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.