When you think of agency retainers, do you feel nervous and apprehensive? Do you feel like it’s a scam? Or maybe it’s just not right for you? Perhaps you have these concerns because you aren’t aware of how being in a retainer model will benefit you.
What is an agency retainer? Retainers at Spark are pretty simple. We offer clients a pricing model where a specific number of hours are purchased monthly for at least a quarter but could last as long as multiple years. Scopes can be defined or undefined, with the hours being prepaid each month and drawn down as the team produces and delivers work.
How retainers benefit our clients:
1. Reduced and predictable cost
When clients prepay for hours, our agency benefits from the predictability of guaranteed spending and, therefore, offers our services at a reduced rate. Spark clients will see approximately 10-20% in savings using the retainer model rather than opting for time and materials or fixed fee pricing. Who doesn’t love a bargain?
2. Dedicated team
When clients purchase the hours, they put a hold on the agency team for the monthly hours purchased, reducing the lead and wait time on their project requests. Typically, we dedicate the same resources to the client, providing consistency for the entire team.
3. More flexibility and less planning
Agency retainers allow clients to pivot, change scope, or reprioritize when needed, requiring less planning and coordination on both the agency and client sides. There is also less waiting around and time spent getting updated contracts or project change requests together. Everyone can get a little excited about less paperwork!
Haven’t convinced you yet?
It does require a level of trust with the agency. We’re fully transparent with our usage of hours and provide weekly burn reports detailing the number of allocated hours, the number used, and the number remaining. The hours burned should never be a surprise for clients.
Are you worried you might not use all your hours for some months? Our retainer teams regularly work with clients to define their product roadmaps and feature backlogs. This way, if they need to shop things around or are delayed internally for any reason, the team can move on to the next set of tasks and start making progress with the month’s remaining hours.
Agencies should understand that the demand can vary month-to-month and account for variations, so we offer a borrow/rollover program. A certain percentage of the monthly hours can be borrowed from the next month without penalty if a project runs hot. Or if a client is having a lighter month for any reason, a percentage is rolled over, adding to the next month. This approach provides even more flexibility and alleviates the pressure of wasted time. No one wants to see anyone lose hours!
While it may not be the right fit for all projects, if you enjoy saving money, consistency, and flexibility, consider a retainer for your next engagement!