In this episode, I dive into what to do when a client ghosts you! I share the mindset shift that will save you from the mental toll and some sales skills to help you weather it.

Through the episode, I share a few of my own frustrating experiences and how I handled them to protect my mental sanity and why letting things go may be the best decision you could make to halt the mental drain.

Truthfully one of the most difficult parts of running a business is handling people – from employees to clients and everything in between. This applies to all entrepreneurs, so next time you’re in that position, come back to this episode! 


This episode is sponsored by Devix Kitchens

Read the Full Transcript ⬇️

Welcome to another shorty episode of Resilient By Design. I’m your host, Rebecca Hay, and I’m going to talk today about what to do When a client ghosts you, you know what I’m talking about when you hit send on a proposal and you don’t hear a word when you leave a voicemail, they don’t call you back. When someone inquires about your services you send them your about us document.

[00:01:37] And you don’t hear from them when you’ve done a presentation and you’re waiting to hear from revisions and the weeks pass on and on with no sign of life. This is what I’m talking about. When clients ghost you, you guys know what ghosting is. It’s when that boy that you like is not texting you back. Okay.

[00:01:55] That hasn’t happened to me in a long time, but you know what I mean? So. [00:02:00] But first of all, I think we need to talk about the reasons. So there are lots of reasons why a client potentially could ghost you. And I think I just want to get ahead of this because I think this is two things. It’s one part mindset and it’s one part sales skills.

[00:02:18] And I’m going to kind of walk you guys through why I think that. Let’s start with the mindset piece because I think oftentimes we make assumptions about what a client is thinking. And I know that because that’s been me. I have been the insecure designer who is assuming that the client has not emailed me back because it’s too expensive.

[00:02:41] Or. They didn’t think I was looking actually as professional as they thought I would at the consultation, or they’ve probably hired somebody else or fill in the blank. Oftentimes it’s our own choice. The rubbish that’s inside our heads, that is negative self-talk, that is making us [00:03:00] believe and paint a picture and create a story for our client without actually having any information.

[00:03:08] Sure, sometimes we might have an inkling, but more often than not, we actually know nothing. They’ve ghosted us. Ghosting means they just went poof. And they disappeared into the ether. And so I think it’s just catching ourselves when we get into this situation where we get self-conscious or frustrated or upset or we just start to feel self-doubt, squash that.

[00:03:30] It’s not personal. It’s usually business. And quite honestly, more often than not, it has absolutely nothing to do with you. In fact, more often than not, it has everything to do with what is going on in the life of that client. Maybe they just lost their job. Their kid’s been sick with the flu. God forbid there’s been a death in the family.

[00:03:54] Maybe they’re on an extended vacation. Maybe this is just such a big decision that they want to make it with their partner and their [00:04:00] partner’s been traveling for work. Maybe they’re a little bit nervous and scared to tell you that the financing didn’t come in, that they thought they were going to have, and they need to reschedule their appointment with their financial advisor.

[00:04:12] These are all scenarios that have happened to me in my design business without me knowing. And every time I finally found out the reason, I breathed a sigh of relief. But also there are times when I never found the reason and I don’t know where those people are or what they’re doing or why the frick they did not have the decency to at least email me to say, thank you very much for your proposal, Rebecca.

[00:04:38] We’ve gone in another direction or we’ve decided to put a pin in it. Thank you for following up. Yes, we are doing well and the baby is good, but we’re not going to be proceeding with the design. Why are humans not humane sometimes? Do they not know that I’m sitting there stewing? I don’t know. They don’t even think about you.

[00:04:57] And the fact is, unfortunately, a lot of [00:05:00] people do not have the decency to send thank you cards anymore, too, to call you back, or to even just tell you in an email, politely, that they’ve decided to go in a different direction. That is going to happen. I can think off the top of my head of at least three people in the last year and a half who have not had the decency to let me know they weren’t going ahead with us.

