Three Ways to Save Time Protecting Your Lien Rights
The most important part of getting paid in the construction industry is sending the right paperwork to protect your lien rights. Without the proper lien rights documents, getting paid is stressful and sometimes, downright chaotic.
If your process for creating, sending, and tracking lien rights paperwork is taking you hours each week, or each day, then we encourage you to attend this webinar to learn three simple things you can do to spend less time on your lien rights process and make sure your lien rights are always protected.
Join this webinar to learn:
- Steps that construction companies are taking to successfully protect lien rights
- Solutions to common obstacles when collecting payments
- How lien rights software makes the notice process more efficient
Alec Matys (01:15):
Hey everybody. I’m just going to wait here for a little bit. Wait for some more participants to come in. Um, something fun, I guess just off the bat is if, if you know how to raise your hand in here, uh, if you just want to raise, you know, if you’re already sending out preliminary notices or if this is something that maybe is brand new to the company or that y’all are just starting to roll out. Um, so just with the first one, just being, if you do send out preliminary notices, please just raise your hand. Um, and that way I kind of know what we’re dealing with. Perfect. So it looks like about, just about a third of everyone in here. Um, with that, there may be a few questions from people who either do send them out or don’t, um, feel free to use the chat, to put in your questions. We’ll be answering those at the end. Um, but then for now, I’m just going to give a little more time, um, to anyone else who might be joining this a little late and then we’ll get going here at about one o five.
Alyssa Russell (03:35):
Well, look, I think we can get started a minute or two early. It looks like we have a pretty good crowd here.
Alec Matys (03:41):
Fair enough. So thanks everyone for joining us. Um, so we’re going to be covering three ways to save time, protecting your lien rights. Um, as you read, we did not invent lien rights or how to protect your lien rights. Um, we’ve just, I would say perfected and we can streamline it in a way to make it a little more effective, an intake a little bit off your in-house if you’re doing it that way, or if you’re just looking to start out on it, um, hopefully we can give you some good tips on why you should be doing this and maybe a way on, you know, how to maybe do it a little better in house as well. Um, so my name’s Alec, I’m a payment expert here at level-set. Um, I’m joined with Alyssa, so she handles more of with the customers directly day to day. Um, so if Alyssa, if you just want to introduce yourself and we kind of get it going.
Alyssa Russell (04:22):
Sure. Yeah. My name is Alyssa. I am a customer success manager here at level-set. I work really closely with our customers to simply put, get what they’ve earned by implementing a process to ensure payment protection.
Alec Matys (04:38):
Alec Matys (04:40):
So we’re going to be going over is level-set. So I don’t know if anyone’s familiar with us, but we were started as a company called xylene in new Orleans. After Katrina. A lot of people were getting ripped off. Our CEO at the time was a construction attorney said, you know, this isn’t right. People should be able to file lien and not lose money on top of it after they’re already not getting paid. Um, from there we’ve gone into level-set. We found that just by protecting your lien rights, you not only speed up payment, but you make sure all your payments are protected in case of a bankruptcy or a GC. Who’s a bad actor. So with that, we think it’s most important to send out notices on every job, make sure that all of your details are correct on that. Get alerts, make sure you’re not missing any deadlines that might have to be sent out.
Alec Matys (05:19):
And then obviously, you know, so much more when it comes to reminders and anything like that. So our focus today is going to be on the three ways to save time on lien rights paperwork. So basically it’s sending notices on every job I know about, you know, a third of y’all said that you do send out preliminary notices. Um, most people I talk with may not be sending them out on every job. Usually there’s either a dollar threshold, or if it’s, when they’re working with new customers that they don’t know, they want to make sure that they’re protecting that and lowering their risk. Our view of it is that it’s best practice to send it out on every project to make sure that one you’re protecting it. And two, it speeds up payment and sets up a communication chain right off the bat. And then the most important part of that is also making sure that it’s going to the actual property owners address.
Alec Matys (06:05):
So whether that’s something that you’re looking up in-house or finding it another way with, on the contract or anywhere like that is making sure that it goes to the actual owner of the property to a lender, if any, and making sure that they know who’s on the job with lien rights and again, send that expectation. Um, and the last is just having productive conversations with your customers. Again, it’s all to avoid that, you know, uncomfortable combative conversation with a client where you might burn a bridge. It’s not always a someone’s not going to pay is that it’s taken a little while and getting a little uncomfortable. So you want to be able to say, Hey, you know, what’s going on here? Um, is there a reason we’re not getting paid? Is there an issue on the job? Just some sort of communications, what we’re looking for.
