What Is A Pro Framer?

A Pro Framer Is ...

Trying to pin down the profile of a professional framer is really tricky: there just isn't a simple formula. It is clear, however, that certain factors create success whilst others have to be overcome. The best way to illustrate this is to give you some snap shots of how people work.

Work space of Home Based FramerHome based framer..... Professional

Many "pro-framers" will have started off at home, often choosing to have a go at framing their own artwork. Jan is the perfect example. Needing a creative outlet after leaving an earlier career in the theatre, she started painting as a hobby. In order to save money she tried framing her own pictures. Having learnt the tricks of the trade she started framing for friends and family. She re-invested her profits, bought professional kit, more training (helping her to pass her Commended Guild Framers exam) and converted her garage into a well insulated, brightly lit workshop. Living in a residential area, large deliveries are made to her workplace and then ferried home for storage.

Her current employer and associates were Jan's next customers, commissioning a whole range of bespoke framing. Away from personal contacts, however, marketing your service to the public is essential. Without commercial premises for people to visit this is challenging. Starting with hand flyers, posted locally, the business launch was quite low-key. Jan wanted to develop her framing skills, confidence and be sure she was able to give a top quality service, before shouting about it. Then she invested in her website.

Where this type of business excels is in the personal touch. Personal consultations and a door to door service are invaluable marketing tools. Bespoke picture framing jobs may take time, but that is where this business makes a profit. Once established, good reputations always bring in referral clients and follow up pieces.

A purpose built workshop for small framing business.Additional Skills for core business.. Professional

The next stage is where an existing, core business lends itself to framing. Richard is now a professional photographer. Wedding photography is his main stay, with an ambition to make his landscape photography commercially viable. Recognising that framing makes artwork more saleable and, therefore, more valuable, developing a framing service was the next logical step. In wedding photography, for example, as well as the traditional ways of presenting images, he can extend the choice. There's a whole range of services: canvas wraps; combinations of shots mounted and framed as a single piece; enlargements; bespoke frame finishes. Now an experienced framer, Richard can take it further: framing the bride's bouquet, the invitations, place settings ... even the wedding dress! All add to the unique selling point of his business. All increase the market presence and profits of the business.

Like the home framer, this service operates from all sorts of premises: everything from a Summer House through to studios with a shop front. A professional tool kit does not take up massive amounts of room (a 12'x 12' foot print is enough). Even without business premises, Richard's type of operation already has well advanced procedures for working with photography clients. Overheads on premises are not likely to be increased with the addition of picture framing, so alternative services can significantly boost profits.

The main problem for these combined businesses is time. Getting the balance right between different elements of the operation can be awkward. Consultation time is not an issue: it becomes an extension of his existing service. The real problem lies in the practical side of planning and making frames. Photographers still need to take photos, artists need to paint and collectors need to collect. It is easy to train staff to operate the tools, so framing does not have to be a one person operation. Richard sees his approach as a "belt and braces" operation. When one side is slow, the other side helps out. By setting up in this way, you are well placed to tackle all sorts of "traditional" framing work too. And that can be a real "banker" each month.

A commercial workshop takes second place to gallery / display spaceShop based framers..........Professional

Gallery / commercial framers are the top of the professional framing tree. They expect to be able to do top quality, bespoke work where a premium is paid for the skill and attention to detail of the finished result. Similarly, they need to be able to cope with multiple orders, offering good discounts and working to tight deadlines. Sunflower gallery has been styled in that way. Three members of staff and premium street frontage make it essential that a good order book is maintained - overheads are very high. One person builds the frames. Two others manage shop sales, take customer orders, plan and mount artwork. This means several orders can be undertaken at once. But the personal touch remains important to customers - good staff are highly prized.

Getting people into the shop is vital. At Sunflower, the creative eye of the framer is used very effectively to style the gallery. It is inviting, with framed artwork, prints and cards for sale so that people are comfortable about spending time browsing inside. Once in, they will feel happy to ask about framing. In fact, the vast majority of the floor space is set aside for the gallery, with work space often taking up less room than a "home framer's" workshop.

The difference between success and failure is the ability to generate a healthy order book. Actively bidding for work, developing good networking skills and marketing directly to your existing customer base are all essential. Waiting for something to turn up, usually means that not enough will.

I suppose the bottom line is that being a pro framer is all about making picture framing work as a business. Very rarely does the business stay the same. Most successful framers will recognise the stages described in this article, because most will have worked their way through them. Like each of those mentioned, a successful framer works from their own strengths, develops a service to suit and ensures an order book that brings in a profit. Hopefully, they enjoy it too.


Posted on: 21 Jul 2008@07:51:05, updated on: 21 Jul 2008@07:51:05.