Let’s take a look at how professionalism within our own businesses, affects all airbrush artists in the event industry.
Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie once said,“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents”.
In my last post, I posed the question, “are we artists or entertainers” where I discussed the importance of finding a balance between being an artist, an entertainer and a business entrepreneur. We could be the best airbrush artist in the world and still have a failing business unless we motivate ourselves to meet certain service levels.
I don’t want to write a negative post about our industry but I think it’s important to start a discussion among airbrush event artists about improvements we can make to enhance our professionalism and reputation.
When one of us wins, we all reap the benefits
It may seem counter-intuitive for airbrush artists who are in direct competition with each other, to work together. But as JFK often said in an aphorism he borrowed from the New England Council Chamber of Commerce, “a rising tide lifts all boats”.
A good reputation for professional service within our industry will increase the potential client base, meaning more business for all of us. A bad reputation will, of course, have the opposite effect and decrease our potential client base.
Don't let this be your company
Imagine the following conversation between two baseball moms chatting on the bleachers during practice:
Mom A: “It’s Oliver’s birthday in June, have you got the number for the airbrush guys you used for Jack’s birthday last year?”
Mom B: “Don’t even think about it, just don’t go there.”
Mom A: “Oh! Oliver loved his baseball cap and said it was great fun to watch them. What happened?”
Mom B: “Three smelly guys, I’m talking really bad personal hygiene, turned up an hour late in clothes they must have slept in the night before. They dumped out their cardboard boxes full of dirty equipment on my dining table, spilling paint all over my vintage tablecloth.”
“Of course, they had no liability insurance or did they respond to my complaints, they just disappeared. I’ll admit they were really good with the kids and I’m glad the kids didn’t notice but I wouldn’t let them in my home again. It cost more to repair my tablecloth and refinish the table than it did to hire them for the party.”
Mom A: “Wow! Thanks for the heads up. I will give them a miss and find a different company.”
Mom B: “Rachel tried a different company for Ben’s bar mitzvah last month. She said the guys were very good artists but one of them was wearing a T-shirt with a really obscene tattoo showing on his arm. She thought the rabbi was going to faint. The parents had to ask him to cover it up in front of the kids.”
“They also didn’t try to interact with the kids, they just chatted to each other. My neighbor used a local guy who does party photography on green screen, she said he was innovative and the kids loved it, do you want his number?”
Negative reviews affect all airbrush artists in the event industry
That’s all it takes and it doesn’t need to be about your particular business, just about the industry in general. It also doesn’t need to be moms chatting, the same conversation can take place in a management meeting discussing an upcoming corporate event.
If we do badly, we don’t just bring our own business down but the industry as a whole. We can and do affect each other’s business and potential client base. The flip side is that we also affect industry reputation and therefore each other’s business when we have a successful professional event, leaving happy clients.
However, the statistics for how many good reviews it takes to cancel out a bad review ranges from 25 to 50. That is a lot of time, effort and money wasted by just one bad review.
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, an unhappy customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience, more if their experience was particularly bad. A study by American Express found 42% of consumers are influenced by recommendations of family and friends.
It gets worse, the Quality Management Institute says, for every customer that complains, 26 more don’t bother complaining…to the company. Instead, they express their dissatisfaction with our business to their friends, like the ladies above.
We can think we are doing well but just one minor complaint from a customer that didn’t complain to us but their family and friends really affect our industry as a whole.
Professionalism solves problems
When something goes wrong and a client has a bad experience, it doesn’t have to damage your company or the industry’s reputation IF the situation is dealt with quickly and professionally.
Maybe the client is in the wrong. Maybe they’ve complained that you’ve provided baseball caps instead of water bottles. But if you’ve provided a professional service you can show them the order form stating they had indeed ordered the caps.
This would instantly prevent the negative word of mouth and/or online reviews of your business. But this only happens if you have created a professional line of communication with your client and actively seek feedback after an event.
I have exaggerated the moms’ conversation above to try to include numerous examples. I trust nobody in our industry would perform that badly but hopefully, it’s given us all food for thought.
In my next post, we’ll move on to the positives and how we can improve our own business professionalism and improve the reputation of our industry.
It would be great to hear from other airbrush artists in the comments. What have you seen done badly in our industry and where do you feel we have room for improvement?