Alec Matys (06:44):
And so all of that encompasses by saying, Hey, we sent in our notice, we know who it needs to go to, and now there’s an issue and we don’t know why there’s an issue. Um, so to dive into the first one, it’s sending a notice on every job. Um, again, whether it’s required in your state or not sending these out, kicks off that communication right off the bat with, Hey, we know what we’re doing. We know what we need to turn in and who it needs to go to. We’re not like maybe other contractors who don’t turn this in this speeds up the payment and in States where it’s required, it protects your payment in case there’s an issue down the road. And then what we make sure is that it’s very easy to do that with us, sending it out, making sure that it’s blanketed across.
Alec Matys (07:23):
So you don’t have to look back and say, did we send a prelim on that job? Because I don’t know if we’re protected or not. We make sure that you know, that you’re protected on every project that you don’t have to worry about is that payment going to come in, when’s it going to come in? You know, who you need to talk to when you need to talk to them and you’ve set those expectations, we don’t want to make anyone’s life more redundant, whether it be in-house or an owner whoever’s handling the accounting. We want to make sure that if it needs to be integrated with the software, we do that. If there’s a way to just have a CSV file, come in off a report, we make sure it comes in that way as well to make it as easy as possible to get these documents out and then especially no more trips to the post office or handing it off to be run over there. We send everything certified mail and make sure that you all will always have the tracking number on that. Um, and from here, I just want to kick it over to Alyssa. She works with our clients every day. So what do you usually see on this, Alyssa?
Alyssa Russell (08:16):
Yeah, I mean, this is super common with customers coming to us. I actually have an HVAC customer that kind of comes to mind with a very similar situation. Wendy was responsible for a R a P H R. You name it. She was doing it. Um, but she was trying to send pre-lit preliminary notices in her spare time, which she didn’t have much of which in turn led her to forget a few and things to slip through the cracks. Um, when they came to us, they just wanted to cast a wider net and to appear more professional. And we were able to help them do that with a few clicks of a button. We sinked up their QuickBooks. Now there are notices are being sent out regularly and she’s able to maintain a level of continuity for all of the projects they’re on.
Alec Matys (09:03):
Yeah. Awesome. Um, the next thing I want to talk about is just that job site research process. Um, if that is someone in house, if you do require it for your salesmen, maybe to go out there and grab that information, or if you want the GC to put it on the contract. Um, a lot of times what we do find is that a GC either does not put the correct, you know, owner information on there either on accident or sometimes on purpose. You want to make sure you’re double checking that and we do that for you, but even if you’re doing it in house, it’s very important that even if the job address is at a residential property, sometimes they have a mailing address in a different state and again, to set expectations and to be doing it the right way. You want it to go to that owner and you want the CISI sometimes to know that you know where that owner lives.
Alec Matys (09:49):
Um, and so that’s where it comes into being very important. So to just sending it, it needs to go to the right place. So what we have is a full research team. Um, again might be someone you have in house. We have about 20 people in house that are looking up all the project information, whatever info is put in there, we will double check it. If you don’t know who the owner is, are not aware of. Maybe if the data was correct, that you got, we’ll always double-check it again, don’t put it on anyone in house to do. We’ll go out there and find it for you and we’ll confirm everything and make sure that these notices are going to the correct parties. Um, Alyssa, I guess I’m curious, like when someone comes to us, what do you usually see in either a time savings or just making sure that these things are verified?
Alyssa Russell (10:31):
Truthfully, there’s so much room for error when it comes to visibility on a project. So we’ve seen it all, but top of mind is customers who come to us. Um, just because they, they were sending their preliminary notices, they were being proactive. They were trying to be protected. Um, but maybe there was a missing party that they weren’t aware of a hidden party at that. And so therefore their lien was challenged and they might’ve potentially lost out on lien rights. So with level set, we’re calling and we’re figuring out all of the missing information that you might not have, so that you’re adequately protecting all of your jobs.
