Most of the time, getting paid 101 is everything you need to know about getting paid from a delinquent client. But sometimes, you get left on the hook by a fly-by-night company. One day … poof! … they’re gone.
Email bounces, the phone is cut off, the website has been sold, and the office is dark. It’s all gone. These are not businesses that are struggling to make ends meet. These are professional cons.
Occasionally they even operate the business for a few years, and then one day they simply disappear. The funny thing is, they usually pop up every couple years with a new cash cow.
How To Find A Fly By Night Company
The easiest way to find someone like this is to hire a professional skip tracer.
Skip Tracers charge anywhere between $100 and $500. A good one can find somebody hunkered down in a bomb shelter on the dark side of the moon in about an hour. Of course, the more information you can give them to kick things off, the better.
They use online databases, directories and good phone work to track people down. They also use their connections in different cities to find people. They’re a great option because they have all the right access and they know all the right tricks.
The best place to find a good skip tracer is through an accountant, a lawyer, or a financial consultancy firm.
Do-It-Yourself Skip Tracing
Sometimes it’s not too hard to find these people. And even if you do hire a skip tracer, doing a good preliminary search yourself is going to bring in more information, which makes it easier for them to get the job done.
The Tools For Tracing A Skipper
Here’s what you need:
- Paperwork. Gather up every document, business card, and note you have on this company. And print out any email correspondence.
- Google. Gotta love the internet!
- A phone. When it comes right down to it, this is your endgame weapon. The phone is what you use to verify all the information you’ve gathered. And it’s what gets you that last piece of information you need through someone who knows so-and-so who knows your disappearing magician.
Setting Up Your Search
Take all your paperwork and start making a list of everything you’re going to search on Google for. Here are the things you need to extract from all your paperwork.
- The company name, address, and contact info
- Names and contact info of managers, directors and owners of the company
- Names and contact info of anybody you met through these people from this company. Maybe they know something or someone who does
- Names and contact info of suppliers, clients, and B2B connections of the company. These people are possible allies in your search and they might know something
- Brand names, trademarks, and product or service names that the company owned
Start Your Search
Fire up your computer and point your web browser to Google and start searching everything on your list. Make a new list as you go of all the information you find.
You’re looking for other companies these people have been involved with or dba information (where the company was “doing business as” another name).
You’re looking for groups or associations they’re part of. And where they generally do business. And press releases or info about deals they put together with other companies. Basically, you’re looking for everything you can find out about the people in this company and the trail they’ve left.
Once you’ve got names, and general locations, you can start looking up phone numbers and addresses via any number of online whitepages. Try and use a phone directory that’s local to whatever area they live in rather than a national directory. But check those too.
If all has gone well, your skip tracing effort has produced a short list of home phone numbers and maybe addresses for some of the key people that owned the company.
Phone them up and tell them you need to get paid. Don’t lose your cool. Be professional. Set a very short time-line like one week and keep calling them every couple days to follow up. Email or fax them a new invoice. Then wait a couple days and send them a promissory note to sign.
The key is to keep the pressure on and everything moving towards you getting paid.
Maybe they don’t have the money, or they’ll give you some story about bankruptcy or whatever. Maybe they’ll swear at you and slam down the phone. Then all you can do is take legal action. If these people are professional ghosts then a collections agency will have a tough time keeping on their trail.
So your best bet is probably to take them to court.
Get a good lawyer who can uncover their assets, and you might even get paid.