Charging direct clients
Thread poster: Kyle Moore
Kyle Moore  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:00
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Aug 9, 2008

I have begun to market translation services directly to certain clients. If one were to accept, how do you suggest I should go about charging? Do I charge half in advance? A certain percentage? Nothing until the job is done? How can I trust the client will pay?

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:00
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
It is best to deal with only local direct clients Aug 9, 2008

It is also a good idea to have a set of Terms and Conditions of Business first. In addition, you should have an offer form. If a prospective client makes an enquiry, you take the details, by telephone or e-mail, fill in what you understand to be the client's requirements on your offer form and send it to the prospective client for signature and return. You do not do any work until you receive the signed form, e.g. by fax or scanned in and attached to an e-mail.

The form should have your name and address at the top, then the name and address of the enquirer/prospective client, the date, and the services required, listed neatly with the individual price given for each, as well as the total amount which would be due if the offer were to be accepted.

Then there should be a line stating the promised delivery time (decided by you when you draw up the offer), and another line stating that, by signing the form, the client accepts your Terms and Conditions of Business. You send a copy of these as well. The Terms and Conditions of Business should mention such things as the payment deadline, and also refer to the collection procedures in your country should the money not be received.

Most agencies, from my observation, deal with clients in their area. I have a feeling that international business is only really between translators and agencies.

Astrid


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
Local Aug 9, 2008

I deal with a lot of direct clients, most of them local or related to local entities. I have the luxury of doing that because I am located in an area (US-Mexico border) where there is a lot of demand for my services.

I do not use contracts, agreements or any formalities when doing a job. However, first check to make sure the prospective client is well-established. If it is a well-established company or professional, then I merely submit the job and bill them. Sometimes clients are also referred to me by others who are known to me and I rely upon their recommendations.

In dealing with individuals I will ask for payment up-front, or if I have their original documents that will often serve as security for payment.

I usually like to say that I like my clients "to be close enough to go over and strangle them if they won't pay". I haven't actually had to do that, but at times I have had to pressure a few, and it makes them uncomfortable to know I am that close so they come through. That does not happen often.

You may not have so many prospective clients that are local. Usually your best bet is to do a bit of research on the client first, and if you have your doubts, don't do it. In any case, if someone does not want to pay, whatever there might be in writing is not much of a deterrant to a cheating mind.


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Jack Qin  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 19:00
English to Chinese
+ ...
My experience Aug 10, 2008

In the first translation collaboration, one of my overseas clients delayed his payment to me for several months after I submitted the translation. I was annoyed by that. Then, in the following cooperation I requested that I be paid up front. He promised.

because before providing translation service for this client, I provided consecutive interpreting service for him. So he trusted me.


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Venkatesh Sundaram  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 16:30
Member
German to English
Advance payment and / or writen order certainly helps Aug 10, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:

I deal with a lot of direct clients, most of them local or related to local entities. I have the luxury of doing that because I am located in an area (US-Mexico border) where there is a lot of demand for my services.

I do not use contracts, agreements or any formalities when doing a job. However, first check to make sure the prospective client is well-established. If it is a well-established company or professional, then I merely submit the job and bill them. Sometimes clients are also referred to me by others who are known to me and I rely upon their recommendations.

In dealing with individuals I will ask for payment up-front, or if I have their original documents that will often serve as security for payment.

I usually like to say that I like my clients "to be close enough to go over and strangle them if they won't pay". I haven't actually had to do that, but at times I have had to pressure a few, and it makes them uncomfortable to know I am that close so they come through. That does not happen often.

You may not have so many prospective clients that are local. Usually your best bet is to do a bit of research on the client first, and if you have your doubts, don't do it. In any case, if someone does not want to pay, whatever there might be in writing is not much of a deterrent to a cheating mind.


I agree with Henry. I too get a few clients since I am situated close to the national capital and people wanting to submit translated versions of documents / letters to embassies do come over or send documents to me by fax / courier once in a while. I do not usually make contracts or have forms filled up by clients who are individuals (as opposed to companies)

a) I invariably tell them what it would cost, get their agreement and also take an advance, usually 50 %, especially from those I am dealing with for the first time

b) In the case of larger (corporate) clients, it usually takes them quite a while to get an advance payment approved internally. In urgent cases, I ask them to fax or email an order confirmation with the terms and conditions clearly specified and take a commitment as to when they would pay me, before commencing the work

Fortunately I have had very few cases of non payment so far!

I agree with Astrid too, that is is best to deal with local direct clients. But if one does not have the luxury because of ones' location or other factors, one should certainly consider asking them for part payment in advance so that ones' exposure is minimised.


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