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First-timer sending contracts, POs etc
Thread poster: Sophie Paterson
Sophie Paterson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oct 4, 2007

Hello,

I'm preparing to start out as a freelancer, but am trying to get everything in order in my head first.....

Could someone please advise me on what the correct procedures are for drawing up/sending contracts (or should it be POs?) to clients?

I already have sample contracts thanks to other forum posts here, but I'm not entirely sure what to do with them!!

If a private client were to contact me with a potential job, would I have to send out a contract first, even for very small jobs? And would I have to scan my signature onto it in order to send it via email? And then should I wait until the client has sent it back, signed, either via email or snail-mail, before delivering the translation? I ask because if I myself were a customer, I'm not sure I would even think about that sort of thing....

Sorry for so many questions (particularly if they're repeated; I have been looking) - I'm a complete novice (obviously) !

Thank you very much in advance.


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Mulyadi Subali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 19:16
English to Indonesian
+ ...
usually... Oct 4, 2007

on contract: the client/agency is the one who sends out contract. i don't think you would need contract for private client. what i considered as private is an individual, not agency.
as for signature, i usually paste my scanned signature to the document, then convert it to jpg then to pdf. i feel a bit more secure this way...

on po: client/agency is also the one who sends out po, before the initiation of a job. don't start a job before obtaining a po, particularly for new client.

on the other hand, we/translators send out invoice following the completion of a job.
hope that helps.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:16
Italian to English
+ ...
Agree with Mulyadi Oct 4, 2007

The agency/client sends you the contract and/or PO, you only send an invoice.

It's worth pointing out that not all clients bother with contracts, confidentiality agreements or POs. Opinion on this practice seems to be divided: some people feel very uncomfortable unless everything is cast in stone, others are more relaxed. It's also been opined that the more up-front references, CVs, completed forms, agreements and the like an agency wants from you, the less likely they are to actually send you any work!
While I have some sympathy with this position, the truth is somewhere in the middle. My best client doesn't bother with any of it (I've never even signed any confidentiality agreement with them), while my second best client wanted 3 references, CVs and sample translations, and sends a PO with every job (which I'm supposed to sign and send back by post). As you gain more experience you'll learn to trust your gut instinct. Until then, use the Blue Board and any other resource you can find to gain information on potential clients.


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Sophie Paterson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
no contract - no payment? Oct 4, 2007

Okay, thanks a lot to you both.

That's all very useful info and a bit clearer - but like you said, I was worried in case the individual client doesn't bother with a PO or contract (i.e. then if they don't pay you afterwards, what do you fall back on!?) Do you think it's a good idea to request one, or is it best not to be 'pushy'?

Thanks again!


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:16
English to Dutch
+ ...
Contract, yes, but.... Oct 4, 2007

With agencies you need a PO, with direct customers you need a contract. You really do, and you're the one to initiate this.

It doesn't have to be a ten page document, though. Best would be to have a standard document you can use as a template. Like a PO, with some notes on terms and conditions (Like: payment within 30 days). This should state what you are going to do and at what price. Ideally, your customer should sign this. But I think a confirmed email is good enough, in most cases.

Don't make a difference between small jobs and larger ones. Make this your routine. It's only professional, and customers won't understand if they have to sign a contract one time and don't have to sign anything another time. (That is, if they come back for more...;-))

Invoices are best sent pretty soon after finishing and delivering the job. I try to send it with the delivery, but some agencies don't like this. Just make sure the date of invoice is the date you're sending it.

Good luck!


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:16
Italian to English
+ ...
Everyone has to work out their own best practice Oct 4, 2007

My own practice, for example, has almost nothing in common with Margreet's.
I never insist on a PO or a contract - in fact I prefer working with clients who keep the bureaucracy to a minimum - and I send out invoices at the end of the month, not on delivery. I do 30+ jobs per months for some agencies; anything from a short revision worth a couple of euros to large-ish translations worth several hundred or thousand. I doubt they'd be happy if I started sending them 30+ invoices per month!

That is NOT to say that Margreet's wrong - she's not. She knows what works for her. My point is that it's not necessarily what's best for everyone. (I'm sure my own laid-back approach to things would drive lots of other translators mad, but what's important is it works for ME).


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:16
English to Dutch
+ ...
You're right, Marie-Hélène Oct 4, 2007

...and I do have an agreement for some customers that regularly send me small jobs. I keep track of them until they've reached a certain amount and then send one invoice for all of them.

I insist on contracts because twice now I've had payment problems and having a contract or PO makes me feel safer. On the other hand, I don't like working for agencies that make me complete a twelve page form just to be registered in their database. You're right, everyone needs to set their own limits and preferences.

I like your approach too. I wonder what Sophie will come up with for herself!

Best,
Margreet


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Sophie Paterson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Oct 4, 2007

Wow!

So much info and good advice. It seems there's no one way of doing things, so I shall go with my instincts, as Marie-Helene mentioned, and have several different contracts depending on what the client - not the job - is like ( I suppose!) Like I said, I have a very standard long one (taken from here somewhere) but I'll shorten it to the relevant bits as suggested for more non-formal people.

Oh! But what exactly is a confirmed e-mail, Margaret? Sorry to trouble you again - I feel I should know that, but I don't...

Oh well, thanks again everyone (and for all comments on invoicing too.) Things are certainly that much clearer now.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:16
English to Dutch
+ ...
Confirmed email Oct 4, 2007

Hi Sophie,

by confirmed email I meant that if a job is sent by email, and prices and deadline are given, I consider this to be binding if I have replied to the customer that I'll start working on it and the customer confirms receipt of my answer.

For the record, I always ask for confirmation of receipt of my deliveries and invoices by e-mail as well. A very useful feature in my email software ( I use Thunderbird, but I'm sure Outlook features this option as well).

Good luck! Enjoy the adventure!

Best,
Margreet


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:16
Italian to English
+ ...
Yes, confirmed receipt is essential... Oct 4, 2007

You should never start any project without having received a written go-ahead from the client (by email or however they prefer to do things) and you should always request confirmation of receipt of your translations and invoices. If you don't get it within a couple of hours (or within the deadline, whichever is shorter) then chase it up with another email or phone call.

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Sophie Paterson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
confirmed emails Oct 4, 2007

I see. Nothing with scanned signatures or anything, then, like I was thinking (so naive!)

Thanks so much to you both for your time and comments!!

Sophie


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