I’m aware that many virtual assistants like to have their clients on retainers so that they themselves know what their incomes going to be every month, so here’s my tip on how to move ad-hoc clients over to retainers.

I recently tried this for the first time to enable me to give advice to my Private Membership group and to enable me to automate some of my invoicing, to assist my clients in knowing what their outgoings are going to be every month and one more thing, as detailed below.

Firstly, I recommend you only pick the ad-hoc clients that you’ve been working with for six months or more. This is so that you can be sure that you’re an asset to their business, they know you, and it may well be at the stage where they have invested a lot of time in you and they now look on you as an essential part of their business.

Ok, so here’s what I did…

My first example is guy I’ve been working with for almost three years. I support him with inbox and diary management every day, and his bookkeeping every week. The inbox and diary management is different every day, every week, every month because I will often cover for him when he’s having a day off or in times of sickness, or sometimes his workload is much much busier than others so my method here wouldn’t have worked or have been of benefit to him.

However, his bookkeeping every week is pretty consistent give or take a few minutes. So, I downloaded six months worth of time recording reports, and exported the bookkeeping time to work out the average time it had been taking me every month. (If you need a reminder on how to work out the average, as I do from time to time, it’s add up all the totals and divided by the number of numbers added).

I then emailed my client and made the suggestion of me automating his bookkeeping invoices. I also attached the six months of Toggl reports so that he could easily refer to them and so he knew I wasn’t telling porkies! He rightly came back with a couple of questions, which I really should have mentioned in my original email to him, one enquiring whether we would revisit this arrangement at 6-12 month intervals. Great idea! Because my hourly rate or package rates may have increased then, or his bookkeeping requirements may have changed so it gives us both a break / discussion clause.

My second client had used me for newsletter writing and automation for the last nine months and there were times when she would send through her request with very little lead time which would mean I’d sometimes have to rush, or say ‘sorry, I don’t have time‘. So I took four months of Toggl reports and worked out the average time I was spending every month working on her newsletters.

As I did with client one, I sent the email but this time with the benefit to her being that she would be retaining my time so I would never have to say no and she could send me the instructions as late as XYZ.

She was really pleased that she was able to secure my time so that she didn’t have to panic, and that she could keep working with me.

Make sure the incentive is clear for the client. You’re bringing value to their business, remember.

So, who is on your list of ad hoc clients that may benefit from being put onto a retainer?

I hope this method works for you too, do let me know how you get on.

If you don’t yet have clients you could use this method on please don’t fret it’s not the be all and end all. Find out more here about why ad hoc clients are just as, if not more, important as the retainer clients.