When To Ask For a Deposit?
Thread poster: Fan Gao

Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 04:57
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Apr 29, 2006

Hi,

Do you have specific limits for when you ask for a deposit for a new project?

Is it the number of words or a minimum monetary amount you anticipate to receive?

Thanks,

Mark and Fan


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:57
English to French
+ ...
New clients and big bucks Apr 30, 2006

Hello,

I ask for advance partial payments when working for new clients and the client is in the grey zone (they seem serious but it is hard to confirm that they paid other translators on time). Of course, if it's only for a couple of pages, I don't ask for money up front.

When I have to work on large projects (in general, over 20,000 words), I ask for advance payment, partial or full, not really so that the client proves their willingness to pay, but rather because, when you are busy on a long-term translation (for example, a month working on the same project), if you only bill when you are done with the whole project, you will still have to wait about 30 days before getting the money. So, if you take into consideration the date from which you were dedicated to the client and the date of payment (assuming they pay on time), you will have waited two months for the money from the date you started working. If you live off of translation solely, like I do, sometimes you can't afford waiting that long (my ISP is not going to wait two months for me to pay the internet connection I used to do the job). This is especially important since more and more people in the industry are stretching the due date farther and farther and there are now agencies who only pay after 60 or 90 days!

So, let's say you work two months for the same client (like I often do). If they only pay you 30 days after completion of the job - you will not earn any money for three full months. In such cases, I ask for advance payment. Regular clients understand and know they will get the goods on time, so they agree with this. New clients don't always agree, but I remind them that this business is based on mutual trust, and that if they can't trust me, then I don't see why I should trust them. This actually helps to weed out the serious clients vs. the bad ones.

So, to answer your question, it really depends mostly on trust and the time spent on working for the particular client. See what timeframe fits your needs. In other words, decide on how long you are willing to work without being paid.

Hope this helps!

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-04-30 05:52]


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 04:57
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good Advice Apr 30, 2006

Hi Viktoria and thank you for your reply.

Yes trust is very important and establishing that trust initially with a new client is even more important.

We certainly agree that for large, long term projects then it is vital to have an initial deposit or to be paid in instalments at agreed periods of the ongoing project.

Thanks again for your helpful and useful comments.

Best wishes,

Mark and Fan


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:57
English to French
+ ...
One more thing Apr 30, 2006

Consider this:

When you are dedicated to a client in the long term, you don't take work from other clients. So, you are unavailable to make money elsewhere. This means that, if you don't get paid for a long period of time or, God forbid, if you don't get paid at all in the end, you invested yourself in something that is not viable financially - while you missed out on other opportunities that would have helped you more financially. This is why I always refuse to be on stand-by for "potential" jobs. If I make myself unavailable to the rest of my clients because I am waiting for a potential project, and finally, that particular project is not assigned to me, I just missed out on paying work that I would have received otherwise.

For the same reason, when I get a contract and it is cancelled after it was assigned to me, I have a clause in my contract that states that if this happens, the client has to pay for the portion of work already done AND 50% of the price of the remaining work. This is because I refused other contracts for this one, and now, I lose THIS contract AND the ones I refused in favor of this one.

Bottom line: often, it's really more a question of considering that your time is money, and the client has to understand that and they have to admit to it. If they don't admit to this, then maybe they are not such good clients for you to take them seriously.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2006-04-30 17:33]


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laura e. asturias / TransWiz
Guatemala
Local time: 12:57
English to Spanish
Excellent advice! And a question... May 2, 2006

Hi, Marc/Fran & Viktoria:

I just began participating yesterday in Proz.com and am fascinated because I'd never before had the opportunity to discuss translation issues with other colleagues. I've found all I've read very useful, so I thank you even if the answers were not for me! I particularly liked the discussion on "When to ask for a deposit?" Great advice, Viktoria.

I agree that trust is very important. I'm very fortunate to have a few clients but who always have work for me and are very fair, trusting and quite fast when it comes to payments. For example, my oldest client, a women's rights advocate in California, always pays me in advance (the purpose, she says, is not that I'll do her translations before other people's, but that she wants to make sure I always have money in the bank and won't have to worry about it!). And a UK organization paid me in advance for all the work they'd contemplated I'd have to do for them in six months (which was great: I was able to pay for a new car in full!!).

I have a question for anyone who'd like to answer:

My policy is to charge only for those words that I actually translate (I won't charge for numbers or acronyms that were originally in the translation). Is this something others do too, or do you do a word count at the end and that's your final charge?

I hope you all had a good May 1st and didn't have to work too much!

Laura


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 04:57
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Welcome! May 2, 2006

Hi Laura!

I want to say "welcome" to you as you've just recently Proz. Myself and Fan have only been using it for about 6 weeks or so and we think it's great!

There really is such a wealth of information here and to be able to share experiences, problems, good and bad!...is a really good thing.

As for the charging and calculating word count etc I find that can get really confusing! In our language pair of Chinese and English it gets even more confusing for clients too when we start quoting a rate on the word count of Chinese characters because they usually have no idea how that's going to work out...especially if it's a PDF file...MS Word is ok.

We're getting in the habit now of just working out a total price for the job and quoting that instead. Makes it easier for the client too. Especially when it comes to quoting per target word because then they are left wondering how much it's all going to cost. With just one total quote we all know exactly where we stand.

Then you have all the other factors of the size of the project and whether it's highly technical or not.

For us just quoting a total cost for a project works well.

[...edited by site staff...]

Hope this helps and good luck!

Mark and Fan


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