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How To Break Up with Your Bank and Stay Friends

Whether it’s a romantic or business partnership, parting ways is a tough task. Far trickier, though, is finessing the more complicated kind of uncoupling—where it’s time to end one key aspect of the relationship, while trying to keep the rest intact.

Many firms want to switch to another payment processor to save money on processing fees and spend less time on billing. But what stands in the way is their own bank. Many firms using their bank's credit card processing system also serve as their bank's legal counsel. The fear is that, if the firm opts out of the bank's credit card processing solution, it would damage a key client relationship.

That doesn't mean your only choice is to put up with a service your firm has outgrown. To help, we offer a practical guide, including the reasons to make the change and how to go about doing it.

Well-balanced Relationships Are Healthy Relationships

The key to any kind of healthy relationship is setting realistic expectations of the partner, while affirming your own needs.

This can certainly be applied to business relationships. How are things balancing out between your firm and the bank? Is this a situation where the bank’s needs are coming first? Or is there a way to have what you want and continue what has otherwise been a productive relationship?

What Are the Firm’s Needs?

When evaluating the bank’s processing tool, it comes down to this: your clients’ needs are your needs, too. An increasing number of customers want and expect a convenient way to manage their payments online:

  • 42% of smartphone users have reported paying their bills with their devices, according to Nielsen's 2016 Global Money Report
  • The occurrence of businesses paying by check has fallen by more than 50% between the years 2000 and 2015, according to the Federal Reserve

How Are the Firm’s Needs Met?

A firm is a business, and one of the realities of business is it needs a healthy cash flow in order to survive and thrive. One way to boost cash flow (without cutting expenses) is to decrease accounts receivable. These are the modern best practices:

  • Discuss costs and payment options up front with clients
  • Bill clients immediately, rather than waiting for the weekly or bi-weekly batch
  • Be willing to set up payment plans
  • Provide easier methods for clients to submit payments, such as an online payment management tool
  • When payment is late, follow up immediately through friendly emailed reminders, phone calls, and letters

Not Your Everything:

Taking a step back to evaluate the performance of any vendor is good business sense, plain and simple. That includes taking a deeper look at your bank's individual services and products. Do they make sense for your firm? Do they save you time and money? In the final analysis, no one organization can excel in every area. That includes your financial partner.

But Still the One:

Through it all, bring clarity to what this partnership means to your firm. To put it in perspective, opting out of one banking product more than likely represents a small percentage of the outputs. Would one change really diminish your show of good faith?

Some firms may feel obligated to use the bank’s many products. However, recognizing when one of them is not working well for the firm and opting out is better for the firm in the long run.

How to Make the Break and Preserve the Relationship

It can be difficult to discontinue using your bank’s card processing tool in favor of more efficient options. Follow these steps to help you navigate this change in the relationship for a successful outcome.

Step 1: Review the Reasons

Before any difficult conversation, a good place to start is knowing why this step is being taken. Before holding the briefing, making the phone call, or sending the message, review the firm’s reasons for taking this step to opt out of the bank’s credit card processing tool.

Step 2: It’s Not You, It's Me

If your firm is asked why you are opting out, don’t focus on the shortcomings of the bank’s product. Frame the decision as a fiscally driven one that best serves the firm and its clients. Because that is, after all, one of your core responsibilities.

Step 3: Don’t Offer False Hope

Your contact at the bank may push back with competitive pricing or other offers to get your firm to stay. This is arguably the most uncomfortable part of the conversation. You could feel pressure to soften the rejection by agreeing to reconsider. This could do more harm than good to the business relationship in the long run. Resist the pressure and stay clear about the firm’s intentions.

Step 4: Pledge Your Commitment

End or follow up the exchange with a clear communication or gesture that shows the firm still values the role the bank plays. This can be as simple as writing a follow-up letter or setting up the next meeting to discuss taxes or retirement strategy.

A Happy Ending

Sometimes change is necessary even for long-term relationships. If both parties aren’t benefiting, it’s time to find a healthy partnership.

Client Pay

ClientPay provides integrated payment processing solutions that leverage technology to turn the error-prone and time-intensive task of payment acceptance into an efficient, accurate and cost savings process for law firms. Click here for more information.

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