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  • #983218
    Jenny Spring
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    My business is getting busier (good news). I’m picking up some larger clients, who want to work on a monthly basis (again good news).

    I need to figure out how a retainer works.

    Any suggestions?

    So I have two questions —
    1/ pricing. i.e. if my regular fee is $500 (for 2 1/2 hours), then how do I work out a monthly retainer.
    2/ timing. Do I allocate an actual day each week for each client? Or just set aside as they need it.

    I’d appreciate any assistance.

    Thanks!
    Jenny

    #1141171
    themobilebillboardco
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    Hi Jenny,

    Congratulations on your growth!

    I can’t chip in here with advice – but I just wanted to wish you all the best and its nice to be scouring these pages from time to time with people posting about positive results!

    All the best… who knows, maybe you and I need to discuss how you can help our business get the competitive advantage

    Regards

    John

    #1141172
    Jenny Spring
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    themobilebillboardco, post: 161370 wrote:
    Hi Jenny,

    Congratulations on your growth!

    I can’t chip in here with advice – but I just wanted to wish you all the best and its nice to be scouring these pages from time to time with people posting about positive results!

    All the best… who knows, maybe you and I need to discuss how you can help our business get the competitive advantage

    Regards

    John

    Happily! Contact details are —www.springintosales.com and phone number etc. on my site. Thanks for your good wishes.

    #1141173
    Tiggerito
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    I do a mix of retainer, fixed price services and hourly consultation.

    My retainer price is quite a bit lower than my hourly rate. This is probably more due to history than by plan as my retainer clients are long term. So one tip is to put a plan in place to increase your rates over time. Don’t leave it so long that the rate increase required will shock them.

    I do like retainer though as it’s a steady income. I’m now trying to balance the mix so I know I earn a safe minimum per month via retainers and the other work is a big bonus. At the moment I am not taking on new clients via retainer as I have that minimum.

    For time tracking I have a spreadsheet that I include required monthly hours and the hours I have done. A bit of maths and I can see if I’m ahead or behind schedule for each client and in my work overall. So no fixed days but I make sure I don’t fall behind on any specific clients or projects. That spreadsheet rules my life!

    #1141174
    nextplace
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    Jenny Spring, post: 161287 wrote:
    1/ pricing. i.e. if my regular fee is $500 (for 2 1/2 hours), then how do I work out a monthly retainer.
    2/ timing. Do I allocate an actual day each week for each client? Or just set aside as they need it.

    Hi Jenny,

    A retainer could be based on two things – number of hours dedicated to the client, or service based on the type of work completed.

    When it comes to an hourly retainer, you’ll want to make that retainer more attractive than the previous arrangement where you would bill your hourly rate on an ad hoc basis (so, cheaper). You can afford to, as it’s a guaranteed number of hours per week/month and a long term arrangement with your client.

    If you offer a range of different services and your work is quite varied you might want to determine a cost per task and build your retainer that way so you have an opportunity to correct your rates if the scope changes.

    Like Tiggerito, I think balancing the mix between retainer, fixed price and hourly consultation will get the best results. Your steady, bankable retainer clients will help take the pressure off during the slow months and the rest is bonus.

    Good luck,
    Lyndal

    #1141175
    Jenny Spring
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    Tiggerito, post: 161398 wrote:
    I do like retainer though as it’s a steady income. I’m now trying to balance the mix so I know I earn a safe minimum per month via retainers and the other work is a big bonus. At the moment I am not taking on new clients via retainer as I have that minimum.
    !

    Thanks. Good logic and pretty much what I was thinking as well.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Jenny

    #1141176
    Jenny Spring
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    nextplace, post: 161443 wrote:
    Hi Jenny,

    A retainer could be based on two things – number of hours dedicated to the client, or service based on the type of work completed.

    Good luck,
    Lyndal

    Thanks Lyndal. Good advice.

    Jenny

    #1141177
    TheGoldenGoose
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    Glad things are busier!

