How to Stop Dreading Hourly Billing
When it comes to billing, we hear the same things from attorneys over and over again. They don’t record time for things they don’t think they should charge a client for. They write off time or give discounts for tasks that they think shouldn’t have taken so long. They delay sending out bills because they fear their client’s response or that the client won’t pay them. They don’t follow up on unpaid bills because they’re worried their client will argue or feel bad that they charged so much when they know their client doesn’t have the money.
If you’ve ever done these things, you’re not alone. Both of us, Melanie and Mark, have done all of these things in our businesses.
However, the facts of hourly billing don’t have to be “just the way it is.” Melanie has learned ways to overcome her dread of billing.
Hold Your Clients Responsible
Think about your clients. Most of them are adults. They made the decisions that got them into the current situation they’re in. We didn’t make those choices for them; in fact, we were likely the ones who told them what to do to avoid the situation.
Therefore, we need to hold our clients responsible for their own decisions. You can still have empathy and sympathy for them but don’t take responsibility for their actions.
Believe in the Value of Your Services
When you begin to dread billing, stop and think about the idea that you’re providing your clients with very valuable solutions to their problems.
As attorneys, we make huge impacts on our clients’ lives but a lot of times we don’t value that as we should. You have a real-life person and story you can point at to prove the value of your service. Don’t lose sight of that in the everyday work stress.
The Financial Impact
On top of this, if your clients aren’t paying their bills or are paying them late, that makes a financial impact on your firm. This trickles down to you and your team members’ lives and families.
Whether your clients pay their bills or not, you have to pay your employees to come to work and do the work. You’re out that money one way or another. Therefore, if your clients don’t pay, they’re putting you in a really bad financial situation.
Think about every service you pay for each month. Those companies will cut off your service if you don’t pay your bill on time. There’s no difference between them and you so why would you operate your business any differently?
If the solutions you’re providing are important enough to your clients, they’ll find the money.
Stop Dreading the Billing Process
All of this goes to show that there is no reason to not record time. If you don’t charge your clients for something you did for them, you’re taking money out of your pocket. You aren’t valuing the work you did.
Additionally, if you believe in the value of your services, you won’t give discounts (no matter how long a service took). It’s a valuable service and something you needed to do to help your client and get them their solution.
This will also convince you to stop delaying sending out bills.
Set yourself and your clients up for success by billing more often. Then, the total amount of each bill will be smaller and your clients will be more informed about what you’re doing to solve their problems. All of this makes them less likely to argue about the amount of the bill.
Remember that you’re just as worthy of collecting your money as AT&T is. You’re worthy to collect it regardless if the client has the money to pay or not. They’re making decisions with their money so hold them accountable and always follow up on unpaid bills.
If you want to learn more about how to manage hourly billing, check out Episode 017: Turn the Dread that We Share for Billing into Action!