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Why Our Hours Don't Expire

Why Our Hours Don't Expire

“Why doesn’t Ask Kenna follow a typical agency model with monthly retainers? Why are you offering hour blocks instead?” 

We get these questions a lot. We wanted to put some thought into our answer just like we put thought and intention into all our work. The short answer is: because we think it’s the best thing to do for our merchants. Read on for the longer answer.

The Relationship Between a Merchant and an Ecommerce Agency

The standard ecomm agency model is relatively simple: most agencies charge merchants a monthly retainer, which gives the merchant a number of hours of work that they can use that month. Monthly retainers can range from a few hours to a few hundred hours depending on the size of the business and the tasks that need to be done. 

This model works great for agencies because it allows them to project their work and earnings from month to month. They know if their operational costs will be covered. They can predict when they might need to hire more staff. If their monthly retainer revenue is less than their operational costs, they know it’s time to get their sales team into gear and win more business. 

In the past, this model has worked well for some merchants, and especially their accountants! It’s easy to add an agency onto a balance sheet and know exactly how much of the budget is being spent each month. It’s simple to predict which projects will get done and how many months they’ll take when you only have a certain amount of working hours per month.

The Best Laid Plans

What happens when something happens? As much as we try, we can’t predict the future. As a merchant, what if you wanted to spend more time on a project one month to get it finished, and then less time the next month - does your agency’s retainer allow that flexibility? What if you’re experiencing higher than normal sales volume and want to pause your new website launch until business has slowed down a bit. What happens to the retainer when things need to stay the same for a while?

It’s important to remember that as a business, we’re people first, workers second. Sometimes life just hits you - things happen. Maybe it’s a big community thing, like a hurricane wreaking havoc on an entire coast, devastating millions of people. Maybe it’s a big personal thing, like having a baby or a family member falling ill.

Maybe it’s a business thing - your business isn’t growing at the rate you expected; It’s been a slower week, a slower month, your cash flow is tight. Or the opposite: it’s been unexpectedly busy. You’ve been packing and shipping orders by day and answering customer service emails by night because the work of a business owner never truly stops.

Running a business is unpredictable and things happen - life happens! There’s already so much on an entrepreneur’s plate. As a merchant, the last thing you should be worried about is either using or losing your monthly retainer hours with the agency you hired to help with your business. 

The Answer & Our Why

At Ask Kenna, we’ve structured things differently. Rather than signing contracts for monthly retainers, you buy hour blocks that do not expire and use them when it makes the most sense for you

We do this because it’s best for our merchants, not because it’s best for us. We want what's best for you, and we make it work on our end!

We’re making it work because it’s what’s best for our clients. There’s no other goal here. Our entire team is ex-Shopify, and we simply can’t help putting our merchants first, even before ourselves. We have trust that, just like when we were at Shopify, what’s best for our merchants is best for us for the long term.

Our goal is to build lasting relationships with our merchants. We want to be helpful at every stage of your business and make it really easy for you to get the help you need, whether that’s 5 hours or 50 hours of work. When you run into a problem, you can “Ask Kenna” and know that you’ll get the help you need, no matter the size of the project. 


Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

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