Running a fine art gallery business is not for the faint of heart. Between keeping track of finances, hiring good staff, managing client and artist relations, and producing thoughtful shows, it’s enough to make you a little crazy at times. It’s ok, you can admit it. I get a little crazy too.
Let’s look at four simple ways to make running your business a bit easier, more efficient and productive. The only investment they require is changing your habits or viewpoints and they can make an immediate impact to your business and probably your mental well-being too.
Learn to Delegate
There are only a finite number of hours in the day. There is always more to do, whether it’s day-to-day or big picture strategy work. Identify the day-to-day tasks that you spend the most time on every week. These are perfect for delegating.
If you struggle with delegation, make a new goal for yourself to let go a little more this year. To run your gallery business more efficiently, you must delegate. It not only helps to free you up to focus on big picture strategy things to make your gallery more innovative and impactful to your artists and clients, it also helps to nurture your gallery staff with an opportunity to learn by doing.
Evaluate your employees’ strengths and weaknesses and interests in the business to determine which tasks would be a good fit for delegation. Establish some checks and balances so you can monitor if they are meeting the mark in the beginning. Then relax your control over time and do not micromanage. You want to provide an opportunity for staff to own these important tasks and suggest ways they might be done better.
Batch tasks to improve focus and creativity.
Did you know it is scientifically proven that you are more productive when you focus, for an extended period, on a single task? Yes – multi-tasking is dead as a productivity strategy. Batching similar tasks into a set period of dedicated time to focus your mind is the way to go in the overstimulated 21st century.
Commit to blocking off an hour or two in the morning to batch all your email correspondence for the day. This could be sales inquiries, follow-ups on leads or other artist relations messages. Then turn your email off, so you are not distracted by those new email notifications for the next batch. For the next hour or so, lump similar finance related tasks together like recording expenses, sending invoices, paying bills and running artists sales reports.
Content creation takes an enormous amount of time and thought. If you have content you are always creating, such as blog posts, exhibition materials, social media posts, podcasts or sales sheets for artworks, try batching one of those tasks by blocking one whole day to getting it all done and put you ahead of the game for a while. This allows you to focus and free up mental creativity to focus on the next thing without constantly switching gears.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Batching can be very effective and many successful business owners are using this technique today. It’s all about eliminating distractions. You will see a difference in your productivity levels and feel like a super hero.
Automate where possible
Marketing automation is an exciting new way to stay in front of your prospective art collectors by creating a digital customer journey. It’s done by creating a path for new leads to opt-in to your gallery’s email list and setting up an automated email series designed to help them get to know your gallery and artists. It’s an automated way to begin building trust early in a relationship. This email series is in addition to your regular gallery newsletter, but can be powerful for planting the seed for a long-term dealer-collector relationship.
Sure, it takes some thought and time to create and set up, but the result can provide a truly unique experience for your new collector leads.
Other marketing elements you might put on auto-pilot are social media maintenance and art inquiries. For example, try social media schedulers, where you post a bunch of things to your platforms and schedule them to go out automatically. This is a good task to batch. Schedulers are such helpful tools, I don’t know why more galleries don’t use them.
You could also put downloadable sales sheets about artworks on your website and require an email address before downloading so you can personally follow up. This may prove to be a more efficient way to providing more information to cold leads and may improve the user experience for art lovers looking at your inventory.
Complacency is a business killer and it happens all to easily. If you are a gallery owner or director with the responsibility for art gallery management and keeping the business moving forward, then you represent the company culture in its purest form. You must be willing to change your processes, ideas, marketing and even your artists and staff if necessary. That flexible business savvy will keep your business fresh and spread enthusiasm to both your clients and others that interact with your gallery.
Change is inevitable and it has certainly been true in the art world. A stagnant business will be doomed to failure when challenged by new competitors, economic turns or changes to art collector and artist demands. Welcome change to be nimbler in your industry.
To the Point
Successfully running an art gallery business requires time, energy, money and smart usage of resources. Adapting and focusing on being as efficient as possible will go a long way towards your gallery’s longevity.
You can improve productivity by delegating, batching similar tasks that require similar thought processes, automating processes where appropriate and being open and flexible to the changes that will come in the future. Keep your eye on the big picture goals that will propel your business forward, and scale back on the rest. Running a fine art gallery is a passion business. It should enhance your life, but not run it.