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Add a Retainer

Struggling to manage contracts & ongoing services?


Easily add a retainer, add a retainer period, and create retainer templates in order to better manage all work related to your ongoing services, save time and increase the quality of your work by automating your business processes.

Using this guide, you can:


Create a New Retainer

There are two easy ways to create new retainers:

  • Screen Shot 2016 03 10 at 11.41.22 AM

    Quickly create a retainer from the Navigation bar, by clicking the +Create button and choosing Retainer. Find the Company to add the Retainer against. This is located at the top of any page.

  • Screen Shot 2016 03 10 at 11.42.22 AM

    From the View Company screen, select +Add from the Menu bar, and choose New Retainer. This is located near the top left of the View Company screen. 

Our create screen is divided up into five major parts

  • Retainer Information: This is the overall details of the engagement. 
  • Period & Allowances: Within a Retainer, you have a number of given Periods. Each Period is the time frame and possibly billing cycle.
  • Rates & Invoicing: The Billing Rate for any work logged against this Retainer directly or through linked objects. The value of work (Billing Rate * Hours) can add to what needs to be billed or take away from the pre-paid amount given by your Client.
  • Tasks: You can have recurring Tasks per Period.
  • Materials: You can have recurring Materials (Costs) per Period.

Each of these main aspects is separated into different "Cards". Below, is each card and all the settings within them. 

Retainer Information

retainer information

  • Company - Search for what Company this Retainer is for.
  • Title - A brief description of the retainer, e.g. "Monthly Website Maintenance".

  • Primary Client Contact - The key client contact for this retainer.  This will be the default recipient when creating new meetings or emails against the retainer.
  • Manager - The staff member who is responsible for this retainer.

  • Retainer Type (PREMIUM) -  Your Accelo administrator can create additional Retainer Types to segment and templatize your standard retainer tasks, pricing scheme and billing schedule.
  • Status Progression - Determines the status which the newly-created retainer will be listed in.
  • Commence Date - Determines when the retainer is first valid.  The commence date will also determine the commencement date of the initial billing period

  • Expiry Date - Determines when the retainer is no longer valid.  This is an optional field, and will be used to determine when the system should cease automatically generating additional billing periods. Billing periods use a separate expiration date to determine when the individual period ends.

  • Tags - Superficial labels to place on a Retainer to assist with filtering through a search. For Trigger Functions or deeper reporting, we recommend setting up Custom Fields instead of Tags.

Retainer Period & Allowances (Period Template)

Your retainer periods track the work allocated for each of your retainers.  Let’s say you manage an agreement with a client to provide $1000 worth of work each month, you can configure your period template so that Accelo can quickly build these periods for you.

Note - if the specifications of a retainer change over time, you can update the Period Template so that future periods are created correctly instead of creating a new Retainer Period.

The fields shown on your period template will default based on the Retainer Type you selected in your Retainer Details. Additionally, some fields will show/hide as you change some of the settings - such as the Billing Type and Allowance.

period and allowances

  • Period Duration -  Fixed or Unlimited

a) A fixed period is for a set period of time, such as 6 weeks, or 1 month, or 3 months, etc. Once the set time has elapsed, your new period can be created, along with a new invoice, and possibly some new tasks, etc.

b) The unlimited period has no set expiry date. You can always close the period after the allowance has been exceeded and then create a fresh period.

  • Length per Period - For your fixed period, configure the default period length. Your retainers can run for as little as 1 week, or for as long as 10 years.

  • Period Billing - Pre-paid or Post-Paid

a) Pre-Paid - A fixed price, and optionally, an allowance that is tracked in either value or hours.

b) Post-Paid - Charge the client at the end of the period for the value used. Useful when a client agrees to a billable rate for all work you complete for activities logged over a period.

  • Pre-Paid Price - Set price charged for your Pre-Paid billing types. If you invoice for the period, this will become a line item known as the "Period Fee".

  • Period Allowance - The allowance is used to define the budgeting method you'll be using to budget your work for each retainer period.

a) Unlimited hours - Sets no financial or time limit for the period, but continues to track that value. Great for "all you can eat" situations, where you won't be billing the client based on the amount of work that's performed during that period.

b) Fixed hours - Sets a budget of time which can be used to track time usage throughout the period. Great for situations where you've sold your client a set amount of hours, and need to track and bill them for any work beyond that limit.  When selected, you'll be prompted to enter the financial Allowance.

c) Fixed value - Sets a budget of financial value for the period which can be used to track financial usage throughout the period. Great for situations where you've sold your client a set value of work (i.e. a discount of $1,000 of work for $750), and need to track and bill them for any work beyond that limit.  When selected, you'll be prompted to enter the financial Allowance. 

