Managing "Last Minute" Requests on Retainers

Ways of Working

One of our recent initiatives is rolling out more stringent hours reporting across our retainer contracts. The goal is to make sure the client understands where their time is going, and we can get ahead of potential overages. However, hours reporting doesn't matter if we don't set the right expectations on hours from the start.

When we're working with clients who have a lot going on, it can feel like we're constantly getting hit with last-minute requests. Under the pressure of time, we rush to get it done. If this results in overages or delays on other tasks, the conversation with the client is not easy because it's after the fact.

As we continue to introduce hours reporting, there's an opportunity to better align with clients on their initiatives each month. We're currently experimenting with Asana to get that alignment, but we're open to seeing what format works best for clients.

No matter the tool, imagine a 50-hour retainer planned like this: 10 hours for product page updates, 20 hours for landing page, 15 hours for email designs, 5 hours for content population. Maybe I'm optimistic, but if the client knows this plan, I believe we can minimize last-minute, urgent requests. Clients won't blindly ask for something new without acknowledging how it will fit and how priorities need to change.

This post originally appeared in Edition No. 079 of my newsletter. Subscribe here.

Join My Newsletter

Every Monday, I share weekly themes and progress in running an agency business/team and doing my best to live a good life. Details