I have a relatively new business - I've recently been freelancing as a software engineer for 6 months, working from my own office for a couple of companies having contracted on site before for about the same time before that.
Much of the major work for my (very good) main client is complete now, and there seems to be the expectation that I will be available for telephone / email advice no matter how few hours of paid work are put my way on a week to week basis. I've been pretty busy tying up loose ends for a couple of weeks, so answering the odd question here and there hasn't been too much of a problem to attend to. If the work is thinning out to almost nothing though, I need to get myself working on other projects (the client is uncertain of when the next bulk of work will be required, as it depends on the money that the business is generating).
I'm thinking that this is what retainer fees are probably used for, even if it's more to give an inventive to the client to make a firm decision on if they need you or don't.
Are retainer fees common practice? I don't want to irritate my client but I need to take a position here so this situation doesn't damage my earnings.
How would you approach this - where might I find a template contract?!
Just looking for general advice really.