“Business Excellence” … It Pays Back: 3 Tips from m97 Art Gallery in Shanghai, China

What is your key to success? This is a question I always raised when I interview entrepreneurs, and m97 Gallery in Shanghai was not an exception. They never mentioned “excellence”, but it was the word that kept coming to my mind while reading my notes from the interview.

I’m not going to quote here any literature about business excellence, a lot has been written in the last 30 years since Tom Peters started applying this concept in the business world. But I will translate m97 Gallery’s experience into 3 tips that, to me, mean “business excellence” no matter if you find it written like this in a book or not.
(You can also read the article about how they started business in China here)

1. Ensure quality in every detail you can see.
“From day one, we were clear that ensuring quality in every single detail was essential. Sometimes you visit galleries and see the artwork information displayed in a sticker on the wall or artworks poorly mounted or displayed. We knew ours could not look like that and we made a point of looking after every small detail.”

2. … and [ensure quality] in those details that nobody can see, but will “come back to haunt you” if you neglect them.
“We initially had problems finding acid-free materials for printing and mounting artworks. This is a fundamental issue, as photography will deteriorate if not taken care properly… All materials you use must be acid-free.
Collectors had told us this was a big problem in this market…
As we were not able to find what we required here we started importing directly from Europe. We believe the problem at that time was that nobody was demanding this type of material [acid-free]…and as a matter of fact, our suppliers are sourcing them for us now“

3. Always keep in mind what is important to your stakeholders.
“We have built a quality reputation, quality that you can feel even at first sight. Artists and collectors acknowledge that”
“In the world of art galleries and dealers, trust is a key component of the relationship. If you care about the artists, you are devoted to promoting them, you are not just there for the money, they recognize your devotion and that drives good artists to you….”

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