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Part II: Small Business Survival During Tough Economic Times

Part II - this is the second part of a two-part article aimed at addressing small business survival during lean times. If you have not read Part I, you can find it here.
"Mind Your Business", by Sheila McCumby, February, 2023

To recap: Owning a frame shop is akin to having a newborn baby; we experience constant worry and little sleep. Grim economic forecasts in the media cause us even more anxiety and sleepless nights. How are we going to make ends meet?

It’s overwhelming: thousands of workers laid off, higher costs and unemployment, consumers have less disposable income. How can small businesses expect to flourish during these lean times?

Here are three more suggestions from financial experts to help you stay afloat and prosper during the forecasted economic storms:

5. Never stop marketing

According to a Marketing Metrics study, the probability of enticing a new customer into your shop is only 5% to 20%, while selling to an existing customer has a success rate of 60% to 70%.

Use FrameReady to generate bulk email and mailing lists to your current customers. Send out reminder emails to people who had estimates. Many people take formal family photos or receive art as holiday gifts, that artwork needs framing. Set one day aside a week to focus strictly on marketing: update social media posts daily and plan dates for targeted marketing campaigns. FrameReady can help you generate reports to show how new customers are learning about your business; focus your advertising dollars there.

Carry your business cards everywhere and pass them out at the bank, restaurants, salons, hotels, and other small businesses. Work with local realtors, offer a gift certificate for people moving into your community. (Artwork is always damaged in a move.) If business is slow, now is the time to visit potential commercial clients. A quick google search can tell you what building permits have been issued for commercial properties in your area. Find out if they have art to frame. Work with local charities, animal shelters, and sports teams to organize events at your shop. Sponsor a starving artist show, poetry slam, or pet adoption fair. Avoid discounting your prices; but use special events to attract new customers in and increase your profits.

6. Get your pricing in line

Eliminating discounts means you can afford new equipment, pay higher salaries, give commissions, retain your employees, and hire extra help.

When you log in to FrameReady in the morning and see the red circle indicating a vendor update, take a minute and make sure to click on it, otherwise you are losing money on every order.

Have you adjusted your prices overall for inflation? For freight charges? Are your glass, labor or component prices out of date? Have you checked your competition’s prices lately? Make sure your margins are competitive. You may be charging less than your competition. Unless you want to be a discount framer, with limited inventory that you buy at 50% below wholesale cost, you should charge more! It is likely that big box framers are charging higher prices than you are, even with their perpetual 50% discounts. Did you know that FrameReady makes it easy to increase your prices across the board by a percentage?

7. Discounts are the devil and can wreak havoc on your bottom line.

Avoid giving discounts whenever possible; once you start discounting your work, it’s a hard habit to break.

Customers may feel unjustly entitled, and expect discounts in future transactions; then you’re trapped in a vicious circle that will adversely impact your profits. A 15% discount may not seem like much when you’re at the design counter, but if your shop grosses $100,000 per year, 15% equals $15,000. The money you gave away may have been enough to provide extra benefits or a nice pay raise for your employees. Are you paying your team a living wage, or are you spending time and resources training them for your competitor who pays a few dollars more an hour? Eliminating discounts means you can afford new equipment, pay higher salaries, give commissions, retain your employees, and hire extra help. You may even have money left over to pay yourself and take a nice vacation. Giving those discounts away randomly is preventing growth and stability in your business.

In conclusion...

The next few months are going to be tough. The good news is that FrameReady can help you manage inventory, order intelligently, and generate reports that enable you to guard against financial difficulties during future tough times. If you take advantage of your FrameReady features, you will be better prepared for the coming economic storms and will hopefully prosper in the coming year.

If you have questions regarding the features we’ve touched on, or need help analyzing your prices please contact your FrameReady team. We are happy to direct you to our educational materials, or give you personalized help. Your success is our success and we love helping our customers increase their profits.

This is Part II of a two part series "Small Business Survival During Tough Economic Times". You can find Part I here.

"Mind Your Business", by Sheila McCumby, February, 2023