Branding—creating and maintaining the impression a company wants to leave in its clients’ minds—involves a range of components, everything from a professional services firm’s graphic identity to its responsiveness to client needs, to its location. The manner by which a firm expects and pursues payment from clients is an important aspect of branding, yet one that is seldom addressed.
Two collection attorneys, Bob Weinberg (www.rweinberglaw.com) and Joshua Friedman (www.jpfassociates.com), emphasized this point in a recent talk. The pair noted that while discussing and/or negotiating fees can be difficult for many professionals, and pursuing payment even more challenging, the way a firm undertakes these tasks could reinforce or detract from the brand it has so carefully crafted.
Weinberg and Friedman illustrated the significance of being assertive throughout this process by offering the example of a tough and successful litigator whom the client chose because of the trial attorney’s stalwart reputation, but who might approach the client for overdue fees in a less-than-firm manner. The litigator’s hesitancy could serve to undermine his efforts to create and sustain a beneficial impression in the marketplace.
It is worth, then, to consider how we ask clients for payment. We want to be respectful and courteous, yet firm, in order to communicate our confidence in the value we provide and our unwavering expectation that we receive timely payment for it.