Friday 8 October 2021

Coping with the "new normal".

Over the last few months we have seen increasing shortages and, more recently, galloping price increases.

Wessex Professional and The Framers Pricing App can help you to keep abreast of these changes and keep your business afloat and profitable.

Let's deal with price increases first.

It is important to remember that all suppliers in their terms and conditions reserve the right to change prices without notice. Obviously they try not to, but with prices so volatile it makes sense for us to go by the invoices we receive rather than waiting for a new price list to be issued. 

For mouldings this is easily dealt with in Wessex Professional by going through the invoice and Editing the moulding record to give the correct wholesale cost per metre. (If you are not registered for VAT make sure you include VAT in the figure to reflect the price you have paid.) In the App if you use # codes then redo the code for each of the mouldings in the invoice (Settings > Get Moulding Code). If you use a file imported into the App then you will need to open the file on your computer and edit it, save and import again.

For mountboard and glass there are a couple of ways to deal with price changes.

1) The easy way
If (for example) a mountboard increases from £6.00 to £6.60 a sheet (10%), then simply increase the mount cost by 10%.
For instance - I charge a plain (whitecore) mount at 0.32 pence/sq. cm. So I would increase that cost to 0.352 pence/sq. cm.
I would keep the "Start From" charge the same because that really represents the labour cutting the mount (presumably that will need to increase at some point, but it's not directly related to the material cost).

2) Getting back to basics
There are 9,930.8 sq. cm. in a Larson Juhl board. (122 x 81.4) divide that by the cost of the board in pence to get how much the board is costing per cm. (£6.00 per board = 600 pence = 0.06 pence/sq. cm. Actually 0.0604180932049785 pence!)
Multiply that by a markup (between 4 & 7 usually) to get the main cost figure. Nb. markup is quite high because of the amount of wastage in glass and particularly mountboard.

To make the changes - in Wessex Professional go to Settings > Values and choose the Mount or Glass tab. Select the type of glass or mount you want to change from the dropdown list. Put in the new value and "Save", then go on to the next one.

In the Pricing App go to Settings and choose Mount Values or Glass Values. Tap the top panel for a list of Labels and their values. Select one, change the figures and Save Item. 

Both the Pricing App and Wessex Professional work out prices in the same way. 

Now let's look at how to deal with shortages.

 Because the Pricing App doesn't keep a record of stock or jobs you are going to have to rely on good old "memory mark 1"! 

But Wessex Professional can help. If you know a moulding is unavailable you can check whether you have taken jobs for it by going to Tools > Manage Database > Worktickets. Then choose Views, List By Item. Select "Moulding" and enter the moulding code in the pop-up box. You will then see a list of all the jobs to be completed which use that moulding.

Similarly, you can check glass in the same way. The program won't make the shortages go away, but at least you'll have the information on which to base a decision.

(At the moment the Mount option only shows the type of mount, not the colour. So, unfortunately, that won't help when a particular colour is not available, though it's usually possible to get a acceptable alternative from a different manufacturer).  

All that is probably a lot to take in, but for some bedtime reading have a look at Picture Frame Pricing Programs: Frame Pricing Talk ( for a overall view of pricing.




Friday 4 June 2021

Yet another new version - what's that all about?

 It was only a month ago that 4.4.10 was made available to download, and now there is 4.4.11. So what's going on?

I'll put my hand up and say that some "issues" had been found in the previous version. This new download sorts them out.

  • An issue when the program was networked - it was possible for different computers to issue invoices with the same number.
  • Extra Cost - if the Extra Cost "includes vat" box was ticked the full extra cost was shown on the main form, rather than the net amount. However the final price was accurate.
  • If the box to record the amount of deposit was left blank, then the program would throw up an error. Now it assumes you meant that customer did not pay a deposit (ie. 0).
  • Searching through the Customers - the surnames were displayed in alphabetical order, but not necessarily the initials.
Hopefully, now we're back on track to issue updates every 9 -12 months again.

Saturday 8 May 2021

What the # ?!

 I mentioned in a previous post that I would explain about price codes.

If you think about it all the program needs to work out a frame price is the cost of the moulding and its width. Once it knows the rebate dimensions it can work how much moulding will be needed (2 * X + 2 * Y, + 8 * moulding width)

This was the principle that the first Wessex Pricing Program (WPP1) used.
The idea was resurrected in the Framers Pricing App. Here the App can work out a cost either by using an Id number from a csv file (for instance "PW112"), or a pricing code which contains the information needed.
How does the App distinguish between the two?
The price code always is always preceded by "#" (eg. #34G). The numbers represent the moulding cost, while the letter represents the width.
In practical terms, there is a utility in the App (and now in the desktop program) whereby you can enter the cost and the width of a moulding and it will issue a code that you can write on the moulding sample.
(App - go to "Settings" and tap "Get Moulding Code". WPP4 - go to "Tools" > "Get Moulding Code") It is now easy to give a price - put in the dimensions, look on the sample for the price code and enter that, together with glass, mount and sundries.
It is good practice to check the code each time you get an invoice for that moulding.

