Archive for the ‘Getting Paid’ Category

Dear Danielle: This Charity Is Offering a Low Hourly Rate. Do I Walk Away?

Dear Danielle: This Charity Is Offering a Low Hourly Rate. Do I Walk Away?

Dear Danielle:

I have recently been approached by a local charity that wishes me to work for them for a number of hours per week, but they cannot get away from the number of hours and are offering a very low hourly rate on the grounds that they are a charity and don’t have budget for more. No matter what I do or say they are stuck on hours/hourly rate. Should I walk away? Normally I would, but because it’s a charity I want to work with, it feels different. —Name Withheld by Request

I’m going to give you some straight talking tough love today, okay? :)

Do you want a business or do you want a hobby/charity?

If it’s a business you want, then you’ve got to stop wasting your time.

Not all business is good business—or business at all.

You, your family and the ones you love are your “charity.” They deserve for you to be smart in business—which includes being paid properly for your time, energy and expertise.

And by “properly” I mean at whatever business rate you (not clients) determine is profitable.

People in our industry have got to get off of this bleeding heart kick. It’s one thing to be charitable when you are doing well financially and can afford to give back. But most people in our industry are barely scraping by in their businesses themselves.

(And it’s not because they can’t do better; it’s just that they aren’t taking the time or making the investment to learn what it takes to be a financially viable, solvent, sustainable and humanly manageable business operation).

You’ve got to have a pot to pee in yourself before you can start sharing the wealth, know what I mean?

If you want a real business making real money, you need to start talking to real prospects.

Anyone who can’t pay your fees is not a prospect. Period.

First of all, clients don’t dictate or “offer” you anything. YOU set your fees. They have only to accept them or stop wasting your time.

Second, the reason they can’t get off the hours/hourly rate is because you don’t know how to reframe that conversation and what to talk about instead. And that simply takes investing in the proper learning in how to do that.

You’re trying to talk yourself into accepting this and I’m not going to help you. You’ve come to the wrong place for that. ;)

Here’s what you need to do next to start talking to real prospects:

  1. Stop calling yourself an assistant. You’re running a business now and when you are a business owner, for both legal and practical reasons, you are not anyone’s assistant. Calling yourself an “assistant” is the very first reason that people are approaching you in a non business-like manner and think it’s their place to “offer” you “positions” and “low hourly rates.” That’s because “assistant” is a term of employment, not business, and people only understand the word “assistant” one way: employee. When you call yourself an assistant, you predispose people to balk at your fees because they are expecting to pay employee wages, not professional business fees. You see? You are creating the wrong expectations and understanding in clients right from the start.
  2. Download my free Income & Pricing Calculator so you can get clear and conscious about what you really need to be charging for your business to be sustainable and profitable.
  3. Get a target market. You need a direction for your efforts and to improve your offers. That only comes by focusing on a very specific industry/field/profession and catering your support to that market.
  4. Fix your website so there is an actual prequalifying, conversion process in place. This will help ensure you talk to real prospects who are more likely to be ideal client candidates.
  5. Learn how to conduct a proper consultation. My consultation process shows you what to do before you ever speak to anyone, what to ask and talk about during the conversation, and exactly how to follow-up after, as well as how to prequalify prospects so you can weed out the poor broke duds who waste your time, and filter in the ideal client candidates worthy of your time and attention.
  6. Separate business and charity. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with helping those you think are doing good work in the world. Just don’t mix your charity work up with your business. Instead of taking on a discount client indefinitely (which impacts not only your profitability and administration, but your other clients who are paying full fee for your quality time and attention), volunteer some hours here and there as you see fit when you have them to spare. And by the way, the more financially successful you are in your business, the longer you’ll actually be around in business and the more time and money you will have to give and help others outside your business. But if you make people who can’t pay your proper fees your clients, your business won’t be around long enough to do anything for anyone. You giving yourself away to those who can’t afford you doesn’t serve anyone.
  7. Alternatively, if you insist on putting yourself on sale, at least do it in a way that will actually benefit your business. Charge them full rate with your normal invoice, and once they pay, you can turn around and write a check back to them for the discounted amount. That is the legal way to actually write that money off as a charitable donation. And in the process, that charity client never takes for granted what you really charge and the fact that they are getting a generous gift, not an entitlement to your time and service at a discount.
  8. Likewise, use your normal and customary contract and go through all your usual processes that you would with any other client. I would also advise that you set a time limit/end date for any discounted charity rate at which time it would go back up to your full fee.

