One thing that will make a difference in whether you get paid for your time or give it away for free is transparency.
The more clients know about your billing process, timekeeping, and payment options, the more likely you’ll get paid in full and on time.
Another tip: keep track of your time contemporaneously. Studies show that attorneys who wait to record their time at the end of the week – or, even worse, the end of the month – lose up to 50 percent of their billable hours.
“Being diligent about your timekeeping can be challenging, but the easiest way to stay on top of it is to record your time as it happens,” says attorney Dan Bowman, better known as the PracticePanther. “Having a clear picture into how much time was spent where, with detailed notes about relevant tasks, will help settle any disputes your client may have around the overall price. Remember — they’ve already agreed to your set rate from your detailed pricing, so the better time tracking you have in place, the harder it will be for them to decline payment or request a discount.
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“Once you’ve selected the payment option that works best for [your clients] and entered into an agreement for your services — it’s now your responsibility to be as transparent with them as possible about the time you spend on their behalf,” writes Bowman. “Not only will accurate time tracking provide peace-of-mind to your clients, it will actually yield you more money.”
Here are two other suggestions for getting paid like you deserve:
- Keep clients up to date. “Sending your clients regular status updates about upcoming payment deadlines, missed or late payments, or any late fees that are accruing for overdue invoices is crucial to getting paid timely and collecting in full on your invoice. With practice management software, these tasks can even be automated with workflows, meaning you’re providing real value without having to manually send messages. Regular and transparent communication with your clients keeps your firm top-of-mind, and ensures that a request for payment doesn’t slip into the junk inbox or is deleted entirely.”
- Make it easy on your clients to pay you. Options include hourly billing, flat fees, contingent fees, and blended plans.
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