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Increase Profits With A Focus On Design

By Ken Baur, Industry Expert

This post is part of our series that focuses on selling premium products, such as Museum Glass® and Optium Museum Acrylic®. This article from Ken Baur, president of KB Consulting, covers how custom frame shop owners can increase profits by changing their focus from making a sale to a design focused sale strategy.



In my last post, I talked about how one of the greatest opportunities to increase the success of your shop comes from customized pricing that is adjusted in a way to best support your business. Utilizing customized pricing on premium products like Museum Glass® and Optium Museum Acrylic® is a great strategy to strengthen the profitability of your frame shop.



Unfortunately, in the custom framing industry, many owners are hesitant to offer the more expensive premium products for fear of losing the sale. In this post, I’ll introduce a design concept that can help relieve this common industry reluctance that will not only increase profits but customer satisfaction as well.



Competing isn’t key


To help illustrate this situation and provide a solution, let’s take a look at an example shop, Shop B from our past Matching Your Passion with Profits series. If you recall, Shop B had a pricing strategy that covered expenses, but the pressure they felt to compete on price kept their projects as low-cost as possible, and the pressure for Shop B was intensified when it came to selling premium products. Therefore, Shop B stifled their profits and customer satisfaction.



Through my years of consulting with frame shops, I have met many owners and employees very much like the Shop B example; they are uncomfortable with encouraging clients to consider higher-priced products. As you will learn later in this series, there are ways to customize pricing for premium glazing that eases the expense. Before we get into that pricing strategy, I want to discuss an easy way to alleviate the reluctance to sell premium materials; this concept is called design driven sales.



Make the best- not just a sale


A design driven sales strategy is a shift in one’s view of how to best serve clients. It is simply a switch in your focus from making a sale to offering your clients the best design you have to offer.



Clients come to independent framers for two primary things — great design and preservation. Establishing a design philosophy that addresses these two points is key to giving clients what they want, and, in turn, feel comfortable with higher priced materials and upgraded design features. This sounds simple enough, but this is a philosophical change in the way many framers approach consultation.



When the focus is on just making a sale, you add unnecessary pressure to the situation that the customer can feel. Also, this type of consultation is not motivated by customer interest, and it usually results in a design that is not representative of the shops best work. It also puts unnecessary duress on yourself or your employees to make the sale at any cost, even if it means discounting, offering lower priced materials, or keeping the design as basic as possible.



Offering discounts, cheap materials, and basic designs are not best practices and will ultimately hurt the longevity and success of your business. For a healthy sustainable business, you should always start each consultation showing the potential client the best design that you have to offer.



Benefits of design driven sales


Design driven sales equate to creating something that is superior to any other design found in your marketplace. This philosophy leads you to the best design and materials for the artwork that a client brings into your shop. It also helps because serving your clients with the best you have to offer, not only pleases and educates them, but it helps you differentiate yourself from the competition.



The last benefit is important, as clients often aren’t aware of all of the high-quality materials that our industry has for preservation and the enhancement of their artwork. Specialty cut mats, intricate moulding finishes, and creative methods of mounting, among others, are techniques that impress clients and make their pieces truly customized. This design driven approach not only improves the value of your services to your clients, but it also can dramatically increase your average ticket.



Design focused impacts


Here is an example of how design driven sales can have an impact on your profitability. Let’s say Shop B has sales of 833 framing projects. The following chart compares Shop B’s before design driven sales (DDS) approach and after. For simplicity, we only used projects sized 16”x20” for the profitability comparison.



This chart showcases the potential gains in profits by implementing a design driven sales (DDS)  approach that equates to selling more premium glazing.  As you can see from reviewing the chart after the design driven sales strategy is applied there is an increase in Museum Glass sales resulting in a 23% growth in profit.



As you can see if Shop B shifts their glazing mix from 25% Premium Clear® sales and sells more Conservation Clear® and Museum Glass, the profits gains are significant. Using a design driven sales philosophy, Shop B increased their earnings by 23% percent or by $4,964 on their glazing mix only. Note that this was a result of a few slight changes in emphasizing the benefits of premium glazing by deciding to follow the below four rules in their design approach.


  1. Offer Premium Clear only on highly competitive quotes
  2. Use Conservation Clear as the starting point for all other sales
  3. Place samples in the display area to showcase the clarity of Museum Glass
  4. Hold back on discounting in general


It is important to note that the total increase in profits would be much higher if we showed the design driven sales philosophy with all the premium material options.



Through Shop B we can see how focusing on design driven sales can benefit profitability and give the customer our best work, as well as how we can make premium glazing more affordable and still improve our bottom line. Ultimately, design focused sales will help you to be more profitable, impress your clients, and deliver on the professionalism, expertise, and skills that consumers want and expect to receive from custom framers.



In a future post, I will cover more specifics on determining a good balance between different types of glazing.

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.

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