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I have to admit, out of all Retainers I signed, not even once I managed to initiate its signing. Each time it was the clients who offered a Retainer. Out of approx 70 clients of mine, only a few offered a Retainer which is less than 10%, closer to 5%.

In my eyes, this is bad as most of them return to me asking for fixing or implementation of new features (programming).

I have tried to approach to a client with idea to sign a Retainer so he can reserve my time, but each time I got a reply "it's not important to me, I can wait". Then he sends me a task list, I tell him that I will take it in work once I am done with all other tasks, but after 10 days or so, I either get scared that I will lose this client for waiting me too long or I feel sorry for him and I take the project in work.

So shall I be a b**ch and act like "we don't have a Retainer, wait till I am in mood to do your project" and stop caring if I lose such clients, or I have to change my strategy on how to make them realize that Retainer is good thing for them?

How about I tell him that I am making a plan for the next 6 months and offer him to buy a portion of that time - if not, whenever he sends me the task(s), he will wait 6 months?

As you can see, I am trying to find out how to persuade (or force) a client to sign a Retainer so that I can have a more concrete schedule for at least 6 months ahead (if not the whole year).

PS. Shall I ditch a client whose app cannot earn so much money that he can reserve my time? A few of them are companies of 50+ employees which actually have money.

  • I see that no one probably has a good reply. You can also reply by telling me how you successfully (!) make a client realizes that he needs a retainer. Are you stubborn if there is no Retainer or soft as myself. – Peter MV Jul 10 '15 at 7:20
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Most clients don't need a retainer and aren't going to accept one. To be honest it sounds like you are trying to secure extra free income for yourself by trying to convince all of your clients to pay you on retainer, which isn't a good approach. Never try to strong-arm a client into such an agreement.

So shall I be a b**ch and act like "we don't have a Retainer, wait till I am in mood to do your project" and stop caring if I lose such clients, or I have to change my strategy on how to make them realize that Retainer is good thing for them?

What? You can be a reasonable person without being a bitch. Here's what you say:

"Once the main portion of the project is completed, I will be moving on to new projects and will have limited availability for updates or other additional work. If you plan on implementing new features after delivery, we should discuss arrangements now. If you already have specific updates in mind, we can extend this contract or start a new one. If you do not have specific changes in mind at this time but would like to ensure my availability for updates on short notice, we can discuss setting up a retainer fee. Otherwise, I will be taking new projects from other clients and cannot guarantee steady availability after the contract is completed."

It's very reasonable and straightforward. If they have any common sense at all, they understand you have to work to make money and can't spend unpaid hours sitting around waiting for them. It doesn't make you a bitch. It has nothing to do with your mood. You need to keep a full schedule of work so your income is steady.

PS. Shall I ditch a client whose app cannot earn so much money that he can reserve my time? A few of them are companies of 50+ employees which actually have money.

NO. It really sounds like your goal is to get paid for sitting around doing nothing. You need to change your mindset. If your client can't afford or isn't interested in a retainer, just take another client after the main project is completed.

  • You are partially right, I do try to get more steady cash income, but the reason is not greed. I tell clients similar things you wrote. They usually reply "I understand, we do not need retainer, I will contact you and you can finish it when you have time". And this looks good on paper. Then in a month or so, a client contacts me and I tell him that it will be done as soon as I have some free time from other projects. But I keep thinking about it and maybe in 7-10 days, although I do not have free time(!), I leave other work and finalize his tasks. Am I wrong in this approach? – Peter MV Jul 11 '15 at 7:20
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    Yes, that is wrong. You shouldn't put new work with a different client on hold just to satisfy the whims of a previous client who didn't see the need for a retainer (unless it is an urgent issue due to a mistake you made). If your previous client doesn't like having to wait for you to complete the new work before getting back to them, then they can consider a retainer in the future – user45623 Jul 15 '15 at 19:36
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Maybe don't call it a retainer, because what you are really offering is a maintenance contract -- which you should attempt to include in your initial development contract. The client can accept the monthly maintenance fees (which would guarantee them a certain number of hours per month - and offer a discount to sweeten the deal).

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