Five Tips Lewis Knows About Framing shares five simple ideas from Lewis Bowles at Bull City Art and Frame Company in Durham, North Carolina. Reading positive Google reviews, I trusted the team at Bull City Framing to create a presentation for the only art I may be able to hang in my new “tiny house” – three new prints from artist Shepard Fairey. “We’ve been in business twenty-four years,” Lewis shared as I picked up my company today. Here are five reasons Bull City Framing is growing with the help of the Internet.
- Story – Lewis explained every detail and advantage of the fantastic job he and his team accomplished for my prints
- Specialized Segmentation – Bull City Frame doesn’t try to be all things to all prints they only do one kind of work – exceptional
- Simple – The “hanging template” is so simple I’ll hang my prints
- Artistry and Expertise – Lewis and everyone at Bull City Frame knows what they are doing, and it shows
- Ask – Lewis tapped an “ask” to the back of my prints asking for a review
Bull City Framing’s Story
Excitement is contagious. Lewis was excited to share his team’s great work on my prints and share stories of other art and customers Bull City Art & Frame. He set the stage calling to let me know my prints were done. Excitement is easy to hear too. Lewis’ excitement jumped through the phone.
I was not disappointed. Lewis carefully unwrapped each print proud in his team’s work and his company’s well-deserved reputation. Bull City Art and Frame is close to Duke. Many Duke doctors and professors love Bull City Art and Frame so much they ship art after moving away. Lewis shared a story of framing and then hanging thirteen photographs of Texas taken by a Duke doctor minutes before a party.
It was a family thing Lewis explained after I asked how he got in the framing business. But there was a twist. Lewis wanted his frame shop to be different than his mentor. He would specialize. Lewis may not have read Simon Sinek’s great book Start with Why, but he knows how to implement Sinek’s ideas including specialized segmentation.
Every business faces an important decision early – who are they going to be, what will the company stand for and mean. Lewis decided he wanted to embrace the art and craft of framing. Bull City Art and Frame swam upstream. While many framing companies lowered prices and quality, Lewis and Tiffany Bowles took Bull City Art & Frame in the opposite direction. Doing great work on the cheap is hard.
Lew and his team need TIME to do great work. Greatness and art are never cheap (in my experience). There is no free lunch. By understanding his company’s WHY Lewis carved out a niche. Bull City Art and Frame doesn’t try to be all things to all people. Lewis will turn down work when asked to compromise quality and his team’s craft.
Quality, when you are as expert as the Bull City Art and Frame team, can be accomplished quickly such as hanging thirteen prints before a doctor’s party or framing in days instead of weeks when there’s a good reason. When time is the absolute enemy of quality and craft Lewis refers the work away creating a clear example of Sinek’s Start With Why ideas.
Each print comes with solid hardware, no wires at Bull City Art & Frame, and an ingenious cardboard template. The template is the same size as the print with two holes. Use the template to level and line up the Shepard Fairey’s three prints, Lewis explained, then use the hole to guide nails and hangers. WOW, talk about making a complicated, painful and time-consuming process easy. Brilliant.
Lewis understands his specific segment well. He includes information about the print in a pocket on the back of each print. Hooks are included in a tiny plastic bag taped to the cardboard template. Bull City Art and Frame uses sturdy grid-like hangers on the corners. Wires are wrong for many reasons, Lewis shared. Framed pieces are easy to misalign with a nudge (not so with the grid), and wires can harm archival framing over time pulling mats out of alignment and warping the framer’s careful work.
Lewis carefully explained every aspect of his team’s work illustrating with stories, checking for recognition (by me), and sharing his love of the framer’s art.
Artistry and Expertise
Skill and Expertise are hard to fake but quickly squandered. Lewis decided what kind of work he wanted his company to create. Honing know-how and artistry is hard and impossible when any company tries to do too many things. Lewis and Bull City Art and Frame do one kind of framing – well crafted and artistic.
Bull City Art & Frame won’t be the least expensive place to mat and frame a print. Lewis is okay giving up cheap and fast for skilled, expert, and beautiful. It’s hard to focus on your company’s WHY before diving into the seductive HOW. In a nutshell, making these sacrifices is how a small business thrives, grows and weathers storms. Storms caused by technology, the occasional bad review, and cycles sure to prove damaging to others help Lewis and Bull City Art and Frame.
Ask For Help
No one climbs the new social media ubiquitous Internet Mt. Everest alone. Lewis knows his business needs recommendations and support from customers. Lewis includes an ask on the back of carefully wrapped art leaving his shop. Here is that ask:
Great ask. Bull City Art & Frame’s ASK is precise, easy to understand, and simpler to do. It builds a hidden quid pro quo too. As Daniel Pink discusses in another excellent book Drive: The Surprising Truth Behind What Motivates Us most people want to do the right thing. Quid pro quo is the web’s currency.
Asking for help brings many benefits including:
- Reveals vulnerability and so is authentic and real
- Moves relationships with customers to collaboration instead of traditional buyer or seller roles
- Encourages customers to help to identify contributors (typically 1% of a businesses tribe), supporters (about 9%) and consumers (90%)
- Future Ambassadors will come from the 1% who respond to your ask
Lewis and Bull City Art & Frame grow because they’ve learned at least five valuable lessons. They know who they are and who they don’t want to become. Bull City Art and Frame keep it simple, share their passion, and ask for help proving the Internet doesn’t have to hurt your business. The web can be a source of growth when incorporated into a larger plan based on your WHY and sharing the art your life, and endeavors create.