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Retainer Work - Single Deliverable, Monthly Structure with Front Loading of Invoices

Follow the directions in this article, to handle a single deliverable retainer scenario. In this example, the client has asked us to handle their SEM 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. Rather than use date ranges on the Job Financials, in this set up we will see the performance of the retainer month over month in a single view - this works well for agencies that need to see each month of a retainer on its own line, to be able to compare month-to-month immediately. In this scenario, we also need to be able to recognize the Invoice as unearned revenue, by sending invoices at the start of each month, and asking for immediate payment. If the client does not pay in advance, we don't perform the work.

Create a Project

Begin by creating a new Project. Fields marked in blue are required:

  1. Give the project an appropriate name - something that identifies it as a retainer.  You will also need to enter a Project Code. The Code can be up to 16 characters and you may want to make life easier by implementing a naming convention - ie. Company Initials + Year. The Code will appear on screens or list views where there is not enough space to show the full Project Name.
  2. Enter the budget - in this example, $24K for the $2K/ month for 12 months.
  3. Choose the Project Type. You can create/ change the content of this drop down menu via Admin > List Maintenance.

Click Submit when ready.

You will land on the Basic Info tab of the new Project. Choose the Add New button and select Estimate to create the first Estimate/ Job for the first month of this year long retainer.

Create Estimates, Jobs & Deposit Invoices

  1. Create an Estimate for this month of retainer work. Try to name it so that it is easily identified as retainer work should you need to search for it later.
  2. Enter the Delivery Date to represent the end of this retainer term month.
  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 content in the Estimate Type, Category and Work Type menus is controlled via Admin > System Set Up > List Maintenance. The fields of Work Type, Client Lead and Lead Creative are optional to show on the Estimate. Control if they show or do not show via Admin > System Set Up > System Preferences, and the Track tab.

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.

We recommend you now add a Revenue Schedule. Click Auto Revenue Forecast. Then move to the Revenue Schedule tab.

Enter the 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.

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.  From any tab of the Job page, 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. Choose the Invoice Type of Deposit, the date of the first of the month of the retainer month, with a subtotal of $2K. Click Add Invoice when ready.

Note that this is essentially front loading invoices for the retainer work. This is not a required step, but one that will be useful for those agencies with specific requirements around earned/ unearned revenue.

On the subsequent Invoice page, click Submit. And as we are looking to be paid in advance, before we start working, Print and send this Invoice out for payment. Update this Deposit when you are paid.

Use the breadcrumb or the top navigation bar to get back to the Estimate. Choose the Copy Estimate button.

Change the name, and Delivery Date accordingly - for the next month in the retainer. Copy the Quantities from Estimated. Click Submit when ready.

As you did for the May Job, Save the new Estimate, generate a Revenue Forecast, enter the date you expect to be paid, mark the Estimate as Approved, and click Add Job.

The job will default to the Open status. Move it to On Hold - this isn't work you'll be doing until a subsequent month, so you will not want it appearing on the Dashboard or having time tracked to it yet.

If you do not see the On Hold option, or want to create an alternate naming convention, do so via Admin > List Maintenance. If you are creating a new Job Status, make the status an alias of Closed - Jobs in statuses of that alias won't pull to Active Job lists.

As you did for the May Job, Add Invoice of the Type Deposit for $2K.  Input the Invoice Date of the first day of the month for which this Job is set - in this case, June.  

Continue these steps to create Estimates, Revenue Schedules, Jobs and Deposit Invoices for each month of this year long retainer.

Once you have made all your Estimates, Jobs and Deposits, look back at the Project. On the Basic Info tab you should see your Budget and Estimate Totals match. And under the Jobs tab you'll see all the Jobs for the year ahead, and their statuses.

Routine Each Month

For each month of the retainer, you can follow the same steps. For the Open/ current May Job, staff will track time as usual. On the Classic Dashboard view, this means clicking the clock icon beside the Job, which then populates some of the Timesheet window. Staff can then enter the number of hours worked, and add any description.

Hours tracked will be visible as Actuals that can be seen on the Project and Job level Financials tabs.

When the month is over, go into the Job for that month, and choose Add New, then Add Invoice.

Choose Final as the invoice type, and Calculate From Estimated. Click Add Invoice when ready.

Note that creating a Final invoice, will close the job, meaning no further time can be tracked to it.

Because we billed the client in advance, and had a paid Deposit of $2K, we just apply the Deposit here, and can Save/ Send Off, this zero owing invoice.

If you do not choose to take the step of creating deposit invoices, you would still create a final invoice to estimated values, and then send the client the invoice for $2K. You would also not see the option to apply a deposit here.

The May Job will now be in a Closed Status of Invoiced. Find the June Job and move it from On Hold to Open. Track time for the June Job, then Invoice and open the July Job when the time comes. Repeat for the length of the retainer.

We hope you'll find this to be a friendly method by which you can handle this kind of retainer work. We welcome your follow up questions or concerns:


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