  • Period Allowance Rollover and Excess - There are two additional options available for when Period Allowance is Fixed

a) Rollover unused period allowance? - If selected, when a period with excess hours or value is closed, all unused hours or value will roll over to the next available period. 

b) Subtract excess from subsequent periods? - If selected, when a period has used additional hours or value over the budgeted allowance and is closed, the excess hours or value used will be subtracted from the next available period.

Note: Unchecking "Rollover unused period allowance?" or "Subtract excess from subsequent periods?" will not retroactively take away that behavior from previous created periods. The Retainer acts as the set of rules and Periods, when created, absorb the Retainers settings. Checkboxes can be removed from created Periods on the Edit Period page.


  • Expenses & Materials consume allowance: These options allow you to specify how expenses and materials, logged against a period, should be handled when tracking the allowance and invoicing the period.

a) If disabled, expenses/materials will not consume the $ allowance and can be individually added to the retainer period invoice.

b) If enabled, expenses/materials cannot be invoiced separately since their value is attributed to consuming the period allowance much like any billable time logged on the period.

Rates & Invoicing

rates invoicing 2
Between Pre-paid and Post-paid retainers, there are a few different types of Rates that'll you'll need to know for either. Rates will determine how the work you perform throughout your retainer is valued.

  • Retainer Rate -The Fallback Rate is used to determine the hourly value of work which is logged directly against the retainer. Issues and projects which are linked to the retainer, but which don't have a rate defined in that issue or project, will use the Retainer rate to determine the value of work logged under them.

  • Excess Rate - Determines how work which exceeds the period's allowance will be valued. Great for automatically applying increased or discounted rates when your clients exceed their allowed time or financial budget for the period, making it easier to bill for that excess work.
  • Rollover - whether an expiring period should roll unused allowance into the next period.

  • Billing Contact - This is who the invoice will be addressed to. 
  • Invoice Template - Search through your saved Invoice Templates and select one to apply to this Retainer. All Auto Invoices will be created using this Template.

  • Service Item -  Template Account Ledger and Tax Code.
  • Description on the Invoice Line Item - What do you want the description for the services provided to be on the invoice.


Ongoing work means recurring tasks, whether you are doing monthly optimization on an ongoing marketing campaign as an agency, or quarterly reporting and filing as an accountant firm.   Define any tasks you wish to be created automatically each time a period is added to the retainer. Some default tasks may already be added based on the retainer type. You can easily edit or remove those tasks from the list. Learn more about Template Tasks.


Set up a template task by clicking the Create Task Template button. For example, if every period your client has new website graphics that require updating on their live website, you can add this as a templated task.

create task template

  • Task Title - Defining the name of the task.

  • Description - Enter a brief description of the task.
  • Checklist - Add a list of sub-items for completion.
  • Estimated Time - Approximation of time required to complete the task in hours and/or minutes.
  • Start date -The date that work should commence on this task. The options for setting the start date are very flexible.

  • Due date - The date that all work on the task should be completed. The options for setting the due date are also very flexible. In the image above, the task is configured to start 5 days after the period commences, and will be due 5 days after the task starts.

  • Skills - Any required skills needed to complete the task.

  • Tags - Relevant tagging of the task.
  • Task Rate - The rate that it will cost for the task to be completed.
  • Estimated Time - Approximation of time required to complete the task.

  • Assignee - Choose which staff/user is responsible for completing the task.
  • Status - Choose which status this retainer task moves to as it is created.



Define any necessary additional fees, such as any additional fees/charges/products/costs, that will be prepared automatically each time a period is set up. There may be some default line items already there based on the retainer type chosen. You can easily edit or remove those from the list. Learn more about Template Materials.


Click the Add Template Material button to set one up.

add material2

  • Item - Dropdown of predefined items.
  • Description - The line item description.
  • Quantity - How many units of this item does the client require?
  • Purchase Price - Cost of the item per unit.
  • Sale Price - Amount to be billed for a single unit.

 After adding each Template Line, click Create Retainer to finish setting up your new client retainer.

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