Retainer Fee

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Retainer Fee

Retainer Fee – Interior Design 

You should never be chasing money.

Don’t start any interior design work without a signed contract and retainer payment.

It’s your business:

  • You make the rules
  • You set the boundaries
  • You are in control

And guess what? The good clients love that you run an organized business with streamlined processes!

If you missed my previous video, ‘What is a Retainer Agreement’, please watch that first.  You can find it here.  In that post, I go into more detail about the purpose of the Letter of Agreement itself.

In today’s video, I focus on the retainer fee amount and how to work the retainer with your clients.

If you have ever chased clients for outstanding payments or had to reissue invoices & reminders time and again, then you know what a lousy feeling that is. It’s a terrible place to be.

Since the beginning of my career, I have been successfully reviewing my contracts and collecting retainer payments from clients at the end of the initial consultation meeting, before moving ahead with design services. 

You can too!

Need A Contract? Get mine!

Exude the confidence to take control & manage clients’ expectations on your various processes with my Letter of Agreement. 

Letter Of Agreement contract

But my most popular offering for designers when it comes to these all important interior design documents is my Contract Bundle.

Contract Bundle Lg.image

If your business has evolved over the years you may find yourself needing more than an LOA.

Having these contracts – each of which includes an easily editable Services Outline to use for your marketing – are powerful tools that shows clients you are organized and on top of your game.

I have created 3 detailed contracts that cover the three services I now offer in my own business: Custom Design and Project Management, Designer by Your Side, and Designer for a Day.

When you invest in any of my contracts you’ll also receive a link to a walk through video where I explain in more detail why you need a contract; when to use it & how to walk your client effortlessly through it.

Let me help make your life easier and give you Claire-ity in your business processes.

Want Total Confidence in Your Consultation Process? Let’s ROCK this!

An unbeatable value for 3 incredibly helpful resources for your interior design business, bundle and save! Link here to purchase.

Whether you are just starting out in the business or are a well seasoned interior design professional, don’t waste any more of your precious time trying to refine your initial consultation process, because I’ve already done it all here for you.

3 in 1 Bundle, Business Starter Pack, Rock the Consult, LOA, Letter of Agreement

Gain the confidence to charge your worth and impress your clients from the very first phone call. My simplified, yet super effective 3-in-1 bundle package includes:

  • More than 20 templates
  • Over 7 drafted emails
  • An easy to follow process flow chart – all from the discovery call to the end of the initial consultation meeting
  • My one-page Letter of Agreement (LOA) template with a walk-through video with details of how to present your LOA and how to communicate the terms confidently to your clients.


I include videos showing you how I speak to a potential client on an initial phone call and another video on how to conduct an initial consultation. Be a fly on the wall and learn how to avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKE designers are making in this first meeting!

There are also 4 scenarios where I show you how to deal with awkward client situations such as:

  • Asking about your discount
  • Having friends & other family members give decorating advice
  • How to handle if a client who challenges your process
  • How to deal with the ‘other half’ who may not be fully on board with hiring your extremely helpful services

Why re-invent the wheel with every new client or fly by the seat of your pants creating new templates and forms with each consultation meeting? Gain more confidence & get organized NOW.

AND – you’ll also get my Interior Design Starter Pack that addresses branding your business; establishing relationships with trades and suppliers; must-have tools for your business and more.

The time and stress you will save yourself by getting super organized, super-fast, is invaluable.

Interior Design business coach Claire Jefford Testimonial
(6) Comments
  • Jil Sonia McDonald
    | 31 October 2019

    Yes, I charge a 75% retainer, every single time!

    • Claire Jefford
      | 31 October 2019

      Good on ya lady!

  • shannon Ggem
    | 2 November 2019

    Love this, it’s so much less stressful for all when the terms are CLEAR. I love to have clarity on the fee piece so that clients can have one set in stone cost to rely upon in the wacky world of remodels.

    • Claire Jefford
      | 3 November 2019

      Yes Shannon, managing clients expectations is everything. When your processes are clearly outlined, client’s feel more assured and you as the designer feels more confident as well. Thanks for your feedback my dear!

  • Melissa
    | 18 January 2020

    Hi Claire, this is great timing for me as I am just getting going on a Master Bathroom and Walk-in Wardrobe Reno, and aster consultation (pre-paid), I am now with this particular client and project, wanting to collect a retainer. Problem is- they don’t like the LOA, and claim that this is a ‘strange’ way to do business, and that they have worked with a Designer before. I like the idea of a purchase Agreement. This could help them see what is happening. This is the first time that I’m being questioned on it…

    • Claire Jefford
      | 18 January 2020

      Hey Melissa. You have your processes in place for a reason and should not sway from them, especially if you have been successful with how you work when dealing with previous clients. I explain to all clients that the LOA is a great way to review some simple terms that will make sure they are comfortable in understanding how I work. I also let them know that it’s a great opportunity for them to ask questions if they need me to clarify anything for them. It’s as much for their benefit as it is mine.

      Every business owner works differently and for whatever reason, these clients you are referring to have chosen not to work with their previous designer. They chose to work with you. Personally, I would not move forward without a signed LOA -we always review that with clients first before moving to our first phase of design services. The next contract is the Purchase Agreement, as you’ve mentioned here and that gets reviewed in person and signed after presentation, before any orders are placed. Let us know how it goes and don’t let them question the way you work if your way has been working for you. It’s not uncommon for it to then lead to potential problems throughout the design process.

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