Is It Time to Start Earning More in Your Business?

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Do you hate tracking and reporting time to clients? Would you be excited to know of an easier, more profitable way to charge that clients also love? If so, you’re not alone.

Tracking hours is a HUGE administrative burden that eats into your profitability and takes time away from life. And clients hate being nickeled and dimed on minutes and hours.

If you’ve been in business any amount of time, you have at least some idea of the problems with selling time instead of your solutions, results and expertise. What you may not realize is just how much billing by the hour is killing your business and keeping you from earning better.

  1. It focuses clients on hours and reporting. When clients think they’re buying hours, that’s what they zero in on to the exclusion of just about everything else that’s more important.
  2. It measures time instead of results. Is that really how you want clients judging the quality of your support, by how long things take instead of how you actually help them?
  3. The faster you work, the LESS you make. When you charge by the hour, you’re penalized financially for being better and faster at what you do. How much sense does that make?
  4. The better you are, the harder you must work to make the same amount of money. That’s because the more you can do in an hour, the more you have to fill up that hour.
  5. And how do you track time for all those intangible, incidental things you do for clients, like thinking, reading and replying to emails and making calls? Are you really going to stop and punch the clock every second you lift a finger? How practical is that? And what happens when you forget?
  6. It puts you and the client’s interests and motivations at odds with each other. When you charge by the hour, clients want things to take the least amount of time possible, and you only make more money the longer things take. Instead of being focused on the goals and objectives the work is in support of, you end up playing a tug-of-war with hours.
  7. Most importantly, billing by the hour is keeping you BROKE! You automatically limit your earning potential when you tie it to how many hours you have to sell.

Your time is the least valuable thing you have to offer clients. It’s your skill, knowledge and expertise that make things happen and help them move forward in their businesses.

And be honest, aren’t you sick and tired of tracking and reporting time to clients like you were some little employee?

You’re in business to help clients, right? Well, how helpful is it to them when you have to stop work right in the middle of things because they’ve run out of hours?

Wouldn’t you rather offer your support in a way that allows you to get things done and serve clients better without discounting your fees or having your hands tied by a ticking clock?

The trick is to price the solution, NOT the hours. You want for both you and the client to be in alignment of interests and motivations. So the question becomes, how do you do that? How do you price the solution, how do you set parameters, when time is not the unit of measurement?

This is EXACTLY what I show you how to do in my value-based pricing guide, How to Price and Package Your Support Based on Value and Expertise—NOT Selling Hours.

Charging by the hour is keeping you from earning AND serving clients better. If you struggle to earn well even though you have clients; if you feel like there’s no room for you to grow based on how you’re charging and doing things now; if potential clients balk when you tell them your hourly rate, I can show you how to change ALL of that in your business!

This self-study course shows you how to create a simpler, easier business to run, where your earning potential is hugely expanded because it’s not tied to how many hours you have to sell.

Clients find it much easier to say YES to working with you, and, best of all, you’ll be able to toss those time sheets out forever!

I’ve been studying value-based pricing for over 10 years now and use this methodology that I’ve uniquely adapted especially for the administrative support business in my own practice.

In this guide, I show you the exact methods I use to earn more in a month with just one of my retained clients than most people in our industry are making with 5 to 10 (or more!) clients. I have far more freedom and flexibility to live life. And clients LOVE this way of working together because it’s easier to pay, easier to work together, and they see results more quickly and clearly because we’re focused on the goals and objectives the work is in support of, not the time it takes.

