To my eternal gratitude, my wife is decidedly not into handbags, fancy shoes, or expensive makeup. There are whole categories of luxury goods she has no interest in. It's fantastic.

However, she DOES have one brutally expensive hobby/habit: custom framing.

Yes, my friends, framing. You got a print, poster or puzzle? If it's in our house for very long, it's getting framed - available wall space be damned!

This weekend we found ourselves again at the framing desk at Michael's Arts & Crafts, which has a truly great setup for picking out frames and matting. They have an overhead camera setup so they can take a picture of your print and then show you your frame and color options on-screen. It's one of those things that works so well it's hard to imagine doing it any other way. 

Here's where things run off the rails for Michael's, though. Every month or so, they promote an in-store discount on framing that defies logic. The reason we went in this weekend was because they were offering 70% off custom framing. SEVENTY PERCENT. As we were checking out, the employee says to me, "With the discount, you saved $924."

It feels like an insult to your intelligence. Consider the logic we need to accept in order to take a 70% discount seriously. Either they are making SO much money on framing that they can settle for 30% of the list price and still turn a profit, or their list prices are so thoroughly out of whack that no one in their right mind would pay them. Maybe both things are true. In any case, it creates a boom/bust cycle, and it leaves customers like us still feeling vaguely ripped off, because a 70% discount just simply doesn't make any sense.


In the lawn and landscape industry, offers and discounts have a place, but there's a balance to strike in order to make them effective. The trick is to make them attractive but still logical.

If you're a traditional lawn care company, market forces will probably dictate that you offer a free application or at least a noticeable discount off the first application. This makes sense to the prospect, because they probably have some relative idea what the service "should" cost, and the discount is meaningful as a result.

If you offer design/build work, numerical discounts are almost useless. Consider it from the other side of the table. "5% off of WHAT? Save $500? I don't have any idea what this is going to cost." The most valuable thing for a new construction client is your ideas and expertise. Offer them a free on-site consultation, and paint some ideas in their head for what their backyard could become. Free ideas are valuable to them.

If you offer residential maintenance, there are tons of options to entice your clients - but we recommend that you make it logical to the prospect AND enhance the appearance of the property. Give away some annual flowers or container plantings, or an early spring turf application, or some offer on spring cleanups and mulching. There are tons of options for full-service maintenance companies to offer.

Some of you are probably reading this and thinking, "I have more clients than I can handle right now," and I believe you. For the time being, demand is high and might remain that way this year as well. If history teaches us anything, you will need to work to get new customers again at some point, and I encourage you to stay in practice in the meantime. Let us know if we can help.