Whether you have a small company or a large enterprise, it’s never easy to deal with new business partners, especially in international trade when the counterparty is half of the globe away from you. Unless you are contracting with a famous brand or a company already well-known on the market, there’s always a chance to encounter a fraud.
Carrying out due diligence is the only way to operate in the international trade business where there are already thousands of companies, and it takes very little time to create a new one. So here are a few tips on how to check a new client before signing a contract.
The internet is where we go first for any kind of information, and if a business is not online, it doesn’t exist. A company that’s not mentioned anywhere is a giant red flag. Of course, fraudsters know this and create decoy websites. So what can you do about it when researching a company online?
Check the website carefully for spelling and grammar mistakes. For example, you’re told the company operates in Great Britain, but their texts are poorly written and have too many spelling mistakes for them to be typos. Somebody is not telling you the truth.
If the site has passed this initial test, check out the “About” section. Find out what the company writes about its history, values, what it does, or what services it provides to its customers. Run some of that info through Google search to make sure the text is unique and not copied from some other website. The same applies to photos. Make sure they’re not stock photos, especially if the company is a producer of goods you plan to buy.
On the company’s website you’ll most probably find at least one link to their social media account, so check that as well. Go to the account and scroll through the posts to see photos of products, reports from exhibitions or other business activities they’ve taken part in. And read comments, of course, if there are any.
The last but not least, look online for reviews, positive or negative comments about the company and its business practices. But don’t get immediately deterred by one or two negative feedbacks, because bad service happens even to the best of companies. We’d be more cautious about too many rave reviews from unverified users as they can be easily bought.
Let’s get back from the online world to reality and run some more checks. Start with the company’s address and landline phone. You will most probably find this info on the company’s website in the “Contact Us” section, so don’t hesitate to call on that phone to hear that it works and there are actual people attending to calls on the other end.
What if the company only has a mobile phone? It is possible these days; however, it might be a sign that you are dealing with a private entrepreneur and not a company.
Whatever it is, make that phone call, talk to the representative and schedule a video chat or even a personal meeting, if it’s an option in your case. And while you’re there, ask if there’s anybody you can turn to for references about your potential future partner.