Potential Newbie seeks advice

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Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Devon Lad » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:09 pm

Hi all, thanks for accepting me.

After years of running a completely un-related business I am thinking of purchasing a framing business.

What are the must do's/must haves & must not's in this game? Are CMC's a must have or merely very desirable? Any particular equipment that is essential? Does machinery need to be serviced/maintained?

Only looking at businesses that are prepared to do a full handover/training as part of the deal but looking for any & all advice on the pit falls & things to look out for so I can proceed with my eyes wide open.

Valuations appear to vary quite a lot yet turnover, margins & GP appear to be quite consistent, I'm assuming that's to stay below the VAT threshold that would be a killer in this game?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby pramsay13 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:01 pm

I'm not sure that I would advise buying a framing business unless you have a particular interest in either the artistic side of things, or the mechanics of making and joining frames.
CMCs are optional rather than essential although it would be on my list to buy before hiring another staff member.
The only three essential major pieces of equipment I would say are the guillotine (morso), underpinner, and mount cutter.
Next is probably a glass / board cutter.
I'm self-employed and am well under vat threshold, but if I was over I would just ensure it was included in my pricing.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Devon Lad » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:37 pm

Thanks for your reply.

I have read several sales particulars for framing businesses & they have pretty much all stated no previous experience required & that full training will be given, your answer has therefore intrigued me, would you care to elaborate?

Many thanks.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby poliopete » Thu Jan 31, 2019 6:31 pm

Hello Devon Lad and welcome to the FF :D

I think I may be a rarity as I successfully sold my bespoke framing/gallery business to take early retirement a few years ago.

It was a thriving business trading above the VAT threshold. I gave the purchaser three months intensive training. It worked well for both of us. As I owned the building I was able to rent the shop to him at below the market norm allowing him a good start.

A couple of things to bear in mind; not only did he buy all the equipment and stock but also my mistakes :(

One important thing that neither of us realized at the time was that the "goodwill", built up over many years, that he paid for, walked out of the door the same time as me.

I hope that is a little help.

Peter.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby cleaver » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:20 pm

Welcome, Devon Lad. This forum is a mine of information - you came to the right place.

I'm very new myself but, as someone said to me early on, take time to go through as many threads on here as you can - there's a lot of great stuff.

Pete, so interesting that you mention the 'goodwill' issue. I always thought with ANY business that that all depends on the person/people customers deal with. So you have backed my pet theory up. I hope your buyer is doing well....I'm sure it won't be for lack of your help!

Anyway, Good luck, Devon Lad! :)
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby prospero » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:07 pm

Peter is right to mention the 'goodwill' part of a valuation. This is often a pie-in-the-sky figure and mostly
wildly exaggerated. You can sell the premises/equipment/stock but you can't sell the natural aptitude of the
operator(s). No amount of training will give you this. Doing an independent training course before plunging in
might be a good move. Very often customer following revolves around the framer - not the business.
Seen it happen. :?
Bear in mind the stock valuation is only valid if you actually use it for framing. If you had to liquidate the stock
quickly then you would only get a fraction of what it cost. You may even have to pay to dispose of it. :cry:

Forgive me for saying this but the fact that you have to ask about CMC v manual mountcutters does tend to
indicate that you don't know enough or haven't thought enough about running a framing business.

Don't let me put you off though. Joining this Forum was a good move. :clap:
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby prospero » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:12 pm

Re. VAT....

If you do a lot of 'trade' work with parties also VAT reg, then being similarly registered can make things easier.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Devon Lad » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:19 pm

prospero wrote:Peter is right to mention the 'goodwill' part of a valuation. This is often a pie-in-the-sky figure and mostly
wildly exaggerated. You can sell the premises/equipment/stock but you can't sell the natural aptitude of the
operator(s). No amount of training will give you this. Doing an independent training course before plunging in
might be a good move. Very often customer following revolves around the framer - not the business.
Seen it happen. :?
Bear in mind the stock valuation is only valid if you actually use it for framing. If you had to liquidate the stock
quickly then you would only get a fraction of what it cost. You may even have to pay to dispose of it. :cry:

Forgive me for saying this but the fact that you have to ask about CMC v manual mountcutters does tend to
indicate that you don't know enough or haven't thought enough about running a framing business.

Don't let me put you off though. Joining this Forum was a good move. :clap:


At the moment I know next to nothing about framing, hence seeking advice from people who (hopefully!) know.

I have run my own business for many years so have the basics covered, the specifics of this trade however are all new to me & at the moment, I'm not getting much positive feedback which is causing me to doubt the idea.

