Advice about what to do if a client ghosts you
It happens to most pros. You’ve exchanged a few emails with an inquiring couple and even had a consultation with them, but, all of the sudden, you stop hearing back from them. Is it annoying? Yes. Does it frustrate you? Probably. Is it something you have to spend tons of time trying to fix? We don’t think so. That being said, there is a scenario where that radio silence does warrant much more of your time and attention—when you get ghosted by couples who have actually become your clients.
Today, we’re going to talk about the less common (but frustrating) scenario where the ghosting happens after a couple has signed a contract with you, secured a date on your calendar, and you’ve started providing services. Read on for advice to help you work through it from WeddingPro Educators, Leah Weinberg and Kunbi Odubogun.
This post is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. We recommend that you consult with your legal counsel regarding your specific circumstances.
Why do people ghost?
Before we dive into what you should do if you find yourself being ghosted by a client, we wanted to talk through why it might happen in the first place. Because most people don’t wake up one day and just decide to back out of a contract; rather, there is likely something else going on. So, before you jump to judgment, think about whether your couple is:
- Dealing with anxiety or regret about an important decision they’ve made
- Trying to avoid a situation they think will involve conflict
- Having a hard time saying no or admitting they made a mistake
- Not actually able to commit yet and are not ready to move forward
After you’ve thought about why this couple might be ghosting you, the next step is to brainstorm ways you might be able to provide reassurance or a way out. For example, if a couple has stopped replying to you because they have found themselves in some sort of financial hardship, perhaps an offer to restructure payments is what they need to re-engage.
“While it’s obviously super frustrating to officially book a client and then have them go radio silent, try not to let it upset you. As you follow up with them, make sure you keep the tone polite and positive rather than negative or even threatening. Remember, you have no idea what’s happening on their end. One of my couples went radio silent on me for several weeks and it turned out the bride had been diagnosed with a severe illness.
I also encourage vendors to try to prevent things like this from happening on the front end. As part of your onboarding process or any onboarding materials you send them, let them know that having an open line of communication is one of the foundations of your business so that they know upfront how alarming it can be for you when you don’t hear from them for a good bit of time.” – Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events
Pro-tip: Want to reduce the number of leads you have going quiet? Here are tips to help you avoid getting ghosted during the inquiry process.
Communication (and contracts) are key
If and when you do find yourself in this situation, communication is key. You’ll want to be proactive about reaching out to the couple in an effort to get a response, but you also want to create a “paper trail.” Start by reaching out via email to touch base, follow up with a phone call the next day, and consider a third email that includes information about what they are responsible for “per your contract.”
“In order to address the situation where a couple ghosts you after signing your contract, you actually need to take action on the front end, before you ever find yourself in that situation. Your contract should have a clause that addresses communication and states that the client must promptly respond to all communication or requests for information. You can even go so far as to make it an event of default if the client fails to respond to you within ‘x’ number of days. Going this route prevents you from having a client go radio silent and you having no ability to do anything about it.” – Kunbi Odubogun
Pro-tip: Do you have must-have clauses in your contract? If not, here’s your sign that you need to add them ASAP!
If the couple ghosting you has paid a retainer
This is where it gets tricky. Because, if a couple has yet to pay you anything, it is theoretically easier to “walk away” (though we understand rebooking a date can be difficult depending on how much time has passed). On the other hand, money could have been exchanged. If so, here are two likely scenarios:
- Your contract includes a non-refundable deposit; in which case, it would be best practice to try and get in touch via multiple mediums and attempt to get them to respond
- Your deposit is refundable; in which case, it would be best to refund the couple and have a clean break
Regardless of what you may be working through, there are two important things to consider. The first is adding a clause to your contract about “client responsibility.” This can include things regarding communication (as Kunbi advised), but it can also include things about what the client needs to do (and when) in order for you to render your service. The second thing to consider is adding a clause that limits or restricts a client’s ability to resurface after ghosting and ask you to do the work. This becomes especially important if they have paid a retainer.
Make a decision about how to proceed
This brings us to the very serious end of a very serious conversation—deciding whether or not to take legal action. This is an incredibly personal decision to make and can be influenced by a number of factors, but if you are looking for advice, here are a few things to consider if you are thinking about legal next steps:
- What is the financial loss on your end?
- What is the maximum allowed in small claims court in your state?
- How much will it cost to take legal action?
- Do you have a lawyer to guide you through the process if needed?
In the end, it may not be worth pursuing—and that is okay! And we hope you aren’t finding yourself in this situation very often (hardly ever, really). Want to make sure you’re legally set? Catch the replay of Kunbi’s webinar.
Photo Credit: Monster Ztudio // Shutterstock.com