Remember when I used to post gear photos on this site?

So busy at the gallery

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich, RLC Design 8 Comments

allisonbirds (1 of 1)

Allison Smith's latest painting. Guess we're going to print this one really big.....

This has been a busy week.  New prints, new canvases, new clients……..

So, what’s been keeping me busy?

  • 3 new paintings to reproduce for Allison Smith.  Proofs were finished the other day and we need to get together to see what she thinks of the proofs.  Once approved I’ll be printing the largest reproduction I ever have for Allison.  Big one!
  • A new print maker, Robert, popped by yesterday with a large format image.  We’ll be getting it imaged today and then I’ll run proofs for him as well.
  • Finished my friend’s canvas for his brother’s rememberance.
  • Web work off and on all week for one set of web clients.
  • Re-print of my Coyote Buttes Sunrise.  Yeah, I printed that one last week and sold it already over the weekend.  That’s a really good sign.  Ran another canvas yesterday, gotta wrap it this morning and get it hung.
  • Running a proof for another regular, Barbara.
  • Scanning for a new client today.  3 more medium format positives.
  • Oh, and interruptions like you wouldn’t believe.

The last point about business leaves me with a question for readers.  When do you “cut it off?”

Here’s the issue, and it’s one about being a good business owner while getting your work done.  Let’s take yesterday as an example…….

Interruptions happen when you have a store front.  Boy do they happen.  And when you’re working on something you get distracted.

First thing in the morning, before the store was officially opened I had a person come in the door.  Just about 9:00 a.m., we open at 10.  I was working on one of my web client’s sites.  I stopped work and started talking with the gentleman who popped by.  A bronze artist who used to sell with my business partner.  He was wondering about interest in selling his work again.  Okay, totally work oriented.

He dropped his information off, and then began to look for reassurance from me that I would indeed relay the message to Ian.  All written down in my book, phone number taken, and some information on the pieces.  Yeah, that’ll get to Ian.  Well, we spent another 45 minutes with him hanging out, rechecking with me, and chattering randomly about how they knew each other.  Finally, he asked how the front end of the shop was doing.  I told him that Ian does masonry as well, and the bulk of my work was on the printing side.  Additionally I’ve taken a limited number of web clients to supplement income, and that’s what I was trying to work on.  So, about an hour for a 10 minute conversation before I was allowed to get back to work.  Right after……a vendor came in and ate some time too trying to sell me stuff……..eeeeeeeeek!

I started back on my web client’s site, and 20 minutes in had another person wander through.  Another regular visitor who likes popping in, looking around, chatting, and not buying.  We have a lot of visitors who come in for conversation during the week.  30 minutes into the visit two customers popped in, and that conversation got cut short.  Hoorah for customers.

Moments after the room emptied my web client called to check in.  Ahhhhhh, frustrations!  I let the client know I had been working on his site for the morning but kept getting interrupted.  I bet he’s reading this right now and having a chuckle.  Let’s see if he leaves a comment today……  🙂

Getting off the phone with him I got back to his site and actually got an hour in.  Then folks started popping in again.  Finally, I gave up.

Several more regulars popped by, and it was back to back with people for a while.  My hopes for a few hours on the web site hit the garbage.  And that was good timing.  I met another blogger who has wanted to see my stuff in person.  We chatted for a bit, and I wasn’t stressed about it as I had already decided to give up a little while before.  Nice meeting you Lloyd.  Sorry if I seemed a little distracted, I’d had a “morning.”  🙂

So, here’s the dilemma gang….When folks walk into a store front you do have to pay attention.  Customer service first and foremost.  But if folks are coming by to chat, sell you things, etc., when is it okay to get back to work?  And how do you do it nicely?

Back in my wireless days it was easy to work on a project.  I’d walk to my office, I’d tell my admin that for the next few hours I’d be tied up, and then the door would get closed.  You can’t do that in this type of business.