Alec Matys (11:09):
Yeah, exactly. And like I said, we didn’t invent these things. We just want to perfect it and make sure it is correct. So if you are doing it in house, just maybe a double check on your end, if you’re working with us rest assured that we’re verifying it for you. Um, and then the last part of this, of the three steps is going to be the productive conversations with the customer. Again, a lot of people I talk with might have, Hey, when it ages past X amount of days, we’re starting to hound them on the phone or really go after this client. Um, this is more so to say, Hey, we’ve set an expectation. Let’s have a conversation with them. Let’s let’s not just go right at them and say, you’re not paying us. Why aren’t you paying us? Um, let’s, let’s find out what’s what’s happening.
Alec Matys (11:47):
Let’s have that good relationship. And then what we find is, especially, again, if you’re sending preliminary notices, great. Um, with us, we do put a very friendly cover letter on there. Who’ve been doing it for a few years now. Um, and what we find the key is, is relationships, right in construction, how to get referrals, how to make sure that you’re not burning a bridge, right? When you start a project because no one wants to send out a preliminary notice in someone to see it and say, we just started, why are you filing a lien on my property? That’s not what this is. So we make it very clear that we’re very excited to be here. Thank you so much for the business. However, you know, we do have X amount of days in whatever state you’re in that we would have to file a lien by.
Alec Matys (12:27):
We never ever expect to use it. Just want you to be aware that we know what it is and that you know, what the deadline is as well. And that changes from saying that, Hey, we’re going to guess when the AR is going to come in to setting an expectation of when we expect the AR to come in, and that is a lot easier on forecasting cashflow, everything like that without being combative off the front end. Um, and so Alyssa with what you see, because when I talk to someone that that is one of the biggest things, is that they don’t want to burn a bridge right off the bat. How do you see homeowners react to this or the difference in relationships when they send it through us?
Alyssa Russell (13:01):
Yeah. I mean, for customers who might be more hesitant, that custom messaging that you explained when you’re very upfront about what it is and what they’re receiving so that there isn’t, it isn’t an indication of payment issues. And so that is a better result, better received by the property owner. And often it’s, sometimes they even enjoy receiving it. You can list your vendors on the notice, which would do a lot of great work for the GC because they also have stake in wanting to know who was on those jobs. And so it opens up a line of communication for all parties on the job, which in turn does improve the relationship that you guys are building.
Alec Matys (13:41):
Yeah, absolutely. And what I always say is, um, preliminary notices and lien rights are there to protect a contractor to get payment when they’re not getting paid on a project. This also notifies and is fair to an owner to say, who’s on their project with lien rights in case something happens because no one wants to finish a project. And a lot of times the owner will pay out the GC and the server supplier never gets paid. And now the owner is the one who has to deal with a lien on their property. This is a way of saying who we are, what we’re doing on the project. And like you said, Alyssa, it just gives them peace of mind that they’re aware of everyone there. Um, so with that, I can go ahead and I’m going to jump into the level-set platform here. Um, again, I don’t know. I, I can’t really see, but if you’re putting in your questions, we’re going to get to them. Um, but we’d love to see any ones that we have on there that we didn’t cover in the slides. Um, but with that, let me just pull this up now.
Alec Matys (14:40):
So this is the level-set platform. Um, went ahead and spun up just a little fake demo account in here with a address in California for a subcontractor on a commercial job. Um, the first thing see up top is you have a summary. You have your AR your AP, any contact suppliers are subs you have underneath you. And then all the documents kept in one place. As you move down, you see on the right, your payment is not protected. Um, the big thing with us, if you chose to go with us or doing it in house, is that you want to be aware of when you could potentially lose lien rights. And so we let you know right here, um, with that, any materials financing send that out as well. Um, but just to send out this prelim, go ahead and create a notice here. Always want to send the required one for the state.
