Client stopped responding - should you stop working?

Client stopped responding – should you stop working?

You thought you’d done everything right this time. A contract was signed, the project got started and the client regularly sent you feedback. Then, suddenly, nothing. Silence. Your client stopped responding. Emails are not being answered and the client seems to have vanished into thin air. The deadline is fast approaching, what should you do? Do you stop work or continue regardless and hope that you get paid at the end?

The situation where your client stopped responding is surprisingly common. It creates all sorts of problems your end. You rely on feedback to progress your work and meet deadlines. More importantly, you start to worry that you might not get paid.

What’s important at this stage is that you follow your gut and take action. There is always something you can do to improve the situation. Ignoring a change in client behaviour can lead to massive problems further on down the line.

Here’s what to do next:

  1. Stop work for now. Suppose that the client has run out of money – you are doing nobody a favour by creating more work that they will need to pay for. Suppose they were just too busy to answer emails – you can easily pick the project up again, no harm done.
  2. Don’t send any more completed work to the client. Firstly, if they intend not to pay you, you will need all the leverage you can get. Secondly, stopping work and still sending project files over will create a mixed message.
  3. Tell your client that you have stopped work. By stopping work and not meeting deadlines you are now yourself in breach of your contract. It’s very important that you tell the client what you have done, in writing. There is no need to be confrontational – short and to the point will do. Tell the client what action you require from them for work to continue and what the consequences will be if they don’t do so.

Here is an example email:

Dear John,

I hope you’re well. The project deadline of 17th Sept is fast approaching. I haven’t heard from you despite numerous requests for feedback. I can not continue work without your input and have therefore stopped all work on the project. Unless I hear from you by Friday 15th, the deadline can not be met.

Please contact me urgently to arrange a project review session. I’m available this week Thursday 2pm and Friday 10am.

I look forward to hearing from you,…

More often than not you will receive a positive response and can pick up where you left off. In some cases, the client will have lost interest or decided not to pay you. If that’s the case, find out what to do next.

Best of luck dealing with your client trouble. Feel free to ask any questions and let me know how you got on with the email!