The sharp-witted amongst you will have spotted that the code does not identify an individual moulding, A moulding with the same cost and width will have the same code. So, if you are recording a job, you will need to be able to identify the particular moulding.
In WPP4 you can do this in the "Notes" section when saving the Job. With the App the world is your oyster! You could record the details in a duplicate-book or you could take a screen-shot of the price and a photo of the work and sample(s), being careful to marry up the two images (rename them in file manager), or a mixture of the two.
Also, the width part of the code (the letter) covers a number of Mm. and so is not quite precise. In practice the effect on the final cost is minimal.

So why go with this form of pricing when other more exact ways are available?
Simply because it is so straightforward and easy to understand. There are no databases to maintain, no csv files to wrestle with. The costing is slightly less exact (by pence not pounds), but if your margins are that tight then use a different system. 
Another reason to include these codes in WPP4 is to better integrate the program with the Pricing App. Already you can export a file of mouldings from the desktop program to the App, now you can go the other way and use the App's pricing codes in the main program.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

User Requests and a New Version

 Version 4.4.10  

Most of the features in this update are based on ideas and requests from framers who use the program.

  • You can now save a first name to the customer record, not just an initial. Upto 15 characters.

  • You can search the customers by their telephone number as well as their name. Useful if someone rings or texts and doesn't leave their name.

  • While I was at it, I took the opportunity to improve the name search itself. Previously the search was just on the surname. So search for "SMITH" and all the Smiths would come up and you'd need to scroll through until you'd found the right initial and phone number. Now now you can type "SMITH" then "space", then the initial/first name - much more efficient. It is also the same when searching names to save with the invoice and when searching through the work tickets to find a customer's past jobs.
  • This next one is for users who also have The Famers Pricing App on their phone. You have for a few years now been able to create a file of your mouldings and their prices which can be imported into the App ("File" > "Create Mouldings.csv"). So that the App and Wessex Professional are working with the same data (they work out the prices in the same way). The App can also work out prices using a moulding code (beginning with "#"). But Wessex Professional would not recognize these codes - until now! It is quite a big subject and I plan to write a post about these codes, but for now, if you use # codes with the App you can use them with Wessex Professional too.

  • I have also corrected a problem that could occur when editing a job on the Jobs list (before it is saved to an invoice). This is a useful feature if the customer changes their mind about an earlier job (say, they want to change the type of glass). Click on the job you want to change - you'll have choice to Edit, Delete or Cancel.

If you choose Edit You'll be taken back to the pricing tab with all the details in place for you to change. You'll notice the "Add to Invoice" button has changed to "Update Invoice". Previously, if you had used an "Extra Cost" in that job this wasn't included in the price data (even though it was shown). This has now been sorted out, even if you have called Extra Cost something else.

  • Wessex no longer sell the "Basic" version of the program (WPP4B), which has really been overtaken by the Framers Pricing App. However this causes a problem if someone has that version and wants to put it on a new computer. Upto now it hasn't been possible, but now, if your computer dies and you need to put the Basic version onto a new machine, you can do so (contact Wessex for a new enabling code)..

So, a big thank you to those framers who made the suggestions.

One thing to note however, is that once you have run the update you will not be able to import the database into an earlier version of the program (though why would you want to? - The updates are free and there is no advantage in using an out-of-date version).

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Mainly about Mac

 Let's be quite clear - it is NOT possible to install The Framers Pricing App on an iPhone or an iPad. 

The operating system for these devices is IOS, which uses a different code to that of Android. Also Apple is very careful (controlling?) about what you are allowed to install on your device. This means from a developer's point-of-view (ie. me) it is not worthwhile to jump through the hoops that Apple set, as well as maintaining 2 sets of code unless the App is for the mass market. (Sorry all you Framers, there just aren't enough of you!)

The solution I recommend is to buy a cheap  Android phone or tablet (have a look on Ebay). It does not need to be connected to a phone network, so no sim card, just connect to the wifi at home so you can download the App from Google Play. You don't need to do anything else, just know how to turn the device on and tap The Framers Pricing app icon. Everything else phone-related, you continue to do on your Apple device. 

Wessex Professional is designed for Windows and will not directly run on an Apple Mac, or MacBook (which use the OSX operating system). It is however possible to to install and run the program on a Mac with some other software. 

In previous posts I have mentioned CrossOverMac as worth looking at. 

There are other alternatives

  • Wine. This is a free alternative to CrossOverMac, but rather more fiddly to set up.
  • Boot Camp. This utility comes built into your Mac. Each time you start the computer you are able to choose between Windows or Mac. The problem is that in order to switch between to two systems you need to restart the computer. Also, you need a copy of Windows 10.
  • The first (restart) problem is solved by using Parallels. You can switch between Mac and Windows without having to reboot the computer. I have seen it working and because Wessex Professional is running under Windows (albeit on a Mac) the program looks exactly as it should. (Wine and Crossover use a different system and the appearance is slightly different). However, you still need a copy of Windows 10 - expensive right? Wrong - have a look at UnitySoft for bargain basement software prices. 
All of these solutions cost less than £100 at the time of writing. 
So, if you like Apple products and you want to use the best framers pricing software, you don't have to choose between the two.