The stock value had certainly occurred to me & any deal I negotiated would certainly take this into consideration. I have briefly looked into training courses, not sure how valid they are as most framing businesses for sale offer full training & hand over as part of the deal?
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby prospero » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:35 pm

You do have the advantage in having a business background. Something that most new framers don't. :?

Does the business concerned employ staff who 'come with the deal'? Trained and skilled staff who could carry on seamlessly?

Otherwise you are going to hit the ground running. No amount of bells'n'whistles equipment is going to help you if you haven't
got the basic knowledge and ability. OK, you could learn, but then you may as well start from scratch rather than spending a lot
of cash on a 'going concern'.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Not your average framer » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:59 pm

Hello Devon Lad,

I am also based in Devon (Bovey Tracey to be exact) and I started my own business from scratch. You can save plenty of money by starting your own business, rather than buying an existing one. If you are anywhere near me, I don't mind giving you a quick bit of training, without expecting any payment for doing so. At the moment it is better to save your money until you know enough to determine what aspects of framing you need training for.

Specific areas of training that you want will become clear as you develop your business. The final aspects that your business develops will be more significant in respect you, rather than the person who owned a business before you. You won't need to buy everything at once, but as you develop over the initial period, you will develop a better understanding of items you will need beyond the start up basics. This will also help your initial cash flow position, as there is not much point in buying things that you are not really to use, until you are ready to put them to profitable use. This will become evident as part of the natural way your business gets known any develops.

There are very few items of equipment that you should consider as necessary to buy as completely new, although it is a wise move to buy items which are new, or current enough to easily obtain spare parts, if the need arises. There is almost always plenty of good secondhand equipment around, all you have to do is look around. Prices on eBay can often be a bit over the top, so it's good to get a better idea of the going rate buying directly from other framers.

One of the advantages of starting your own business from scratch is that you can pick the location where the business will be, instead of having to accept the existing location of businesses offered for sale.

I hope that you will enjoy being part of our happy band on this forum and that you won't be afraid to ask any of the questions that you need to ask. I think that you will find this is a very helpful and newbie friendly forum, with plenty of varied advise from a wide range of forum members.
Mark Lacey

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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby cleaver » Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:40 pm

"...If you are anywhere near me, I don't mind giving you a quick bit of training, without expecting any payment for doing so."

Bloody hell, Mark, what a lovely offer :clap: .....wish I lived near you!!
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Not your average framer » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:12 pm

Most of the training providers are a long way from Devon and it will be nice to meet a new Devon framer. I already know quite a few and meeting one more won't be a bad thing.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby cleaver » Fri Feb 01, 2019 4:31 pm

Hi again Devon Lad,

I just re-read your initial post on this thread, and I have some further thoughts (for whatever they’re worth). Some of it echoes what people like Pete, Prospero & Mark have already offered up.

As I am always happy to point out: I am very wet behind the lug-holes, when it comes to all things framing. However, I’m in pretty much the same boat as you, so maybe this is worth a glance.

Basically, I’d be wary of buying an off-the-shelf framing business and expecting to hit the ground running.

If it’s a one-man-band thing, will you have the competence to do the framing/advise customers about options/ choices etc? (BTW, this is all applies to myself, so I’m trying to be honest with myself/anyone in my position.)

People on here can be quite modest about their skill set/knowledge. But there is a LOT more to all this than joining 4 sticks together...conservation issues, framing ‘awkward’ things etc .etc. etc.

So to buy an off-the-peg business, you might find you’ll have to service a lot of customers at a time when you are still trying to find your feet / grasp the basics. As a businessman, you’ll know you rarely get a 2nd chance if you let down a customer...and also how fast word spreads regarding such occurrences.

Sure, maybe you could employ someone to do the framing, but I wonder how easy good people are to come by? If they are experienced framers, they could just as easily do it for themselves (from home or with a workshop) and scoop up all that profit for themselves.

Also, if the business could be run profitably by a 'hands-off' owner, why wouldn't the seller do that?

BTW, I am dubious about how scalable framing is: seems like almost everyone on here is a one-man-band....and can make a tidy living from doing something creative, satisfying and out off the rain! I could be totally wrong there (and realise there are plenty of ‘commercial’ framers...but maybe that’s another game on its own?)

But if, like me, you’d be happy working as a sole trader – or with someone you can trust/get along with, I think framing could be a great move.

I am starting very slowly – and will run it alongside my day job for the foreseeable future. That way, I can grow my knowledge and customer base slowly and surely. I want to keep the pressure off myself as much as I can, and concentrate on doing the best work I can – and building a happy customer base (that’s the theory!).

