Ask a Gallery Owner | Follow up with a Client Who Has Failed to Make Payments
remind clients about payments

I received the following email from an artist who was in the awkward situation of having sold a piece to a collector and agreeing to a payment plan, only to have the client fail to follow through on the plan. In this delicate situation, tact is going to be the key, but at the same time you don’t want to beat around the bush. Read the artist’s experience along with my suggested approach to resolving the situation below.

Good Morning Jason,

Thanks again for another excellent presentation. I like your systematic approach to things. Small bites. Persistence.

If I were twenty years younger, I would go back into the business. I’m not too old, I’m too focused in my own art career to have the time to devote to the promotion of others in a gallery setting (and, I hated the cash flow!).

When I signed on for this webinar, I didn’t look closely at the description (from past experience, I knew it would be good info). I thought you were going to talk about follow-up after the successful sale, massaging the clients for future patronage. I was so intent on listening that I didn’t think to ask the question until the time was up.

My other conundrum is embarrassing and probably not unique. During our studio tour last October, a friend and regional art patron was interested in two pieces. Eager to make the sale, I offered to deliver them for approval. He couldn’t make up his mind. After a few days he told me he’d like both, but the cost… I said, sure, make payments, and gave him a discount for the pair. (What a dope, but artists are needy.) Total cost, only $400. He made me the initial $100 payment.

That’s all I have received to date, even though I have sent professional statements and we see each other at regional arts events. He still has the paintings hanging in his town house.

I’m not really expecting you to give me answers for either of these circumstances, just thoughts for future presentations.

Thanks again, Jason. I really enjoy our professional friendship. Wish I lived closer to Scottsdale.  We’d come to your openings.

Best regards,

D. Smith


My response:

The situation is a bit uncomfortable and I would play off of the awkwardness. Send the client a note along these lines:

Dear __________

This is a bit awkward, but as you’ll remember, last October you purchased two pieces from me after our open studio tour, ______ and _________. At the time we agreed to a price of $400 and you made a deposit of $100. I had expected to receive the balance over the following months, but as of yet haven’t received any additional payments. I am sure it is just an oversight or mix-up and would like to make arrangements for the remaining balance.

Please call me at your convenience, or, if you wish, you may simply send the payment to me at the address below.

Thanks so much! Your continued patronage means the world to me.

D. Smith

If the note doesn’t work, give him a call and say the exact same thing. I am sure he isn’t trying to take advantage of the situation and that there truly was simply mix-up or he forgot. I suggest you send a note right away. The longer it goes on, the more awkward it becomes.

Let me know the result!


Have You Ever Been in This Situation?

Have you ever had a client not follow through with a payment plan? How did you handle the situation? Do you have any advice for artists facing this issue? Leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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