Even the best business development teams could use an extra boost sometimes.

More and more of our clients are experiencing extended staffing gaps—due to hiring lags, parental leave, or budget constraints—and looking for a longer-term solution to support their business development team's efforts.

How does it work?

A retainer guarantees your team a set number of hours from the Bid Boss team each month, all coordinated through a single point of contact on our team: your retainer manager. And when you need extra support? A flexible contract mechanism and pre-set rate allows you to surge up if you hit a particularly busy period or just need more support in any given month.

Our clients have used retainer-based support to...

  • Navigate busy seasons

    Sometimes we just know when it's all going to hit at the same time. Extra hands can deliver surge support on proposal teams, provide back chapter support, or ensure that capture efforts don't fall by the wayside.

  • Access thought partners

    Especially when you're on a solo or small BD team, gut checking your strategy and priorities can be difficult. A long-term partner can assist with strategy and research, connect you with funder experts, and offer insight.

  • Cover staff leave

    Whether happily expected or unfortunately disruptive, part of ensuring staff wellbeing is giving them the confidence that someone is there to cover their work while they prioritize their health and wellbeing.

Meet your retainer manager

Your boss bestie + partner in crime

After an initial consultation with our founders, your team will be paired with a single point of contact from the Bid Boss team. Your retainer manager's responsibilities include helping your team prioritize how to use the time you have from Bid Boss, coordinating a small team of Bid Boss consultants to ensure you have the right support for your current priorities, and keeping your team up to date on our work toward your priorities and goals.


  • What is a retainer and what are the benefits?

    In the simplest terms, a retainer agreement allows your team to pre-pay for a set number of consulting hours in advance. We are able to guarantee our availability and provide a wide range of services to your team at an agreed rate over a set period of time.

    A retainer agreement offers a few concrete advantages:

    • You have our guaranteed availability for a set number of hours each month.
    • You can budget your monthly expenses based on the retainer rate.
    • Longer-term support means we can get to know your systems and processes.
    • Our retainer clients take priority over other requests for surge support.
  • How many hours are needed to fill in for a fulltime staff member?

    While a full-time equivalent is 160 hours per month, typically we recommend closer to 120 hours per month for a retainer to cover a staffing gap. This is for two reasons. First, consultants don’t bill for many activities that would be part of a full-time employee’s day, such as attending staff meetings. Second, we recommend starting with the low end of what you think you’ll need, with the option to surge up during busier times. That way, you won’t pay for hours you’re not going to use!

  • How big or small can we go with a retainer?

    Your retainer size is built to fit your team’s specific needs. The baseline number typically varies between 40 and 160 hours (about 25% LOE to full-time equivalent). With over 40 completed and ongoing retainer projects, the Bid Boss founders can help you strategize about the right level of support to meet your needs.

    • What if we need more time than our guaranteed number of hours in one month?
      It’s easy! The baseline is just that: a baseline. Bid Boss guarantees at least that number of hours per month. Your retainer manager will track and help you estimate how many hours are required to support your priorities. If needed, you can approve excess hours. While we can’t guarantee our availability for excess hours, we give preference to our retainer clients in providing extra support. These hours are charged at an hourly rate set by the retainer agreement.
    • What if we don't use all of our hours in one month?
      Because it takes a minute to get the hang of retainer-based support, all clients can roll over a portion of unused hours from the first to second month. Because our team members will turn down other work to guarantee they are available to meet your retainer baseline, we do not roll over unused hours after the first month.
  • How long does a retainer last?

    A retainer is best suited when you expect a need for support over three months or more. We have found this is the minimum amount of time it takes to get comfortable working together and see the real benefits of embedded support. Even if you need support for over three months, an initial three-month retainer provides a good opportunity to check in to determine if the monthly baseline number of hours still fits your needs.

  • What kinds of services are included?

    Generally speaking, a retainer is the most adaptable way in which we work. The specific scope of work can flex to respond to the most urgent or important needs of your team.
    or example, current retainer clients have included a set number of hours for:

    • Assisting in building a business development strategy
    • Leading relationship management or partnership development
    • Supporting cost proposal development and budget reviews
    • Serving in proposal team roles, as managers or coordinators
    • Conducting landscape or capture research
  • What kinds of services are included?

    Generally speaking, a retainer is our most adaptable service. The specific scope of work can be tailored to respond to your team’s most urgent or important needs. For example, current retainer clients have included work to:

    • Assist in creating a business development strategy
    • Conduct landscape and capture research
    • Engage proposal managers and writers
    • Develop back chapter inputs, such as CVs
    • Support cost proposal development and reviews
  • What happens if the project we anticipated needing support on is delayed?

    A retainer is the best fit when you have multiple needs spread across multiple months. However, delays are inevitable! Fortunately, because you can access a wide range of experts, you and your retainer manager can come up with endless possibilities for using Bid Boss support. When you kick off a retainer with us, we suggest identifying a list of “back burner” projects that we can work on if remaining hours are left. This allows us to maximize efficiency and help you check off little projects that never seem to get done between bids! In the past, this has included conducting landscape research or updating capability statements, tools, templates, and training materials.

  • What are the rates for retainers?

    We price each retainer based on the mix of services anticipated and the specific consultants who will support your team. For example, the rate for a copy editing and back chapter support retainer would be lower than that for a retainer providing parental leave coverage for a senior business development leadership role. Rates for a 40-hour per month retainer typically fall between $3,600 and $5,000.

    Because guaranteed, steady work is a better deal for both Bid Boss and our consultant team, we offer hours under retainers at a lower rate than most other capture and proposal support services. Think of it like a bulk discount!

  • How does invoicing differ from a traditional time and materials contract?

    You will receive an invoice for your monthly baseline at the beginning of the month instead of the end. If you approve excess hours during the month, these will be billed at month end. They will be included in the same invoice for the next month’s baseline, if your retainer is continuing.