5 Tips For Setting Up A Retainer

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March 16, 2017
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Freelancing can sometimes feel like a slow walk along a beach: you come across dozens of shells, but only a couple stand out, flashing their colours in the sun and fitting well in your hand. By this analogy, we’re talking about first-class clients: primarily, the hopes you’ll put into your relationship with them.

Month-by-month, you’ll want to be sure that they have the same regard for your services. Setting up a retainer – in essence, a commitment to long-term work – is going to make the playing field a whole lot clearer. Here are five traits of doing it right…

1. Remind them of your value

Like any ‘serious’ relationship talks, professional or otherwise, you should sit down with the client and assess your value as a unit. Bring up occasions where a brief has been delivered very effectively, hitting all of their targets and then some. Surely they don’t want to risk a lower-grade service with another freelancer? You’re made for each other – just show them how passionate you are.

2. Don’t settle for less than you’re worth

By agreeing to a retainer, most clients will expect a cut in your basic rates. We strongly advise not agreeing to a discount above more than 15%. In the grand scheme of things, your work will be the same as ever, if not better because of the far-reaching implications of the retainer fee. Don’t sacrifice earning potential for the dangling carrot of promised assignments. Be polite, and say that you love working with them, but a slight discount is all you can bring to the table.

3. Encourage flexibility

There will, at some point, be scenarios in which your workload has to be expanded. In the retainer agreement, explain how much extra time you can spend on their projects – an hourly price may be the route forward, quantifying your potential commitments. Being open, and totally flexible with what they can get from you, providing that you’re well compensated.

4. Agree to periodical reviews

You’ll already have a fair idea of what the client will land you with each month, but things may change, and their requests for more could start to form a pattern. For this reason, discuss when you’ll look over the retainer again on a quarterly or biannual basis. Then, if there are trends in their ascending demands, you can adjust the agreement to match them.

5. Make payments simple

If you’ve agreed a set figure per month, why put yourself (and them) through the hassle of chasing invoices every month? Suggest a standing order or direct debit from the outset, to give you confidence that you’ll be paid on time every month. This eliminates awkward late payment conversations, and allows you to better manage your cash flow.

Ideally, you’ll be nodding along to our tips and tricks for one of the vital stepping stones in your career. Freelancers of all stripes, specialities and preferences want to be paid well, in a reliable fashion. Contact Bright Ideas Accountancy to manage that revenue efficiently, and place your monetary value under lock and key!

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