    It would be good to work out how much time YOU would save if someone were on your retainer. Not as much time to understand the client as you have a regular working relationship. No time on marketing for that client as they are regular etc.

    I would work it out as a percentage of your hourly rater based on the above time savings for you..

    #1141178
    Jenny Spring
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    TheGoldenGoose, post: 161472 wrote:
    Glad things are busier!

    It would be good to work out how much time YOU would save if someone were on your retainer. Not as much time to understand the client as you have a regular working relationship. No time on marketing for that client as they are regular etc.

    I would work it out as a percentage of your hourly rater based on the above time savings for you..

    Hmm… good point. Hadn’t thought about that.

    Thanks

    #1141179
    The Copy Chick
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    Great to hear things are going well for you, Jenny :)

    I like to offer my retainer clients X amount of hours p/month based on what level of support is required, then those hours can be used as required. I may do some tasks daily, or once a week, depending on what is needed and what my schedule looks like.

    I also like to offer a reduced rate, since it’s work I know I can rely on every month. Generally the more months they sign up for in advance, the greater the discount. The terms are that each month is paid in advance, and if the retainer is cancelled before the term is complete, they are liable to pay out the rest of the contract at the specified rate (that way they don’t use the lower rate for 3 months then cancel).

    For time tracking, I use a very simple little program called Task Coach. It lets you put in your client projects, the hours allocated, your rate, then you click the timer button to start recording, and click it off when you’ve finished.

    It tracks how many hours you’ve worked, how much you’ve earned to date, and time spent to date. You can add notes to each period you’ve worked to track how much time you’ve spent doing what. I’d be lost without it!

    #1141180
    Marra
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    Really useful thread, I nevre know what I’ll find there. Thanks for starting it, Jenny. Also thanks Anna for the Task Coach link. I’ve been looking for somethning like that. I’ll try it out!

    #1141181
    The Copy Chick
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    Marra, post: 161558 wrote:
    Really useful thread, I nevre know what I’ll find there. Thanks for starting it, Jenny. Also thanks Anna for the Task Coach link. I’ve been looking for somethning like that. I’ll try it out!

    Hope it fits the bill for you, Marra :)

    (You can also sync it with an iPhone or iPad, even if you use a PC, if you’re out and about to record meetings, etc.)

    #1141182
    Natalie Khoo
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    Hi Jenny,

    All of the advice that the kind FS users have provided you with above is great. However, just a word of warning: I often try to avoid setting up retainers with clients. Although a fantastic source of stable income, often clients have unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a few hours (if your rate is based on the number of hours you set aside for them). That is why I prefer task or project-based rates; they may not be constant but at least you have a shared vision of what the end result with be. My advice is to find out what kind of tasks your client needs help with and evaluate whether you can agree on “how much they get for how many hours”, kinda thing. I hope that gives you some insight!

    #1141183
    The Copy Chick
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    Natalie Khoo, post: 161989 wrote:
    Hi Jenny,

    All of the advice that the kind FS users have provided you with above is great. However, just a word of warning: I often try to avoid setting up retainers with clients. Although a fantastic source of stable income, often clients have unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a few hours (if your rate is based on the number of hours you set aside for them). That is why I prefer task or project-based rates; they may not be constant but at least you have a shared vision of what the end result with be. My advice is to find out what kind of tasks your client needs help with and evaluate whether you can agree on “how much they get for how many hours”, kinda thing. I hope that gives you some insight!

    I think that’s where you just need to be clear about exactly what is covered by the retainer rates and setting out how long you anticipate what each task will take.

    In any retainer proposal, I always outline the scope of work and give an estimate as to how long the work will take, breaking each component down as to what can be achieved within each month’s hours. Requests outside the initial scope of work are always quoted separately so the client understands exactly where the time and money are going.

    By using time-tracking software, if things look like exceeding the anticipated hours, you can inform the client before it gets out of hand and adjust things accordingly. It might be a bit more faffing around to get it set up right, but worth the effort.

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