If you, too, would like more life, more money and more freedom in your business while serving clients BETTER, click here for more product details.

What’s Better: Charge Clients Upfront or Collect on the Backend?

What's Better: Charge Client Upfront or Collect on the Backend?

This question was asked on the ACA LinkedIn Group recently:

“Hi! So I’m looking at signing my first services agreement with a client. There will be a big kick-off project and then a monthly retainer. Do I charge the client half up front for the kick off and then have them pay the rest once I deliver? For the monthly retainer, do I have them pay me at the end of the month once my work is done or the beginning before I start? I’m trying getting burned as much as possible. Thanks!”

Here’s my advice:

Upfront, upfront, upfront!

It’s important to remember that you’re in the administrative support business, not the credit and loan business.

As  a service provider, you’re not obligated to extend anyone credit.

Which is what it would boil down to by you doing all work upfront and billing later.

The problems with billing after the fact include:

  • You deprive yourself of cashflow, which is the lifeblood of every business.
  • Clients will take you and the work less seriously and abuse your time more frequently. It’s too easy to blow things off and rack up debt on that which they haven’t paid for yet. When they have made an actual financial investment (skin in the game, as they say), they are more compelled to focus their attention to it.
  • You’ll have more late/non-payers.
  • Having to chase after and deal with those late/non-payers adds to your administrative burdens, creates stress, zaps energy, reduces your morale and spirits, and deprives good clients of your full, positive attention.
  • It doesn’t do anyone any good (including clients) to go into debt to you. The more they owe, the harder it will be for them to get caught up while you’re the one who suffers and pays the price for that.
  • You’re in a far worse position if a client doesn’t pay after you’ve expended your time and business resources helping them than if you were to mitigate possible losses by getting at least some money upfront.

So here’s what I recommend…

RETAINERS

Retainers, by their very nature, are always upfront. That’s the whole point of them. They are typically due on or before the 1st of each month.

In my practice, instead of having retainers due on the 1st, they are due (and processed) on the 25th of the preceding month. For example, April’s retainers are due on March 25.

This is because I don’t want my billing and being paid (along with all that beginning of the month work and bills we have to contend with in our own businesses) competing with the 1st of the month work I do for clients.

I also process my payments automatically… and I never pay myself late. ;)

To do this, I have clients sign a Credit Card Authorization Agreement (AGR-30) at the start of the relationship. By signing this agreement, clients give their consent for you to keep their credit card information on file (because you can’t do that without a consent agreement in place), and for you to automatically process their regular monthly charges.

Once I process the payment every month, I put a courtesy PDF copy of their paid monthly invoice up in a shared Dropbox folder for their business records.

Retainers are the holy grail in this business because it’s where the bigger, more consistent money is. To learn how to make retainers profitable and build a business where you can earn a great living working fewer hours with fewer clients (and get off the nickel and dime project hamster wheel where you always have to chase down your next meal), I highly encourage you to get my Value-Based Pricing & Packaging Guide (GDE-39).

PROJECT WORK

A project is different from ongoing support in that it is self-contained and ends upon completion of the work.

Designing a website is an example of project work because it’s not ongoing. Once the site design is complete, that’s the end of the project.

With project work, clients should definitely be paying at least something upfront, and 100% is entirely acceptable business practice.

With projects, there are a number of ways they can be charged. Getting a minimum or deposit upfront works like earnest money and helps clients respect your time and take the work more seriously.

Requiring payment upfront also helps weed out those who are not serious prospects.

I hate to say it but it’s nonetheless true:  there are dine-and-dash clients that new people in business often fall prey to who engage them to do a bunch of work, and then disappear when the bill shows up. You want to avoid that.

The rule of thumb in my business is that if it’s $1,000 or less, I charge 100% upfront.