[00:05:20] That’s life. And as soon as you can recognize, more often than not, it is not about you, it is about whatever is going on in their life. The better we are all going to be for it. So that was the mindset piece. We all need to work on that. I know I’m numero uno with that reminding myself that yes, I am good enough.

[00:05:37] Look at all the amazing work that I’ve done. Look at these amazing clients who do want to hire me. I need to stop projecting onto these ghosting clients. The second part. Of these are some sales skills. And I think oftentimes designers get ghosted because they’re not following a process, whether it’s onboarding or presenting or whatever that phase that they’re in with [00:06:00] the client where the client just doesn’t get back to them for weeks on end or if at all is because you’ve not outlined a very clear process of how.

[00:06:08] Or what it looks like to work with you now, that’s not going to prevent every client from ghosting, but I can tell you that it will make it a lot easier to avoid that situation. If you are super clear that, okay, let’s set a date, and a circle back call to review the proposal. How does next Tuesday at 10 a.m. work? Perfect. I’m going to put it on my calendar right now. My office is going to send you a calendar invite. I will see you there. I’ll send you the proposal. We’ll review it on Zoom. That’s immediately one sales tactic that you can use to prevent your clients from ghosting you between the consultation and reviewing the proposal.

[00:06:42] I no longer just hit send on a proposal. And send it to the ether via email. I know it sucks. It’s a lot more work. It’s a lot more effort. You have to actually like pick up the phone or schedule the Zoom and you have to see their face as you go through the numbers. And yeah, I [00:07:00] hate it. It’s one of the least favorite parts of my job, but guess what?

[00:07:04] It’s really effective and it’s an effective way to read your client to understand if you’re meeting them where they’re at. Are you too expensive? Are they happy with the contract terms and lock them in or get a no to your face so that you can move on? And so sometimes we need to remember that just sending things off is not the best approach to sales, but your clients could also ghost you with revisions, right?

[00:07:28] That’s another key milestone where I’ve seen that happen quite a bit that they just don’t get back to you. And you’re like, are we going into implementation? I mean, what’s happening here? Like, I thought we were going steady. Things were looking good because you haven’t usually for me, it’s because I haven’t set the parameters.

[00:07:47] I haven’t said, this is when I expect to hear from you. We require revisions this way by this time. And we’ve probably already shared that with them. In our discovery call at the [00:08:00] consultation at the proposal meeting when we review everything on Zoom once again at the presentation or leading into the presentation via email using a what to expect document If you haven’t set the expectations with that client, they are going to probably you give an inch they take a mile Well, it’s just it’s going to be Christmas Do you mind if we just keep this over the holidays because our family’s going to be visiting and you know That’s how these things happen.

[00:08:23] So those are the two reasons that I think ghosting happens or explains it. All right, designers. If you have been looking for a millwork company, a custom kitchen fabricator, then you have to check out Devix Kitchens. They will make your life easier without all that freaking drama. Damon, the man behind Epic’s Kitchens, has streamlined the entire process, hello, you know I love a good process, making your project a breeze from start to finish.

[00:08:55] Seriously though, you will wonder why you haven’t found them sooner. If you need to [00:09:00] reach out with questions or ideas, you can always give Damon a call or email him. Even send him a text message. He is that easy to work with. He personally supervises every single project. He is never going to leave you hanging.

[00:09:12] But what about the installation? Right? Because sounds great on paper, but then sometimes it can be frustrating. Not with DevEx Kitchens. They only hire skilled installers who not only get the job done but do so with the utmost politeness. And guess what? They are masters at leaving the job. Zero mess behind.

[00:09:31] Halla fricken looyah! Your clients are going to be wowed and you won’t even have to deal with any embarrassing situation. No drama here. They are as reliable as it comes. Devix Kitchens will ship anywhere in North America. Go check them out and give Damon a call. Now, the real meat and potatoes. Are you ready?

