Staff reckons that the average Joe, in his average Holden, is a better and nicer customer than a wealthy customer who’s parked his Mercedes Benz or range Rover outside. 6th Greed. This undesirable venality is a commercial chracteristic sometimes called push-selling or hard-selling. Broadly, it’s about purposely promoting, adding and selling unnecessary features and superfluous benefits to the picture framing quotations of unsophisticated picture framing customers solely in order to increase the sale price. For instance, an average customer comes in with an average holiday poster to be framed and asks a price quotation for average framing job. During the consultation the customers volunteers that the poster is inexpensive and holds no special financial or emotional value. Unfortunately in some stores, some picture framers, perhaps deeming the prospective customer a pushover, won’t give an average framing quotation. They start bamboozling the customer with talk of conservation framing, museum boards and Ultra-Violet retarding glass. This is intrinsically dishonest because the art to be framed is cheap, does not mean or is worth much, and does and cannot warrant the extra expenses of the added feature or components benefits. We disapprove of this salesmanship technique and educate our Staff not to over-frame or puhshoverselling to customers. In fact when customers come in asking for inexpensive Ready-Made frames, we are happy to oblige and do help with t heir selection form our extensive range of off-the-shelf, inexpensive, pre-made picture frames. 7TH Animus. Annoyance, anger, fear, anxiety, antipathy, animosity. Each and all of these are negative emotions helping to form and conjure an animus which picture framers must not reveal when dealing with customers. There may be annoyance when customers cannot decide what they like or dislike. Or fear may be felt when a customer asks to frame something that’s not been framed before. Anxiety could be experienced when a customer challenges picture framing quotations. Sometimes there’s antipathy when a well-heeled customer insists on an unreasonable discount. And animosity often arises when a customer brings back for rework something that’s just been framed. Worse still is arguing with staff, spouses, phone callers, or the customers themselves. The reasons for not displaying unwelcome animus are fairly simple, to keep customers. To conclude, successful picture framing quotations seem to be becoming a little harder to conclude these days than what it used to be. And if this also holds true for your picture framing store, then do not make things harder for yourself by falling in or by the failings described herein.