The Tabs3 Blog
Top Tips for Successful Collections
Reflect before you have to collect!
Over the course of the pandemic, clients may have been increasingly unable or unwilling to pay for services they received. Tabs3 Software has worked to streamline the processes of billing and getting paid.
A change in the payment behavior of your clients may have been part of the pandemic’s collateral damage, and may have had an effect on your business’s cash flow. To minimize future risk, a comprehensive review of policy, procedures, reporting, insight, technology, and people is recommended.
Review your policies, procedures, and reporting
Many firms do not have a consistent policy that guides their collections process. It’s important to invest time and resources into establishing a policy that guides email content and communication around payment requests, to avoid damaging client relationships.
Provide clear, accurate, and timely statements
Clients are more likely to pay quickly when the service is recent and fresh in their mind. As time passes, invoices become more difficult to collect.
A key step to optimizing your collections process is to bill via email. Not only can you then invoice customers right after services are rendered, but you won’t have to wait a few days for bills to make their way to customers.
Be certain to provide enough details in the invoice while keeping legal jargon to a minimum. Recording billable hours and fees correctly also makes it easier for your bookkeeper to do their job. Every feature in Tabs3 Billing is designed to facilitate accurate entry of time and money.
Good software helps you accurately track receivables, including the invoices you’ve sent, what’s been paid, and what invoices are outstanding.
In some instances, customers may dispute an invoice and refuse to pay if they’re dissatisfied with the services they received. The ability to Write Down or Write Off all or a portion of a client’s accounts receivable balance is another way Tabs3 can simplify the work administrators do every day.
Make payments as easy as possible
Don’t force your customers to pay in any specific way. The more options you give them, the more likely they will pay you on time.
Tabs3 Billing allows you to enter a payment link when you email statements, so clients can pay securely as soon as the email is in their inbox. Even better, payments are applied directly to client accounts so you don’t have to enter a thing. Tabs3Pay allows you to get paid faster, right from within Tabs3 Software.
Use this as a chance to connect
Every interaction you have with your client leaves an impression. This is especially true when it comes to collections. Whether it’s over the phone or through email, it can be a challenge to address a difficult topic. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would want to be addressed in the situation. In addition, use this opportunity to let them know you appreciate their business.
There are many reasons clients may not pay their bills on time. Forgetfulness, negligence, unclear or incorrect bills, and subsequent delays can create unwanted challenges that can put your business at risk.
See how Tabs3 Billing and Tabs3 Pay can make billing and getting paid easier for everyone in your firm. Schedule a Free Walkthrough Demo of Tabs3 Now.
April 25, 2022
Top Ten Billing Tips for Law Firms
An unwieldy billing process can eat into one of a law firm’s most valuable assets: time. Attorneys know this, but changing office workflows requires planning and is best accomplished through manageable steps.
We’ve put together our top ten tips for better billing. We hope they resonate with your team.
1. Track your time
If you track your time, it’s easier to estimate how long tasks take, determine effective billing rates, and evaluate profitability.
To improve timekeeping habits, start with a month. Commit to thirty days and make it a daily practice. Consistency is your friend.
2. Get tech to work for you
Law firms spend a lot of time on administrative tasks. Track and analyze how you work, then find tech tools to reduce the hours.
For instance, the Tabs3 practice management software, PracticeMaster, has toolbar plug-ins for the programs you use every day, making timekeeping less of a chore.
Those who work on the go can also get mobile access with Tabs3 Connect.
3. Make tasks easier with software
Billing software reduces manual and clerical efforts, helps the whole staff bill on time, and reveals how the firm is performing. Aim for software like Tabs3 Billing that captures expenses and tracks hours worked, hours to bill, and non-billable time.
4. Pre-bill review as if it’s you
When you’re reviewing pre-bills, ask yourself, “Would I pay this bill?”
Bills are important forms of communication because they go straight to the heart of client trust. Use bills as an opportunity to solidify appreciation for your services.
Clients are more likely to pay bills that are concise and clear about what is being charged.
5. Plan billing into your schedule
Establish a policy for timesheet submissions and pre-bill review that fits a regular billing cycle, works for timekeepers, and increases the odds for compliance.
Be prompt in your billing and clients will return the favor. Process invoices monthly and use email statements to expedite.
6. Streamline your cash flow with timely billing
Cash flow isn’t the same as profit and loss. A company can be profitable while experiencing cash flow problems that drive it to bankruptcy. Regular billing helps firms maintain a consistent cash flow.
7. Stay on top of collections
A collections survey showed that at three months delinquent, 27% of accounts receivable won’t be paid. By six months, that number goes up to 43%, and at a year, it’s 75%.
If you don’t currently have one, develop a consistent accounts-receivable program:
- Detail how you want customers to pay
- Include terms of payment in engagement letters
- Run monthly accounts receivable reports
- Act on past-due collections immediately
8. Keep good clients
The most successful law firms keep a list of top clients and check it regularly. Know who brings in the most revenue for your firm and whose business is actually costing you money!
9. Make it easy for clients to pay
Although some firms are still wary of credit cards, the traditional reason not to use them, credit card fees, is worth the expense in collection cases to get paid and be done with it. Additional concerns, such as trust accounting compliance, can now be addressed by using a legal-specific merchant like Tabs3Pay.
10. Automate when possible
Automation streamlines manual processes and improves cash flow by enabling you to accomplish more with fewer resources.
We hope these tips have sparked some good ideas on how to shift old habits, improve daily tasks with technology, and strengthen your firm’s billing processes.
To learn more about how Tabs3 can streamline your billing, contact us.
