Thursday, August 4, 2011

Balancing a small art gallery with big business feel

Share |
When coming up with the business plan for Cow Art and More, I wanted to make sure customers had the amenities the larger "box stores" offered, but wanted to be equally as sure that people could feel like they were getting more than "big box store" service.

A few of the "big items" that I included:

  • A toll free phone number and toll free fax number. It shouldn't cost you to contact us. Both of our phone lines have toll free options (or you can call us on our direct number as well)
  • An organized way to ship orders to customers and have them know about it. I can print postage in our office and forward package tracking numbers directly to the purchaser.
  • A small commercial space to conduct a little business. Since I have three small children, I usually work from home, but have rented a small space that serves some basic business needs like shipping and receiving and whenever I need to meet with someone.
  • A website that could provide customers with the "online experience" they had grown accustomed too. This included not only the ability to purchase cow art, but a website (that at least on my end), made the experience of managing and buying art from an art gallery easy. To be honest, this has been one of the biggest challenges. (more to come on this in a future blog post)
  • After being online for about 6 months, we added a print catalog to our repertoire. You might be thinking, 'Why am I just now hearing about this?'. Mostly because if you have high speed internet access, you already have access to our most expansive, up-to-date catalog. The print catalog is only done twice year and is intended for our customers that don't have internet access or don't have high speed internet access (Gasp! -- I can't imagine doing this on a dial up connection). The print catalog only highlights our best sellers is almost always out of date by the time it goes out since Cow Art and More is adding new art all the time.
So what do I do to keep things "real"?

  • Sometimes I answer the phone. Yeah, me. The owner, big enchilada, artist herself. I must admit that love hearing some of the customer reactions when they find out they're talking to the person in charge.
  • I make it a point to follow up with everyone who makes a purchase personally. It's not done by some email bot or autoresponder. I send everyone an email asking about their purchase and not only how satisfied they are with their art, but the entire purchase experience.
  • I include a small note of thanks with each art shipment that we handle from the home office. I am truly grateful that you find our art worthy of including in your collection or beautiful enough for a gift.
  • I write blog posts like this. I think art can be intimidating for some people, especially if you're not schooled in it. You don't have to be an expert to know what you like or don't like.
  • I am happy to have conversations with people through social media outlets like this blog, Facebook and Twitter. I talk about more than art, but enjoy having thoughtful conversations, even when the opinions are different than mine.
  • Don't tell anyone this, but I check email and make and take phone calls after hours. I am trying to balance being and artist and art gallery owner with being a mom and veterinarian and don't mind working when necessary to get everything done. So if you call, and the phone message says we're closed and you choose to leave a message, I will probably answer the phone if I'm in the office.
What else do you see that you would like? What else have you noticed that is missing from this list?

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails