BEST PRACTICES IN BILLING #3
We must do all we can to manifest value to our client. Clients usually presume our competence but they are often unsure that we represent value. Simply put, clients often don’t know that we know how to solve their problems in a manner they can afford. Thus, when we can solve their problems and make certain that they can understand how well we solved their problems, they can then understand the value of our work.
How good a job do you do manifesting value to your clients both at the peak of their need for a solution and through-out the problem solving process? If you are able to manifest value to your clients then they will ultimately become your personal marketing machine. The client who recognizes the value of your services will be funneling to you the clients you want and your problem solving process will be turning out happy clients who sing your praises. Your problems will change from collecting accounts receivable to keeping up with demand for your services.
So, try as we might to collect all fees upfront when need is typically greatest for our solution, there are practical reasons why this is not always possible. We may not be that good at talking about money with our clients. But, we can get better at that. It’s really not that difficult. Sometimes it’s just our belief and approach that has to change.
Daniel Mills shares: One of my favorite partners had his secretary say to each prospective client when she would schedule an initial consultation: Tom said to tell you to bring your checkbook. Clients hired Tom because he was an attack dog lawyer. He knew their need was highest at that first meeting. That’s why he would say, if he wanted the case, Get out your checkbook when it was time to close and get a signed fee agreement and upfront fee.
Keep in mind, this approach won’t work for everyone, but it’s a good place to start. A variation can be found for every practice area and every prospective client.
Another practical reason we take on clients without full payment up front is that not all clients can afford that method and others may just be unwilling. Other times we don’t know how much money the problem solving will require. Under these circumstances where we do not take full payment upfront, we need a billing system.
What are the elements of this highly functioning system for informing and educating the client about the problem solving we are performing that gets us paid?
Next: How to Set Up and Run the Billing Process.
Catch Up: Best Practices in Billing #2
Catch Up: Best Practices in Billing #1
The Practice Management Advisory Service (PMAS) is a multifaceted Bar program designed to help Bar members improve and enhance management skills in the practice of law. Daniel Mills, assistant director for, PMAS, Regulation Counsel, and Rochelle Washington, senior staff attorney, PMAS. can be reached at 202-737-4700, ext. 3212 and 3217, respectively, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.