I would like my frame repaired...


The customer wants to save some money but for the framer it is usually not such a good transaction.


It often happens that a customer proudly walks into our shop with a frame that needs repairing. It is usually an old, not too pleasant looking frame that has either fallen off the wall or has cracked corner joints.
Other times the customer brings us an old frame that he would like to keep and wonders whether it can be modified to a suitable size for a different picture. “Could you make the frame a bit smaller” says the client as if he/she was referring to a skirt or a pair of jeans. Luckily, the customer requests if it was possible to enlarge the frame more rarely.
We must remember that the customer’s main objective in these cases is usually to save money. A repair job or most types of modification type work is never a good transaction for the framer. Before we can actually start the repair work it is necessary to disassemble the frame; i.e. remove the glass, sometimes take the picture off the mountboard, take the four mitres apart, remove the wedges or nails and shave the ends of the mitres in order to make them smooth ready for the glue and the underpinning; at the end of it all it is necessary to reassemble everything.
It is a longer procedure than that required to complete a new frame. There is no possibility of making profit on the materials as is the case for a new frame. In fact when we sell a new frame we are selling not only our work but also the materials; the mouldings, the mountboards, the glass, etc.

What should the framer do in these cases? This depends on each specific circumstance.
The first thing to do is to tell the client that it is possible to repair his/her frame but that the cost will be similar or even higher to that required to make a new frame.
This is in fact true but to the suspicious client this can appear to be a small trick in order to entice him into purchasing a new frame. “How come? All that is needed is to fire a wedge into one of the corners. Why is it costing me so much?” can be a typical statement from the customer. This can be an annoying statement to the framer.
In these cases it would be all too simple to tell the client, in no uncertain terms, that we are the experts and that we know what we are doing and above all know what is required.
We must use all our customer contact skills to refrain ourselves from treating the customer in an abrupt manner as this is definitely never a good transaction for us. Negative publicity is not good in any circumstance.
Instead we should explain to the customer that we never perform guess work. We should above all explain that it takes longer to repair an old frame than it does to make a new one as there are disassembling work times for an old frame. We could tell them that the same principle usually applies in the housing industry whereby the restoration of an old home usually costs more than constructing a new one.
We could also explain that the old frame is in fact rather old. This statement must be made with a certain amount of tact though. “I believe that it is not worth repairing the frame. As you can see it is a rather old. It is also gilded with gold bronze which has these days been replaced with gold leaf; it has a style that was in fact once fashionable but is now slightly out of date and no longer sold. For the same price you can have a new frame of better quality”. These statements need to be personalised for the specific situation and specific type of client.


Cambio della cornice


When is it advisable to repair?
There are three cases when an old frame is not to be replaced with a new one:


The client has a set of frames that are all the same and the set is not to be spoilt: he is willing to pay more for the repair providing the set is not ruined. In these cases we could suggest to the client that they change all the frames in the set; we could offer a lower price as we are able to achieve production time savings from making a series of identical frames.


The frame has a high value. It could be an antique frame, or a frame gilded in 22 carat gold. In this case it is no longer a repair but a restoration. The framer should proceed with the restoration only if/she has got a certain amount of ability and/or experience; if not then it would be better to pass the work on to a restorer.


The frame has sentimental value to the customer. If it has been received as a gift from a person close to the customer or it brings back happy memories then it is not advisable to even offer the client the option of a new frame. In this case it is important to repair the frame without changing its appearance.


The price
How do we calculate the price of the repair? This is possibly the most difficult part of the whole job. There are no price lists available that we can refer to. There are too many variables to consider even if we wanted to use standard prices. The repair could vary from being a simple rejoining of one corner or the replacement of the mountboard or glass or the total repair of the frame.
The most simple and logical method may consist in adding the total costs of all materials used and the cost of the labour for the time spent for the repair. We would then add a certain profit margin. If the client has been informed that the cost is usually more than the cost of a new frame then there shouldn’t be surprises and/or disputes at the time of handing over the frame.