Of course, I want to be polite.  And I do like visiting with folks walking into the shop.  But when I’ve got a ton to do, there’s no buying going on, etc, I sometimes feel like the local bar tender that everyone wants to come by and visit with for a while.  Sure, it makes me feel popular, but then again, I don’t want my web clients coming after me with a stick……..  🙂

Comments 8

  1. Seems to me, anyone who comes in the front door should always be considered as a potential customer; friend, foe or otherwise. I guess, once you figure out their initial motive for stopping by is not business related, you’ll have to figure out a polite way to shoo them out which I realize is your initial question. Also, since you’re self employed, can’t you dictate your own hours? If you don’t get the job done in the morning, then you just need to spend the time in the evening, right?
    .-= Betsy´s last blog ..Another couple of projects done and a rant =-.

  2. Well, the vendor, tell him to call and schedule a time to meet up with you next time. The sculptor…you got the contact info for Ian…tell him you are very busy, and you have to go….and shoo him out. Essentially you are bartending…and not producing for your clients by being available to anyone who walks in the door…and you have no control over most of that…I believe you need to hire someone to do that….but, you aleady knew that was coming. It is the best thing for the store front customers, your web clients, repro clients, etc.

    By the way, I was at Wet Beaver Creek this morning. Upon leaving, I thought about dropping by the gallery to just say hi. Now, i’m glad I didn’t.
    .-= JW Stovall´s last blog ..2009 Smoke Alarm Awareness Program in Casa Grande, AZ =-.

  3. Post

    Tombo, you’re always welcome, and if I’m rushed you’ll know it. The fun thing with the morning visitors is each one was made aware I was busy and didn’t clue in. By afternoon I totally gave up on getting any further work on the site done. 🙂

    Everyone in the door certainly needs to get attention. The morning was a tough one, and I had a repeat yesterday. Fortunately I wasn’t trying to get other stuff done, instead I was working with clients.

    I had 3, count them, 3 vendors come in. Two advertising folks, one resale dude. The advertising folks interrupted me with 2 different sets of clients while I was working with them. One insisted on making her pitch. At the time, I had a cutter in one hand and canvas in the other. I let her know that I was working with these two gentleman, and she could leave her documentation on the counter…..that wasn’t good enough, she insisted on the pitch. So, I got super short, said no, and walked back to my clients.

    You wouldn’t believe how many solicitors come into the building on a weekly basis. No solicitors sign? Yeah, I’m considering it.

    In the end, we do need someone on the front desk as the production work ramps up. No doubts. As I’ve noted before, proudly I might add, the business has paid for itself this year. It has not paid me though. So for the time being, gotta wear all hats. 🙂

    Jay, had you popped by in the afternoon that would have been cool. I’d already given up on any more web work. Seems to me I’ve got to get in earlier anyways. I work best in the morning, afternoons I’m always winding down anyhow.

    By the time Lloyd stopped in I was out of crunch mode and in visiting mode. Guess afternoons are my best time for the “chatting” crowd. LOL!

    Oh, and to Betsy’s point. Yes, being self employed means you can dictate your own hours. It also means that you’re never not working. I do work on stuff in the evenings as well. But you do have to turn off at some point. Otherwise you’ll burn out and stop enjoying what you do.

    Today is a “day off”. I’ll be doing laundry, getting groceries, and then working on web stuff for clients. Monday’s we’re closed, and I’ll be meeting 2 separate clients for proofing and web work. That’s normal. Usually a 6 day work week for me, but that’s part of small business too.

    As you can tell, I’m still learning all the ins and outs. 🙂

  4. Pace yourself and keep it simple. I know you need to do your web stuff to supplement your income, but you need to consider your physical and mental health above all of this. Traffic is important, but yeah, access who is there to purchase or bring in some business. Schedule the vendors, and yeah, put out the no solicitors sign.

  5. Having been in the advertising business for 25 years now, I cannot believe one of “them” would have the gall to insist on making her “pitch” when you’re obviously with clients. Must have been trying to make her quota for the day!! Very tacky.

  6. The No Soliciting sign does come in handy. Also, seriously consider having that someone at the front desk. Yes, it’s an expense, but your time is more valuable and the increase in productive time for you justifies the expense. Perhaps you could make the front desk position sales-oriented to a degree, so that the person hired gets a percentage of each sale he/she helps to make.

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