Whether from a potential client or someone just starting out in the industry, a common question asked is: ‘How do you bill for your services?’ The simple answer is: We bill for our time, based on an hourly rate. The caveat to that is, this might be hourly, by project, or via retainer, depending on the task at hand.
With regard to the caveat, what it really gets down to, in particular in today’s economy where ROI is king is: what works best for all parties. Tanner Friedman has clients that have continual, day to day marketing and communications needs and, as such, want to retain us, on-going, month to month. At the same time, some clients and their specific projects lend themselves to project and/or hourly arrangements and simply don’t need a monthly retainer.
I am aware of a conversation an individual employed in our industry once had with a client that they sought to keep on retainer when an hourly or project fee would have been more appropriate. ‘If you’re not on retainer,’ they told this client, ‘we may not be so easily available when you do need us and we can’t guarantee the account people you work with won’t be busy with other projects.’ Ludicrous.
One more time, we can’t stress enough the importance of honesty, transparency and taking the long view in this service industry. After all, better to remain flexible and continue to bill rather than get the boot entirely—and permanently.