If it’s a larger project, we break it up into logical phases and they pay for each phase upfront. If you do it that way, you get paid for work you were engaged to perform and complete, and work only continues beyond that once the next phase’s payment is met.

While you’re at it, if you want to learn all my secret policies and procedures that allow me to run my business 3 days a week while earning a full-time income working with just a handful of clients, be sure to get my Power Productivity and Business Management Guide (GDE-41).

Is this information helpful or eye-opening to you? Let me know in the comments. :)

Stop with the Money-Back Guarantees

Stop with the Money-Back Guarantees

Stop with the “100% money-back guarantee” on your service. You’re not selling a ShamWow, for crying out loud! Your blood, sweat and tears do not come with a money-back offer.

Plus, there are theories of law at play here.

Ideally, you have great skills and do great work for clients. But whether someone likes the work or not is a completely different value from the fact that they engaged you to do the work.

By law, you are entitled to be paid for work you were engaged to do, as long as you made every good faith effort and held up your end of the bargain.

Whether they like the end result is something else entirely. And they aren’t entitled to 100% of their money back on that.

Plus, think about it. You’d have to hold those funds aside and deprive yourself of their use until the end of whatever period you’ve given.

That’s ridiculous!

Clients who don’t like your work have the same recourse we all do:  to express our dissatisfaction and give the provider an opportunity to do better and/or stop working with that provider any further and take our business elsewhere. Simple as that.

It’s up to all of us to do our homework and choose service providers wisely, with quality in mind, not cheapness.

We usually get what we pay for in this life, and when clients cheap out, they shouldn’t be surprised when that’s the kind of quality they get in return. They just aren’t going to get a Rolls Royce for the price of a Ford, no way no how.

You, on the other hand, as a conscientious service provider of integrity who cares about your clients and doing good work can offer to redo any work that a client isn’t satisfied with.

But beyond that, you need to stop prostrating yourself and begging and bribing people to work with you.

You’re offering a service and knowledge work, not selling products that can be returned to the shelves.

How to Create a Payment Page on Your Website

A colleague asked me how to procePayPal Pay Now Buttonss a client’s payment herself with PayPal. She had heard about my Credit Card Authorization Form, but wasn’t sure about the actual mechanics of processing credit card payments herself on behalf of her clients and whether she needed to be able to log into their PayPal accounts.

So, here’s what I explained:

Okay, so the credit card authorization form is an agreement between you and the client whereby the client provides you with their credit card details and allows you to keep them on file. This is so that when their fee to you is due, you can simply run the credit card yourself instead of waiting for them to do it.

It’s best for clients who pay you a monthly retainer or any other usual or set amount on a regular basis. This is an excellent way to take another detail off of your client’s plate while ensuring you are paid on time every month. And it really doesn’t matter what credit card processing service you use. My client’s love it and I never pay myself late, lol. ;)

With regard to PayPal specifically, there are a couple ways you can process the payment. The first is that, yes, you can log into the client’s PayPal account if they wish to provide you with that information. However, it’s not necessary and for many reasons I really don’t recommend this.

There needs to be a great deal of trust there already for a client to provide you with their PayPal account info. That level is usually only established with clients who have been with you for several years, and you don’t want to get blamed for any problems with their account just because you are the only other person who happens to have access to it. Know what I mean?

I recommend the second option, which is that you simply process the payment as a guest. As a guest, you don’t need to log into a client’s PayPal account to process their payment. As long as you have their credit card details and the proper legal authorization form on file, you can process any payment without the client even needing an account.