April 21, 2022
Thinking About Automation? Do It, in Moderation.
Time is money, especially in law firms. Automating functions with practice management software can not only save a lot of time, it can increase a firm’s profitability.
What Automation Is, and How It Works
Automations are sets of instructions that perform tasks. They improve productivity and reduce human error by cutting out repetitive manual work. In our practice management software, PracticeMaster, we call these automations WorkFlows. Using WorkFlows, we’ve seen firms realize substantial time savings, such as a reduction of 33% in time spent processing paperwork. They work based on a simple if/then principle: “if” a trigger event takes place, “then” actions can begin. Use automations to streamline time-consuming processes.
One popular automation in legal services is document assembly. Identify frequently used legal documents, such as fee agreements and contracts, and you can set up document templates in the software. Each template has designated fields, such as name and contact information, sometimes called variables or conditional text, which represent case data. Save your templates in the software and select them as needed. With WorkFlows, after you enter a new client into the system, document assembly can begin with client data already filled in. Templates can include additional prompts, like to enter a fee for billing or set a calendar appointment with a client.
Identify What to Automate
The best kind of tasks to automate are ones you do regularly. Think about goals you want to achieve by streamlining your firm’s processes. Meet with your office administrator or billing clerk to learn about their time-consuming or repetitive tasks, and make special note of redundancies like duplicate data entry. Review how you enter time, enter new client information, and communicate with clients. Don’t forget about billing and payment collection. Are there tasks that take a long time, or things that are done the same way every time?
Identify two or three key things to automate, then implement them. As your team becomes more comfortable with setting up and running automations, you’ll find more opportunities to automate. Not sure how your software’s automation tools work? Reach out to a consultant or your software’s support team and ask how they can help.
What Not to Automate
Not everything can or should be automated. Processes need to be predictable for automation to work. Unique documents or anything that requires individual consultation, decision-making, or collaboration are not good candidates for automation. Until we figure out a way for computers to become more human, personal engagement and conversations about your client’s situation are what make your firm different from others. Those are your personal and professional skills that can never be automated.
Take Advantage of Available Resources
Automations may seem overwhelming, but don’t fear the work involved in setting them up. Take advantage of the tools available, and your firm will reap the rewards of the higher level of efficiencies. Saving time does not mean losing billable time. Automation allows you to spend more time with your clients, find additional clients, or plan for your firm’s future.
Invest the time to review all of your processes. Find out what your software’s automation capabilities are. Implement what you can now, and set up a plan for future automations. Although you’ll spend more time early on with automation research and setup, you will never regret the time you will save.
For more information on automations in PracticeMaster, check out our WorkFlows Guide. To learn more about how document assembly works in PracticeMaster, watch this video: Intro to Document Assembly
April 14, 2022
Credit Cards: Boosting Bottom Lines & Customer Satisfaction Through Tabs3Pay
It turns out that not all trends are cyclical. Cash? Check? Like it or not, these forms of payment are going the way of the abacus and the typewriter.
Although there are good reasons to be cautious about adopting new technology, payment processing is one area where it pays to be ahead of the curve. After all, anything a firm can do to increase billable hours, reduce administrative work, and accelerate accounts receivable is good for the bottom line.
It isn’t only about improving internal workflows, either. Accepting credit cards also improves client satisfaction at the same time that it increases profit margins.
That’s why Tabs3 Software is excited to announce we’re now offering a built-in credit card processing feature, Tabs3Pay.
A valuable tool for law firms
Credit card processing, when implemented correctly, can add enough of a lift to key areas of a law firm’s success to create a competitive advantage.
Cash flow and processing time
Having an online payment option reduces the number of steps needed to make a payment, which increases the likelihood of clients paying quickly. In fact, the legal industry has become increasingly aware that accepting credit cards improves cash flow by 30 to 40%.
A few other benefits: credit card deposits often hit your bank account faster than a check, and you’ll save on the administrative time it takes to process other payment methods.
Client satisfaction and growing expectations
The legal industry is no exception to the growing customer expectation for convenience in making payments, including for business transactions. Providing the ability to make payments by credit card helps meet that demand while also creating a simple payment experience that can be completed from any device.
Overall, accepting credit cards offers greater predictability and stability, opening up opportunities to proactively plan for your firm’s future based on more accurate financial projections.
When selecting a credit card processing service, it’s important to select a software specifically designed for legal clients.
Running your payments through a certain processor puts the pressure on them to make sure the transactions are secure, but you still have an ethical responsibility to verify what that process is. Check if the processor is certified as PCI compliant. Your firm should also vet how information is being stored to ensure privacy compliance.
Don’t forget to ask about how trust accounting is handled. Most credit card processors deposit funds into the same account from which they withdraw the transaction fee, which can land a law firm in serious trouble.
Although this practice isn’t a big deal for non-legal companies, if the account in question is a legal client’s trust account, then the transaction fee has just been paid by the client, not the lawyer. Even if you act quickly to transfer the amount from your operating account, you’ve technically already accessed client funds.
To avoid these issues, legal-specific processors like Tabs3Pay are set up to deposit charge funds into the trust account and withdraw transaction fees from the operating account. We also protect you from similar issues with voids and chargebacks.
Likewise, we can handle your firm having more than one client trust account. After all, we’ve designed our software specifically for lawyers!
Craft your own approach
Tabs3Pay is part of Tabs3 Software, which means that if you want to sidestep double data entry by having your accounting seamlessly update with new payments, you can. With flat rate options and more, you can find an approach that works for your firm.
Visit our site to learn more about the benefits of Tabs3Pay.
April 07, 2022