Client Connection

Client Connection
www.clientci.com

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Are You Hearing Only What You Want to Hear?

Many law firms are still missing the message when it comes to managing and collecting their receivables timely. To their disadvantage, such firms still rely on a culture of collegiality among the attorneys to set the tone for meeting collection goals. They struggle with how they communicate to their attorneys what is required of them.
At the same time, attorneys have a knack for hearing only what they want to hear, especially on issues they do not want to deal with, like asking clients to pay their bills. Particular practices are faced with other factors that hamper their efforts to get paid. For example, family law clients may be prone to cash flow problems, corporate start-ups may not have cash reserves and e-billing clients are selective about what they pay.

Here are three things to keep in mind to make sure you are being heard:

  1. Firms that talk the talk but don't walk the walk will have weaker collection results.  Many firms believe that open dialogue between management and the attorneys will lead to effective collection efforts. They need to back up such dialogue by enforcing policies and procedures. Individual attorney autonomy will win in the end -- and collections will lose -- if all the firm does is talk about, rather than act on, the message.
  2. Make sure everyone is following the rules. Too often policies are not effective because leadership of the firm gives attorneys too much professional courtesy, allowing them to make exceptions to the rules. It's one thing to commit procedures to paper, but it's another to ensure attorneys are following the new rules
  3. Don't be misled by an increase in revenue or meeting budget. While certainly good for the firm, these are not necessarily indications that collection efforts are working. Take a hard look at receivables you are not collecting and how you are dealing with issues that are preventing timely payment, particularly for those receivables of more than 90 days. Such receivables are more of a challenge to collect and take more time and are often left to the side.


We invite you to learn more on our web-site at www.clientci.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Check Your Attorney's Attitudes - and the Behaviors that Follow

See if you can answer these multiple choice questions correctly.

(A) What is the first warning sign of potential payment problems?
1. A bill goes past 30 days unpaid
2. A bill goes past 120 days unpaid
3. The attorney did not hear from the client after the bill was sent
4.The client stops responding to e-mails

(B) Attorneys need to make collections a priority.  Which of the following should they NOT do?
1. Regularly communicate with clients about unpaid bills to ensure timely payment
2. Ask when payment can be expected
3. Let clients make payments at a time that is suitable to them
4. Resolve problem issues that are keeping clients from paying

(C) How can attorneys be held accountable for getting A/R paid?
1. Ask them regularly when they expect bills to be paid
2. Ask them to establish -- and meet -- self-imposed deadlines
3.None of the above
4. A and B

(D) Attorneys beieve they are the only ones who can contact their clients about their receivables  They are incorrect.  Why?
1. They don't like to do it
2. They aren't very good at it
3. They don't want to do it because they have other priorities
4. All of the above



ANSWERS:
(A) 1 -- Starting early in the ageing process, attorneys have allowed clients to pay at their leisure.  Because attorneys are not inclined to make contact sooner rather than later, clients do not feel obligated to pay.
(B) 3 -- Attorneys need to communicate to their clients about unpaid bills, just as they communicate regarding the status of the matter they are handling.  They must have regular follow-up to learn when payment can be expected and to help guide future follow-up.
(C) 4 -- Attorneys must be contacted on a regular basis and asked specifically about when they expect bills to be paid.  The culture of forgiveness needs to be replaced with a culture of high expectations of getting accounts paid through better A/R management efforts.
(D) 4 -- Firms should provide their attorneys help from trained personnel who have the appropriate communcation skills, professionalism and time to help gets bills paid.  Experienced help should have good relationship-building skills, the ability to understand payment problems and an understanding of solutions that are tailored to various practice areas and client situations.

Learn more how Client Connection can help you  and your firm. Visit us at http://www.clientci.com/

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Start Taking a Strong Position NOW in Managing Accounts Receivable in 2018

All law firms should take a strong position on accounts receivables management and be able to communicate their expectations on collections to the attorneys, knowing that complicated transactions and relationships do not lend themselves to black-and-white procedures. A/R management procedures need to be practical and workable, but there needs to be room for exceptions. Yet these exceptions should be monitored closely and not seen as a way to avoid firm collection policies and rules. Giving too much individual autonomy to the attorneys is often the root of a firm’s A/R problems.

Remember, managing accounts receivable for a law firm is a step-by-step process, which must be monitored closely, whether the economy is up or down.  Beware of certain attitudes that can prevent procedures and rules from working, such as:
  1. Thinking that having an infrastructure in place alone will result in relieving the firm from ensuring that it works.  A strong A/R management infrastructure must be supported by a strong commitment to action and a change in mind-set necessary to address all the issues preventing clients from paying. Whatever the issues are -- attorneys or collection staff not doing their jobs, not working closely with clients to monitor when and if they will pay, or not using the right collection strategy – changes must be made if you want to see results.
  2. Giving the attorneys too much leeway in managing their receivables. Firms have long been inclined to give their attorneys “professional courtesy” to manage their receivables as they see fit.  The traditional culture of forgiveness needs to be replaced with high expectations. We use the term “manage” very loosely because, in far too many instances, the attorneys are not being managed at all.
  3. Not focusing on collection efforts on receivables starting at 60 days past due. Thinking that older receivables dictate when collection problems begin is not true. The reality is that collection problems begin early in the ageing process, but firms often do little to address issues sooner rather than later. Due to the nature of the transaction or the client arrangement, there may be a need for alternative payment arrangements. But do not let these payment exceptions become the rule.

Having a plan is one thing. Putting it into action, monitoring it, and making sure it works is quite another. Learn more on our web-site at http://www.clientci.com.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Accounts Receivable: It's Not Just a Fourth Quarter Thing

Well-managed law firms need to recognize that accounts receivable management is a year-round effort.

