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Poll: Are your clients willing to provide references for you?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 00:06
SITE STAFF
May 27, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Are your clients willing to provide references for you?".

This poll was originally submitted by Nurzhan Nagashbekov

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:06
French to English
+ ...
some are, some aren't May 27, 2008

I answered 'other' because some of my clients will and others won't. (I'm talking about agencies).

Some are happy to provide references but one has told me that they will not provide a reference if it will mean there's thereby a risk I'm less available for them. Fair enough I suppose.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:06
Italian to English
+ ...
Yes May 27, 2008

Those I've asked have all been willing. However, I haven't asked very many and they've all been direct clients - I've never asked an agency.

[Edited at 2008-05-27 16:36]


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:06
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Yes May 27, 2008

Last week, I asked 4-5 of my clients for a reference letter (scanned copy of a signed letter printed on their letter-head). I needed these for some official purpose. And all of them sent it even though two had to go out and get them scanned as their scanner was out-of-order.

Two were direct clients and 3 agencies.

And very nice letters too. I'm really thankful for being blessed with such nice people as clients.


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LinguaLab.net
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:06
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Same goes for me! May 27, 2008

Ritu Bhanot wrote:

I'm really thankful for being blessed with such nice people as clients.


Same goes for me, Ritu!

Nina
www.lingualab.net

[Edited at 2008-05-27 18:39]

[Edited at 2008-05-27 18:39]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Referrals, not references May 27, 2008

Foirtunately my business works on referrals, not references. An existing client will refer another new client to me, and the job is sold from the start.

My only control over that process is making sure I have satisfied clients. That's money in the bank.


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Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 09:06
English to German
+ ...
I have never asked for them May 27, 2008

But translation agencyies often do so without having been asked, when they hear from a client that they were very satisfied with my work, so I recently received the message: "it would be diffiult to do better".

[Bearbeitet am 2008-05-27 20:19]


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Els Spin  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:06
Dutch to English
+ ...
I won't ask May 27, 2008

I am sure my regular clients would be very happy to provide references for me, but I have never asked and I have never needed to. In principle, I am not prepared to disclose the names of any contacts to any agency. Not only because it is a competitive business, but also because I don't want my clients to be hassled by some agency that may or may not send me any work. Some agencies demand references just to include you in their database!
I don't want my clients to know what I am up to either; my applications are - so to speak - none of their business.

So if an agency wants references to make sure I am qualified and reliable, I send them samples of my work, and offer them to take on a small job first. 9 times out of 10 they skip the latter

Best regards,
Els


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:06
Member (2008)
French to English
Some of them May 27, 2008

I have some clients that say in their translator agreement that they will give references, so I asked them. It does feel like an imposition considering how busy project managers generally, not to mention the none of their business factor. Has anyone tried to offer WWAs in place of references to clients who ask for them? This is probably the subject of a separate survey, but I just posted one, so should probably be shut off for a while. I haven't tried it yet, but it seems reasonable, no one gets bugged.

[Edited at 2008-05-27 22:22]

[Edited at 2008-05-27 22:23]


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Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:06
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
respect and being respected in return May 28, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:

Foirtunately my business works on referrals, not references. An existing client will refer another new client to me, and the job is sold from the start.

My only control over that process is making sure I have satisfied clients. That's money in the bank.


Dear Henry, I agree with you, but in some cases I have to ask for reference (for example, the written and signed reference from a detal implantation company helped me reach an another, detistry-related translation). I was simply forced to do it. All of them I've asked understood my request.
As Rita said, "I'm really thankful for being blessed with such nice people as clients", but, in most cases, a satisfied client gives my visit card or the phone number of the office to another.

Regarding my translators-freelancers, of course, I give them references, if they need! Their succesful business is the cornerstone of succesful cooperation in the future - and the foundation they also proud to work with my company.

Have a nice day,
Liza Czopyk


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:06
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I've never had to ask May 28, 2008

as Henry points out, the story here is referrals, not references. The typical scenario would be, I get a call from a client's collaborator (or even "friendly competitor") desperate for someone free in a pinch.

The process works in reverse, too. If I can't take the job, I'm usually asked who could. So I keep a list of specialists for several combinations and areas. (For that matter, I'm sometimes asked for combinations I don't work, and powwow contacts come in handy).

But one tip on making this work: I don't subcontract. (Admin on this end is too messy and any possible gains are easily offset in the negative by the time lost in processing the necessary paper). On the other hand, a referral being pre-sold and most cases being urgent, prices tend to go a notch up and keep the market afloat all around


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:06
English to Dutch
+ ...
I don't give references May 28, 2008

I don't give references, so I don't ask for them.
I refer potential clients to the WWA-entries in my profile.

I have four at the moment, which nicely covers the demand for three references (why do agencies always ask for three references!). Two of these I've asked for, two were given spontaneously.


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Fernando D. Walker  Identity Verified

Local time: 04:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
No problem May 28, 2008

I've asked for references and had no problems at all. Unfortunately, as not much time has passed since I began translating, I have no choice, but to ask for references. Beginners need them!
Regards,
Fernando


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Els Spin  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:06
Dutch to English
+ ...
No, Fernando... May 28, 2008

Fernando Walker wrote:

I've asked for references and had no problems at all. Unfortunately, as not much time has passed since I began translating, I have no choice, but to ask for references. Beginners need them!
Regards,
Fernando


Not necessarily. As an outsourcer, I am looking for samples that prove quality, not whether you have already had any clients. So beginners may choose any text they like to show they are up to the job. It may be your latest library book, for all I care.


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Mike Hunter
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:06
Member
English to Flemish
+ ...
An Agency perspective May 28, 2008

Angela Dickson wrote:


I answered 'other' because some of my clients will and others won't. (I'm talking about agencies).

Some are happy to provide references but one has told me that they will not provide a reference if it will mean there's thereby a risk I'm less available for them. Fair enough I suppose.


Hi Everyone

I'm a bit concerned by your experience Angela, I think refusing to give a reference because a translator may go elsewhere is very narrow minded. I'm often in effect giving a reference to a direct competitor, as translators usually ask us for references when they apply to other agencies. My view on this though, is that we use freelancers because we want the flexibility of matching the right specialism to the right job. If we were using a translator full time, then they should be contracted, not freelance (this would be the case under UK law, and I'm sure its the same in many other countries). Once I use a freelancer therefore, I'm accepting the fact that they are going to also work for other agencies. So if I refuse to give references, I am in effect injuring the translator's livelyhood.

The only situation when I am personally uncomfortable to give a reference, is if it is for a translator who has done very little work for us. The difficulty is simply that I don't have much basis for assessing them. I think the WWA section on Proz is very useful in this instance. As I am giving a response based on the specific project.

I don't agree that previous work samples prove very much. Unscrupulous people could supply other peoples translations as samples and how would you know? I know in theory that some translators might subcontract and not tell you, but this generally shows up in the quality of the translation (or lack of it).

Re the comment about confidentiality and not disclosing end clients, in my experience most references tend to be from one agency to another, so this shouldn't be a problem. Giving one project manager another's details shouldn't hinder anyone's work. I'm always selective when we are asked for references, I wouldn't give a rival agency lots of details about a major end client. I also wouldn't want to hassle some of our bigger customers, by lots of reference requests.

I know this is quite a long post, so in summary:

Good agencies should be happy to give references, and they are the ones you should want to work for!

Realisticly translators are going to move on and develop, and helping their professional development by simple things like giving references has to be good for the industry.

Hope this helps

Cheers

Mike

Mike Hunter
Director
betterlanguages.com


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