In The VA World, What Is A Retainer?

There’s a lot of confusion within the industry in relation to exactly what a “retainer” is. In simple terms a client could consider this option as a way of holding a certain amount of time, in order for the virtual assistant to perform a variety of different work tasks on a periodic basis. Typically, a retainer is calculated by the month, whereby the client pays a certain amount that is agreed between the two parties. The client then has a clear indication of exactly how much it’s going to cost him or her to use the services of the virtual assistant. It’s important to understand that a good virtual assistant will be in some demand and will have a finite number of resources available to potential clients anyway.

Once a retainer agreement is in place then the virtual assistant is “guaranteeing” availability of time and resources specifically for the client in question. This time can be used for a variety of different purposes depending on the type of assistance the client is looking for. For example, work could be scheduled to handle basic administrative or operational tasks, or the virtual assistant could operate as the personal assistant to the individual client during the retained block of time. Often, the client is trying to outsource a large variety of individual tasks that simply consume his or her time on a daily or weekly basis. This is the very reason for having a virtual assistant in the first place, after all as the client should be looking to free up time from all these mundane tasks in order to perform at a higher level, or create additional income streams.

By putting in place a retainer the client can, to a certain extent, breathe a sigh of relief as he or she will know that the virtual assistant will definitely be available to perform certain tasks. Without such an agreement in place it may be difficult to arrange for work at short notice, as and when it crops up. Remember that the virtual assistant has other obligations and responsibilities and even though the VA will invariably want to try and help the client as much as possible, there are frequently restrictions, as there is simply only so much time in any given day.

When a retainer is in place for a set number of hours each month, for example, the relationship between the client and the virtual assistant grows exponentially in real value. After all, the virtual assistant becomes intimately involved in what it takes to ensure that the client is happy with the services received. This will involve a very clear understanding of what the client’s business is all about. As such, rather than just using the services of the VA on an “ad hoc” basis, the client can come to rely even more on the virtual assistant to develop the various areas of the business involved. As a virtual assistant is by definition entrepreneurial, a lot of additional value can be extracted from a relationship that is cultivated on these terms.

Do you use Retainers in YOUR business or do you prefer to pay an Hourly rate?