Here’s how to set up a payment page on your website. Here’s an example of my payment page from my old website:

paymentpage

  1. Create a dedicated web page on your site. You can simply call it “payment” or “submitpayment.” Include the link in your navigation, site map or otherwise make it clearly visible and easily found on your site (perhaps as an image graphic in a sidebar on all pages).
  2. Get the HTML code to place a PayPal “Pay Now” button on the page.a) Log into your own PayPal account and go to the “Merchant Services” tab.

    b) Click on the “Create Payment Buttons for Your Website” option, then click on “Create a Button.”

    c) Select the “Buy Now” button type.

    d) Since this is going to be a generic button, leave the “Item ID,” “Price” fields blank. If you want to give a name, call it something like “Submit Payment” or “Pay Now.”

    d) Under the “Customize Button” section, click on “Customize text or appearance.”

    e) Under “Select button text,” select “Pay Now.”

    f) Read through the other options so you know and understand what’s there and change anything you need to accordingly. You also have the option to use your own button graphic if you choose.

    g) Once all that is done, click on “Create Button” and the HTML code will appear. Select that code and place it in the HTML section on your Payment page where you’d like the button to appear.

  3. Publish your new Payment page.

So now, whenever you need to process a payment on behalf of a client, you just go to your Payment page and click on the “Pay Now” button. When the PayPal page appears, click on the option where it says “Pay with your debit or credit card as a PayPal guest” and then enter the amount due and the client’s credit card information.

Simple as that!

How Billing by the Hour Is Killing Your Business (and What You Can Do About It)

Here’s a video I made a few years ago to help people understand how billing by hour (selling hours) is keeping them broke and killing their business.

This can be a difficult concept to understand at first. For many folks, it’s not until they’ve been in business for a bit that they realize the dilemma. It’s usually then that things finally “click” and they get it.

Then, there are people who understand the problem immediately and want to avoid it altogether in their practice.

Whatever camp you’re in, my Value-Based Pricing and Packaging Toolkit will show you how to stop selling hours (and selling yourself short) and learn how to price and package your value and expertise instead.

I’ve been practicing and studying this methodology since the 90s and been teaching it to our industry since 2004. I introduced the concept and adapted the methodology for our industry and I’m really the only person in our industry uniquely qualified to show you how to implement in your practice.

Dear Danielle: What Should I Have Done Differently?

Dear Danielle:

I really appreciate this service. I am a newbie in the industry. I started my administrative support service targeting doctors in the August 2012 and got my first client in December. The doctor signed an agreement for me to find him a new medical billing service. I put my heart and soul into that project. The problem is, I’ve received no feedback or payment from the client. I promised the six medical billing services I contacted that I would get back to them this week on my client’s decision. Because I’ve received no feedback from the client, I don’t know what to say to the medical billing services. Should I be completely honest and upfront with them about what has happened? If not, how do you suggest I proceed? My fear is now that I’ve provided the doctor with the details of all medical billing services contact info, that he contacted the one of his choice directly. That’s fine, but it puts me in a difficult position because I don’t know how to proceed or what to tell the other services. Not to mention, I don’t know which (if any) he’s chosen. Please advise as to how you’d handle this situation. Thanks SO much! —Felisa Wash

Hi Felisa :)

This is a common mistep with new business owners such as yourself (I prefer to call them “freshman” rather than “newbies.”) It may be that you just have to chock this one up to lessons learned.

Let me preface things by reiterating that my business advice is geared toward ongoing (monthly) support work and relationships with clients rather than one-off/ad hoc projects like that.

Ad hoc projects of that nature are rarely worthwhile financially so I don’t get involved with them in the first place. What I’m focused on doing and helping others do is how to have a monthly retainer-based practice and work with clients in that kind of ongoing support relationship. It’s more financially worthwhile and where the bigger, more consistent cashflow is.

That said, some thoughts do pop up.

You state that you’re caught in a predicament of not knowing how to follow-up with the medical billing services you contact. What I’m wondering is if that was even your role to do so.

I would have to ask more questions about what you contracted to do for the doctor, what roles and outcomes were discussed, but it sounds like basically you were just supposed to research medical billing services and then provide that information to the doctor so he could weigh his options, make his own decision and proceed from there.

