Mobile menu

How to leave an old client
Thread poster: Anabel Martínez

Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 22, 2007

Hi everyone,

I have a delicate matter at hand, and I know I am meant to handle this professionally, but I find it quite complicated.

I became a freelancer due to a job offer to work in a client's offices for a couple of months. That collaboration, which was full-time, is still going on, but I had to progressively reduce the number of hours I work for them due to massive workload, and now I am thinking of quitting this client altogether for this reason.

I must say that their rates are not very good, that I do not translate for them, right now I do tasks which are unrelated to translation and which I find extremely boring... on the other hand, I feel grateful because it was thanks to them that I became a freelancer, and have a lot of freedom, in the sense that I do not need to do a given amount of hours for them, but it would be expected some 15 or 20 hours, which I really cannot offer at the moment.

So, my problem is that I would like to stop working for them, at least for several months, and I do not know how to tell the client... I know it will sound silly to you, but it is not the same as telling a client you are very busy and are not able to do a translation for them. What would you do in my place?

Thanks so much!!

[Edited at 2007-02-22 21:43]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:20
English to French
+ ...
If I was your client... Feb 22, 2007

...and you offered me the explanation you just did above, I would take it. I would appreciate your honesty and understand that this choice needed to be made so you can go your own personal way as you find fit. There is nothing wrong with leaving there.

However, I would, out of recognition for their role in your becoming a freelancer, offer them to stay available time after time for translation (out of your own office, of course) at a special price. Not a massive rebate, just something that will be worth it for them and that will still be acceptable to you. I would, however, tell them also that, since lack of time is your main issue, they cannot expect you to be available for massive amounts of work, and that you will try to fit work they send your way into your schedule as best you can, without guarantees.

I hope this helps! Best of luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:20
Member (2002)
English to German
Raise your rates Feb 22, 2007

Maybe it helps if you adjust your rates to the level you get from other clients. You could tell them that you are currently so busy and this is the rate you get from everyone so you have to adjust it in their case.
It is unlikely that they will accept but if they do you might not want to leave them anymore...

Good luck

Andy

www.interlations.com


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 11:20
English to Russian
+ ...
An honest explanation will do it one way or another Feb 22, 2007

Tell them that you've outgrown your current status with them. This will end in one of a two:

1. They will understand, congratulate you and you'll keep a good client and a chance to work for them from time to time. Everyone starts somewhere and climbs up.

2. They will go mad, which, incidentally, could mean that they have been taking advantage of you and you already paid your dues with hard work and devotion. If they refuse to understand, they are not worth crying over.

The truly delicate matter I wonder about is where does all that workload come from? I mean you started from scratch (client base, that is) and after only a couple of months you have your hands full. This is great indeed but make sure there is no client pirating involved and that you didn't sign a "non-competition" clause. If you accessed your connections due to the first client assignments, correspondence on their behalf or by any other equally "slippery" ways ... be careful! They may not know it now but they will learn it for sure after you part with them.

Good luck!
Irene


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I have been a freelancer for nearly 18 months Feb 22, 2007

Thanks everyone!

Irene, thanks for your comments, I guess I did not make myself clear and I apologise for that.

In the beginning they promised work for 2 months, but I ended up working for them for nearly 18 months. I worked for them full time for 3 months and then I progressively got more work, and now I have more than I can handle. I guess it is still very good for a new freelancer, but in any case, for this client I do not translate, nor do I work for any of their clients


Direct link Reply with quote
 
kimjasper  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:20
Member (2006)
English to Danish
+ ...
This worked for me Feb 22, 2007

I was in the same situation. I agree with Irene - honesty works best: after a period of time my rates with my very first client who helped me into the business was outgrown by my rates with other clients, and I could not justify working at the same rate for them any longer.

I wrote this e-mail to them. I got a very kind reply from them saying that unfortunately they were not able to work with my new rates. There were no hard feelings whatsoever and we still write each other Christmas cards:

Dear xxx,

Here is an update to my price list. Please confirm receipt. These rates will be effective 2 months from now:

(-----)

I am aware that this is a very significant rate increase but these rates do in fact correspond to the minimum rate that I now quote and get with new clients.