Alec Matys (15:22):
Again, if you’re in a state that doesn’t require it, or if you’re, you know, always a GC, um, you can send out the one that just says, Hey, we’re excited to be here. Thanks for the business and lay out what the state deadlines are for that. This is the friendly cover letter that I was just covering. Kind of read it over again. Very excited to be here. Thanks so much for the business. The last page of this is going to be written up by an attorney again was saying per state statute, whatever legal jargon is in there to make sure that they know that you’re aware of what the laws are put in all the information, go ahead and click next. This will be where you have the GC that you’re already aware of. If you’re further down, you don’t know the GC, again, as something you’re gonna want to research or ask your sales team to find, or we can find it for you. Um, and then this portion would be more so Alyssa, when you see someone come in and maybe the GC didn’t give the information, um, what do they do at this point
Alyssa Russell (16:12):
Without levels that they would, you know, ask their sales team, like, kind of like you mentioned, but with level set, all you would do is click that I don’t know, button, and that’s going to push it to our research team to investigate who the owner is on this job. Um, even if you did have the property owner, you would provide it, but our team is still going to verify or confirm it. Um, so in the chance that the property was sold amongst the time that you were on the job, we are going to pull records to indicate and show you that the information might be off a little bit. Maybe we want to notify both potential property owners just to assure your protection.
Alec Matys (16:47):
Yeah, absolutely. And then as, as y’all can see here, we do have, you know, instant research. So you could just go ahead and click who we have put in as the owner. So maybe you heard their name. You can click to use ours, or again, put in what you saw. We’re always going to, double-check it for you. Go ahead and click next. There from here, you have everything sent certified mail per state statute. If you’re in a state that doesn’t require it, if you don’t have to be sending it, um, then you can just go ahead and send it through email. Uh, we do have pixel tracking, which just means that you can see when they receive it when they opened it again, just to have transparency. So no one can say, Oh, I never got that. Or I don’t know what that is. You can say, well, you opened it yesterday at five o’clock.
Alec Matys (17:23):
So it’s just about having transparency there from here. You can add any extra notes you want or add anyone else to the email that you would like get the preview to your right, and then you should go next. Um, we sent everything standard. So that’s three to five days certified mail. If you need to rush it, there’s no extra charge with us. Um, we’ll go ahead and rush those preliminary notices for next day in case this is more of an a time where someone, it was all good. You knew this or this owner. And then they kind of said the wrong thing, or maybe, you know, treated your guys the wrong way. Um, you can go ahead and rush that out as well from there, just hit create document and that’s it. So from there, you’ll be able to have a copy of the document itself.
Alec Matys (18:05):
You can always download it to have on your own desktop for your files, even if you archive it within level-set, we’re going to keep it right here for you. And the big thing is that we do what you tell us to do and whatever we’re doing on the back end, we show you what it is. You can see when it’s delivered, when they opened that email again, like I said, um, and just really know that, you know, everything’s taken care of. I didn’t have to run to the post office. They took care of it for me, but you can still track everything that you want and keep control of that there.
Alec Matys (18:32):
Um, on top of that, you see that this changes to your payment is protected. Again, whatever state it’s in the software itself will know what’s required based on job aging, all that good stuff, any pain problems identified this would be, if anyone else has a lien on that property, we’re researching that and making sure that we’re taking care of it, because typically if someone’s having a payment issue on a project, there’s going to be more people and potentially you who’s having the payment issue as well. So we want to get ahead of that. Um, and then down here to be more that deadline tracking, these are turned from blue to yellow, to red, as you get closer, um, as an end user, every Monday to get an email with your week ahead. Um, but really the gist is that you don’t want to miss any deadlines.
Alec Matys (19:11):
And so this would be more so you’ve sent the prelim. You’ve had those conversations and they’ve maybe have gone dark. I said, we’re not paying you not going to click through the notice of intent to lien. Um, but this is one where it’s more so no friendly cover letter. Um, again, if you’re doing this in house or whatever state it’s in, just having something written up by an attorney is very powerful. And so say if we’re not paid in X amount of days, we will file a lien against this property. We still want to avoid this. However, we only have 10 days left before per state statute. We have to file this by help, help us help you. Let’s just get paid and have a conversation. Um, again, you just click next same way as the prelim. And then if you ever have to file a lien, go ahead and click filing in there. Um, and then the last thing I want to cover is just with the AR and the AP, um, Alyssa, again, working more direct with, with clients, how do they find benefits from this?
Alyssa Russell (20:02):
Sure. Um, adding in your invoices through this AR tab that you just selected is so easy. We only ask for basic information such as the date and the amount. And if we do have any integration, it’ll pull over for you. But the benefit of adding your invoices in here are one, some States track deadlines off of them too. You can send your customer or the general, general contractor, a waiver so that you can in turn, get paid faster. Um, and then it also allows you to send invoice reminders, which is just a friendly document, nudging them and reminding them that the invoice is still open. So there’s a lot of fun features. It also take the sum of all of your invoices. So it’s giving you an updated due, um, for that job.