[00:09:55] Do do do do do drumroll please! What do you do? What do you do when the [00:10:00] client simply hasn’t heard from you yet? Responded. Well, if you’re this far along and you haven’t done any of the things that I just said, which have a process and set the expectations and, you know, have great strong sales skills and get out of your head.

[00:10:13] It’s not about you. It’s probably about them. If any of that hasn’t happened and you’ve gotten to a point, or maybe you did all of that and these people are just assholes and they’re ghosting you. There are really only so many things you can do, and it is going to depend on Part or what stage of your process in a project that you’re at, because how you react when you haven’t heard from them for revisions is very different than how you’re gonna react if they haven’t booked a discovery call right at the early stages of your process, if they haven’t hired you yet.

[00:10:43] There’s only so much leverage that you have. They haven’t given you money. They haven’t made a commitment. And so there’s only so much follow-up. We have a sequence, an email sequence, and I teach this inside the power of process. I teach my onboarding process, but we have a sequence of emails and I share the [00:11:00] scripts inside, um, power of process.

[00:11:02] But there’s a sequence of emails that we send to follow up with clients after a certain period of time. If we haven’t heard from them after sending them. It is about us documenting in those, we get creative. We often have ways to kind of get in touch with them without being like just following up again. But ultimately they might just never get back to you.

[00:11:19] So you need to have a drop dead point where you’re like, okay, this is the number of times I’m gonna follow up with them. And at that point, I’m not gonna follow up again. Maybe in six months, I’ll circle back and say, Hey, just checking to see if you’re still. You know, looking for a design firm or if you’re still planning your big reno or what have you, or, Hey, I saw this article, and made me think of you.

[00:11:38] I hope you’re like landscaping project is going well or what have you, but then you have to move on. You have to let it go. He’s just not that into you, but it’s a little bit different. If now they’re a paying client and you have a working relationship together and you can’t find them. They’ve ghosted you.

[00:11:58] likely this could happen [00:12:00] after you’ve presented something to them, especially when it comes to pricing, maybe they can’t make a decision. And that’s when there could be shit going on in their life. Right. I mean, at the early on, there might be shit going on, but like you don’t really have a lot of skin in the game.

[00:12:13] You got a lot of skin on the game this time because especially if you’re full service and you want to implement, you want to make sure you’re hearing from them. So you do need to set those parameters. I always recommend if you haven’t heard from them after that strict, certain amount of time, You follow up with them right away.

[00:12:27] Don’t let it go because you give an inch, someone will take a mile, right? I’ve just recently been through this with someone ghosting me at the tail end of a project, and I’ll share that in just a minute, but you want to make sure that you nip it in the bud. If you can. So you reach out to them, you either pick up the phone or you send them an email or you try to schedule a Zoom call.

[00:12:47] Hey, I’d love to talk about revisions and make it feel less formal. I haven’t heard from you. Like, I hope you’ve had enough time to look through this, yada, yada, and then give them a drop dead date. Give them a drop dead date or [00:13:00] a date and a time when you’re going to meet them on Zoom and then tell them after this date and time, we are going to assume if we haven’t heard from you, and this is what I’ve done in the past, it’s really helpful.

[00:13:11] If we haven’t heard from you, we are going to assume that the design is approved and we’re going to move on into the implementation phase and then, or if you don’t have an implementation phase, you could say, you know, if we haven’t heard from you, we’re going to assume that means that you’re happy with the design and you approve the design and therefore we will close the process.

[00:13:29] I’m going to talk about the project. Let them know that there’s something for them to potentially lose if they don’t get back to you. And then if you still don’t hear from them, close the project. Now, if there’s money involved, that’s a whole other ball game. We’ll get to that in a second. Close the project, let them go move on.

[00:13:46] Literally not worth the mental, like drain the headspace. You know, working with people can be the hardest part of running a business, whether it’s suppliers, trades, or employees. Uh, independent [00:14:00] contractors, freelancers, or clients. That is my experience; the most difficult part of running a business has been the people.

