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Retainer Work - Single Deliverable, Simply Structured

Follow the directions in this article, to handle a single deliverable retainer scenario. In this example, the client has asked us to handle their SEO work only. Each month we'll charge the client $2,000, and there are no sub-deliverables. No matter if we perform $1,000 or $3,000 of actual hours per month, we will only ever charge the client $2,000. Staff will track their time, so that we can see how we're doing on this retainer month to month.

Create the Estimate

Begin by creating an Estimate. Fields marked in blue are required. Fill in as much information as you can. We'd recommend:

  1. Try to name it so that it is easily identified as retainer work if you are searching for it later.  
  2. Enter the Delivery Date to represent the end of this agreement with the client - perhaps one year from now.
  3. Use the Category (or Work Type) field to also mark this work as retainer related.
  4. Select the Service to which your team will track time when working on this Job.

Click Submit when ready.

Note that the Work Type, Client Lead and Lead Creative fields are all optional to show on the Estimate. Control what appears via Admin > System Set Up > System Preferences, and the Track tab. Also note that the content of dropdown fields such as Estimate Type and Category are controlled via Admin > System Set Up > List Maintenance.

You will land on the Services tab of the newly created Estimate. Enter both the approximate number of hours and the monthly value of the retainer. Use the Override field to get the dollar value to match what you've agreed to with the client. It is important to include hours, so that you have a value to compare to, as staff track time.

Click Save when ready.

Optionally, choose to add a Revenue Schedule. Use the Add Revenue Schedule Line button to add a line for each date or month you expect to receive payment on this Job. Submit any changes you make.

Move to the Basic Info tab and mark the Estimate as Approved. This a good practice to follow, as any changes made to this Estimate will be tracked to the Revisions tab. Click Continue.

Turn the Estimate into a Job

Click Add Job to convert the Estimate into active work.

The Job will default to an Open status, staff contacts can be added and time can be tracked.

Staff Track Time Over Time

The Job will appear on the Classic Dashboard. Staff can click the timer icon to create a Timesheet against this Job.  

Assess the Health of the Retainer

At any time you can compare how the retainer is faring by comparing the Estimated to Actual values for a month. Navigate to the Job page, and the Financials tab.

Enter a Start Date and End Date and click Filter by Date. Doing so will limit the Actual values to those within the chosen dates. Above for the month of May, we have tracked 6.5 hours of time for an Actual value of $650.00. We have not invoiced yet, but will invoice for $2,000. May is lining up to be a profitable month for this SEO work.


When you are ready to invoice, choose the Add New option from any tab on the Job, and select Add Invoice from the dropdown.

You will land on the Add Invoice page:

  1. Select the Invoice Type of Interim. Choosing Final would close the Job, and we will be invoicing each month.
  2. Choose the date for the Invoice.
  3. Choose the Calculate From Estimated. Our Estimate is set-up with the agreed upon amount, meaning we won't need to make any calculations.
  4. Add Taxes as needed.

Click Add Invoice when ready.

Save the Invoice, and send it to your client. There will be a Standard Printout option in place, and you can edit it or add your own via Admin > System Set Up > Print Parameters.  Repeat these steps each month.

Should Sub-Deliverables Arise

If your clients wants to tack on another item to this retainer, we do not recommend that you create another Job, or alter the Estimate. Instead, choose the Add New button and select Add Task.

Build out a Task that the staff member(s) can then track time to. The time tracked to the Task(s)  will also appear on the Job Financials.

We welcome your questions or concerns:


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