I recently spoke with a potential client and the conversation turned to my retainer option. The PC noted that she had heard the term from other VAs but was not completely clear on what that was and asked if it was similar to the retainer for an attorney. This question has also come up between virtual assistants on various VA forums.
A Virtual Assistant retainer is not quite the same as a retainer for an attorney. Almost every VA I’ve come in contact with has the same definition for a virtual assistant retainer. A VA retainer is pre-purchased hours (generally each calendar month) and they are ‘use or loose’. Some VAs give a discount to retainer clients and some do not.
So, why would you even consider a retainer with a virtual assistant? Other than a potential discount, the major reason is that if you have a retainer agreement with a virtual assistant, that VA has budgeted his/her time for your tasks. “Hourly” clients are not guaranteed a VAs time. If he/she has scheduled his/her time for the week and an hourly client contacts them with a project, the VA is not obligated to accept that project.