Our regular clients are the lifeblood of our business. Chasing new jobs is exciting, but the relationships we build over the years are sustaining. There’s unlikely to be a single full time pro out there who hasn’t had a slow week saved by a big order from a return customer. Without repeat business, we would be voicing in between slurps of lukewarm Ramen.
Regular business, however, is never a certainty. Clients can be loyal as a faithful hound.....right up until their boss decides it is time for a younger, hipper, older, other-gendered, foreign, convernouncery sound! So, is there any way to protect the revenue from the established relationships you have nurtured so diligently?
The answer is yes. Retainers!
A great business strategy to preserve income in the coming year is to evaluate the clients who keep coming back on a weekly or monthly basis as prospects for prepaid retainers. With few exceptions, (Work as the signature voice of a television show or a particular animated character come to mind,) most of your clients carry some risk of moving in a different direction in the next twelve months for any variety of reasons.
Why risk it?
Every November, I choose a handful of my most regular clients and offer them retainer packages with incremental discounts depending on volume ordered. Discounts can be as high as 25% for a large volume of prepaid work. While I don’t usually consider discounts a good strategy for a VO career, in the case of prepaid volume retainers it makes sense. Think of it like buying insurance from the house at the blackjack table. You are sacrificing a relatively small portion of likely, (But not guaranteed,) gains, in exchange for the certainty of a positive result. The reward is a year’s worth of work paid up front, and the strong possibility that the retainer will be renewed once exhausted. Moreover, in some cases clients will fail to use all of the work under retainer in the allotted time, (Mine are generally 12-18 months.) This allows for additional revenue opportunities as well.
Having lots of birds in the bushes makes for a feeling of security that can sometimes be false. Much better to have them in the pot.