If that’s the case, there wasn’t ever any need for you to engage in what amounts to negotiating talks with those services and therefore no reason for you to follow-up with them. So, I think one lesson might be to not create obligations where there’s no need to do so.

Beyond that I think the important lesson here involves examining how you go about engaging in business and adjusting things moving forward.

No matter what work is involved, whether it’s an ad-hoc project or ongoing administrative support, there should always be 1) some level of consultation with clients (and if you are providing ongoing/monthly administrative support rather than piecemeal project work, that consultation is going to be more lengthy and involved), 2) signing of a contract and 3) money upfront.

If your doctor client paid no money and you’ve provided him with all the goods, he has no incentive to take you seriously and not waste your time. If it turns out that he has stiffed you, here’s how to avoid that in the future >>

This is where some foundational work would benefit you greatly in establishing and building your business.

You say doctors are your target market, which is great that you have that. I would tell you to narrow that down even further.

What kind of doctors? What specific specialty do they practice in?

Because a business specializing in one practice area can be operated and administrated completely differently from one in another practice area. Which means the support and solutions you offer them will be completely different.

If you’re going to really resonate with potential clients, you need to determine EXACTLY who your audience (i.e., target market) is so that you can focus your message, be more compelling and be able to research and learn how you can best support them and how to offer your solutions. That simply cannot be done in any general way.

As you go about that work, you begin to also easily see that it’s always going to be the solo and small practice/boutique physicians who will have the greatest need for administrative support such as ours and, thus, place more value in it, so focus your efforts there.

The other foundational part of determining and narrowing down your target market is also clarifying who your ideal client is.

While a target market is simply a very narrow/specific field/industry/profession you cater to, an ideal client profile is where you sit down and make a list of all the traits, characteristics and demographics of kind of person you’d like to work with and with whom you work best.

Do you prefer to work with men or women? What kind of personality and workstyle does your ideal client have? Do they need to earn a certain amount of income in order to work with you (so that you aren’t inheriting money issues that will cause difficulties in your business and relationship with them)?

These are just a few of the questions that might come to mind as you go about compiling this list. And it’s a list that you will add to and refine throughout the life of your business as you work with more people and get clearer and clearer about who is ideal for you.

So basically, an ideal client is the kind of person you work best with and seek to find within your target market.

Getting conscious about these things will help you weed out non-ideal clients and better help prequalify your ideal clients when they show up. You will also be able to better hone your message on your website to help in the prequalifying process so that it attracts more of the people you want to work with and weeds out those who don’t.

My guess is that you may still have lots of work to do in getting clear and conscious about your standards as well as policies and procedures and operations and workflows in your biz. This may be a bit overwhelming, but it’s what’s involved in growing a business and getting clients who pay and pay attention to you so I can’t tell you otherwise.

I also have a product that gives you a roadmap or system, if you will, of policies and procedures that will help get you on the right path.

Just remember, you don’t have to learn it all overnight. This is going to be a process and a journey. You’ll make misteps, but that’s okay because you will gain valuable experience, lessons and insights from them.

I think right now the best next step you can take is to read, which is simple and doesn’t cost anything but your time. Read through the entire ACA website and then my blog. That will help flesh out some of the ideas and concepts you will need to start tightening things up in your biz and figuring what you really want to be doing and who you really want to be working with.

Lastly, remember, you won’t get what you don’t ask for. ;)

If you aren’t focusing prospects on becoming retained clients, then you’re just going to keep getting non committal, nickel-and-dime project work and clients. If you want retained clients, that’s what your entire website message, marketing and efforts need to be focused on getting.

You can pick up projects through your networking and other avenues, but keep if you want a retainer-based practice, keep your website focused on that message and getting those kind of clients.

Hope that helps somewhat, and thanks for the question!

