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Poll: Are direct clients more difficult / demanding to work with than agencies?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 18:32
SITE STAFF
Dec 13, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Are direct clients more difficult / demanding to work with than agencies?".

This poll was originally submitted by Thomas Johansson

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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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
Much easier! Dec 13, 2007

A subject dear to my heart!

I find direct clients much easier to deal with than agencies and have found these advantages:

1. You can ask them questions directly and no information gets jumbled by an intermediary.

2. The direct client assumes you’ll have questions and doesn’t act harried if you ask.

3. Deadlines are somewhat longer because there’s no middleman needing their own time to review the document, which lowers the stress and pressure quite a bit.

4. You can ask the direct client if they’d be willing to list your name if there’s a credits section (brochures, etc.). They assume it’s the most normal thing in the world. Dealing with an agency means their name would appear.

5. If a direct client likes you, they may refer someone else to you.

6. Rates for working with direct clients are higher. You can feel free to charge a rate that’s good for you but somewhat lower than what an agency would charge. It’s a win-win situation for you and the direct client.

7. Direct clients don’t ask you to jump through hoops doing test translations, etc.

I’m sure I could list more, but I’ve probably already got off the subject of the poll. Great question Thomas!


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Aline Canino  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:32
Member (2007)
Chinese to French
+ ...
The same here Dec 13, 2007

I agree with John, definitively. I think I could have written the same list!

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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:32
English to Arabic
+ ...
Absolutely Dec 13, 2007

John Cutler wrote:

I find direct clients much easier to deal with than agencies and have found these advantages:



Agencies always like to portray end-clients as those merciless monsters who want the job done yesterday and who don't like to be be approached with queries.
I was therefore relieved to find that direct clients are quite the contrary, generally friendlier and more relaxed.


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Giulia TAPPI  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:32
French to Italian
+ ...
Of course! Dec 13, 2007

First of all, the money is for you, you do not have to share!
But what I like most is the confidence relationship you establish.
My good direct clients, once they are satisfied, would not dream of looking for somebody else, and let me time to answer. If I am not at home (busy interpreting, most of the time) and do not answer their e-mail at once, they are not looking for somebody else after 5 minutes, like agencies do!
And some of them pay me in 2/3 days after delivering the translation.
Nevertheless, I happened to work for 1 or 2 agencies who do the same, and I really estimate them.


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Szymon Metkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:32
Member (2006)
German to Polish
+ ...
I beg to differ Dec 13, 2007

I have some experience with very nice agencies and very bad end clients. For my part agencies are better to work with because:

1. They know what I can do and what I can not, so they do not ask questions like "Why you can not translate this 5000 words for tomorow morning?

2. They always pay on time

3. They use CAT tools and help me in my work delivering files in a translator-friendly format

4. I do not have to bother with text formating, printing etc.

5. Threy can handle major projects for high class companies, which I would not get directly.

6. All the marketing and advertising costs go off - I do not even run an office where any client could come as I do not need it.

And so forth.

Yours:
Szymon


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Victoria Ibrahimova  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:32
English to Russian
+ ...
Clients know what they want Dec 13, 2007

It is important to have direct contact with the customer without third parties. Client knows (most of the time anyway) what they want which is important for delivering a good quality output.

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xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:32
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agencies always pay on time?????? Dec 13, 2007

You must be kidding or have been very fortunate with the agencies you've worked with. With some agencies it's like pulling teeth to obtain payment..

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María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 21:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just direct clients! Dec 13, 2007

I do work with some agencies and my experience with them has been generally good. However, my dear direct clients are my main source of income, always pay on the agreed date and, as John so accurately stated, they usually refer other people to me.

Having a large direct-client portfolio is the best way to make a career!

Cheers,

María Eugenia


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:32
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
That's curious Dec 13, 2007

Szymon Metkowski wrote:

1. They know what I can do and what I can not, so they do not ask questions like "Why you can not translate this 5000 words for tomorow morning?


In my experience bosses usually know that's a bit more than a harried secretary can type. Maybe you should start pointing that out.


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Mark Nathan  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:32
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Would like more direct customers Dec 13, 2007

I would like more direct customers, but currently most of my work comes from agencies.
I think that I have a good relationship with several agencies - they know what I can/like to translate; they get jobs that I cannot imagine being available on a direct basis; they provide steady work; they proof read my translations.
Also, agencies are usually understanding if you say that you simply cannot take on a job, they will find someone else and still come back to you next time. I am not sure that regular direct customers would be so easy to turn down! I can imagine feeling obliged to work through the night.... although I guess that in such cases I could team up with a fellow Prozian.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:32
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
That's nothing! Dec 13, 2007

Szymon Metkowski wrote:

I have some experience with very nice agencies and very bad end clients. For my part agencies are better to work with because:

1. They know what I can do and what I can not, so they do not ask questions like "Why you can not translate this 5000 words for tomorow morning?




The best request I have had so far from an end client arrived at 10.30 a.m. one morning, and the request was around 5000 words "for this morning"! They were serious! It was a Monday, and the secretary politely explained that they had forgotten to send it to me on Friday night, but that they definitely needed it by 12 noon.

However, I do prefer working with end clients, because actually, even only taking the issue of terminology, it is on the whole more practical to discuss terminology with clients than to have to ask Kudoz questions, and very often they do know what terminology they want.

It is not better or worse to work for end clients, but in many ways a different experience, and certainly communication is a great deal more satisfactory.

Astrid


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María Eugenia Wachtendorff  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 21:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
Money matters... Dec 14, 2007

John Cutler wrote:

6. Rates for working with direct clients are higher. You can feel free to charge a rate that’s good for you but somewhat lower than what an agency would charge. It’s a win-win situation for you and the direct client.



This is quite a point!

I make much more money from direct clients than from agencies... Doesn't everybody?

I think the trick is very simple: Just address your marketing efforts to companies and institutions within your fields of expertise, and you will never again have to cope with "fuzzy matches," late payments, or (female) PM PMS.

Business is business, guys. And it depends on each of us to get where we want.

Listen to the voice of experience and get your own direct clients!!


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
I beg to differ too Dec 14, 2007

Szymon Metkowski wrote:
1. They know what I can do and what I can not, so they do not ask questions like "Why you can not translate this 5000 words for tomorow morning?

2. They always pay on time

3. They use CAT tools and help me in my work delivering files in a translator-friendly format

4. I do not have to bother with text formating, printing etc.

5. Threy can handle major projects for high class companies, which I would not get directly.

6. All the marketing and advertising costs go off - I do not even run an office where any client could come as I do not need it.


While I don't want to generalize too much (there are good and bad agencies and direct clients). I really disagree with points 1-4: PMs routinely ask for the completion of unreasonable asignments, I can hardly describe the payment practices of most agencies I have dealt with as "always on time", I personally don't think CAT tools are exactly translator friendly (agencies and the end clients reap the true benefits anyway), and while it is true that you often don't have to deal with formatting, you do have to deal with encoding, often heavy, that gets embedded in assigned files.

Agencies, especially large agencies, are usually loaded with bureaucratic procedures, endless specs, heavy requirements, and a "please the client at all costs" attitude that creates unreasonable expectations in terms of turnaround time and rates, mostly in detriment to the profession.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:32
English to Spanish
+ ...
John and Ma. Eugenia Dec 14, 2007

...express my opinion just fine. I'll stick with my direct clients, they understand me, and I understand them.

They have expressed it perfectly. And I know that some of Ma. Eugenia's clients have come from hell, but I also know that she loves them just the same.


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