What’s a Retainer on FreshBooks?

If you’re looking for a way to manage your income without having to run after your clients, then a Retainer is your way to go. This feature on FreshBooks allows you to send recurring invoices in order to stabilize your revenue and easily receive payments. With Retainers, freelancing on big projects will not have you worried on the finances and paperwork.

Clients benefit from Retainers because they end up receiving a more-focused service, instead of wasting time talking about due bills. This will allow you to run a more-profitable business and create a trustworthy relationship with your client.

How to Create a Retainer on FreshBooks?

Unfortunately, you cannot create a Retainer on the FreshBooks app.

Start by logging into your FreshBooks account, either on your mobile or desktop web browser.

1. On the left sidebar, head to the Invoices (4th icon – quill pen & paper)

From the 2 options, click on Retainer.

2. Click on ‘New Retainer’ at the top right corner

A new draft will pop-up to fill in your terms and billing schedule.

3. Type in your Client’s name

You can either choose one from the drop-down list or fill in a new client name.

4. Set a Retainer Start Date

This is the day your Retainer will start tracking time of your work

5. Choose a Retainer Period

Do you want it recurring every week, month or year?
You can also choose ‘custom’ if you want a specific time frame such as quarterly or every 2 weeks.

6. Fill in Fees & Hours per Period

Fees per period is the total amount your client will be charged every invoice, while hours per period is the total time of work.

You can record time entries later on by the Time Tracking feature.
If you want to learn more about it, then check out What’s Time Tracking on FreshBooks.

7. Add a Rate for Excess Hours

Enter a rate per hour if you want charge your client for your overtime (optional).

8. Determine Number of Invoices

Choose ‘Infinite’ if you want your Retainer to keep recurring. This is usually used when you’re unsure of the end date of your project, but you can delete it later on once your job is completed.

But if you have a specific deadline, fill in the number of Retainers you want to send according to the time period you set.

Let’s say you’re working on a 6-months project and require stable advanced payments to complete it. Choose a ‘monthly’ Retainer period, and put ‘6’ for the number of invoices.

9. Choose an Invoice Delivery Option

Option 1: FreshBooks automatically sends your invoices according to the date and time period set. This is a preferred option because it allows you stay on top of your finances.

You can choose the date you want to issue the first invoice to your client.

Option 2: FreshBooks will save your Retainer as a draft in your invoices, and you can send it manually later on.  

You can choose the date you want the invoice draft to be created.

10. Press on ‘Set and Continue’ at the bottom right

A draft of your Retainer will be created.

Add ‘Taxes’ or a ‘Discount’ to the total amount if applicable.

Press on ‘Edit Terms’ next to the Retainer if you want to change any details.

Put a ‘Description’ below your Retainer for any clarification. If you added a rate for excess hours, it will be mentioned in this section.

Fill out the ‘Notes’ and ‘Terms’ at the bottom of the Invoice for further information.

11. Edit Settings of Retainer

If you’re on your mobile browser, you can edit the settings through the 3-line icon on the right. If you’re on the desktop browser, the settings will already be displayed on the right sidebar.

The settings include:

  • ‘Accept online payments’ by enabling the method you prefer.
  • ‘Customize invoice style’ if you want to change the color or font.
  • ‘Delivery Option’ is already set according to your terms.
    However, you have an option to ‘allow clients to save credit cards to make automatic payments’, which can facilitate the process for clients with long period retainers.
  • ‘Send reminders’ or ‘Charge a late fees’

12. Save Retainer

Press on the the save button at the top right corner.

If you have chosen the automatic delivery option, an email template will pop-up for you to edit and preview.

Type in the email address of your client.

Optional: Edit the subject and body of your email.
Press on the ‘lightning bolt’ icon to add more dynamic fields such as:
Company name, Invoice amount, Client first name, etc…

Press on ‘Preview’ to see how your client will receive the email.

Press on ‘Save’, and your first Retainer invoice will be sent automatically on the specified date.

Meanwhile, if you have chosen to save your Retainer as a draft, then you can find it in the Invoices tab, waiting for you to send it manually to your client.

After creating your first Retainer, check out How to Manage Retainers on FreshBooks.

To learn more features on FreshBooks, you can also check out:

How to Create an Invoice on FreshBooks?
How to Add an Expense on FreshBooks?