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Retainer Work - Single Deliverable, Monthly Structure

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.

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. As needed, staff contacts can be added and time can be tracked.  

We want to repeat these steps to get a Job created for each month of the retainer. 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.

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

Once you have made all your Estimates and Jobs, 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.

The Invoice will be for the Estimated $2000 value. The Invoice can be Saved and Printed for the client.

Depending on your workflow, you may also be marking Invoices as Posted, and Exporting them. Options to do so are in the top right of the page.

When the client makes payment, update the Basic Info tab of the Invoice with the Payment Method and Payment Date.

The May Job will now be in a Closed Status of Invoiced. No more time can be tracked to it.

Find the June Job and move it from On Hold to Open. Track time for the June Job, make a Final Invoice for June at the end of that month, moving the June Job to an Invoiced status. Then move the July Job to Open. Repeat for the length of the retainer.

Seeing the Health of the Retainer by Month

At the Project level, choose the Financials tab. For any month line, you can see your Estimated hours and dollars, Actual hours and dollars, and the value of any invoice.

Drill into any particular month to see additional information.

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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