Too many law firms continue to think that collections is an easy process; all you have to do is remind clients to pay and they will.  Having recently come through year-end, you KNOW that's not true.

Throughout the year, firms must stop tolerating "good clients" who just don't pay their bills.  Although until year-end may work for some institutional clients, many institutional and non-institutional clients require much more effort year-round.  Be realistic about whether the firm is underachieving in its collections goals and effort and if the firm has developed bad collection habits.  Taking a hard look at how the firm and lawyers are underachieving with A/R management can often put the firm on the right path to improving cash flow with the right collection efforts.

The first part of the year is critical for evaluating how your firm can do better to diligently manage and collect its receivables.  While the year is still relatively young, take steps that ensure a full commitment to managing your receivables.

Please feel free to contact us to let us know if we can help you. Visit us at: http://www.clientci.com/

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Steady The Ship Going into Year-End - A Few Last Words Regarding A/R

Happy Holidays! As we all prepare to begin the somewhat frantic job of getting things done by the end of December, we all have our to-do list and only have a certain number of days to accomplish what's on that list. Fortunately, one thing that many of us have learned over the years is how to prioritize. At the top of the to-do list for many law firms is collecting accounts receivable to meet or exceed budget by December 31. With limited time to complete this task, it's important that we focus on certain items over which we have control.

Here are a few tips to help your firm achieve its year-end collection goals:


  • Take the time to meet with those attorneys who may need assistance to determine what help they need getting their accounts collected (I'm sure you know who they are). Don't just drop in -- schedule a meeting in advance (not to last longer than 30 minutes) to go over their A/R and find out how you can give them some hands-on help.
  • Put together a list of clients that are expected to pay by year-end and the exact date of when payments are anticipated. Ensure each attorney receives a regular progress report and alert them if the commitment date has passed without receiving payment so they can make appropriate follow-up contact as December 31 approaches.
  • Provide the attorneys a checklist of items that will help ensure payments are made, such as: verifying clients have copies of all outstanding invoices, determining if client offices will be closed the last week of December (to ensure payments have been processed before closing), providing the attorneys routing instructions if payment is to be sent by wire, or an overnight express mail account number for quick delivery, etc.
  • Just as important, regularly take the time to walk the halls and check in with the attorneys on their progress during the last few weeks. Your visits will remind them of what they have to do.
Best wishes to you and your firm from everyone at Client Connection for an enjoyable holiday season and a prosperous 2018. For more information about us, please visit our web-site; http://www.clientci.com


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Autumn Is Upon Us. Do You Feel That Chill in the Air?

Are you ready for the fourth quarter accounts receivable collection effort?  See for yourself by answering these questions:


  1. What are the ways to make sure your firm gets paid for the work it does?
    (a) Identify attorneys who have difficulty collecting their receivables throughout the year and give them the help they need.
    (b) Generate a list of clients that have historically paid their bills during the last 30 days of the year.
    (c) Don't depend too much on historical patterns of bill collection.
    (d) All of the above.
  2. How do we get a jump in making A/R management and collection efforts a priority throughout the year instead of waiting until the last quarter?
    (a) Give your attorneys the individual autonomy to collect their A/R.  They will eventually make it a priority.
    (b) Be realistic about whether the firm is underachieving in its collection efforts and goals and if the firm has developed bad A/R management habits.
    (c) Focus on clients that pay timely and avoid older accounts because they take too much time
    (d) Keep sending clients reminder statements and letters.
  3. There are a number of reasons why clients do not pay their bills on time.  Which is NOT one of them?
    (a) The attorneys don't send the bills in a timely fashion. The clients figure that, if the attorneys can't send the bills in a timely way, they don't need to pay in a timely way.
    (b) The client experiences "sticker shock" and is surprised by the size of the bill.
    (c) They can't find a stamp.
    (d) The client is experiencing cash flow problems.

Answers: 
1.   D
2.   B
3.   C

Would you like to learn more? Please visit our web-site at http://www.clientci.com/

Friday, September 1, 2017

Do You Know How to Improve A/R Management in Your Firm?

Take this quiz.  It will give you some insight on how well your firm is dealing with its accounts receivables.
(1) ______ and ______ follow-up efforts are the key to making progress with A/R over 90 days.
(2) Informative A/R reports need to provide firm leadership accurate information that shows collection activity is ______ on each account.
(3) If administrative stafff are assigned or hired to help with collection efforts, determine how many actual ______ they are collecting, especially the ______ accounts.
(4) Law firms lose clients by doing ______ work or ______ client service -- not by asking clients to pay their bills.


Answers:
(1) Dedicated and consistent efforts are needed on accounts over 90 days. Mistakenly firms tend to focus their efforts on those clients that pay timely and avoid working with older accounts because they take time and are often not pleasant to deal with.
(2) Reports that help a firm understand collection activity is making progress should include information on whether accounts are being actively pursued, what the payment status is, who is pursuing collections and what success they are having, why clients are not paying, and what steps need to be taken to get them to pay.
(3) Staff should be evaluated on actual dollars they are collecting and the number of older accounts they are handling, along with their knowledge of how best to pursue collection efforts. Staff should not be evaluated on such things as how well they:  send copies of bills to paying clients, multi-task other accounting duties, or provide attorneys with A/R reports.
(4) Poor work and failing to deliver client service are factors that directly contribute to clients not paying. However, managing receivables by directly contacting clients about unpaid bills will not hurt relationships -- as long as the communication is handled professionally.

Learn more on our web-site at http://www.clientci.com