We know what you’re thinking: aren’t retainers for lawyers and, like...teeth?
Well, yes--but they (lawyer, not orthodontia) are also about to be your business’s new best friend.
Keeping someone “on retainer” means that you pay them a predetermined amount of money, on a consistent basis, and they perform services as you need them.
This is useful in the case of lawyers, for example, because you may not need them every day, but when you do need them, you really want them to be available. Their workload flexes based on your day-to-day conditions and circumstances.
The same is true of many business consultants. Who wants to wait to get on the calendar of an in-demand financial advisor in the eleventh hour of Q4? That’s a panic attack waiting to happen.
Tako Agency is now joining the Retainer Club™️. 🎊 We recently made the shift to a retainer-only model after years of standard project-based pricing, and we feel strongly that this new arrangement is a win-win solution for us as an agency and our clients.
Here are six key reasons why:
Unfettered Access to Niche Experts
(Hello, Shopify specialists!) Niche experts are difficult to find and stay in high demand.
Few people take the time to get really, really good at what they do. Once you find a team that can exceed your expectations, you don’t want to let them get away--and the best agencies have more clients in line than they have the capacity to serve.
A retainer is like a VIP ticket, allowing you to skip the wait and go straight to the front of the line. Similarly, it allows the agency to more accurately plan for capacity, which means resources won’t be spread too thin.
Sweet, Sweet Consistency
Brand consistency is one of the most foundational ways to establish trust with your customers. If you have one person starting a project, another finishing it, and yet another providing ongoing maintenance, it’s almost guaranteed that inconsistencies in voice, design, or functionality will arise.
Retainers allow a single agency to become so intimately familiar with your business, they’ll notice when something is off. (Plus, you’ll never have to recite “The Spiel” ever again!)
What’s more, your retained agency will be better positioned to make proactive suggestions for growth and improvement. The client-facing Tako Team is small, tightly knit, and very hands-on. We are constantly communicating with one another to make sure that everyone, including the client, is on the same page. With several different skill sets on staff (marketing, operations, branding, creative, technical) we’re always scouting for improvements in various areas.
No Variable Hourly Rates or Surprise Costs
People asking you for money is literally the worst kind of surprise. That’s why predictable expenditure is perhaps one of the most attractive benefits of having an agency on retainer.
Since you’re pre-paying for a chunk of an agency’s time, you don’t have to worry about blocks of unexpected billable hours or other extraneous fees.
Unless the agreement or project scope changes (which only occurs if both parties agree), the monthly retainer cost remains consistent, regardless of the type of work that needs attention.
The answer is always yes, and the extra cost is always $0. Your Klaviyo’s broken and you need it looked at? We’ve got that. Want a new landing page designed and developed? Yup. Need a custom solution for reporting or app integration? Mmhmm. Your copywriter’s disappeared? We gotchoo. As a full-service agency, we offer all of this and more.
One of the concerns many businesses have about keeping an agency on retainer is that there won’t be enough work, meaning the agency will sit back and collect checks while you get no value at all.
If you find an agency worth their salt, retainers actually have the opposite effect: the agency will be so invested in your company that they will actively look for ways to help you grow--and if they’re involved with you from the start, they’ll be perfectly positioned to offer ideas that are consistent with brand image and values.
(At Tako, our policy is to let hours roll over from one month to the following month, giving us--and you--maximum flexibility.)
Custom Strategic Guidance
Strategy is not one-size-fits-all. Especially in today’s digital landscape, factors affecting business blueprints and game plans are wildly variable from company to company.
You wouldn’t walk into a doctor’s office and start taking orders before she’s even read about your health history or concerns. Similarly, you’re infinitely more likely to get strategic guidance tailored to you if you have an established relationship with an agency deeply knowledgeable about your brand and business.
(Again...consistency. Noticing a theme here?)
You might think your website or marketing strategy will, at some point, be done and dusted--lots of hard work upfront, and then you can set things on autopilot.
*sharp inhale through teeth* Well, we have good news and bad news. The bad: the Internet is the Wild West and you must be ready to iterate at a moment’s notice. The good: having an agency on retainer ensures that those changes won’t send you--or your budget--scrambling.
OK, But What Do You Get Out of It?
You’re a sharp, savvy business owner--you know that no one does something for nothing.
Agencies that operate on retainers are no exception. The way we see it, the same consistency that our clients enjoy--whether that be in the design or functionality of a website, access to experts when things break, or strategic guidance on a new idea--translates not only to our bottom line, but also to our focus as a company.
We have a steady stream of revenue, sure, and that’s a major bonus for talent retention (again, Shopify experts) and capacity planning.
Beyond that, though, retainers give us the freedom to really sink our teeth into every project--not just to “get it done” to client satisfaction, but also to think creatively, make thoughtful, strategic suggestions informed by our knowledge of a client’s business, and foster fantastic ongoing relationships with business owners who entrust us with the design, development, and maintenance of their very livelihoods. (WE LOVE THAT and take it really seriously around here.)
Keeping an agency on retainer gives you:
- more predictable expenses,
- reduces stress by avoiding the hassle of sourcing, hiring, and managing the best talent yourself,
- and snags you a partner invested in your long term success.
In return, retained agencies enjoy steady revenue, creative freedom, and a chance to exercise strategic muscles to benefit kickass clients who deserve the kind of time and attention retainers facilitate.