The Importance of Following Up

Today’s post is inspired by Ben Schorr, technologist and senior content developer with Microsoft, who has “been in this business long enough to remember when Al Gore invented the Internet.”

Being the all-around smart guy that he is, Ben recently posted:

Follow-up is one of the most important skills you can have in business.

Ben couldn’t be more right, and let me tell you why.

Clients

When is the last time you checked in with your clients? Asked how they are faring? Provided them with a status update?

Nothing is more aggravating to clients (and more damaging to client relations) than failing to follow-up. Avoid this trap by establishing an office system that reminds you to reach out and make contact.  It can be as simple as a tickler system or reminder app. Consider the advantages of interactive web portals that offer clients 24/7 access and apps like Zipwhip that let you send scheduled texts and auto-replies to clients.  Are phones overwhelming you? Worried about missing client calls? Start using Call Ruby. (Discounts are available to Multnomah Bar Association members.)

Tasks and Deadlines

Always create follow-up reminders for all outstanding to-dos and deadlines – particularly those that require action from someone else.

  • Include everything to ensure you get what you need to complete tasks on time and avoid a potential malpractice claim.
  • Include everyone who owes you information, documents, or an undertaking. Clients, co-counsel, opposing counsel, associates, staff, medical providers, investigators, and process servers are the tip of the iceberg.

Staff

Staff also deserve follow-up. Brief weekly meetings can cover a lot of ground: staff workloads, pending projects, your schedule, and responding to staff questions. For tips on working with and delegating to staff, see Revisiting Smart Delegation.

Finances

It’s been almost 7 years since I penned Accounts Receivable Do Not Improve Like Fine Wine, but the advice has not changed. You simply must follow-up on your finances:

Marketing and Business Goals

Follow-up is key when it comes to goal setting. Start by quantifying what you want to achieve, then be accountable (that’s the follow-up part). Whether it’s a business plan or a marketing plan, you are only cheating yourself if you don’t take the time to measure your results.

I’ve written extensively about marketing this year and prior years, both incidentally and deliberately.  If you’re looking for social media tips, resources for market research, how to calculate your marketing costs per case – you’ll find those posts here.  Use the Search feature at the top of my blog or under Categories choose “Marketing.” Whatever you do: follow-up!

All Rights Reserved 2017 Beverly Michaelis

Best Business Apps for the iPhone

Are you an iPhone user?  Maybe a business owner?  Or someone who likes to learn about new apps?  If you’re in the vicinity of Central Oregon, consider taking Best Business Apps for the iPhone this October at Central Oregon Community College’s Chandler Lab.

Get the most out of your iPhone by discovering over 25 top-rated business productivity apps.

  • Learn how to scan and edit documents on the go
  • Schedule tasks with a tap of your finger
  • Sign a document on your phone
  • Share any type of file across platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac)
  • Transform whiteboard notes or sketches into an editable document
  • Connect apps and actions together with workflows to automate tasks
  • And more!

This will be a hands-on learning experience.  Download and follow along as I describe and demonstrate!  These apps are hidden gems and free to download from the App Store.  (With a few bonus paid apps thrown in.)

Prerequisite: Requires iPhone 4s or later with iOS 9.3.1 installed.

Read more and register here.

Best Business Apps for the iPhone

Calling all friends and readers in or near Central Oregon – coming this October to Chandler Lab, Best Business Apps for the iPhone.  

Make the most out of your iPhone by discovering over 25 top-rated business productivity apps.

  • Learn how to scan and edit documents on the go
  • Schedule tasks with a tap of your finger
  • Sign a document on your phone
  • Share any type of file across platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac)
  • Transform whiteboard notes or sketches into an editable document
  • Connect apps and actions together with workflows to automate tasks
  • And more!

This will be a hands-on learning experience.  Download and follow along as I describe and demonstrate!  These apps are hidden gems and free to download from the App Store.  (With a few bonus paid apps thrown in.)

Prerequisite: Requires iPhone 4s or later with iOS 9.3.1 installed.

Read more and register here.

Calling All Lawyers Who Advise Businesses

This post is for any lawyer who gives business advice.imagesCA6NS7E8

You may consider yourself a business lawyer, employment law practitioner, corporate lawyer, commercial law specialist, or debtor/creditor/collections expert. If your clients process writs of garnishment, read up!

Garnishments represent an area of potential liability for several reasons: employee or account holder misidentification, honoring a writ that has expired, or failure to include identifying information with the payment.  The Professional Liability Fund has witnessed all three errors.

Believe it or not businesses who are garnishees frequently issue payments with blank check stubs and no attached documentation. While privacy or identity theft concerns may impose limitations on the amount of identifying information provided, it is crucial that the garnishor be able to identify the debtor and match payments received to the proper account. Otherwise your client’s check is useless. Furthermore, the identifying information cannot be cryptic. For example, a partial home address for the debtor with no other information (debtor’s name, account number, TIN, circuit court case number).

This is not just an issue for the garnishors who are trying to process payments. Your garnishee clients need to maintain a proper audit trail. Check stubs and related accounting entries should carefully detail the identity of the debtor and any other information needed to substantiate funds withheld.

For those who are skeptical, this problem is rampant. And it isn’t an issue limited to small Mom and Pop businesses who don’t know how to properly respond to garnishments. Large banks and employers regularly send off checks to garnishors with little or no identifying information that can be linked to a debtor. Please advise your clients to keep proper records and include sufficient information to identify the account holder or employee whose funds are being garnished.

A side note for those of you who are garnishors or who represent garnishors: Many lawyers who handle collections send calculation sheets to their garnishees. Your calculation sheets should contain appropriate identifying information.  Instruct garnishees to return the calculation sheets with their payment and track garnishee names in your collection system to aid in processing and matching payments.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis (2013)