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long term clients


#1
Howdy all, quick question mainly for those of you running your own agencies, or who deal with client contracts/ negotiation.

Just a bit of background I’ve got 4-5 clients who I’ve worked with between 12-36 months on a freelance basis. I’ve good ongoing relationships and they all provide several jobs every month. As I’m looking to expand and move over to a Ltd company, for long-term stability I’d like to move towards a retainer agreement for these clients.

My question is basically how do you sell this to your clients? From my point of view it gives me a bit more control over assessing workloads, schedule and financial planning, but from their point of view, what’s in it for them?

Obviously some of these points are of benefit to the client as well, but do you offer any incentives (financial or otherwise) for the client to take you on a retainer?
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
#2
personally if I know I'm going to get a constant flow of work from one company I'll put the option of a retainer to them.

I'll tell them straight that they would save money relatively as I can reduce some of my costs due to being able to reduce overheads and so can pass on the savings etc (normally I knock x% off) - note this is likely a little different for me due to me being CAD orientated rather than graphics or web.

I then offer up a number of options for them which have a set amount of hours/days of work which can be done as and when they feel like it over the period of 12 months in a "use it or lose it" basis (ie if not used it's not passed over to the next year).

They also have cooldown period (30 days) with a clause to pay at full rates for any completed work if they change their mind and are required to pay upfront in full/quarterly/monthly (obviously all listed/protected in t&c's etc). They are also required to pay up in full (either work completed or retainer) within 30-60days if they run out of allowance (I let them know how much they have after each piece of work) or miss a payment without letting me know.

The biggest issue with retainers (and any other payment) is making sure they pay you on time or completely so just make sure you choose everything wisely


Having said all that Berry might have a bit more experience in this area and might give us all a few pointers/tips/pitfalls etc
 

berry

Active Member
#3
We have a number of clients on retainer basis ( but is become harder to sell that in )

A reduced hourly of '£X" per month for 'X" amount of manhours. They pay a monthly set fee for say 30 hours a month, you have to record all the hours or tell them how many hours per project/work etc.

Whatever happens the client doesn't lose the man hours, it will either be accumulated or credited back.

payment is done by BACCs at a fixed day each month.

Contracted hours are great for cashflow. -downside is the accountabilty in admin for the hours.

If Russell wants to send me his email I will send him an old contracted Service Agreement for him to peruse and use.
 
#4
Thanks guys that's great, Berry I'll PM you in a mo. I've been planning a price increase (as I haven't changed my charges in 2 years) so this may be a way in, IE my rate is going up but as you are a long standing client if we can work out a retainer agreement I can keep the costs as is. Food for thought, thanks.
 

Levi

Moderator
Staff member
#6
Berry said:
We have a number of clients on retainer basis ( but is become harder to sell that in )

A reduced hourly of '£X" per month for 'X" amount of manhours. They pay a monthly set fee for say 30 hours a month, you have to record all the hours or tell them how many hours per project/work etc.

Whatever happens the client doesn't lose the man hours, it will either be accumulated or credited back.
.
Berry is your's more of rolling contract type retainer where it doesn't have a set period of time or is it more like mine where it's for a year and then has the option to renew/reassess etc.

If it is I might need to look into that approach although not sure it will work as well with my type of work as it's usually more of a block of time per project rather than a continual monthly thing....

And any chance I can grab a copy of that service agreement to take a look please :)
 

berry

Active Member
#7
Most of the retainers are for a set period 1 year.
But some have been for long term project that I've split into monthly payments as it's generally front heavy and it eases the cost to the client. send me your email
 
#8
Great question Russell.

I'm not sure if that is a good reason to go for a retainer. If you've been working for a year for them and you are doing good work then just keep going!

I've done retainers before and unless you are all over the hours every month it can become a mess. If you have that ability then go for it. Clients like being rewarded for loyalty.