virtual assistant rates

VA Retainer Package Or Bill At The End of Each Month?

Retainer Vs Bill At The End Of The Month
Retainer Vs Bill At The End Of The Month

You've been wondering if you should charge your virtual assistant clients by the hour at the end of the month or if you should create a VA Retainer Package and require payment up front. Let me break down the pros and the cons of both and why I believe virtual assistants should work with a retainer plan (tweet it out).

Submitting invoices at the end of the month - PROS

What I like about submitting invoices at the end of the month is that I don't have unused hours that carry over into the next month.   I start over clean each and every month.   I have full visibility into my work schedule for the next month so I can manage my work schedule accordingly.

Submitting invoices at the end of the month - CONS

When you submit a client invoice at the end of the month for hours worked and let's say it's a new client, how can you be sure you'll get paid?  Perhaps you have a contract and let's say in that contract you stipulate that the client has until the 10th of the month to pay.   The 10th comes and goes.   Are you going to pursue legal action?  Are you going to add a late fee?   These are all things to consider when you charge your clients by the hour and submit your invoice AFTER you've performed the work.

Retainer plans - PROS

When you work on a retainer plan you can trust that you are going to get paid and on time because you won't begin any work until the money is in the bank.   I don't begin any projects with any new clients until they have paid my retainer fees in full.  I don't offer 50% of my retainer free up front and the other 50% of my fee after the work has been completed.   Lawyers don't work like this, I don't either.

Retainer plans - CONS

Virtual assistant retainer plans are great but what happens when when there are unused hours left over?  Do you carry the time over or expire the hours after a certain time period?   If you're flexible and you don't put an expiration date on the time than any unused hours that carry over make it hard for a virtual assistant to budget his/her time into the following months.   This can create havoc on your work schedule.  This is often why virtual assistants put an expiration on their virtual assistant retainer packages.

Another point to bring up about retainer packages, let's say you get paid $400 in January for 10 hours.   At the end of the month you have only worked 4 hours so the remaining time carries over into February.   So now you're in a situation where you are not going to get paid again during the month of February.   This means that unless you have a new client in the pipeline or another client is giving you more hours, you're going to earn substantially less during the month of February.

The only way to rectify this is to put a clause in your contract that stipulates that your retainer hours do not carry over.

I do not expire my retainer hours.  I have tried both options for my business and I've decided to be more flexible with my clients.  My reasoning is that most of my clients are small business owners and they are working with a small budget for virtual assistant services.   The more I restrict them (and effectively cost them more money), the more likely they are going to look for a cheaper alternative.   At the end of the day, if a business can't afford you, they can't afford you, no matter how amazing you are.

This can be hard (but very rarely occurs) for me when I'm trying to budget my time each month, but it's helped me build long lasting relationships with my ideal clients who love working with me.    So because of this, I feel it's important to be flexible and offer retainer hours that do not expire.  It's an added bonus that my clients truly appreciate.

One last option that I'd like to bring up is a per-project quote.

Let's say you have a new client that has a project that he/she wants done and they don't want to commit to a retainer plan.  Go ahead and offer a quote for the work.   It may be hard at first to determine how long it will take you but as you do more of these projects it will get easier.   This is a great way to build a relationship with a new client without them taking on the added costs of a retainer plan.

I suggest you find what works best for you and your business. You have to make the right decisions as a entrepreneur and making decisions means you've tried out all the options and you've chosen the right one, that works best for you.

So what do you think about virtual assistant retainer plans vs working by the hour?  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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Virtual Assistant Rates: How Much Should You Charge?

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If you're a new virtual assistant or a seasoned virtual assistant this is a topic that gets a lot of traction.   Figuring out what your rates are can be one of the hardest things for both the newcomer and experienced VA.

Instead of telling you what you should charge I'll share my experience.

When I first became a virtual assistant I worked for a company called Secretary in Israel.   It's a wonderful virtual assistant company that matches clients with virtual assistants.   At that time, Secretary in Israel was charging $35/hour for senior level virtual assistant services and my share of that was $18/hour.

When I decided to branch out on my own I began charging $20/hour.  In my eyes, it was an increase in my hourly rate but it was still way below the $35/hour rate.    I thought that because I offered my services at such a low rate I was sure I would be able to get several clients.

I did get several clients from referrals and they never batted an eye at my $20/hour rate.   After working at this rate for several months, I realized that I was getting more and more referrals and I didn't have the time to handle all the work coming in.    It was time to re-think my hourly rate.

I increased my rate to $25/hour and again, no one batted an eye.

The next time another potential client approached me for my services I told her that my hourly rate was $30/hour.   Within 24 hours, this client suggested we move forward and she has been a client of mine ever since.

Eventually, I started asking clients for $45/hour.

Keep in mind that I got clients and raised my rates because I was really good at what I did. I solved my client's problems.

I was so busy that I needed to evaluate how I was charging my clients in terms of the retainer packages I was offering.   I had 3 options in my retainer package.    The idea was if you purchased more time I gave you a discount on the hourly rate.

Here is how it looked:

10 hours of VA services - $45/hour = $450

20 hours of VA services - $40/hour =$800

40 hours of VA services - $35/hour =$1,400

Over time, the above options stopped working for me. That's because I had a large client roster (and more work than I know what to do with).   I didn't need to discount my rates --so I stopped.

I started offering 5-hour blocks of time for $45/hour.   Period.   If my clients want to purchase 10 hours then they paid $450.  It's was that simple.

Today, I charge $100/hour for my services. I've been working in this industry for over 10 years. 

My pricing now goes through a VERY methodical process and I never guess at how much I should charge. In my free training below I go through this process in detail so make sure to sign up to the free training on how to price your virtual assistant services. 

I feel it's important to say that when you offer your clients too many choices they often time choose nothing.   Do yourself a favor and pick one price point and stick to it.   Derek Halpern of Social Triggers wrote a great blog about offering too many choices.   While Derek's post is about selling stuff online it can easily be translated into creating rate sheets for virtual assistants.

If you offer basic administrative services, as well as advanced services don't charge less for the more basic services.   Your profit margin will be higher for those basic services and that's totally fine!

Take a look at these posts to take things a step further.

How To Determine Your Rates

How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services

So tell me, how much are you charging for your virtual assistant services and what information did you base this number off of?

Leave me a comment below.

Much love,

Reese