Retainer Agreement – Interior Design Contract
Do you ever have outstanding invoices for services from clients? You need to make sure you are getting paid up front. In this post I’m going to tell you how to do just that with a Retainer Agreement.
If you don’t have a Letter of Agreement, here’s where you can get mine. But first, watch the video below to learn more about how and why this initial contract is imperative to have in place for your business.
At least once a month in my private Facebook Group for Designers, someone posts to ask for advice on how to get paid for outstanding client invoices.
Please don’t let this happen to you, it’s no way to run a successful interior design business!
I’ve set up my processes so that I am never out of pocket for services. I always have a signed retainer agreement before commencing design services and you should too.
What is a Retainer Agreement?
A retainer agreement is essentially a contract between you and your client. It states the terms of how you work, the scope of a project and services you will provide, as well as details of your fee schedule.
How elaborate and detailed the retainer agreement is, will depend on your business model. Either way, your Letter of Agreement is in place so that you receive a retainer fee up front for services and your clients understand the terms and conditions of working with you.
This structured way of working also shows clients that you are an organized professional with processes in place. The good interior design clients really like that and respect you more for it.
I have clients sign my retainer agreement at the end of the initial consultation meeting, before commencing further design services. I call my Retainer Agreement an LOA – Letter of Agreement and it’s a one-page document.
I actually have 2 that I use depending on whether clients are hiring us for hourly services or for flat-fee packages.
As we have done so many interior design 3D plans and that is one of our most popular offerings to clients, I already know how much plans are going to cost, based on the size of the project.
A Retainer Is Still Important Even For Complex Jobs
If the project is going to be more involved & more time is required to finalize the scope of work & determine pricing for service fees, then even in those circumstances, we still ask for a retainer to hold a space in our calendar for that client’s project.
A big mistake that a lot of designers make is that they either leave the document for clients to review on their own or they email it to clients after they’ve sent a proposal.
This is a big no-no in my book. One main reason people do that is because they are nervous about pulling out a contract and discussing it through with clients. Whereas I see it completely differently and encourage you to as well.
This is a fantastic opportunity to manage your client’s expectations! Sitting down to review any contract allows for an open conversation so the client can get a good grasp on what to expect moving forward .
It also provides the chance for clients to ask you any more questions & for you to further clarify how you will work together moving forward. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity! Hit it head on with confidence!
How Much Should You Ask For?
We ask for 50% of the estimated total cost for services. For example, if our 3D design concepts start at $3000, I will request $1500 at the end of our initial consultation meeting with the balance being due 5 days prior to a presentation meeting.
My business model is a hybrid model which means that we charge a flat fee for plans that take clients to the point of presentation and then an hourly fee for our services to implement our design ideas.
If a client wishes to continue with our design services and signs off on the ideas we presented, then phase two is the implementation stage. For that we have a separate purchasing agreement that covers all aspects of managing the design to the big reveal day and that includes the purchasing of the furniture and warranties etc.
Get My Retainer Agreements
If you want to save time in developing your own Agreement, I have mine for purchase here on my website. It’s the agreement that I use to move clients past the initial consultation and onto our first level of services.
I also include a coaching video where I do a walk through to show you exactly how I present my retainer agreement to clients. You will need to do some minor edits to suit your own business model and add your own logo and business details.
Please note that this is a one-page agreement, not a lengthy contract or for purchasing products. Find out more here.
Comment below to let me know if you use a Retainer Agreement in your business.