ABCs

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by joop, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. joop

    joop
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    I've had a basically one person fine art picture framing business for about 15 years. The business grew out of my abilities as a craftsman and artist, certainly not from any business prowess. To create a finished product, I buy and cut raw materials like plexi, matboard, fome cor, etc., but buy all my frames finished and made to my specs by local woodworkers or wholesale fabricators for metal frames. I hinge and handle all artwork and specialize in works on paper. My services range from pick up, delivery, sometimes installation, on-site consultation, etc. I've never really known how to charge for my time at clients' or for "shop time" per hour. I essentially guessed at basic wholesale-to-retail mark-up percentages.

    Business was steady and grew for several years; I got the impression I was medium-high priced in the field, very good and knowledgeable about framing artwork, and strong on personal service. I've had several clients for nearly as long as I've been in business. All that notwithstanding, the recent crash was a catastrophe for me, with many good clients literally disappearing. Recent months have improved but I know I can't continue running the business by the seat of my pants. I need to restructure to survive, this time, knowing how to price the different products and services I combine for clients.

    I'm in the garden spot of the world, Brooklyn, New York. My clients are mostly in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions on where to look. many thanks.
     
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  2. JBMedia

    JBMedia
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    Hello Joop and welcome to the BAF community. Let's dig a little deeper into your business structure shall we?

    First off, we will be needing a few more questions answered from you in order to better assist you. So here goes.

    1. What is your general audience? In other words, is it more older white folks, younger black people. These type of statistics can matter.

    2. What steps have you considered taking in restructuring your business plan to fit todays fighting economy?

    3. Do you generally do work for upper-class, middle-class, or lower-class people?

    4. What steps in the past and now have you been taking to increase sales? In other words, how have you been marketing your business?

    From what I can tell so far, it seems your business has also suffered from this economy. I would personally suggest maybe offering other services in the same field. Maybe finding a wholesaler of art, sell the art as well as the framing. Consider expansion of similar products to increase revenues. Also, as you did not state this, I would assume you get great feedback on your work. However, make sure you always ask your clients if there's anything else you could do to make them happy now or in the near future.

    Try to cut out some expenses, if possible. This is pretty hard to do, especially when you're very used to working on a set budget and sales plummet. But there could be some ways to get around doing a few things for a cheaper price, without affecting the quality of the finished product.

    Have you considered offering some type of services/products online? Obviously you can't frame a piece of artwork over the internet, but you might be able to find more clients that way. Also, if you did decide to branch out and sell art pieces or even other artistic things such as high end pottery and urns, you could then sell them online too, which is a very cost-efficient way of selling.

    I know these may not be exactly the answers you're looking for, but it could possibly help. Also if you answered the few questions I laid out, I might be able to give you a little more advice.

    Jesse
     
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  3. CoachJulie1

    CoachJulie1
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    Hi Joop-

    Sorry to hear about your difficulties, but it sounds like you've got a fighting spirit and want to work hard to keep your business going? Without knowing more details, a few questions/ideas come to mind. Could you expand to other areas outside of what customer base you traditionally service? Could you partner with photographers or other complementary businesses whose customers may want your services and give a discount, referral bonus, provide marketing materials, etc? Have you done a competitive analysis as to what exactly your competition is charging and for what services and value proposition? If you want to stay higher priced, be sure to really quantify and market why someone should pay more, or think about lowering prices or giving specials to generate customers again. Can you survey your previous customers to see why they've left and if any of the reasons can be addressed. Do you have a mailing list of your customers that you could mail a "haven't seen you in a while" special promotion or a referral discount if they refer to you someone?

    Just a few ideas.... let me know if you need more help.

    Julie Palus
    Empowered to Achieve Coaching
     
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  4. td2011

    td2011
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    It sounds like you have a good quality business that comes from your skill as a craftsman/ artist. Such a shame that smaller businesses have such a hard time to see through these tough times. I don't feel I can give you any other helpful advice aside from what has already been said in this thread.
    What steps have you already taken? Hang in there. Don't make way for the big business
     
  5. joop

    joop
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    many thanks for all your input.

    just a few things in answer to questions asked: my clients have ranged from young and middle aged artists to collectors who tend to be middle aged or older, to arts institutions: galleries and museums in New York City. Different "factions" have prevailed at different times in the last 15 years. My favorite clients are generally artists, who tend to have the least amount of money to spend; collectors, not surprisingly, tend to be more, sometimes very, affluent. feels like quite a spread but heavily dependent on the work I've done for institutions and collectors. among those I've met and worked with in New York, whites and perhaps, females have predominated.

    basically, my attempts to boost sales have been limited to occasional, usually seasonal postcards I design with my photography, print and snail-mail to my client list. texts range from: season's greetings to 10% discount offerings to simple "hello remember me" messages.

    thanks again, joop
     
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  6. joop

    joop
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    thanks again, joop
     
  7. Gary Barzel

    Gary Barzel
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    Do you have an online presence? Perhaps it's time to re-examine or re-define your niche. You seem to be quite knowledgeable in your field, have you thought about starting a blog about your expertise. You have a lot to offer, and people in your field can gain tremendously by your knowledge. If you become an online expert it can help boost your presence as well as drive traffic to your site.
     
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