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Consulting Retainer Agreement Template

A challenge every new (and seasoned) consultant faces is ensuring a stable source of cash flow. Most consultancy jobs involve hourly or project work which once finished, there is no cash flow from it until another project comes about. This issue can pose a significant challenge in ensuring a stable source of income without a steady stream of clients, which isn't an easy thing to achieve. Some clients would drop off after a single project, leaving a gap if you didn't have another client at the same time. This point is where the consultant retainer comes in.

Almost every freelancer needs to work with a contract. We’ve had instances where a client fails to make all the payments due to the freelancer or make them work beyond their service scope without extra pay. As a freelance consultant, your job is so demanding that you can’t afford to offer services that the client isn’t willing to pay for. Of course, not every client is unfaithful, but just to be on the safe side, you’re better off working with a consulting retainer agreement template PDF than working without. 

The truth is, both you and the client need this document. While you’re fighting so hard to ensure you get all your dues on time, the client expects you to deliver what you promised. As such, both of you have some expectations that you must meet, and not unless there’s a consulting retainer agreement template PDF in place, things may not run smoothly. 

So, how do you create a consulting retainer agreement template PDF for your freelance consulting business? If you’re a newbie, you might find it challenging to design one. However, that shouldn’t dash your hopes of ever making it through. Even the consulting gurus you see around started from somewhere, and, therefore, you’ll also get there. Thanks to the many consulting retainer fee agreement sample PDFs available online. You can always get to borrow ideas and make it through. Additionally, with a consulting retainer agreement template, you don’t need to start from scratch. Just get the structure and fill in the necessary details. A consulting retainer agreement template isn’t like a proposal, and so, it doesn’t require you to write so many words, which makes it easier for you to design one.

When you set up a consultant retainer agreement, you bill your clients per month. The invoice is broken down to a defined number of hours that are expected to be worked that month. You can also charge monthly for access to your expertise or services as a subscription fee.

Sounds great, right? Well, it’s time to get a consulting retainer fee agreement sample PDF and set your freelance consulting services running. Probably you’re wondering why you might need to work with a consulting retainer fee agreement sample PDF. Couldn’t you just do without? Well, don’t worry. We’ll roll it out below.

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1. Different Models Of Billing Clients

Working with a consulting retainer is a very effective pricing strategy you can use for your business. It also benefits your clients since you will be committed to ensuring they get the best from you, instead of you grinding your energy trying to find your next project.

As a freelance consultant, it’s your right to get paid after hard work. At the same time, your client deserves the best services since they’re spending their money on the project. So, you realize it’s two-way traffic, and the only way to ensure it’s fair for both of you is to have a consulting retainer fee agreement sample PDF in place. In essence, the retainer contract protects the interest of both parties so that working conditions are favorable for both of you. 

Having a retainer model ensures that you have a stable relationship with the client. Depending on your consultant retainer agreement and the timeframe that was specified, you will be assured of a particular amount of income each month from that particular business relationship, and the client is guaranteed access to either services or expertise (where you do specific work for them). 

Therefore, with the consulting retainer fee agreement sample PDF, you’re sure the client will pay you your monthly dues. At the same time, your client is assured of getting the services outlined in the contract. Even so, for this to happen, you must clearly define your scope of work in the consulting retainer fee agreement sample PDF. Failure to do this, you’ll end up offering services that the client isn’t aware they should pay for. The last thing you’d want is to argue with your client over payment. That will only ruin your relationship. Therefore, to be on the safe side, highlight your scope of work and how much you’ll be charging for your services. 

Once you have the base level of income from particular clients, you can continue to add to your list of clients, and as you model the trusting business relationships that have worked with your previous clients, your base income will continue to grow.

2. Pay For Work Retainer

This mode of retainer means that you provide ongoing work for your clients, and they pay you on a monthly basis. The difference between this consulting retainer agreement model and contract work is that you are providing work on an on-going basis. A contract, on the other hand, has a defined expiry date.

In the case of a contract, the project has definite deadlines and ending date. That means you know when to send out a proposal for the next project. However, in the case of a consulting retainer fee agreement sample, it’s an ongoing project. So, you expect payment at given time intervals. It could be monthly, weekly, or even quarterly depending on the agreement. As such, you have a constant cash flow for the period. That’s the best part of it. But even then, it’s your responsibility to ensure your cash flow isn’t interrupted by having a retainer fee agreement in place.  

For this model, you will need to provide answers to some questions the client will have. These include:

  • What will you be working on, month to month? 
  • Your client wants to know this so that it’s clear to them what they need to pay for. Additionally, it’s tricky to plan for a month’s work. As such, it’s important to stipulate what you’ll be working on per month and have a personal schedule on the side.  
  • What will you be covering? 
  • As a freelance consultant, you need to let your client know what you’ll be covering at every stage. This will help them to align their goals to your work objectives. Of course, you’ll need their guidance on this. They know better what they want to be achieved at every stage. 
  • How will the work benefit them?
  • At the end of the day, your client would like to know how your services will benefit them. As a freelance consultant, you should always focus on getting results. That’s why the client hired you, and if you don’t live up to this, they may not be happy with you. 
  • What value is created as a result of the ongoing work?
  • For this type of project, you should realize that evaluation is done at every stage. For instance, if the billing is done monthly, the client will check to see how much value you’ve added to their business. So, as you set your monthly target, be sure to achieve them. 

The better these questions are answered while focusing on the value you bring the client, the more likely the clients are going to accept it.

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3. Pay For Access Consultant Retainer Agreement

In this model of consulting retainer, the client pays a retainer to access your knowledge, expertise, and experience. More seasoned consultants favor this approach. Unlike pay for work model, this model doesn't require you to trade actual hours for dollars - the time put in is directly connected to the money you are making. Isn’t that a good idea? And the food thing about it is that you don’t need to strain to get things done. All you need to do is to achieve the milestone set for the given period. Since you’re not working on a fixed budget, you can make an amount equal to the hours you put in. 

In the pay for Access consulting retainer, the client could even pay up to six months upfront to be able to access your expertise. Your consulting isn't tied to the deliverables that are specified in a particular consultant retainer agreement. This model will only work if you already have a trusted relationship with the client, having worked on at least one project and developed an enjoyable working relationship. Therefore, it’s up to you to build confidence in your client. That would mean delivering on time and achieving the set milestones. Apart from that, you should prove to your client that your services are relevant to their business by ensuring you help them meet their business goals. 

The client will agree to this retainer model after they have seen the value you bring to their business, and the need for your constant access is justified.


You are advised to offer a consulting retainer only after a successful consulting project – not before. The client must have enjoyed working with you. Only then will the client appreciate the value your continued influence on their business will have, either through actual work or access to your expertise.

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Consulting Retainer Agreement Template

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Consulting Retainer Agreement Template

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