[00:14:09] And some of you might disagree. You might find that the best part. Well, good for you. So what happens if they’re ghosting you when it comes to money? And this is when it gets kind of more serious and a little bit more frustrating and we start to get really, Um, so I recently had a situation with a very large client, a company really, in fact, and they just ghosted and stopped responding to our request for them to pay our invoices.

[00:14:39] So what do you do if this happens? So I’ve not, I’ve had this actually happen more than once. I’m not proud to admit it, but it is the truth. And I think it’s important to give you guys the reality and, Oh my God, I just realized the time this is supposed to be a shorty episode. So I will wrap this up real quick, but I think it’s important to hear this message.

[00:14:55] Early on, I had a client, my first client, who just skipped town, if [00:15:00] you will, and didn’t pay. I made the mistake of not collecting my money, or my fees, upfront. And so I was billing hourly, I did not have a retainer at the beginning that I held till the end as I do now. And so what happened was, I presented and then I was chasing this guy for months.

[00:15:19] Up until a year for him to pay the invoice. It wasn’t enough money to take him to court or get a letter or anything like that. But I remember learning from that lesson that get my money upfront before I give a deliverable, what happens if. You have money up front and now you’ve blown through it. This is what happened to me.

[00:15:40] We’ve blown through the retainer, meaning that we don’t, we don’t use the retainer at the beginning. We start billing. It’s rare that I charge hourly. I’ll just be very clear. And I talk about this inside pricing with confidence. So go get that course. If you’re curious about how I structure my design fee, I don’t think you have to do it my way, but I think it’s helpful to see how others do it.

[00:15:59] And [00:16:00] essentially I was acting in good faith. continue to pay my team to work on the project. One month passed, and they were giving us excuses. Two months passed, and more excuses. And by the third month, I looked and I realized that if I applied the retainer, it didn’t cover the time that we’d put in and that I had now paid for my team and this client hadn’t paid.

[00:16:22] And so it was emails, emails, emails, emails. Until it became phone calls, phone calls, phone calls until it became physically going in person to the office to find out what the heck is going on. And so, at that point, you have a choice, I have a choice. Do we engage a lawyer to serve them with papers and go to small claims court?

[00:16:45] Or do I One thing I can tell you that it was really helpful for me is that in my contract, I let clients know that if an invoice goes past 30 days unpaid, we do bill interest. So we’ll add interest on. And so what we’ve been [00:17:00] doing is we did collect it, not collect. We did charge interest. So the fee that they owe us is much greater.

[00:17:06] Ultimately, Unless you’re going to take legal action, you can’t force someone to pay you. Like I don’t, I’ve had other situations, in my life where I had to let the money go. And it was a choice that I made because my mental sanity was worth more than the 10, 000. And it’s, I know that we, some people get caught up in like, it’s the principle of it.

[00:17:31] And I get that. I get that. But. I’m a glasses-half-full kind of girl. I want to keep moving forward. I want to grow my business. I want to have multiple businesses. I want to be successful. And if I let this one person drag me down and take up so much mental time, it’s going to affect my ability to succeed in other areas of my life.

[00:17:52] Now that’s a personal choice and everybody’s different. Ultimately, all that to say, I’ve given you examples of all sorts of beginning, middle, and end of a project [00:18:00] where clients could potentially ghost you. They could ghost you at any time. I would think the most, majority of you listening have had clients ghost you at the beginning because that’s when there’s sticker shock.

[00:18:10] Some people are just tire kickers and they’re not interested. So get super duper clear on what your onboarding process is. And if you don’t have one, take the power of process. You guys can use mine, but get an onboarding process that is super clear so that you are pre-qualifying clients. So you don’t get in that situation of wondering, where did they go?

[00:18:30] Where are they? Did they do the project? Maybe I’ll drive by their house and have a look and see. I know you’ve done that. All right. I hope that episode was helpful. Let me know. Shoot me a DM on Instagram. I would love to hear if you guys are enjoying these shorty episodes. I love you guys and I’ll see you soon.