Phone call, .5, $180. If you send bills that merely list categories of service, hours, and charges, you’re not only missing an opportunity to educate your clients, you could actually be alienating them.
Each bill you send is a powerful communicator of your value. When presented with a bill, clients look not only for the dollar amount; they also look for the effort expended on their behalf. Though it’s understandable that you’d wish otherwise, how well you articulate what you’ve done to earn your fee is central to your client’s satisfaction – and thus to your overall collections success.
And along with sufficient detail, clarity and format, the effective use of verbs is central to projecting effort. When you’re drafting bills this week, think and use specific, strong, and varied VERBS. Make sure each entry leads with a verb. “Organized and analyzed previous trial records . . . . Facilitated conference call between . . . Drafted outline . . . . Located. . . . Evaluated . . . . Strategized . . . . Arranged . . . . Secured . . . . Determined . . . . Edited . . . . Advised . . . . Compiled. . . . . Prepared . . . . Documented . . . . Coordinated . . . . Developed . . . .”
Ask yourself what you actually did when you did the work – the actions you took, the verbs that describe the process you went through — and make sure your clients know what you did and how you did it. They’ll be more confident that you earned your fee – and as a result, less likely to have a negative reaction to it. Remember, a subset of strong law practice management is providing good client service, especially in the realm of fees.