Someone asked me recently if we have a lot of turnover in our business, and I was happy to say that we have very little. In fact, most of our employees have been with us for many years. We attribute this longevity to good hiring practices but also to our focus on training.
Having a well-structured training program is one of the most important investments you can make in your business. At The Framer’s Workshop, we take a comprehensive approach that mixes structured strategies with on-the-job opportunities to see, hear and experience the process of designing and selling custom framing.
Though we are always learning on the job, our formal training program lasts about six months and incorporates basic aspects of custom framing sales, including glazing education. We’ve found that by preparing our employees to sell any type of glazing we offer, we’re better able to sell more premium products like Museum Glass® and, most importantly, keep our customers happy and their artwork safe.
Custom framing is all about choice. Customers have many options, and our employees need to be informed as well as skilled in presenting them without pressure. Following are some of the training tools and techniques that help us accomplish this.
View the videos
Tru Vue has several helpful videos that not only outline the benefits of Museum Glass but also show customer reactions to those benefits and pricing options. We’ve found that having our new employees watch one to two videos at a time and walking through them after their initial viewings, helps our newcomers absorb more of the information.
The Importance of the Using the Tru Vue Glass Choices Display video provides a good overview of the main information we share with customers. The Voice-of-the-Customer videos do a great job of demonstrating customers’ desire to learn about choices and dispelling concerns about sticker shock. Click the links to watch Video 1, Video 2, and Video 3 from the series.
Stick to the script
One of the first things a new employee reads in our training manual is the phrase, “It starts with attitude.” Keeping conversations with customers positive, reassuring, and upbeat is critical.
New employees hear our long-time employees review glazing options with customers every day, but a written script provides go-to language they can use when called upon to handle a customer on their own. Our scripts include:
- Questions to/not to ask as conversation starters about a project. For example, always begin by complimenting the art. A good follow-up to the question is to ask where it came from or how the customer acquired it, which can hint at the value (sentimental or monetary) and what level of protection the customer will want. Asking the broad question of what ideas the customer has for framing the piece will often lead the customer to say, “simple and cheap,” which presents limitations to the sale right away.
- Opportunities to reinforce benefits. We want customers to have confidence in their purchase before the price is announced. Especially at the end of a design session we want to recap the choices the customer has made and why. For example — There’s a lot of light in the room, so we’re using Museum Glass, as the photo will be the focal point in the room.
- How to present premium materials while providing less-expensive options. Following is an example training script to help staff work in Museum Glass when addressing the desire for UV protection — As we are using UV protective glass to protect the colors in your watercolor, you might want to consider Museum Glass like we have on the sample behind me. This anti-reflective glass will minimize the glare and show your colors more clearly.
Demo the displays
“Seeing is believing” is not just for our customers but also for our new employees. We use the Museum Glass displays to demonstrate the difference the product offers and get our new employees comfortable with discussing them. It is easy to incorporate displays into conversations with customers when they are all over the shop. The use of displays makes the introduction and explanation of benefits much more natural. In fact, we have a display hung on the wall using a Z-bar so that we can take it down and put it in the customer’s hands.
Our displays include a mix of materials from Tru Vue, such as the glass specifiers, and samples we’ve made. For example, one of our most effective is a card that is glazed with two different types of glass. One side has Museum Glass and the other side a standard labeled glazing that is labeled, “After Five Years”. This display is very impactful because it showcases the potential negative impact of not protecting the piece with conservation grade glazing.
We always have the new employees shadow or follow, a person of the senior staff. Shadowing is less formal, but still critical part of our training program. New employees are always assigned to shadow our long-timers, which helps them “learn by osmosis,” and have time to get comfortable with the information. We also look for opportunities that arise from work our customers bring in. When we receive a piece that has suffered UV or another kind of damage, I always call any new employee over to get a first-hand look and talk about how such damage can be prevented through the use of conservation materials.
Toward the end of the training period, we turn things around and shadow our new employees to see where reinforcement is needed. Of course, any correcting and directing is done in a positive and respectful manner. We use a checklist throughout the training and refer to it regularly, as those first sales where a new employee takes the lead generally reveal what hasn’t been covered well enough.
Ready to upgrade
The ready-made section of our shop has become a source of success for training employees on selling glass options. We offer a complimentary DIY service to place customers’ artwork in ready-made frames, and that provides us with the opportunity to talk to those customers about upgrading the glazing to better protect and view their artwork.
Most ready-made frames are smaller than the typical custom framing job, so the switch to Museum Glass is not such a significant price upgrade. Using this approach we not only sell a large number of upgrades, but we also lay the groundwork for future custom purchases.
Not all new employees have experience with custom framing to the degree that we as owners do, so it’s important to do whatever we can to help them feel confident in what they are selling. We want our customers to walk away with great experiences and the desire to return to and recommend our shop. Starting with a solid training program helps us set up our employees to do their best work.
Share this Article:
This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.