Confessions of a Paint and Sip Business Owner
I never thought I would write a post about this. I guess because I thought I'd always own the business I had. But like everything in life we must change and grow. I should preface this by saying this isn't a negative post. It's an insightful one. It's meant to help those that are in the paint and sip business now or that are thinking of starting one. So let's just jump in shall we? First of all let's change that description from "paint and sip" because as I sit here now that industry has changed to "create and sip". Maybe no one is saying it out loud but everyone is thinking it in the back in their mind (more about that change soon). I owned a paint and sip for close to eight years. When I started it was 2011 and not many folks had heard of one let alone been to one in San Angelo. It was an interesting endeavor that became wildly successful. However what I learned about that industry came hard and fast. When I started I had zero knowledge about art, what I learned I learned by applying what the industry was doing and by learning from our customers. You guys know I like listing stuff so here we go.
1. Paint and Sip is about entertaining not creating
I didn't figure this out until much later but I learned that people were just interested in having a good time. Sure some were actually interested in learning how to paint. But as the owner of that business you need to define what you want to be and why. If you want to entertain then be that and about that. If you want to teach then do that. But you can't really be both because it's confusing to the customer. If you claim to teach and entertain then you are going to have serious learners come to events where others are trying to let their hair down and just have a good time. They don't mix well. So from the beginning pick what you want to be and focus on that.
2. It's not Paint and Sip anymore
It's create and sip now. Did I just coin that? Lol maybe. What I learned from listening to my customers and talking to my supplier was that canvases were becoming less and less used in these events. Why? Because you can only paint so many paintings before you run out of wall space and people to gift them to. That hit my business around the 5th year when the market started becoming saturated. A franchise entered around that time and it really got out of hand. I think people got a little bored to a degree and wanted something fresh and new. That's why it's important to explore other forms of creativity to apply this "sip" model to. For a time we started teaching sushi making classes. That's right you heard me. And boy did they go. That class still gets talked about to this day.
3. Kids classes are essential
Why would you not teach kids? I admit I wasn't crazy about teaching kids classes. I love kids, I got two lol. But teaching kids and spending time with them are very different. It's like herding cats sometimes. Having said that the kids art teaching market is largely untapped in most areas especially in San Angelo. Offering a wide range of kids creative classes can increase your revenue be at least 40%! But that also means that if you aren't interested in teaching them, hire someone that is! The demand is there trust me.
4. Don't take your focus off the customer
It's easy to assume your growth will depend on new customers, and therefore all your marketing efforts should be aimed at them. WRONG! In this business it's all about retention. How can you increase repeat business? By building more value. Start a loyalty program and follow through with it. Be thoughtful and memorable with your customers it goes a long way when word of mouth begins to kick in. If you dare take your eye off the ball I guarantee your sales will suffer.
5. Be consistent
I feel like this needs to be said over and over. The thing that will kill any event driven business the quickest is lack of consistency. That means how and when you post your calendar of events, social media, and how you treat your customers and hold your class. It all has to match your brand message and scream to your audience that you're crushing it!
These are just a few lessons I learned from being in business. I learned so much more but to be honest some of that is better left to another post. I hope this has been to some help and value for those interested in getting into this business. If you ever have any questions please contact me! I'm happy to help!