Alec Matys (20:51):
Yeah, absolutely. And then there’s also an AP. You don’t need to dive into it, but if you ever have to collect down the chain waivers as well, we want to simplify that for you, make it as easy as possible to get those in. And then you have one pane of glass to have everything sent on that one project right here for you keep track of that. Um, and the last thing I like to cover is just, well, that’s just granularly one project view. This is if you’re handling multiple across, and this is where it comes into, Hey, if we’ve blanketed and we’ve sent out preliminary notices on every job we don’t need to worry about, who’s not paying us because we’ve protected our payment there. So it was important to you, lean alerts, payment rights at risk or upcoming deadlines. Or if you want to build out your own custom filters for whatever projects you might be working on, just so that you can see the bird’s eye view of, Hey, how’s everything aging, where are we at with this?
Alec Matys (21:37):
And if you want to just go off of when the next deadline is, the point is that you can be able to see everything in one place and no more guesswork on when is something due, no more spreadsheets. Um, and that’s what we bring to the table there. Um, that’s everything I wanted to cover there. I’d love to hop into. I don’t know. I hope some people have asked questions, um, but I want to keep it under 30 minutes, especially for anyone who’s going to be watching the recording. Um, so from there, I guess let’s just dive right into, um, Alyssa, are there, are there any questions from anyone?
Alyssa Russell (22:08):
Not yet, but are patiently waiting for y’all to posted questions for us? Um, let me look in the chat to Alec. We have a question in the chat that asks what services are available for free on level-set dot com.
Alec Matys (22:28):
Yeah, so we have a ton of mom when it comes to services. That’s that’s. I want to break that down. We have a ton of free resources state by state. You can go in and see what States require it, what templates you may need, what the deadlines are in those States. So definitely say lean into those resources when it comes to free services. Um, I wouldn’t say we really offer any of those. We do have where we can get, you know, I think it’s the first three documents you send would be, you know, free in the system to see how it works or to make sure that if you’re in a pension, you don’t have any money, right? Because you just got burned, that’s available. But I would say our value is you have the resources in there. There’s an expert center where we’re part of, there were 500 attorneys put in a one-off question, don’t go and pay for a pro bono or an hourly consultation. If you can just get your answer off of us. Um, so yeah, I would say services, maybe not so many for free, but there’s a ton of resources for anyone who’s looking
Alyssa Russell (23:21):
That kind of goes into the next question. Sarah asked, how do we know the lien requirements for our state?
Alec Matys (23:26):
Perfect. Yeah. So I would say, just go to level-set dot com um, on the top, there’s a little search bar type in your state. Um, from there it’s going to direct you to our FAQ page right on there. Um, again, if you use us, we’ll always let you know, but with just that free side, just go in there, type in your state and you can go ahead and read through everything there.
Alyssa Russell (23:50):
Perfect. I have another one,
Alec Matys (23:53):
Alyssa Russell (23:56):
I’ll just read it out loud. In Texas. We have rental equipment that runs month to month and often split. How can, how, or can this be split to be the 45 day window using this service?
Alec Matys (24:08):
Yeah. So that, that seems loaded. I’m trying to imagine what the Alyssa do. You know what they would mean by split? Okay.
Alyssa Russell (24:14):
I’m assuming like split invoices.
Alec Matys (24:18):
So in Texas, specifically, it’s going to be run off of invoice or work performed during a certain month. And theirs is off of a, you said 45 days, but again, you could go to level-set, there’s a it’s due by the 15th day of a certain month, depending on the aging. Um, I don’t want to get too into the weeds is a little complex in Texas, but it’d be two to three months after that invoice has gone due when a monthly notice has to be sent, um, that’s specific to Texas and that’s just a way of protecting the payment. Um, so that’d be, if you’re split into invoices and one was sent in January, one was February two to three months by the 15th day is when you would need to send in that monthly notice to go to both. Um, and again, that’s where you set the expectation right off the front, that if we’re not paid in X amount of days, we have to send them monthly notice in this state. We want to avoid it. So the GC could speed it up if they’re not paying that’s when you need to send that monthly notice to protect your payment. Um, but again, I would, I would suggest going, um, to level-set and looking at Texas deadlines right there too, for any more in depth,
Alyssa Russell (25:25):
This one says, do you send prelims with a return receipt?