I really appreciate working for you, and I sincerely hope that you will still be able to send assignments my way. You have a great staff leadership - every single individual being very responsive, kind, and professional. I hope you do not take this offensively - it is a strict supply/demand thing, nothing else.

Best regards


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Andrea Appel
Canada
Local time: 12:20
English to German
+ ...
Something came up (-; Feb 22, 2007

Hello dear Anabel,

I see that you have already mentioned that you are not working for this clients customers which yes would be valuable concern like mentioned from Irene.

It is nice that you are so appreciative and concerned about how they would feel... hmmm I hope they have the same concern about you?

Well I guess I would write to them that you have got a huge contract for some big company and that the offer is just not refusable because of the amount they are paying, and because of the mortgage etc... you have to pay of... even though you still whish you could work for them but your family and finances comes

first. But of course you still want to keep the contact and help them out later but for now that morgage got to go. Plus you could look for someone who could take over.. if you offer this to them I think that this would be a nice gesture and nobody gets hurt.

Hope it doesnt sound too snaky

Good luck


Direct link Reply with quote
 
katy hannan  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:20
Italian to English
+ ...
how to leave old client Feb 22, 2007

yes- honesty is the best policy-

explain that although you are very grateful for their help- you ARE after all interested in TRANSLATING and that you would prefer to concentrate on that. Then as the others have suggested- offer to keep on part time until they find a replacement.

Unfortunately (I have been a freelancer for nearly 30 years) some companies will not be as honest with you... if they find someone cheaper to do the job
Katy


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:20
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Time to move on... Feb 22, 2007

It sounds to me as if your mind really is made up but you're vacillating to avoid an unpleasant situation. I have often found myself in similar situations, not just as a free-lance translator, but also as a band leader, when I have had to fire people, cancel projects, etc.

Since you already know that you don't want to work for these people any more and you will be much happier if you don't, you just need to take the bull by the horns, grit your teeth and tell them that you've decided to be a full-time freelancer. Of course you'll thank them for their help and support over the time you worked for them, etc. I wouldn't worry too much about their reaction...you have to do what's right for you, and if it's right for you, believe me it will be right for them, too. They'll find exactly whom and what they need.

Good luck to you!

Amy


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
a kind of agony! Feb 23, 2007

Anabel Martínez wrote:

Hi everyone,

I have a delicate matter at hand, and I know I am meant to handle this professionally, but I find it quite complicated.

I became a freelancer due to a job offer to work in a client's offices for a couple of months. That collaboration, which was full-time, is still going on, but I had to progressively reduce the number of hours I work for them due to massive workload, and now I am thinking of quitting this client altogether for this reason.

I must say that their rates are not very good, that I do not translate for them, right now I do tasks which are unrelated to translation and which I find extremely boring... on the other hand, I feel grateful because it was thanks to them that I became a freelancer, and have a lot of freedom, in the sense that I do not need to do a given amount of hours for them, but it would be expected some 15 or 20 hours, which I really cannot offer at the moment.

So, my problem is that I would like to stop working for them, at least for several months, and I do not know how to tell the client... I know it will sound silly to you, but it is not the same as telling a client you are very busy and are not able to do a translation for them. What would you do in my place?

Thanks so much!!

[Edited at 2007-02-22 21:43]


A similar situation preyed on my mind for weeks. A regular client whom I charge relatively little sends me lots of work.

On the one hand, I feel a great sense of loyalty. They are among my oldest clients, they give me advance warning of texts coming up, and the deadlines are generous.

On the other hand, I forego better paying work, especially becuase their volume is sometimes significant.

Another issue -- related -- is that, as far as I know, they depend exclusively on me.

