Want to avoid “your check is in the mail” syndrome?
Send your clients e-invoices and offer online options for easy payment. You’ll get paid quicker, and you’ll save money on printing, envelopes, ink and stamps. And it will take far less time than preparing and mailing a physical bill.
Even better: attach a link to your client’s e-invoice sharing an online article or resource that might interest them. This shows you see them as a person – not just a source of revenue.
Billing for your professional services is more than just a clerical task. It is an opportunity to connect with your client and market your practice.
Here are some suggestions for doing it creatively.
6 Ways to Bill Like a Champ
- Use e-invoicing software. Here is a list of 81 different online invoicing products and services.
- Offer online payments. Forty-five percent of people prefer to pay bills using a debit card, 24 percent prefer a credit card, and only 4 percent prefer cash, according to the 2017 Consumer Payment Study. Most people are familiar with online services like PayPal. Other platforms like Google Pay are just as convenient and charge lower – or no – fees. “The more convenient you can make the invoicing process for your customers, the better chances you have of receiving fast payment,” writes Chelsea Krause in Small Business Bonfire.
- Offer an incentive. If cash flow is a concern, consider offering a modest fee discount if the client pays within a week, or even 48 hours. Everyone loves discounts.
- Keep an Activity Log. Share it with your client, even if you’re not billing by the hour. It shows how hard you’ve been working for them.
- Send reminders. “People are forgetful, and while you don’t want to be a nag, you do want your money,” writes Krause. “[D]o everything in your power to encourage them to make that payment. Send a reminder a few days before the invoice is due, the day it’s due, and a few days after the deadline is missed. If you are using invoicing software, you can auto-schedule invoice reminders to be sent after a certain amount of time has passed.”
- Don’t let past-due balances build up. Bill regularly. Follow the terms of your engagement agreement. Even if you don’t have any billable activity for a given period, send an e-invoice anyway showing a zero balance. Don’t wait and send a large bill at the end of the case. Clients hate surprises.
NC Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5 Fees
Rule 1.5 (a) A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal or clearly excessive fee or charge or collect a clearly excessive amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining whether a fee is clearly excessive include the following:
(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
What tips would you suggest for getting paid for your work?