I wanted to reach out to the community through the Queens Jewish Link this week for a few reasons that small businesses are incorporating. First and foremost, I want to offer my best wishes to everyone affected by COVID-19. To those working in the healthcare industry: Thank you so much for all you do. You are true modern-day heroes. The sacrifices we are all making right now are the best way to protect those we care about. This will eventually pass. In the meantime, please stay safe and keep doing your part to keep others safe as well.
My family and I have been, baruch Hashem, fortunate and thankfully have remained healthy. My wife is a home-care physical therapist, treating patients with acute needs, so she still has to leave the house every day for work, but she is taking all the proper precautions. We have college-age children back home with us now, and we are definitely still adjusting to living together under one roof again; but my wife and I are thankful for the extra time we get to spend with them, and we are grateful they are safe.
Luckily, I am able to work from home with a fully functional home office. As many of you know, I operate my own law firm, The Law Office of Jeffrey S. Kimmel. Another reason I wanted to reach out this week is to speak to all of my fellow small-business owners in our community. I know we are all going through a very difficult time together, so I wanted to share some of the steps I have been taking with my business, with the hope that this information may be of some help to others.
One of my firm’s practice areas is commercial debt collection. It goes without saying that this is no time to be pursuing collections against those impacted by COVID-19. At the same time, I am facing my own challenges keeping this practice area afloat through the duration of the crisis. My first step has been to start sending weekly newsletters to all of my small-business clients via email to provide relevant information and updates. For instance, in my first two newsletters, I informed my clients that the courts in New York and New Jersey have been closed indefinitely to non-emergency civil filings, and in most cases, the statutes of limitations are being tolled, meaning deadlines for filing lawsuits will be extended. That means my clients don’t have to worry that the pandemic will run out the clock on collection efforts that were just getting underway before the crisis.
I also offered up an idea. I told my clients that while I cannot in good conscience pursue businesses that are unable to pay their bills right now due to the pandemic, it might make sense for them to use some of this downtime to gather up old paperwork and queue up older accounts for pursuit once things get back on track – accounts of businesses with long-outstanding balances that my clients may have nearly forgotten or given up on, but which may soon try to use the pandemic opportunistically to justify evading debts that long pre-existed it. Now is the time to prepare proactively.
Indeed, now could be a good time for businesses of all types to reach to the back of that filing cabinet, dust off some old folders, sign up for that online training seminar, or just dive headfirst into that item that has been languishing on the to-do list backburner for months or years due to more pressing day-to-day priorities. The best thing we can do throughout the slowdown is find ways to stay productive and positive. This is important not only for our businesses, but also for our own well-being.
Another thing I’ve done for my small-business clients is offer short-term fee reductions. In my last newsletter, I announced that anyone who signs a new engagement letter within the next two weeks will receive 10% off our typical contingency fee and 15% off our hybrid hourly and standard hourly fee arrangements. Giving clients and customers a break when times are tough for everyone is not only a good way to drive new business, it’s also the right thing to do.
Remember, we are all in this together. That means we will all make it through this together, as well. Until that time, I wish all of you the best from my family to you and yours.
By Jeffrey Kimmel