January 1, 2017

How I keep retainer clients from abusing my time

All of retainer agreements include this line:

Our agreement entitles you to unlimited 24/7 access to me via phone, email, and IM.

The reaction to this from y’all can be summarized thusly:


I got a pile of emails asking how I kept my retainer clients from abusing my time. My answer is simple:

“I don’t.”

The truth is, I don’t have to. I trust my clients to not take advantage of me. And guess what? They don’t take advantage of me.

I have never once been overwhelmed by or felt taken advantage of by a retainer client.

“Okay, okay,” you’re thinking. “But what would you do if one of them DID monopolize your time?”

Here’s what I would do:

  1. I would try to get the situation under control within 30 days
  2. If the situation persisted, I would politely bring the engagement to an end

See? No big deal.

But again... I’ve NEVER had to do this. EVER.

Busy people are busy. They don’t have time to chat with me endlessly.

Worrying about clients taking up all your time is a symptom of the hourly billing disease. You think you’re selling your time, but you’re not. You’re selling an outcome.

Once you deliver the outcome, the client is satisfied and they move on to other concerns.