Small business owners have plenty to tackle in their day-to-day operations, and carving out time to think about improvements can be a challenge. But it’s always a good idea for custom framers to look around their stores and consider what opportunities they may be missing. Even for the most successful custom frame shop, there often are things about their business that could use refreshing or a new approach. Here are three areas any custom framer can mine for hidden opportunities to improve or increase their business.
1. How You Look
Borrow from the practices of the big national retailers. For example, if you walk into a Starbuck’s, you won’t see the same merchandise displayed for much more than a week. Custom framers should be changing their displays frequently enough so that when a customer comes in to pick up an order, they see something different from when they dropped off their piece.
The little things matter. Take stock of the condition of awnings, signage, windows, entry, sidewalk and parking space. As custom framers, our attention to detail is critical to our projects. Your shop’s exterior appearance is an ideal opportunity to convey this.
In the world beyond
Very few, if any, businesses are limited to their bricks and mortar. Making sure your website is regularly updated with new information and images is as important as your in-store merchandising. Also consider if your website design reflects your image as a business. If not, hiring a web designer who has created sites you admire is a valuable expenditure. DIY may be cost-effective in the short term, but it won’t help your business if it doesn’t convey the right image.
2. Your Sales Process
Invest in solid sales training
Having someone behind the counter who can handle customers really well has more of an impact on a custom framing business than anything else. Good sales training can be expensive and time-consuming, but it is so worth the investment.
Make sales a priority.
Hold weekly sales meetings to help support the sales process and communicate its importance. You’ll send the message that you are serious about sales and committed to your employees’ success in that area.
Incentive programs are a great way to motivate employees. It can be something as simple as a bonus or gift card for reaching a certain level of sales in a month to something more targeted with a focus on a specific product. Yet make sure to keep it balanced and attainable across the board, as competition between employees isn’t always a good thing.
3. Attracting New Customers
Identify opportunities for non-traditional promotions
Many custom framers do not have a budget for traditional advertising or have far fewer resources than they would like. There are other ways to promote your business through outreach in the community. For example, I sponsored a charity golf tournament by providing a shadowbox to any participants who had a hole-in-one. For this, I was included in the event’s advertising and promotional materials, but I also had the opportunity to give potential customers a strong sense of my creativity and commitment to quality by putting my work in their hands.
Leverage your networks
Your networking opportunities will vary based on location, but everyone likely is a member of their local chamber of commerce. Your networks are a great referral (and business) resource. Think about creative ways to engage and make a lasting impression. For example, as a member of my local chamber of commerce, I provide framed certificates as thank-you gifts from the chamber to new members. Not only does this showcase my work, it also helps keep me top-of-mind when something I’ve framed is hanging on their wall.
Don’t forget to thank your customers
Your customers are your key resource for repeat business and word-of-mouth. Thank you gifts leave a great impression and show you value their business even after the project is complete. Picture-hanging hardware, cleaning wipes for Museum Glass, gift cards from an area merchant (networking and thanking) are just some ideas custom framers have used to show appreciation for their customers. The idea of making changes to improve your business may seem time consuming, but you will likely find that it is worth the investment. Even the simplest changes can yield meaningful results.
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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.