Well I can’t believe February is here so soon. It seems only a little while ago we were working twelve hour days, seven days a week getting through all the orders in time for Christmas.
We had a fabulous December trading-wise, our best trading month to date, and achieved all our order deadlines too. It’s always a tricky decision closing the order book for work to be done before Christmas…..surely if business is still coming through the door, we ought to be grabbing it with both hands, no matter how tired or busy we are…..? We made a decision a few years ago to draw a line around half way through December. Ours is a precision industry – working with millimetres when you have tired eyes is not ideal, nor is lifting large sheets of glass and board around! We were able to extend our deadline though; a computerised mount cutter, and a couple of other new pieces of equipment has enabled us to speed up our process, without losing quality. Most customers coming through our doors past our deadline were happy to have the work ‘rolled over’ into early New Year. Nevertheless, a young chap, large poster in hand turning up at 3:00 p.m. Christmas Eve hopefully requesting us to ‘knock up a quick cheap frame’ was firmly and gently advised he would have to wait…..!
Back to 2012, and those ‘rolled over’ jobs were quickly succeeded by a whole raft of more complicated framing requests. Everyday framing jobs comprise of; photography, watercolours, pastels, prints, childrens artwork, portraits, posters, maps – these are our ‘bread and butter’ but they are all treated with the greatest of care and respect. But the more challenging ones included; ten kick boxing belts mounted and framed with photograph, certificate and information, several fully signed sports shirts, a signed golf club, an incredibly delicate laser-cut image, pony rosettes, very large pictures (they bring all their own challenges) and too many more to mention. These all take an enormous amount of planning, designing and assembling. Many of these jobs have so many steps in the process, they can take a couple of days to complete (see my facebook page for a step-by-step journey of a sports shirt). Of course, I am not locked into a back room somewhere working on these without interruption, there are still customers to attend to, suppliers to order with, a gallery to keep stocked, neat, tidy and clean, artists to keep in touch with, products to source etc., it’s a good job Spectrum is a two-person operation; Tim and I are a super-strong partnership and we support each other through all aspects of the business.
This is also a time of year to look at our business with critical eyes, and look at what we can improve upon, which new products to source, external events we are going to attend (as exhibitors and and visitors) and our marketing and publicity strategy for the coming year. It is an exciting time thinking about these things and a good opportunity to reflect and plan ahead. It is always a priority to maintain the service we have become known for, along with being very approachable and friendly, but also to look for new and exciting products for our customers to enjoy.
Well, I think I will close on that for now, and promise not to leave it too long until next time!
Warmest wishes, Jo.