How to get paid when a Criminal Solicitors Practice owes you money!
1. Send invoices as soon as the job is finished.
It should almost go without saying. As soon as you have finished a particular job you should send an invoice straight away. Criminal firms cannot pay you until have received your invoice and papers. As a freelance police station rep, you want to get a good reputation. One of the ways of getting and maintaining that good reputation is to ensure that criminal firms get your notes well within the 24-hour period specified by the Legal Aid Agency. Make it a regular practice to email those notes in PDF form and send the original notes in the post as soon as possible.
2. Send statements at regular intervals.
Criminal practices are busy places. Unfortunately, this may mean that your outstanding invoices may not get the attention that they deserve. Sending statements at regular intervals, say 7 or 14 days will ensure that the practice knows your bills are outstanding. If the practice knows that they are outstanding they are likely to pay them.
3. Ensure that they are sent to the right person.
Invoices that go to the wrong person will usually not be paid. It is always a good idea to get the name of the person who has authority to pay your bills. In most criminal practices it will usually be one person. Cultivate your relationship with him/her. You will be paid so much more quickly.
4. Use a credit controller if necessary.
Having a credit controller is a really great idea and it is not necessary to employ one full-time. Currently, I have a freelance credit controller who is paid per telephone call. Having a credit controller is not extremely expensive if you find the right one. Regular telephone calls usually ensure that your invoice will not be forgotten.
5. Send regular reminders.
This is a great way to ensure that you get paid. Currently, I have an accounts package, quick file that automatically lets me know when client invoices are overdue. This has a facility to send automatic emails with a polite nudge to let my clients know I have not forgotten the invoice. It is well worth investing in a good accounts package. Quickfile is free for new users and only costs £49 a year.
6. Don't work for those who will not pay.
Ultimately, you are running a business and must treat it as such. It is not worth working for clients who will not pay your invoices or work on credit periods that you find unacceptable. One of my now ex-clients used to think it was okay to pay me every 90 days despite him being paid by the legal aid agency every 30 days. I now no longer work for him.
7. Offer generous early settlement terms for prompt payment.
I offer 10% discount for early payment by bank transfer. It is a great way of ensuring your invoices are paid early and good for clients too.
8. Don't be afraid to sue if necessary
Do not be afraid to resort to legal proceedings if necessary. There are many different debt collection agencies.
9. Ask around - Other reps will know who pays on time and those who pay late. (and those who don't pay at all!)
Other police station representatives are usually a good mine of information as to who are good payers and who to avoid. Ask around and you will quickly get to know the best practices to work for. This
10. Get a good accounts package
A good accounts package pays for itself in months. I recommend quick file.
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