Shifting from hourly to a retainer agreement with clients is a great way to earn more and have consistent cash flow in your virtual assistance business. I’ve used retainers for years in my consulting work. Clients really appreciate having a predictable expense.
You can decide to give clients a small discount for booking future work, if you like. You want to lay out all the details including:
- your client is buying access not time, essentially. So it’s 5 hours/per month of access to you. The language you use makes a difference as to whether the funds are refundable or not. By using access, once the client agrees the contract is complete. If you’re selling time, then your client might say they haven’t used the time and want the money back. It’s a good idea to look at the laws in your state to see what the rule is.
- what’s up with the rollover minutes? Are you going to allow clients to carry over hours from one month to the next. When is the expiration date? You want to strike a balance that doesn’t leave you with more paperwork
- what happens when they run over time It’s so easy to do and easier still to just let those minutes go unpaid. But minutes turn into hours…that’s lost money. What’s the consequence for going over? A warning, then action ( a fee, firing if too severe) works.
- what happens when they don’t pay? Too many VAs let the meter run then discover the client isn’t paying, thinking you’ll get paid up later. Bad move. Be very clear about non-payment issues. Typically I’d stop work until paid, even if it meant delaying a project.
All this is about setting kind yet firm expectations for your clients. It’s part of your onboarding conversation that helps them be a great client. Helps you be happy and profitable.
How are you using retainer agreements in your online business?