Get Paid to Market Your Biz with Info Products and Multi-Layered Revenue Streams

Do you want retained clients, but aren’t sure how to get them? If a roster of well-paying clients who pay you an advance monthly fee for your administrative support and expertise is what you long for, your entire website and marketing message must be geared toward that goal.

You want to think of your whole website as a sales page with a singular goal: to get those retained clients. From there, it’s a bit of a dating process that happens a lot like this:

  • You catch your prospect’s eye somewhere (through your marketing and networking).
  • They observe you from the across the room (by visiting your website and taking a look around).
  • They like what they see and hear and ask you out (by requesting a consultation or more information).

At this point, it’s important to understand that most people aren’t going to hire you right off the bat any more than anyone is going to be proposing marriage after one date.

Relationships develop and transpire over a course of time and interaction. Different prospective clients will have varying comfort levels initially.

This is the where most people aren’t sure how to proceed. Clients want them to “audition” by trying them out with small projects.

The problem with that, however, is when you fritter away your limited time and energy on nickel and dime projects, you are chasing after pennies instead of hundred dollar bills.

That small project might buy dinner that night, but it does nothing to help you achieve your long-term goal of achieving a well-earning practice. It only distracts you from building your real business and the work and focus needed to establish a retained roster of clients.

Some folks think: “Yes, but if I do a good enough job, maybe the client will eventually hire me on a retained basis.”

That almost never happens.

Your business and income can’t depend on hopes and maybe’s. You’ll never build a roster of well-paying monthly retained clients by chasing after penny-ante “sample” projects and letting the wrong prospect lead you around by the nose. To get a commitment, you must expect one.

On November 29, I’m holding a class to show you how to do just that by offering products and services that support your overall goal and marketing message to get retained clients AND create multiple revenue streams for you at the same time.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Nurture those prospective client relationships and lead them toward the retainer commitment;
  • Eliminate auditioning and the need to chase after penny-ante project work and carrots on a stick so you can stay focused on building your retained client roster;
  • Provide selective demonstrations and “proof” to prospects of your skills and expertise that they seek;
    Create passive income streams;
  • Establish you as an authority and expert in your field;
  • Set a more respectful tone for the relationship where prospects and clients treat you as a trusted advisor, not a cost to be managed or some kind of gopher;
  • Create an easier business to operate that affords you more time and space for your support work to happen;
  • Provide the foundation for a more flexible and freedom-filled lifestyle and business;
  • Get PAID to market your business!

Join us! Click on the link below to get the class details and secure your registration:

Get Paid to Market Your Biz with Info Products and Multi-Layered Revenue Streams >>

Dear Danielle: What Is a Retainer?

Dear Danielle:

I am fairly new to the business and have a few clients I know and trust, but am branching out and will be acquiring clients I have no prior experience with. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions on how to deal with billing new clients who you have no prior working relationship with?  When billing a monthly retainer package of $1,000, for example, if you do a month’s worth of work, then send them the bill, and wait another 30 days to get paid, you could potentially be working for 60 days before you get paid.  Do you recommend asking for part or all of your monthly fee up front or would you bill at the end of the month? —LB

This is a great question because it’s another reminder for us veterans that we can never take for granted that everyone knows what we think are commonly understood principles or details in business.

So, the first thing I would explain is that a retainer is a monthly upfront fee paid in full and in advance of service. And the service for which retainers are charged in our business is a month of ongoing administrative support.

The idea is that you and the client are entering into a relationship. With the retainer, they are securing a spot on your roster, reserving your time and preserving their priority over any other side (non retainer) clients or project work you do in your business.

With retainers, they are generally billed with due dates of “on or before the 1st.” There are no “deposits” toward a retainer because it’s not a layaway plan. They either pay beforehand or they don’t receive services.

In my practice, I have clients sign a credit card authorization form (AGR-30 in the Success Store) so that I can automatically run their credit card when it’s time for them to pay their retainer each month. So essentially, I pay myself, and my due date is the 25th of each month (and I never pay myself late, lol).

