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What to Do When a Client Ghosts You

What to do when a client ghosts you

Are you wondering how many times is “acceptable” to follow up after a proposal goes unsigned? Are you replaying your discovery call in your head, wondering why they didn’t agree to sign on the dotted line right then and there??

Or did you get a new client who signed on the dotted line and then… completely bailed? 

First off, admit to yourself that being ghosted  sucks.  Especially after you’ve worked so hard to make a connection or establish a new client relationship. It’s hard not to take ghosting personally, and we don’t blame you if you rage, cry, or consider shutting down your entire business for a minute. 

After you cool down, get your head back in the game, because there are steps you can take when a client ghosts you. We’ve got ‘em outlined for you below.

Stay in communication

Our first tip we’ll share with you? Keep trying to communicate with your ghosty friend. You never know; they might’ve ghosted you because of a personal emergency and honestly weren’t able to reply to you sooner.

Staying in communication with your client is also a smart idea because then your attempts at contacting them are on the record. Think of them as a digital paper trail. If you need to take them to small claims court so you can get paid — more on that later — your emails, voice messages, DMs, and calls can serve as evidence. 

Also, try different modes of communication! Instead of just sticking to email, ask for a phone call instead. Send them a quick text and request a chat. Sometimes getting a meeting on the calendar is the best way to get your client to respond. 

And then you can review what’s working, what’s not, and how you’d like to move forward with your partnership, which may involve  negotiating a new contract  with them. 

Remind the client of your agreement

Somewhere in all of your “just checking in” emails and “where are you” emails and “JUST ANSWER ME” emails, we recommend throwing a reminder of the terms of your agreement in there.

Remember, your contract (you did sign a contract, right?) should have the following details to  protect your business  in situations like these:

  • The client’s contract information
  • Payment expectations
  • An outline of the communication process
  • Permission to send them to collections if they don’t pay you
  • Other details  in the terms and conditions  like confidentiality, the effective date of your agreement, and how to cancel the contract

As you can see, these terms come in handy when you need to enforce some rules with your clients. That’s why it’s so important to use contracts in the first place,  even if  you don’t think you’ll ever need to deal with a client who’s ghosting you. If you don’t have a contract, you don’t have much legal weight to throw around…and there may not be much you can do.

Consider why they ghosted you

“Is it me? Am  I  the drama??” No, honey. We’re not saying you  personally  are to blame. Not at all. But maybe something happened that led to them ghosting you.

Like, maybe you raised your pricing or  changed your services  recently, and your client realized that you’re now out of their budget. Or maybe they’re not happy with the work you’ve produced, even after rounds and rounds of edits, and they’re not sure how to move forward.

If you discover their reason for bailing does have to do with you and it can’t be fixed, let it go, and try not to take it personally. Keep things professional. This is about your business and your work, and it’s the same for your client.

Keep your legal options in mind

You’ve tried sending all the emails and texts. You’ve called and left voicemails. You’ve been polite, firm, and professional. But nothing so far has brought back your client from ghost territory. What do you do now?

If you’ve been ghosted on your payment and you’ve tried everything to get paid already, you have options. You might send a demand letter, which is kinda like a debt collection letter, asking one more time for the pay you’re owed. If your client doesn’t answer, you may take them to small claims court, depending on how much you’re owed.

Tip: We can’t give you proper legal advice here, so you may want to talk to an attorney about filing a lawsuit in small claims court.

What if they don’t owe you payment and you just want to cut ties, officially? Make sure you’re following the cancellation policy in your contract, then prepare to fire your client (the right way,  of course). 

Check your contracts to protect yourself next time

We  hope  this doesn’t happen again, but you never know, right? After all, it’s not like you knew this particular client would ghost you! 

To protect yourself in case another ghost comes your way, look over your current contracts and  revise them,  if necessary, to outline what happens if the client:

  • Doesn’t pay you
  • Doesn’t deliver their end of the project on time
  • Doesn’t communicate so you can’t complete your end of the project

Want more tips on navigating sticky situations with clients? We have lots of resources on  working with clients  on the blog. And if you’re looking for a solid contract that’ll start each new client relationship on the right foot, take a look through  our shop of contract templates!

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