Alec Matys (25:30):
Yeah. So everything sent certified mail. So you do get a return receipt. Um, it’s all right in the system as well. You can see when it was sent, when it was received. Um, sometimes people think they can just reject these or ignore them. Um, that will still count because you can see when a contractor sent it out and that’s the point of certified mail, why it’s required. If it’s sent email, that’s where you can see the read receipt on there.
Alyssa Russell (26:11):
Any other questions? One last one, and then we can wrap it up. It says, if you send it by certified mail, why do you send by email as well? Or why should we,
Alec Matys (26:39):
Yep. So certified mail is going to cover per state statute if it’s in a state, requires these documents. Um, and then also by emails, one it’s instant, um, and two, when it’s sent by email, the client themselves can respond within the system, especially for a notice of intent or something like that. It’s very effective. We do have level-set pay, they can pay through and just click on that email that they find. And it’s all about getting communication, but I would say the, the reason people do it is that it’s instant. It gets there. They can see when it gets there and then they can wait for the mail as well. Um, so just, just double up on it, I call it, uh, the strategy of being the, uh, you know, the overly polite squeaky wheel on a project. You’re just constantly there making sure everything’s okay. And that the payments coming in. Um, but yeah,
Alyssa Russell (27:24):
Add to that. I would say it creates a good paper trail. It allows you to kind of get a better understanding of where money might be held up depending on who’s opening those emails. So it’s not required, but highly effective.
Alec Matys (27:38):
Yeah. Awesome. Well, um, I guess there’s no other questions. If anyone has any, um, again, you can always, you know, come to level set, you know, ask for anyone you’d want to talk to we’ll answer all those questions. Um, I would say lean into the resources we have. I hope that, you know, we’re able to give you a few tips on those three steps that we find to be very effective. Um, we’d love to obviously partner with anyone, um, who would want to get paid faster and streamline it on themselves, but always willing to help and be there for anyone who’s keeping it. In-house too. So, um, thanks everyone for their time. Thank you, Alyssa. Thanks.
Alyssa Russell (28:10):
And have two more. I wanted to touch on I’ll think of Amy raised her hand. So I want to make sure that we address her question in regards to, um, Amy’s question. She raised their hands. I wanna make sure we address her was the one in regards to the rental equipment invoices. So typically, um, since rental periods run mid month and the invoice period ends the next month, um, getting the invoice includes the cost two months asking how to break that up with monthly notices.
Alec Matys (28:46):
Yeah. So that would be typically for when the rental equipment was used. So, um, whatever the invoice was. So if it’s going through two different months splitting that could get a little more difficult. Um, but the, I would say go off the earlier date to protect that payment. They would still have, it depends on if it’s commercial, residential, again, don’t wanna get into the weeds with it, but if they’re getting to 60 days overdue from that first month, why wait till the second month deadline to give them 90 days when y’all are the ones waiting for payment? I would just say, it’d be better to send it out on that first one and whoever it’s going to should be paying before it gets to that third month anyways.
Alyssa Russell (29:24):
And then last one, before we let y’all go. This one says we have a restoration business throughout the entire state of Florida, and we are the GC does levels that have contracts or work authorizations or do we continue to use our existing ones?
Alec Matys (29:38):
So I know we have templates and contracts do have a what’s called legal guard. We could match you up with an attorney to review contracts, to go through that as well. Um, and then as a restoration company in Florida, if there is a slow payment, again, those prelims are very effective. I say a contract’s only as good as the other person who’s signing it. Um, you don’t want to have to go into those legal battles, setting an expectation, letting them know that you know what you need to do. If you’re not paid we’ll speed up payment for you, but then there’s contract templates, experts center, and we do have legal guard. If you want to have any contracts reviewed like that as well.
Alec Matys (30:15):
Thanks. I think that about covers it.
Alec Matys (30:21):
All right. I already said my goodbyes. So anything else from you? Okay.
Alec Matys (30:25):
No, not at all. Thanks to you guys for joining us suspense.