The Extra Mile

[Image: One Heart by Phyllis Mantik]

We recently had a couple come into the gallery look-ing for a sculpture to give as a gift to their son and daughter-in-law for their 25th wedding anniversary. The parents had a very specific subject in mind – they were looking for two figures embracing, and they were look-ing for a less contemporary, more traditional style. My gallery director, Elaine, showed them around the gallery and presented a couple of options, but it soon became clear we didn’t have what they were looking for. Rather than simply sending them on their way, Elaine promised the customers that she would find the perfect piece for them and took down their contact information.

She started contacting our artists to see if they had anything that might work, and I sent out an email to art-ists on our mailing list with a description of what the clients were seeking.

Within twelve hours our inboxes were overflowing with options. The email we sent out was passed on from artist to artist and we soon found that the problem wasn’t that we didn’t have enough options for the client, rather, we had too many great ones.

Elaine began sifting through the images and forward-ing selections to the clients. We decided to send them in small groups, rather than overwhelming the clients with all of the options.

Within the first five or six images the couple saw a piece they liked. Elaine contacted the artist, Phyllis Mantik, who lives in Oklahoma and asked her to send the piece out to us so the clients could see it in person.

Once the piece arrived we called the clients in to look at it. They loved the sculpture but felt the wood base was inadequate. They asked us to find a replacement base, easy enough to accomplish, except that their son’s anniversary was now imminent. We basically had a three day window in which to have the base made and delivered to the gallery.

After several hours of calling around we found a base maker who did bases for one of our other sculptors who thought he could create the base in time and was close enough that he could ship it and have it arrive within our three day window.

Our deadline was a Wednesday afternoon. The base arrived around 2:30 and I spent the next hour mounting the base and name plate.
The clients made it into the gallery just before closing time and were thrilled with the result. They completed the purchase and provided us with their son’s shipping address.

As we were sitting with them finishing the paperwork the husband said, “You know, when we started looking for a piece we visited half-a-dozen galleries and told them what we were looking for. None of them had it and they all tried to send us on a wild goose chase. When we told Elaine, she said she didn’t have it, but would find it – we truly appreciate your efforts.”

Kudos to Elaine. Not only did we make the sale, but Elaine built an incredible relationship with the custom-ers. I wouldn’t be at all surprised is she gets a holiday card at the end of the year, and certainly, the next time the customers are looking for art, they will begin the search at our gallery.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of Dad was an Artist | A Survivor's Story and best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

16 Comments

  1. Great job Elaine and you to Jason for being the kind of people who go the extra mile. I appreciate all the assistance you have given me in the past year. Keep on creating a powerful future. Chris

  2. Thanks Jason for sharing your success stories. Insights like this help artists like myself understand the importance to go the extra mile with a customer or gallery.
    I learn more and more each time I visit your blog/website. Thanks again!
    Brian

  3. I once did an oil painting on masonite that a friend saw and liked, and though it was expensive, he decided he had to have it. About 25 years later he informed me that the painting was chipping off. I had undercoated it with a new paint material sold by one of our leading retail stores. With time the undercoat deteriorated and there was no way to save the work. While I had it, I took a careful color slide, put it in my projector and made an exact tracing of the original. The new masonite was coated with extra special gesso and I spent the next 3 months re-painting, stroke for stroke, color for color, texture for texture, re making the original. I saw him that following summer and informed him the painting was ready. He asked how much for the restoration. When I informed him it was a new painting and put the two side by side, he could hardly belieave it. No charge, I said, my work is guarenteed. He never forgot it! It seems that “the extra mile” is often more important than the object for which it was dedicated. I still have the worthless original as a valuable reminder of that fact.

  4. Fantastic example of great customer service! If only ever gallery went to such lengths to help their clients. Good work Elaine!

  5. Great example of going the extra mile! In addition to that message, another issue here is how helpful it was to have the internet. Electronic images and emails allowed for the speedy networking that led to this sale. Instead of everyone being unaware and unhappy, the right artist was connected with the right gallery and the right client, and everyone got what they wanted.

  6. That is awesome Elaine! In a world where customer service seems to be so scarce, you are a shining example to all of us. Going the extra mile like this should endear those customers to you for life. It certainly makes you stand out from the others that weren’t willing to make any extra effort.

  7. What service your gallery offers and extends to your customers. As in any business, when the service given is well done and sometimes goes beyond the ordinary, both the customer and the business benefit. The word of mouth advertising for your gallery is priceless!

  8. That’s such an awesome story! Thank you so much Jason for these emails. They are very inspiring and informative. Since I took your workshop in Minneapolis, I’ve been enfused with new hope in continuing to pursue a career as an artist. Your invitation to the workshop came just as doubt was creeping in and I didn’t know what direction to take. Now I’m working toward concrete goals and it’s been truly the jump start that I needed at this time. You have found a way to help both artists and art collectors! Wonderful work!

  9. A strong relationship usually is priceless. Way to go Elaine, Xanadu is smart and lucky to have you on their team. Thank you for sharing the whole story.

  10. Great story and it just shows how important it is to go the extra mile. Great job Elaine!Jason, it is wonderful to have great people working for you. Thanks for sharing this story. Thanks for your emails, they are very inspiring to me.

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