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Hourly rates vs packages, retainers vs ad hoc or both?!

At the start of most Virtual Assistant journeys, I recommend offering your services by the hour, especially if you don’t know exactly how long something will take you. 

Often in the early days these hours might be ad-hoc, meaning that consistency, reliability, and forecasting is missing from your business. 

However, as you gain experience and confidence, incorporating retainer hours and package options into your service offerings can be a game-changer for both you and your clients.

Retainer agreements offer clients the opportunity to secure a set amount of your time within a specified time frame - for example, 10 hours per calendar month. So you are still working to your hourly rate, but on a retainer basis! 

A retainer service not only provides stability for you and your clients but also creates a sense of partnership and commitment. Alongside a robust contract, retainer agreements allow you to forecast your capacity and income, and your client benefits from knowing they are guaranteed your support. 

You can choose for yourself - do you charge for the retainer in advance or in arrears, and do you allow hours to carry over (with agreement), or are they on a ‘use it or lose it’ agreement? 

You can also do task based work on a retainer agreement - for example, you might complete XX task each month, and you and your client have agreed in advance this will take no more than X number of hours. You are still working to an hourly rate, and they know a regular task is being safely outsourced. 

It’s about what works for you and your client. 

Remember, it's essential to strike a balance between providing value and avoiding overemphasis on the time spent on tasks. Focus on delivering quality results that exceed your clients' expectations, regardless of the time taken to complete them.

While hourly-based retainers are ideal for clients seeking ongoing support, packages offer a more structured approach to service delivery. 

A package (which can be delivered either on a retainer basis or as an ad-hoc project) is when you bundle together complementary deliverables or tasks for a set price. Social media, PR, content creation and website design all lend themselves well to packages, though this is not an exhaustive list! 

Developing packages is also often a great way to earn more as you benefit from becoming faster at a task. 

Take the time to assess your skills and expertise to determine which services lend themselves well to packaging. As you gain a deeper understanding of your capabilities, how long tasks take, and client needs, you'll be better equipped to design packages that showcase your value and expertise.

How to price up packages may feel tricky at first, but don’t be daunted by it. Simply work out how much time you envisage a task or service will take you and then from that work out how much you want to earn from this package.

Remember, you are worth all your time, experience and knowledge so don’t be afraid to price accordingly!

One of the key advantages of offering packages is the transparency they provide to clients. With clear deliverables and pricing upfront, clients know exactly what to expect for their investment. 

This not only builds trust but also creates confidence in your abilities and professionalism. By always delivering high-quality results and exceeding expectations, you'll build your reputation as a trusted partner in your client's success.

As a VA, your time is valuable, and there's only so much you can accomplish within a given day. 

By expanding your service offerings with packages, you open up new revenue streams and expand your business offerings. This allows you to serve a broader range of clients and maximise your earning potential without being limited to the constraints of time-based services.

Building retainer agreement and package options into your VA business can help build greater stability, profitability, and client satisfaction.

By offering retainer agreements for ongoing support (whether as a block of hours or a package) and packaging complementary services into cohesive offerings, you provide clients with clarity, value, and peace of mind. 

Book a Power Hour with me to help you work out your pricing, packages and retainer agreements.



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