Welcome back to Leader Talk! In episode 24, we had the pleasure of chatting with Todd Towers, CEO and Founder of Farmboy Fine Arts, an international art advisory with a hand in hospitality, health & wellness and fine art leasing.
With his extensive experience, Todd’s expertise ranges from art acquisition and procurement, to business and creative development. He finds drive and motivation through collaboration, teamwork and his passion for his line of work, making him a brilliant leader and an excellent art enthusiast.
In this chat, we spoke about why business owners should prioritise the experience of their customers and how we can all better position our products and services.
Authored by Todd Towers, CEO and founder of Farmboy Fine Arts.
The customer experience is paramount within a successful business model. This experience encompasses all aspects of the business – from the products you create to the environment consumers navigate. By creating a customer-centric business strategy you can retain more customers, forging loyalty and trust for the long-term.
The customer experience is focalised on the connection and feelings that are elicited throughout the customer lifecycle model. Focusing on the intangible rather than the tangible products being produced may feel foreign to business leaders. Small to medium-sized business owners can sometimes be caught up within the creation of the perfect product. Yet, the emotions consumers attach to your business are also critical in ensuring they continue purchasing from you and recommending your products and services to others.
As the CEO and Founder of Farmboy Fine Arts, our mission is to change lives through art. We have been focused on this goal for over 20 years. From the healthcare industry to hospitality, we curate art collections that reflect the businesses they inhabit. We focus on evoking lasting impressions and connections between consumers and the places they visit. While we are experts in art curation and management, we are also experts in creating a memorable and satisfying customer experience. From the moment a person enters a space to when they leave, we have seen the tangible and intangible effects art has on those around it.
How art can impact your business practices
While the feelings art evokes may be intangible, they translate into tangible benefits for both consumers and businesses. Focusing on your customer service and ensuring that those who interact with your business are satisfied can help build authentic customer relationships, improve revenue, and increase customer retention and acquisition. Ensuring the space in which you operate is memorable and satisfying is also of great importance.
Art can take many forms. At Farmboy Fine Arts, we focus on visual art. However, art can be the written word, music, cinematography, photography and the list goes on. When it comes to art, it should make people feel better within a space and business setting.
Consider when you enter a space, maybe a hospital or a hotel. Think about what individuals may be feeling when they first enter and then consider how you would like them to feel after they spend a bit of time inside the space. In hospital settings, we focus on not just the patients’ emotions but also the staff. Creating places for pause aids staff members in recharging, enabling them to perform their jobs better. In terms of patients, art can inspire calmness, hope, and joy. In a review performed by the American Public Health Association, art was seen to promote healing in patients. In a hotel setting, you want art to resonate with the clientele – you want them to spend time in that space. Not only can this help the business monetarily, but it also helps build a connection between clients and the space, creating an experience that is tailored and unique to your business.
When it comes to creating an experience that is enjoyable and memorable for a customer, art can have immense impacts. To curate art within a space successfully, it’s all about storytelling. You need to focus on connecting people to the space. Collaborating with local artists and creatives can help to build out your collection while ensuring you remain true to the community surrounding your business. You want to be able to reflect your business through an art lens. Ask yourself: Who are you? Who do you represent? What is your culture? Who are your people? By asking yourself these questions, you can truly get to the core of your business and artistic vision.
When we think about art curation for businesses you need to think beyond art. Consider how art can connect your customers to the brand, how it can be the catalyst to creating fond or exciting memories. Whether it’s physical art, digital art, an installation or sculptures – think of how the art is enhancing your brand.
Art is a deeply human experience. If you speak another language, come from a different culture or have a different faith system, art can connect everyone together. We can use art to communicate through the emotions it evokes.
Consider this: what is the experience you want your clients to have through art?
Balancing passion with business
As the CEO and Founder of an art advisory business, I have had to learn how to balance my passion for art with running a company. I truly believe you need to be passionate about your business and what it creates. However, passion must be balanced with a strong business acumen and strategy. Passion can help create a great customer experience, yet a successful business strategy is what will bring it to life.
When I first began Farmboy Fine Arts, I had no clear or finite plan about how I was going to make money from it. But I strongly believe if you have a will, you will find a way. When looking at building a business out of a passion you need to consider the economic model that will build you strong and sustainable revenue. For us, good revenue is advisory services and selling art. Consider how you can sell your passion to others. We began with a simple system, like many small to medium-sized businesses, before finding the opportunities to scale the business. We began modelling our revenue systems. This data empowered us to understand how our business operates and the longevity of it, enabling us to find ways in which to expand and strengthen our overall strategy.
To balance my passion with my business, I have focused on building a values-aligned organisation. Everything we do, we do through the lens that art can change lives. We never do anything outside of this lens – this is our guiding principle, meaning if opportunities present themselves that don’t meet our vision, we simply don’t do them. This has helped us make critical decisions at every stage of the business process. Our values-aligned business model has only been strengthened through our recruitment process.
At Farmboy Fine Arts, we call our team members ‘farmhands’. We select our farmhands by their passion and interest in what our business does – not if they are art collectors or even art lovers. They simply need an affinity for art and the understanding that the feelings art evokes are important. We choose our farmhands and our clients through a values lens. Those who appreciate art are people we want working for us and who we want to work with.
We deliberately select passion-led people to work for us. We drive our business and customer experience strategy through consensus, with all our farmhands contributing to our mission. By selecting farmhands and clients through a values lens, this directly improves the customer experience. It ensures engagement – everyone has an equal and satisfying experience. This is because they attach themselves to the mission contributing to the value of changing lives.
When the pandemic first hit, it directly impacted us as all hospitality ceased. As a business, we learnt the value in pivoting. We took this as an opportunity to strengthen and reinvest in our talent pool. Unlike many other businesses, we looked to onboard more people who could help support clients. We understood that while the pandemic was negatively impacting us now, it wouldn’t forever. This is why we invested in the team and people around us. By improving our business as a whole during a period of quiet we could strengthen our services and farmhands’ talents.
Reinvesting in your team is a great way of ensuring the customer experience consistently exceeds expectations. Your team are the first point of contact for clients. They need to represent and reflect your business’s values. They also need to have direct buy-in with your business’s vision and mission. Without their commitment to your business’s purpose, they can negatively impact your business and impede your success. Sometimes, your passion isn’t enough to maintain a strong business strategy or good customer service. Passion must come from everyone around you.
Passion is the strongest component of a successful business. It enables great customer service and ensures clients always have a connected and satisfying experience.
At Farmboy Fine Arts, we understand how to create any kind of experience for any kind of company. Art elicits emotional connections between people and spaces. Art is the greatest communicator. While art isn’t the only aspect that impacts how individuals feel within a space, it is one you can control and deliberately curate. The same way you can control your recruitment process and ensure the people who work with you are just as passionate about your business.
Always consider who your customers are, what they want and how you want them to feel when navigating your business’s space. From feelings of calmness to joy, you can decide the emotional connection customers have with your business.
I’ll leave you with some final few questions that will enable you to characterise and curate an artistic experience that creates emotional connections between customers and your business. Ask yourself: What does your business represent? Who is your business for? And most importantly, how do you want people to feel?