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In the 1930s Nicholas Dreystadt took over the management of the Cadillac Division of General Motors. Cadillac was in dire straits and probably would have sunk like a stone but Dreystadt took a new tact. “The Cadillac Customer” he said, “does not buy transportation, he buys status!” This statement would have been nothing but hot air except for one thing. They could supply the quality to back up the claim.

A Caddy to the uninitiated looks much like any other vehicle; four wheels, seats, headlights, etcetera but it’s what’s underneath that takes the product to the next level. I believe that there are parallels that can be drawn in any competitive service industry, so let’s take custom picture framing as an example. On the surface most frames look basically the same: four corners, hangers and wire surrounding some worthy art piece. But there is much more to it than that.

The obvious questions run something like this: Does the frame compliment the piece in color, texture and style? Does the weight of the frame and the width of the mats or liner support the piece visually without overpowering it? Is the whole package pleasing to your eye as the paying customer? What’s underneath is actually more important than what is on the surface. Cadillac would not have become an icon if it had built pretty cars that couldn’t stand the test of time.

Will the framing package that you are buying preserve that work of art or destroy it? The quality of framing products varies widely and often the effects are not immediately noticeable. Are the mats conservation quality or will they discolor and erode the artwork? Does the glass block ultraviolet light which will damage the image? More importantly can the person behind the counter guide you through the maze of what you need or do not need to give you the best product for the best value?

The Cadillac experience begins on the showroom floor, where the customer is treated as a person of status. Sales people are expected to be knowledgeable and courteous. The product should please the eye while resisting the effects of time. The entire experience should be completed as a dialogue that enables the customer to make an informed decision that satisfies the wants and needs of the purchase. Every customer deserves that same experience whether buying a car, a picture frame or simply investing in status.