Meanwhile, that offer from Mark is amazing, if you are able to do it. As you will have noticed, he is one of the most knowledgeable people on here – so if I were you I’d bite his hand off!

Any road up, do read, read, read the old threads on here as much as you can – it’s a goldmine!

Finally, grab yourself a copy of Pete Bingham’s marvellous book (you’ll get one for under a fiver on eBay or Amazon). It is so readable, yet widely acknowledged as a bit of a bible for framers.

Good luck mate! :D
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Tudor Rose » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:26 pm

Devon Lad wrote:I have briefly looked into training courses, not sure how valid they are as most framing businesses for sale offer full training & hand over as part of the deal?


The trouble with that, is that you can end up just picking up the previous owners bad habits as well as their good ones. They might be a brilliant framer - they might not be. If you are buying a business from someone who has been framing for years and really knows the industry inside and out - then great; but it isn't always the case. And sometimes even really great framers don't make particularly great teachers. It would be a bit like buying a restaurant and trying to run it without doing any proper cookery training.

And to be perfectly frank, if you go on an intensive training for a week then you will know there and then if this is the right sort of industry for you. As much as being a businessperson and understanding that side of the business is critical to success, it is only one part and the creative and artistic side is just as important. Being able to interact with the public, to help and advise and to take on "out of the ordinary" jobs that come in week in, week out - all these things need to be taken into account.

As you can see from my profile - like Mark (NYAF) - we are also based in Devon. You're very welcome to get in touch if that would be useful.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Not your average framer » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:03 pm

Jo's offer is another offer worth talking up. Jo and her husband run a very different sort of business compared to my own, their's is on a much larger scale than my own and they really understand about organising and running a larger business efficiently and they also do some very nice hand finished work of their own including some nice hand stained ash mouldings. Jo can also explain to you aspects of various things that I don't do.

The are also things that I do which are different to what Jo does so you will get some interesting things to think about. Jo's business is also geared much more to growth than mine will ever be, as I just want to keep busy to a comfortable level into my semi-retirement years.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Devon Lad » Sun Feb 03, 2019 9:48 pm

Apologies for the delay in responding.

Some amazingly generous offers above, many thanks indeed & I may well be in touch in the near future.

Been given a lot to think about, point taken on board about learning bad habits & mistakes, also taken on board about handling difficult jobs. Had already considered the goodwill aspect but always useful to be reminded just how important this is.

Many thanks to all who have assisted, I have learned I have far more to learn than initially hoped!

Perhaps somebody out there is looking for a partner to run the business/sales side while they focus on what they enjoy (and are good at), ie the framing?
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Steve N » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:41 am

Dan Smith wrote
"Hi again Devon Lad,

I just re-read your initial post on this thread, and I have some further thoughts (for whatever they’re worth). Some of it echoes what people like Pete, Prospero & Mark have already offered up.

As I am always happy to point out: I am very wet behind the lug-holes, when it comes to all things framing. However, I’m in pretty much the same boat as you, so maybe this is worth a glance.

Basically, I’d be wary of buying an off-the-shelf framing business and expecting to hit the ground running.

If it’s a one-man-band thing, will you have the competence to do the framing/advise customers about options/ choices etc? (BTW, this is all applies to myself, so I’m trying to be honest with myself/anyone in my position.) etc.........)


Damn good post Dan, :clap: very good advise

After 20 odd years of working for other people I started my own business, and the first bit of equipment I bought (even before finding premises ) was a CMC ! but I knew what I was doing, as a past winner of FATG framing competition (1992) it was my manual mountcutting that won the competition for me. Plus I have had also worked with CMC in the last job I had, so knew what they could do AND NOT do, so I built my whole business around the CMC, because I knew what I was doing, but I am the exception to the rule, learn how to cut mounts by hand first, you don't need all the bells and whistles to set up shop, learn to walk before you run.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby Justintime » Mon Feb 04, 2019 12:39 pm

I'd recommend finding an accredited one day beginners training course, like the one offered by framers equipment in Northampton. It gave me a chance to see if it really was something I was going to get excited about. Trust me, when no work comes in for a few weeks and the bills are still coming in, if you're not passionate about learning, it won't be worth the stress.
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Re: Potential Newbie seeks advice

Postby cleaver » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:02 pm

Many, many thanks for saying that, Steve...it means a lot.

I'm very aware that I don't have much to add to the forum, and mostly just leech off the knowledge of folk like yourself.

But I just wanted to give the OP my impressions from a newbie's point of view. When I posted it, I thought maybe I was pontificating a bit much for someone who doesn't know his Morso from his elbow.

Newbies like me are so lucky to get all this advice from experts - the internet can be a good thing once in every while!!

Bless you, mate.
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