Based at a workshop in Totnes, Devon, Frame On is a picture framing and digital printing firm run by semi-retired businessman Richard Fairfax. Offering a bespoke printing, framing and mounting service, the business thrives because of its location in the centre of Totnes, a community well known for its vibrant arts scene. The town is also located only a few miles from Dartington College, a forward-thinking specialist arts college that is a key player in the national and international creative sector.
"I've worked with FileMaker for a long time and FileMaker Go is a natural progression for the company. The tab layout function in FileMaker Go makes developing for the iPad and iPhone straightforward because when you want to create a new screen you simply open a new tab." Richard Fairfax, Owner, Frame On
Frame On gets in the picture with FileMaker Go
Picture framing business ensures consistent pricing using FileMaker
- A home-made application for frame pricing with FileMaker Go
- Using FileMaker Go app for the iPad and iPhone, this app provides a calculator that enables customers to view framing prices for different mounting, moulding and glass types
- Cost effective way of deciding what type of frame customers would like, and using hand held devices enables picture framers to provide accurate quotes to customers on the go
According to Richard, one key issue that has plagued picture-framing businesses for years is the inability to price up all orders quickly and easily, and to ensure consistent pricing across all jobs.
“This is an on-going problem for both large framing businesses, who carry out corporate framing contracts, and smaller businesses like mine that are run out of a workshop attached to the house or a back room,” he says.
“The challenge is there are so many grades of glass, lots of different mounting boards and thousands of mouldings for frames to choose from,” continues Richard. “Job prices can also vary on the size of the frame and the quality of the finish required by the customer, who might want anything from a domestic wall-hanging to a museum-grade framing designed to preserve the picture.”
Richard says the difficulty of obtaining consistent pricing is constantly discussed by users of the Framers Forum, a popular online chat room for picture framers across the world.
He added: “Getting the price right each time is not something you can work out on the back of an envelope. There is specialist software available for desktop PCs but this can be expensive and out of the reach of most small picture framers.
“A lot of businesses simply end up estimating a price for a job or base their pricing on what competing picture framers are charging, and lose track of the profit margin they should be including.”
My incentive was to make life easier for picture framers around the world and, hopefully, I have gone some way to achieving this.Richard Fairfax, Owner, Frame On
The FileMaker solution:
Frustrated with the lack of affordable products on the market for pricing picture framing jobs, Richard set about developing his own application using the FileMaker Go app for the iPad and iPhone.
He was already very familiar with FileMaker as he had used the versatile database regularly in his previous roles, both as a manufacturer of educational materials and, later, as a photography archivist for award winning earth sciences writer Ron Redfern.
“I've worked with FileMaker for a long time and I really appreciate the product, and FileMaker Go is a natural progression for the company,” continues Richard.
“One of the considerations when developing for hand held devices rather than for a PC is the adjustment required for the layout, so information can be presented in a user-friendly way on smaller screens. The tab layout function in FileMaker Go makes developing for the iPad and iPhone straightforward because when you want to create a new screen you simply open a new tab.”
Richard's endeavours have led to the development of two applications: the Frame Price Calculator for the iPad and the Quick Price Calculator for the iPhone.
The applications allow prices for different mouldings, mounts and glass types to be stored in the database alongside the costs of other accessories, such as screws, D-rings, hanging cords and glass cleaner. The total price for a job can then be calculated by factoring in the size of the frame and additional costs, such as the hourly labour rate, VAT and overheads, which have already been keyed into the database.
Using the camera on the devices, quick photos of different mouldings can be taken to populate the database with visual media while images of the finished framed picture can be included in customer's account files for future reference. All information can be backed-up on a PC by synchronising the application with a FileMaker system on the desktop.
“The ease of use of the iPad means that you can quickly give a customer a price for a job there and then and, maybe, up-sell by showing them a gallery of different mounting and moulding options on the device,” says Richard, who not only uses the application himself but has also trialled it with fellow picture framers on the Framers Forum.
“The feedback has been really positive. There seems to be a lot of demand for an application like this, especially from India and the Far East where picture framing businesses are really taking off.”
Richard says he has plans to develop the applications further to allow users to produce invoices and to keep their accounts. But despite the obvious demand for his creations, he says he has no intention of marketing them on a commercial scale and has instead made the applications available to be downloaded for free online.
“My incentive was to make life easier for picture framers around the world and, hopefully, I have gone some way to achieving this,” he adds.
- Easy application development – FileMaker Go has been specifically adapted to make developing applications for the iPhone and iPad straightforward
- Pricing consistency – The Price Calculators developed by Richard mean picture framing businesses now have access to an intuitive, cost-effective solution to the age-old problem of delivering consistent pricing to customers
- Ease of use – Using convenient hand held devices like iPads means picture framers can provide accurate quotes to customers on-the-go and demonstrate their suggestions with high-definition imagery stored on the tablet