Bespoken Management

How Do You End A Retainer?

Having to end a retainer is inevitable for any agency. Even though you are ending the relationship with your client, it is still important to do so in a professional manner. You want to have a positive relationship with the client until the very end as they may be an important source for a recommendation for future clients. Before officially ending your retainer with your client, reflect on your relationship. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you should really end the retainer:

  • Has your team enjoyed working with the client?
  • How did the client handle bad news?
  • Were they easy to work with and did they stick to deadlines?
  • Were they flexible when you needed to change directions on a campaign?

If the answer is ‘no’ to a majority of these questions, there is a good chance that the client and your agency are not a good fit. However, it is imperative not to abandon the client in the last few months even though you will not be working with them in the future.

Again, they can serve as an important source for recommendations and you do not want to sour the relationship in the last few months. Instead, recommend they hire someone internally or help the client find a new agency. To officially end a retainer, schedule a transition call. This is the most important part of ending a retainer and can be done in a way that is both effective and professional.

Here is what should be on your agenda during a transition call:

  • Offer advice on where to go from here
  • Give client login details for HubSpot, social media
  • Export clients’ project management history and task lists
  • Confirm the new person taking over can get in touch for the next 30 days

Each of these steps helps to facilitate an easy transition to end the retainer and allows you to maintain a professional relationship until the very end.

After the call, reflect with your team about why the client did not renew their retainer with your agency.

  • What was the first indicator that the relationship with the client wasn’t stable?
  • What events occurred on their side and what events occurred on your side that led to the end of the retainer?
  • What would you do differently?

Using these questions will uncover what did not go well in the retainer and will ultimately help your agency in fostering positive relationships with future clients. Ending a retainer can bring up uncomfortable conversations, but doing so in a proper manner and reflecting on the relationship will prove extremely helpful for future client relations.

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