So you’ve delivered on your side of the bargain, the customer’s happy with the goods or services received, and then the invoice deadline day comes and goes without any sign of the funds in your account.
What do you do if your customer stops answering their phone or replying to emails – or worse, if you discover the only method of communication you have for them has been cut off completely?
The important thing is not to panic, as there are logical steps to take to try and get back in touch with the client – however bleak the situation seems, there is always the chance it is a simple misunderstanding.
1. Reaching out
If you can re-establish contact, then you can pursue your unpaid invoices in the normal way, so reach out to your customer even if you’re not sure where they are.
Look online for alternative contact details, perhaps by checking directory listings for their company name or website URL, and try calling any number that might reach anyone at their company.
Remember, you might not need to find the exact person you dealt with – all you need is the finance department to be able to resubmit your invoice for payment.
2. Get social
Check the social networks to see if there are any active profiles in your client’s name, as this might give you some clues as to their location.
Often you will discover that they’ve gone on holiday for a week without their mobile phone, so if you find a timeline full of beach snaps, it’s worth waiting a few days then trying to call or email them again.
3. Be important
Make yourself a priority, so if they ARE receiving your emails, you don’t just get ignored. It sounds petty, but setting your email to high importance – with the little red exclamation mark – really can work.
If your email client supports it, set your email to request a read receipt too, and if this comes back to you, you know your messages are getting through.
Be polite and professional, but firm – make clear that you are owed money that is now overdue, and will take the necessary legal action to recover it.
4. Get help
At CPA we are able to offer tracing services for clients who have gone off the radar, and we have a success rate of around 85%.
There are no guarantees – sometimes people really do just vanish completely – but if your non-paying customer is out there, we know the best ways to track them down and recover your money.
5. Don’t give up
Finally, it can be tempting even from the very beginning of the process to simply give up and assume you’ll never find your runaway client.
These people owe you money that is rightfully yours, and they CAN be found – often quite easily and quickly – and with the legal right to charge the debtor for reasonable recovery fees, there’s no reason for you to end up out of pocket either.
Keep the faith and call on CPA if you need help finding your debtor, and together we can make sure those funds end up in your bank account where they belong.