I do this because:

  1. the 1st is one of the busiest days of the month for me and for my clients (and most people running businesses, I think). I don’t want my money and being paid held up in any way; and
  2. if I happen to do billing for any clients (i.e., invoicing their clients on their behalf), I don’t have my business’s billing and theirs all trying to compete for my attention on the same day.

If you are billing after the fact, that is not a retainer. For the reasons you recognize (and that fact that you’ll run into far more nonpayment issues with nothing to mitigate your losses), you will have all kinds of financial problems if you bill at the end of the month for services already rendered. The last thing you need to be in is the credit lending business (which is basically what you’d be creating by billing after the fact and waiting to be paid).

How you bill in your business becomes part of your business management and systems for success. It should be given as much careful thought and consideration as every other planning and operational aspect of your business.

This is also an example of the kind of things I will be sharing with attendees at my business management systems class this coming August 22. Check it out!

What Folks Have to Say About My Value-Based Pricing and Packaging Training

Besides not charging properly, another reason people aren’t earning well in our business is that they are selling hours instead of pricing for solutions. This is called value-based pricing and it’s a methodology I introduced to our industry back in 2004 and have been teaching since then.

I recently conducted this class in June and I wanted to share with you the exciting testimonials I received from some of the attendees:

“Your classes are always fun and informative. I have been on calls before for webinars, and it seemed as if I was the only person on the call. But not with you. You give such awesome information and examples that it is hard not to get excited about how you are going to apply all that you have learned. You make it easy for everyone to ask questions and not feel as if “oh, that was a stupid question.” That is why it is hard to get off your calls. I learn a lot from the other people on the call as well as the information and templates you provide. I now have a clear picture of why I should have packages instead of charging by the hour.” —Tracy Carson, Te L – Us Business Solutions, LLC



Thank you so much, Tracy! I was especially thrilled by Tracy’s feedback because I know she is a very discerning customer and has been disappointed in the past by other teleclasses she’s attended from others, which makes her feedback even more meaningful. I’m so glad I was able to help, Tracy! There is nothing better than that!

“This program is amazing, and I am so glad I was able to participate.  I dreaded spending the time for billing each week because it took up way to much time that I could be spending with my family.  Since participating in the webinar and implementing the pricing plan with two new clients, it has taken all the stress out of billing.  That alone has made this program worth it.  I have advised all my clients that as of the new quarter (August) all billing will be switched over to this program, and even a few are excited about it.  Not having to worry about weekly billing and increments of 15 min they, too, feel it will be less stressful when trying to read their invoices.  I have one client who decided to not wait and we are working on his support plan to get him started right away.  Thank you for sharing you knowledge and simplifying the trials and errors that you have endured to create the impossibly easy billing!  I can’t wait for your next webinar because I will make sure I have signed up for it to attend.” —Teri Williams, Sidekick Assistants



Oh, what wonderful news to wake up to!! This is just so thrilling and I am ecstatic for Teri and her business! What I love even more is that she was fearless, took action right away and just DECIDED to implement things (and didn’t sit around waiting for clients’ permission).

She knew it would help her and she knew it would definitely benefit her clients and help them see that they could both be more focused on the client’s goals and dreams and achieving objectives instead of counting hours. I so LOVE THIS!

Now here’s the bad news… The class I held in June was the last live class I planned on doing on this topic. I have many more new and exciting projects I want to focus on, as well as a big adventure I’m planning to start late 2013 or early 2014.

The good news is that you, too, can get the entire training RIGHT NOW with my comprehensive Value-Based Pricing & Packaging Toolkit.

Click on the link and you will be taken to the product information that will let you know all that is included in the guide, some sample images and a video explaining why pricing by the hour and selling hours is killing your business.

I am proud as punch of this program, and as evidenced by all the testimonials of customers and attendees, it has really and truly transformed the income and businesses of those who have purchased the toolkit!