Being a solo practitioner puts you in a position to genuinely realise the benefits of your efforts, rather than just passing a large portion of your earnings on to the corporation for which you work. The disadvantage of having a solo practise is that you are responsible for a greater number of tasks, such as fee collecting (that is,making sure that your clients actually pay). Not to mention the fact that if your practise does not get payment, you do not receive payment. Small companies may find it increasingly difficult to collect payments, with over 40% of small firms reporting a slowdown in payments over the last year.
Using the tactics outlined below in your solo practise, you may streamline the bill-collection process while increasing the possibility that your customers will pay their bills in full and on time.
Excellent Customer Service is a must.
As a sole practitioner, you are solely responsible for providing excellent client service. And, although it is not always the most convenient for an attorney to devote time to duties such as mailing birthday cards and remembering children’s names, doing so may actually assist you in being paid more quickly. This is because, while delivering outstanding customer service, you are also establishing genuine connections with your customers. When you establish an honest, personal connection with a customer, it is far more difficult for them to avoid paying an invoice or to justify making late payments. Not to add that providing excellent customer service is typically one of the most critical elements in obtaining a positive reference.
Start out on a high note.
The more clearly defined your payment conditions are before you begin working for a customer, the more difficult it will be for them to postpone or deny payment when the task is completed. Maintain the clarity and understandability of your payment arrangement and make certain that your customers are aware of the potential consequences for nonpayment, which may include your refusal to do any more work for them.
Take into consideration Fixed Prices.
When you choose a set price structure rather than an hourly rate, you have the option of requesting payment in advance, before any work is actually completed. While this structure is not always practical, it may be quite beneficial if you are having difficulty getting bills paid. It might also be an option to explore if you are getting repeat business from a customer who has had financial difficulties in the past, but with whom you wish to continue doing business in the future.
Maintain Strict Compliance with Deadlines
The ancient saying “give them an inch” holds true in this situation. If you start off by giving folks 30 days and then let things slip for increasingly longer periods of time, you will find yourself unable to pay your rent before you realise it. As a substitute, insist on payment upon receipt of the invoice. That provides you a lot more leeway when it comes to making exceptions for late payments, and when customers pay on time, you’ll have money in your account immediately rather than waiting a month. It is beneficial to send invoices out at a convenient period, such as the 25th of the month, to avoid delays. Thus, you offer them sufficient time to pay on the first of each month and neither of you has to be concerned about anything.
Your Invoices Should Be Sent On Time
Speaking of time, if you’ve done anything outstanding for a customer, be sure to give them an invoice as soon as possible. The warm and fuzzies that your customers experience as a result of your great triumph can often convert into a prompt payment, creating a win-win situation.
Make Use of Technology to Make Payments More Convenient
Even large corporations are increasingly abandoning the usage of checks, so make an effort to provide a variety of payment options for customers who prefer or need them. The usage of a dongle from a firm such as Square or PayPal may transform your smartphone into a credit card machine, eliminating the need for you to turn away credit or debit card payments. The more convenient it is for your customers to pay you, the more swiftly they will do so.
Always Have a Plan for Your Spending
You don’t want to be living paycheck to paycheck, and you don’t want your company to suffer as a result of not being able to make payments on time. Take stock of your anticipated income and spending, and plan for how you will manage your cash flow throughout the year. When you already have a job, it is much simpler to get another one, and it is much easier to collect money from customers when you are not needy for their money. To ensure that you can pay your bills on time, it is also a good idea to submit your invoices at least two weeks before the due date of key payments.
Put a policy in place to protect yourself.
Even if you have never had a problem with payment up to the point of this reading, you will in the future. If you already have a policy in place for how you handle collections, you won’t have to worry and establish one the next time you run into a late payment situation. Consider having a member of your staff phone the customer when payment is one day late and then follow up with a letter to remind them of the payment deadline. Sometimes a client is overworked and just need a gentle reminder that consulting with an attorney does have a cost associated with it. When you have a policy in place, it will make it easier for everyone to remember when it is time for you to get paid, which will save you time.
Hold on to your convictions.
Clients, particularly those who have been with you for a long period, may sometimes want some wiggle room. When it comes to late payments, it is preferable to provide a little wiggle room and maintain the customer than to end the connection because of one missed payment. You must, however, be prepared to draw a line somewhere, since even the most loyal customers may take advantage of your kindness at times.
Continue on your current path.
Keeping in touch with a customer after you’ve already chosen not to deal with them again may seem like a pointless hassle, but it is well worth it. Your services are valuable, and you should be compensated for them. Imposing correct and agreed-upon payment for your services will only enhance your reputation with the kind of consumers you desire and will be well worth the extra effort in the long run.