Retainer Invoice Meaning

Retainer Invoice Meaning: What Is A Retainer Invoice?

Here is a guide to help you understand the retainer invoice meaning.

In summary, a retainer invoice is a recurring invoice that gets paid by your client on an on-going basis.

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A retainer invoice is usually used for professional services. For example, solicitors, lawyers, IT consultants and medical consultants.


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Should you ask for a retainer?

Yes, you should.

The frequency of your retainer will depend on the nature of your service.

Typically, a retainer is expected to be paid every month so that your client can keep access to you and your business.


How much should you charge on a retainer?

The next part of understanding the retainer invoice meanings knowing how much to charge.

If a new project or case seems simple, a modest maintenance charge equivalent to two or 3 hours of your consulting rate can be fair.

You can lessen your initial commission in particular circumstances as an incentive for a retainer or for a more limited scope of work.

At the same fashion, you can raise your retainer at other times when the workload will be dramatically greater.

After assessing the endless hours of initial work you’ll have to undertake, let that guide you to the size of your retainer.

Be particular about the initial anticipation in order that you could quantify the initial retainer and feel good about your decision.


Agreeing on a retainer with your client

Ask, and agree, on the materials you must read, the consulting time, the research or surveys you must complete, or consider what tests you must run.

Next, make everything transparent and easy for your client to understand.

Confirm your understanding with an e-mail, a fax or a letter, depending upon the urgency of the work.

Remember to actually ask for the payment to get the contract in motion. This can be done by asking if they would like to pay by direct deposit, check or credit card.

Then, wait until you have received the retainer check or payment prior to starting the work.

In case the clienr tells you that the job is urgent, send him wire transfer info in order that he can wire your retainer directly to your banking account.

This could easily happen in a 24 hour period and you should have efficient online invoicing systems in your business.

Always ask for an initial payment before starting to work on a case or you may end up working for nothing.


Extra charges for a retainer invoice

If by the end of the case, the hours you spent were much greater than the retainer, you should inform the client.

Occasionally you may do some meetings and negotiations for free.

A free first phone conversation represents goodwill and might be an encouragement to engage you when the case seems right.

However, always include a note upfront saying that you can charge extra fees if the time utilised far exceeds the initial agreement.

Doing analysis or research for clients and charging them nothing is unprofessional.

One novel element remains to consider.

As your reputation grows, high-profile clients will sometimes retain you simply to make sure that the other side, or competitors, can’t employ you.

This happens in the law field as well as with high-profile sports and athletics professionals.

It’s a great position to be in, but think about how you will handle this when the time arises.


Retainer invoice meaning and handling late payments

Late paying customers are one of the biggest headaches faced by freelancers and contractors.

Chasing up payment takes valuable time whenever you might be working on projects.

Worse, worries over whether or not you will be paid may take over your thoughts, leaving you performing below your standards.

This is why it is important to learn about the retainer invoice meaning and set up your own retainer invoices.

You can do this using FreshBooks accounting software for self employed people and small business owners.

Knowing what is coming in each motnh with regards to being paid by clients can be a big burden on your mind.

Realistically, you can set the framework for when to expect payment for an invoice.

Put simply, you should let clients know a deadline for payment, and you may expect to be paid by your deadline.

Clients who pay promptly are showing respect for your work and your professional relationship.

Using a retainer invoice makes it easier for them also and you can send this out easily on FreshBooks.

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Occasionally, clients may have a very valid reason behind breaking your payment terms.

A one off late payment from a regular client isn’t a reason to lie in bed awake at 3am.

However generally, if your client doesn’t pay up by the date you have agreed many times, then they do not treat you with the respect you deserve.

Good clients pay promptly inside the time you have agreed.

Infographic: Write an Invoice That Gets You Paid

Avoiding bottlenecks in your business

Clients that fail to pay promptly will frequently prove difficult to work with in other ways.

They’ll likely be overly demanding, or have unrealistic anticipation of what you may do for them.

That is why it is a wise idea to let clients know exactly what you expect with regards to payment before you begin working with them and send the invoice agreement first.

You do not have to be forceful about it, It may be as simple as asking the question: ‘Most customers pay me within 15 days of a project’s completion, what date is good for you?’

Shifty body language, coughing, or lame excuses aren’t a good sign.

Other ways to manage anticipation around payment include: Asking for a percentage of your fee upfront.

This is always good for your cash flow.



Legitimate clients who plan to pay you promptly should be happy to sign on the dotted line.

You are anticipating to be paid as quickly as possible after your client receives the retainer invoice.

In my experience, we never recommend ‘Due Upon Receipt’ invoices for small businesses, instead  clients usually pay within twenty four hours and then the work is booked in.

If you send out invoices which are due upon receipt, then you should ensure you offer a simple way clients can pay immediately.

PayPal or Stripe both work well, and allow clients to pay by credit card.


In conclusion, immediate payment means you are not left waiting to be paid for work you did weeks or months ago.

The main advantage to using retainer invoices is they can save you and your clients time.

As a result, you can focus on delivering the best results and support for your clients every week month or quarter depending on your business structure.

I hope that this helps you to learn more about the retainer invoice meaning and grow your business.

Are you interested to learn more?

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