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Being on retainer - Experience?
show user profile  9krausec
Question for some of you seasoned professionals who know a thing or two about business...

There is a possibility that I'm going to be given the option to be placed on a monthly retainer with a good sized company... I'm figuring 25-35 hours a week for animation work as needed.

Does anyone have any general advice with being placed on retainer? Anything I should avoid from the situation right off the bat? I hear that it's appropriate to give a 10-20% discount on your freelance rate for retainers. Does this sound about right?

I figure use all my hardware and write in an agreement that render farm time will not be included (additional charges). So if I have to use a farm service they'd flip the bill....

Eventually I figure I'd like to work at a strictly freelance/retainer capacity in regards to my current situation (ideally) and this might be a good start to sustain that future.

Many thanks for any input.

- Portfolio-

read 426 times
5/12/2016 6:44:06 PM (last edit: 5/12/2016 6:44:36 PM)
show user profile  Error404
I've never been on a retainer (and don't think I personally know anyone who has), but here's some of my thoughts.

if I understand what retainer pay is for, it basically puts their work at the top of your priority list any time they need something done. They pay you XXXX a month/week/day, which guarantees them that you can devote at least XX number of days (or hours per day) to their work first. If you're working on something else, you quickly come to a stopping point and then start working on what they want you to work on, rather than them getting in line behind whatever you are currently working on. I would not give a 'discount' for this type of pay.

Or in another case, it may be that they are paying the retainer fee to guarantee that you are ONLY working on their projects, even during periods of relative down time, they pay a fee to keep you "booked" with them, so that you don't go off and find other work and then become unavailable to them. Same with the other type of retainer, I would NOT give a discount for this type of pay.

If something like one of these types of deals you are looking into make sure that once you go over the XX number of days (or hours per day) that their retainer pay is paying for, you then start collecting your hourly/daily rate. The retainer is usually (I think?) only for a pre-determined amount of days or hours per day. For instance, once they have used up their pre-payed 14 days of work per month, then they start paying you like normal.

And then make sure that the pre-payed "retainer" days/hours are re-set every month, or every week, or however you're going to set it up.

It's an interesting way to work things, I would just be careful so that you don't get screwed.

I've never been asked to work this way, and I don't really know anyone who has. I might put in the contract that the 1st month will be a trial month for the payment setup, and once you've evaluated how it works, then you can either keep the same setup, or re-visit the pay structure after that time.

Personally, if you think the chances are good that you'll be using all of the pre-payed retainer days/hours, I would not give them a lower rate for the retainer. I'd keep your rate the same, regardless if it's a retainer fee, or pay for days/hours above and beyond the retainer days/hours.

As crummy as it sounds, watch out when big (or any size) companies start suggesting alternative methods of payment. Highly unlikely they are suggesting that for your benefit, so make sure that YOU are taken care of, and are comfortable with the setup. Companies will roll over you if you let them. Just keep an ear open, if anything sounds funny.

I also think I would only consider doing this type of agreement if you are already familiar with the company, and have already been working with/for them in the past. There's already some trust and a relationship there. They have to trust that you're going to devote your time to their projects as top priority, and you have to trust that they don't start abusing their priority over your other work. Probably easier to successfully run this way (so that everyone is happy) if you already work well with them, and they already know they like your work and trust you.

That's how I understand a retainer fee, anyway. Maybe others see it different. I don't think this is a very common pay structure.

Definitely flip the bill for any farm services. I would be very upfront about that. -

read 401 times
5/12/2016 10:25:11 PM (last edit: 5/12/2016 10:53:39 PM)
show user profile  joelr
well i haven't worked in that way although a few companies have asked me to.
i would only make this suggestion to you-
you need to make everything you can think about written and agreed about in writing before you start the gig.
im talking about things like assets- will you share them or not.
will they give you credit for the work if goes to a competition (for example)
can you show the results in your portfolio after the client has revealed it...

just a few examples, if you think long and hard you might find a ton of issues that can be a potential problem between you and the company.
when a company has you on retainer they might start thinking about you like a part of the company. it might be a good thing for a few things, but it can also be not in your best interest from time to time. might think that they own you and the work that you do.
it depends on the company and the people you are working with.

any way,
good luck man

read 383 times
5/12/2016 11:20:03 PM (last edit: 5/12/2016 11:20:03 PM)
show user profile  Bolteon
As far as I'd consider it, it's just a paid "hold".

-Marko Mandaric

read 368 times
5/13/2016 1:46:31 AM (last edit: 5/13/2016 1:46:31 AM)
show user profile  chillywilson
I use a retainer as a pre-pay, so if something is estimated at 3k I might ask for 2k retainer and then give them a bill once they've used it up.

I'll also use a retainer if there is a monthly encounter, if you're averaging 10k a month with a client and it's expected to go over 3 months then have them give you 10k retainer and adjust billing at the end of the month.

Retainers are good for a company that wants to do net 30 pay or continuous pay
read 342 times
5/13/2016 7:39:01 PM (last edit: 5/13/2016 7:39:01 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
Good information here guys. Thank you for the info! I just figure if I can work out retainer with this other company it would be good, consistent (if not for a while) income on top of my current job.

- Portfolio-

read 338 times
5/13/2016 7:46:20 PM (last edit: 5/13/2016 7:46:20 PM)
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