Help your profitability by controlling costs and becoming more efficient. We share some tips to make your studio run more smoothly.
Tools and Techniques. Using templates, patterns, or molds can speed up your process. These basic methods help keep your work consistent, and enable you to duplicate your original design quickly and easily.
Streamline your workflow. Design a practical and efficient flow in your studio space by creating “stations” where certain type of work is done, and that make sense considering the steps that you take to make each piece. Think through your process carefully, and create the most logical workflow. See how this enables you to make each piece more quickly.
Hire studio assistants. As you grow your business, you may find that hiring helpers to do particular types of work makes your studio output grow exponentially. What type of work is most specialized, that perhaps only you can do? What can easily be done by someone else with a lower skill level? Delegating sanding, cleaning, packing, shipping, and other types of basic jobs to others frees you up to do the high-skill level activities that require your expertise. When you teach assistants to do skilled labor, and your pricing formula pays you more for labor than you are paying them, you are earning additional money for each hour they work. In this way, you not only provide employment for your assistant, but increase your own income.
Keep a Production Calendar. As orders come in (wholesale orders, retail orders or even commissions), or as you are preparing inventory for an upcoming show or sale, note which pieces you can work on at the same time to put into an efficient workflow. Pull any items from inventory to fill orders, making extra pieces to complete that order before shipping. Your production calendar should be kept for each and every month going forward. As you take orders, book them into your schedule. This allows enough time to get orders completed and shipped when promised, while also allowing you to balance your days and schedule in personal time to keep stress levels low.
Get organized. Even if you are not able to work in production, you can set up your studio space to keep frequently used tools and materials easily reachable.
Which tools and materials do you use most often? Keep them close and in sufficient supply for the project at hand. One fine artist reported that in preparing paint on his palette, he kept his most often-used colors closest to his brush and easiest to reach. Every motion that you save is time and energy saved.
What amount of materials inventory should you hold? Determine your needs, keep records and place orders for materials on a timely basis to avoid running out.
How will you control your inventory of produced goods? Is it easy to count, or review? Do you know what you have? How are you keeping track of what is sold, what is shipped, and what needs to be produced? If you have a production studio, your inventory may all be “in-house” and a list on a sheet of paper may suffice.
Fine artists or others who consign might have their work shipped out to galleries, in storage or elsewhere, and keeping track of inventory is more difficult. Records can be kept in your computer, or you may use a resource such as Artwork Archive to track your work, manage your production and even analyze sales reports.
Delegate. Rather than trying to do everything yourself, it makes good financial sense to hand over some of the work to others. You might want to consider hiring a webmaster to build your website, a bookkeeper or accountant to take care of finances or tax returns, a graphic artist to design your logo, and so on. As you launch and grow your business, the more projects you put on your plate, the slower everything will go. Do those things that suit your own skill set, and you will likely find that you end up saving money in the long run by turning over other tasks to experts who can do an efficient job for you.
Recycle and Reuse. Using scraps and leftovers helps conserve studio costs as well. What do you have in your studio that is currently consider “waste” that you might recycle and put into a new product?
Outsource Production. Do you need to have a service performed or product made for you? You can outsource the work to save time and effort in your own studio, or to expand the kinds of products that you offer. Keep in mind that service providers who assist you with production must also be profitable in their own businesses. Build those costs into your own final prices.