Assessing the issue (consulting both my colleagues and my pillow), thinking went along the following lines:

1) I have too much work (recently nearly 2 months in hand), probably becuase I don't charge enough

2) If I have 'plenty of work', and lots of 'potential' sources of work, why am I working 8 hours for X, when I could work 6 or even 4 hours for X+25% or X+50%, and dedicate the spare time to other professional -- as opposed to -- personal interests, like training, learning, etc?

3) I am a supplier, therefore I decide my rates, rather than the other way round. If tomorrow, I wanted to double them, that's a business decision, based on rational logic of demand and supply - that I would/should do so becuase I calculate that I rationally could do it

So, after many weeks of mulling over the issue (especially because I increased my rates last year by 16%), I wrote to them and explained to them that I appreciated them, that they were overly dependent on me (and could I train in a potential sub?), that I was charging them way below my (relatively) new target price, and that I would be raising my rate. I also offered an additional service at no charge (checking galleys, which they -- to my great annoyance -- had previously omitted to ask me to do, despite the fact that they frequently 'interfere' with the work I submit -- something that has come to light a couple of times this last year, and which I have commented to them, asking them to PLEASE send me the galleys so I could check them, that it took minutes of my time, that I wouldn't charge them....).

They accepted my new conditions, and even though the rate is still moderate (although a substantial increase for them..only a year after the latest hike), I'm quite happy with it, largely becuase they have been so receptive of the rate increase, but also because of what I see as their 'coming round' to seeing translation as a collaboration. And when it comes down to it, I'm afraid, I like positive + fruitful collaboration a bit more than I like high rates:-)

You seem to be suffering a similar dilemma.

So I suggest you express your appreciation (which they may, or may not, take in the right spirit).

Don't feel guilty either about the fact that you find their rates low (you are in demand obviously because you are good, and as a businesswoman (with a heart), you have to find the middle solution to using your time fruitfully as a professional and maintaining satisfactory relations with clients on a personal/professional level. As a freelancer, you are potentially very vulnerable, yet you are not indispensable (If you had an accident tomorrow, where would you be? Living off your savings (which you accumulate on the basis of rational business decisions about using your time profitably, and bearing in mind that as a freelancer, you don't have the security of a regular job.) And your client? Looking for someone else. That's life.)

Try to avoid doing jobs that simply bore you...no better way to burn out. Translation is detestable when it's something you don't like. What sense is there in doing something you detest at a poor rate, when you genuinely have alternatives in terms of doing jobs you like at rates that make you feel fulfilled.

So, I suggest you write to them and negotiate conditions that make you feel better professionally and personally. Try not to lose them entirely by refusing their work outright, becuase if they respond receptively to what you say, they are probably worth keeping as clients.

Survival is not simply a matter of price, but of retaining customers that make you feel good, and whose work you do with pleasure-- becuase you like it, because you like your relationship with the customer, and becuase it pays you reasonably well.



[Edited at 2007-02-23 02:07]

[Edited at 2007-02-23 02:10]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

woodstar  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 17:20
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Agree Feb 23, 2007

Hi,

I agree with the others:
- honesty pays off
- tell them your new rates
- if you can, offer them a replacement person who might be interested

Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 17:20
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Phase out... Feb 23, 2007

The question is: do you really need a dramatic good-bye? When you are busy with better-paid jobs, just tell them that. If you are free or even bored, you might do a smaller job for them, if only for sentimental reasons.

Over time, you will see that the amount of work from them will certainly trickle down (if you are busy, they will have to find someone else anyway) and you can still maintain friendly relationship... On the other hand, if they decide to match your rates to assure your availability, it is even better!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:20
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I just did it :) Feb 23, 2007

Thanks everyone for your advice!

I had a meeting with the client and explained how busy I am, so now I am free

Thanks for your help!!

Anabel


Direct link Reply with quote
 
tleger
United States
Local time: 12:20
English
You are afreelancer... Feb 27, 2007

You are free to go with whoever appreciates your services more. Speak honestly with your client. He should understand that your production time is short and you have to make the most of it. You owe as much to yourself and your family.

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How to leave an old client

Advanced search


Translation news





memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs