Recurring retainer work is the best way to stabilise your agency’s workload, to create a solid foundation from which to grow. Having a stable workload which is primarily retainer-based will allow you to plan for the longer term, rather than working on a month-by-month basis with uncertainties around securing future work and cashflow.
Once you’ve secured retainer agreements with your customers, these can be a fantastic source of growth for your agency. So today I’m looking at 5 approaches you can take to grow your agency’s retainers, improve your relationships with your customers, and grow your revenue.
By specialising, you are able to position yourself as industry leaders in that area and become known as the best agency for that type of work. This increases your customers’ perceived value of your work, and makes it easy to justify a long-term relationship; as the service you provide will be of a higher quality compared with generalist agencies.
As well as increasing the average lifetime of your customer relationships, specialising will enable you to increase the value of your retainers. The work you do for your customers will have a higher perceived value due to your specific expertise, and so you will be able to charge more for that work.
2) Provide Additional Services
Providing additional services on top of your retainer agreement is another way to grow your retainers. The challenge you’ll face with this approach is finding an additional service to offer that complements your existing offering, makes sense for your customer’s business, and matches up with your team’s skillset.
However, if you find a suitable add-on that you offer to several customers, you could look at incorporating that offering into your standard retainers and grow them on the basis of increased scope or service offering.
3) Offer Strategic Guidance (Not Just Execution)
Just like specialising will increase your customers’ perception of the value you provide, so will offering strategic guidance. It will change your relationship from one of service (where you’re simply executing tasks) to one of partnership, by showing your customer that you are as dedicated to helping them succeed and grow as they are.
Offering strategic guidance can help to develop your customer relationships: they may initially engage you to work on a one-off project, but then based on your strategic offering come to value your expertise and want your advice on an ongoing basis.
4) Focus on Customer Success
Making your customers’ success your agency’s top priority is the best way to grow your retainers. Developing a good relationship with your customer is key: you need to position yourself as their partner rather than simply executing services for them.
Understanding their goals and needs will help you to make your customers successful, and if your customer sees that your work and ideas are contributing to their success they will want to work with you more. As a result, your retainer will grow with your customer, and their success becomes your success.
5) Conduct a Regular Account Review
This is a great way to remind your customers of the value you’re providing for them. It also gives you the opportunity to discuss strategy with your customer, and ensure that the work you’re delivering is aligned with their needs and business goals.
A regular review gives you a chance to pitch additional services, set targets, and (in the long term), allows you to grow your retainers by increasing your prices - keeping them in line with the value you’re providing.
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