If there’s one thing all lawyers have in common, whether they’re personal injury lawyers or criminal defense lawyers, they all want to have their invoices paid faster. Sure, your clients have a certain amount of days to pay each invoice, but wouldn’t it be better if your clients paid as soon as they received their invoice? The following tips will make it easier and more convenient for your clients to not only pay their invoices, but to pay them faster.
Under Promise, Over Deliver
The secret to getting your invoices paid in a more timely manner actually starts before you even send out an invoice. The other tips in this article will help you create less confusing invoices, but this tip will help you get paid regardless of what you do next.
When you under promise and over deliver, you’ve just managed client expectations and then exceeded your own words. Clients aren’t only wowed, but they’re more confident in your abilities, more satisfied with your services, and therefore, much more likely to get that invoice paid right away. Your clients will feel as though you went above and beyond for them; you set a goal that everybody was okay with and then blew it out of the water completely. If that doesn’t make your clients happy and willing to pay right away, then nothing will.
Many lawyers like to think that their invoice turn past due because clients are disgruntled or cheap, when in reality, most people are just confused. Typical invoices have a lot of business jargon that can be lost on the general population – and not because they lack the vocabulary, but because invoices haven’t received much of a makeover in the past few decades. Make it easier on your clients by sending them a simplified invoice.
Start by replacing all the business talk with more understandable terms. “Payment upon receipt” is one of those terms that creates a lot of confusion. Many people are unsure if that means payment is due immediately or if it’s due anytime after the receipt. Furthermore, using “net 15” or “net 30” doesn’t make it any more understandable. Instead, try writing the date the invoice was sent and the date it is due. There’s no questions about an invoice that was received on the first of the month and is due on the 15th of the month.
You can also simplify invoices by leaving itemization out altogether, unless specifically asked for and only using simple terms when doing so. If you’ve thought up a fancy way to itemize for listening to voice mails, take it off. If you’re charging for copying documents and you’ve listed it as “Documentation Duplication,” you might as well state what it really is, leave it off altogether, or get ready for a lot of annoying phone calls having to explain yourself. The easier the invoice is to read, the more likely a client will pay it faster.
Send Friendly Reminders
Many invoicing software available allows you to send reminders to clients who haven’t yet paid their invoice. Create an email that sends a gentle, friendly reminder telling the client where they can pay, how they can pay, and how many days they still have left to pay. If this is an automated email, rather than a personal one, clients might understand that it’s simply an email from a computer and not their disgruntled lawyer constantly reminding them to be paid.
In your friendly reminders, you should also use simple language, include any relevant information, and make it as short and sweet as possible. If your clients are already distracted from paying an invoice, you don’t want to distract them even further with a lengthy and complex email.
Use The Right Wording
Faster invoicing can all be in the way you say it. Imagine a mom and pop shop where the owners always tell you to “come back now, ya here?” every time you leave. It’s personable, inviting, and makes you feel more at ease about the money you just spent. By applying the same mentality to your invoices, you might be able to provide the same comfort for your clients.
Use phrases like “please” and “thank you” to win your clients over and make invoices less scary. End each invoice with a salutation like “We appreciate your business” or “Thank you for your payment.”
Take It Online
The final obstacle in getting your invoices paid faster is that they’re simply not convenient to pay. If you’re still sending paper invoices and expecting paper checks in return, your clients might be frustrated with the antiquated methods you’re using. There are plenty of ways to upgrade your invoicing process and speeding up your payment system as a result.
Many of the leading accounting programs available include an invoicing system where you can customize your own invoices and send them out through email. A lot of these programs also connect with online payment options like PayPal and Intuit. With e-billing and e-payment, your clients could be paying as soon as they receive invoices because they’re able to do it all rom their computer.
If you’ve been stressing about when your clients are paying invoices (and when they’re not paying invoices!), you might have a problem with the invoicing system itself. Make the whole process as fluid and accessible as possible to have more clients paying in a more timely manner.
Written by Pete Wise for the Douglas and London Law Firm; whom represent clients across the entire US. They have decades of history as an New York law firm and I help by posting to my facebook page and writing for the firm.