Be an awesome host or hostess: Part 2

Your open studio or open house is for showing off your art and nurturing relationships with current and future collectors of your art. In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about preparing for your event. This week, I’ll give you a series of tips focused on handling sales.

To begin, designate a space in your studio as the sales area and have a desk or comfortable place to write tickets.

Jackie Longino Davidson
Jackie Longino Davidson,
Catnap. Watercolor on paper, 22 x 15 inches.
©The Artist

If you’re thinking about doing everything by yourself, please rethink that strategy. Tap someone else to take care of processing sales so that you can tend to guests. Your salesperson should wear a name tag that says “sales” under her name and should be aware of any leverage she has in negotiating a price. For instance, she needs to know if you are willing to go down, say, 20% on certain items, or if you are accepting payment plans and what those terms are. If you are firm on everything (as I think you should be), she needs to know that, too. This will free you up and keep you out of any negotiations in front of your guests. (Note: While I do not encourage any discounting, it may be appropriate if someone buys a lot. You need to be aware that this issue might arise.)

It is always to your benefit to take credit cards, but you should also be well prepared to accept checks and cash. Have a cash box with plenty of change. Keep a calculator and sales-tax information close at hand.

Give everyone a sales receipt. With this, educate your buyers about copyright by including a small leaflet explaining that you retain copyright to the work. Also, be sure to tell your new collectors how to care for the art they are purchasing and offer hints on hanging, installing, or framing.

Offer complimentary or low-priced gift-wrapping. You might declare “Today only! Free gift wrapping!” or “Free gift wrapping with purchases of $100 or more.”

Provide free delivery for large items and be prepared to help hang or place those works for your collectors. If buyers waver on purchases, offer to bring the art to their homes and find the perfect spot for it.

Set aside a table for business cards, brochures, postcards, and other handouts. Get creative to help people remember you! For example, our guest bathroom is painted shocking red. In it, we have a mobile from which hangs cards containing seasonal or inspirational quotes. The backside of each card says “Souvenir from The Red Bathroom . . . Please Take One.” Our visitors love the surprise of this special touch.

Put together a notebook of information about your work. Add your promo material, articles, writings, testimonials, and even sketches.

Place a guest book out and encourage people to add their names to your mailing list. Be prepared to tell them what kind of mail they will be receiving, be it invitations to openings, newsletters or e-mail.

DO THIS————~>Be an awesome host or hostess! Put your guests first. As you are planning any event, consider these questions . . .

What should you do differently in order to focus your energy on your guests? What makes them comfortable so that they want to stay longer? What can you do to engage them so they will stay longer? What can you do that will pleasantly surprise them so they’ll tell people about you and your art? How can you be different from all of the other open studios they’ll attend?

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