With many years of experience representing Community Association's (Condominiums & Homeowner's Associations), we have tailored and refined an approach to collections that takes into account the personal challenges facing individuals within each community but also provides firm and calculable results that resolve the financial challenges facing each community. We like to call our approach, firm but fair.
We attribute our success to keeping a focus on Technology, Communication, and Focus on Results.
Our unique in-house computer software allows us to eliminate the costs associated with storing and maintaining paper files. Everything (each phone call, credit report, e-mail, account history, court document, etc.) gets scanned into our encrypted database. We then have the ability to review all of the documents and the chronological history of each account by simply typing in a name or an address. So, rather than spending hours of our time looking for files or coordinating with a third party software vendor we spend our time reviewing accounts and deciding which collection steps should be taken next. Our system is constantly evolving too - so as the courts change procedures or filing methods we can adapt and continue save time and money. Perhaps more importantly though, where one firm might only view a file for a few minutes each month and then file the folder away again, we are able to review that account several times each month and to continue to work towards resolving the account.
At most law firms, every phone call and every e-mail, no matter how short, results in a charge. We believe this approach to collections is counterproductive. Owners should be encouraged to call or send an e-mail in order to obtain clarification about any accounting issues or to confirm payments were received. More importantly, they should be able to discuss payment options without the fear of being charged for the communication. We believe anyone practicing in collections should seek to encourage communication, not dissuade communication. For this reason, we have eliminated charging for routine communications about collections. This means that if we have to coordinate with management to resolve an account discrepancy, explain a charge on an account to a homeowner, or explain to a Board member our collection strategy on any given account - it is free.
Focus on Results:
Many firms offer alternative billing structures, but every Community Association should ask their attorney one simple question related to their billing practices: Does your staff have a minimum billable hour quota? While many law firms will ignore that question, the truth is most law firms require their paralegals and attorneys to bill a certain amount of hours each month. While encouraging each member on your staff to focus on billing 300 hours or $15,000 per month will certainly increase the bottom line, such policies do not increase results. In fact, the practice can lead to many negative consequences. When staff begins to look at a file as potential "billable hours", it discourages efficiency and encourages unnecessary and even unwarranted charges. The process also encourages a slower moving collection process and higher legal bills. We believe the focus should be on resolving legal matters and this means being cognizant of the cost v.s. benefit concerns with each file.
By using technology, encouraging communication, and focusing our staff on resolving accounts we have been able to increase our productivity and maintain extremely competitive rates. Please fee free to contact our office to obtain a more detailed proposal outlining how our office can assist your community.