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Firing a bad customer what a good idea! Do you agree?
Thread poster: Ethiotrans

Local time: 00:10
Amharic to English
+ ...
Apr 28, 2006

After reading one of Rober Kiyosaki's ( the co-founder of Rich Dad Company ) book I came across one of the best idea I never thought for long time that is “Firing a customer or client”. In the translation business there are numerous companies who are ripping of small translation companies and freelance translators and just keeping doing it with out any problem. I know there is a Blue Board at Proz’s site for that but that did not help a lot because most translators are not reporting these bad apples on time. So what is the best thing? Well, believe it or not we are going to fire these bad customers and we are going to publish their names and the reason they are fired at our web site. So as Donald Trumph said “YOU ARE FIRED “we will fire them too. So before you hire them, check with us and check with BlueBoard too. Also we will hire good clients and good customers too. We will have “YOU ARE HIRED” site. We will have the report card for hired and fired companies.

The site is up and running but hiding. Will be visible on May 15, 2006

[Edited at 2006-05-02 16:02]

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Anne Spitzmueller  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
Member (2005)
English to German
Could not find the link Apr 28, 2006

I had a look at your profile site and your website but could not find the link to the hired and fired agencies...


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Zeinab Asfour  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:10
English to Arabic
+ ...
Best of luck :) Apr 28, 2006

Sounds like a very good and interesting idea..Will be very helpful for translators, especially beginners...Best of luck
Just thought I'd show you some support

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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
totally agree Apr 28, 2006

However I don't think I could say to the client that I'm going to fire them.... I'd just be permanently unavailable.

But I agree with the general concept. We have to stand up for ourselves a lot more and stop grovelling... we can always get another client but they cannot always find a translator with the skills that meets their requirements.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
Italian to English
The art of diplomacy Apr 28, 2006

Not sure I agree with such an in-your-face approach; as Orla suggests the underlying concept is good, but after all, everything we do is marketing of our services, and word-of-mouth counts for a lot; if a problematic, but influential client finds themselves fired, such an approach might backfire. You never know who knows who, perhaps it's better just not to use that client again IMO Sometimes a little diplomacy goes a long way. But that's just me.

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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:10
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
You cannot fire a customer or a vendor Apr 28, 2006

The relationship between a customer and a service provider is a business transaction.
You can fire a person from your staff, i.e. a person to whom you pay a salary, and not a vendor or a customer.

With a customer, you just cease to have a business relationship. With vendors, you just cease to hire them.


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Local time: 00:10
Amharic to English
+ ...
Customers’ Report Card. Apr 28, 2006

I was afraid the backfire which will ignite if I fire my clients for long time. For some clients we waited more than four years. When the client is not honest and refusing to pay he/she is taking too many things from you. Money is obvious, but how about your passion, time, energy and trust? You see if you have a bad employ you fire him/her and that is the end of it, but when you have a bad customer the ripple effect is too high. Because, you work hard to get this customer at the first place. After this customer assigns you the project you did your best by imagining to get his/her future projects. You spent extra hrs and money because every customer you have is a future investment. You gave him/her your time, trust and you hired people to do the job and you paid it in advance for your subcontractors. Now after you completed the project and after the client collected all his/her money from her/his end client the client run away.

So what do you loose? You loose a lot. Momentum, passion, trust, money, time and energy are few of them. So why you afraid to fire his/her? If the customer does not care about diplomacy and does not respect your business, so what do you loose if you fire his/her? Nothing. Believe we have some customers they are bully. We tried every thing to collect our money even collection agency, and they are not paying. So the time we spent from convincing them to get their project until to collect the unpaid money is unlimited. Believe it or not these big shark companies are still in Proz and other translation market places sucking bloods. So if we afraid not to fire them, who else will do that? Remember we are not only firing bad customer but we are hiring good customers too. We reward good customers with good discount and freebies. We have lots of them. For our suspire, we have very few bad customers and lots of good customers.

On May 15, 2006 we will release our Customers’ Report Card. We will give As and Fs. Now you know who will be an “A” customer and who will get an “F”. So the word-of -mouth will work for this one too. If the client gets an “A” he will tell for others and if the client gets an “F” guess what he will do? Nothing. You can not tell for people you get an “F” but you tell you get an “A”. So we need to rate our customers and reward the good ones and punish the bad apples. It may have back fire but we are ready and if the bad client tells about our service is bad, well who ever they are acquainted may be bad crowd and we don’t need their business too.

I know some of you do not agree with me and will take time until you say one day "that is right" You will know when it happens. The mental satsfaction is also priceless

I hate bad customers

Here is one of the best thing I got from one of the best sales and marketing trainer. This guy trains companies like Qualcomm, Anheuser-Busch, Sea world and other big corporations. He said most buyers will do five things when they come to you to buy your service. And it is true in the translation business and you would not believe this happens every time and you are doing it every day “When you become a buyer".

These are
1. Lie 2 Steal 3. Mislead 4 (I forgot) 5 Hibernate

1. Lie: What do you do when you go to any store and the sales person asks you ” How can I help you? " mostly you say "looking around” but that is a big lie because you are there to buy something not to look
2. Steal. This happens a lot in the translation world. When the client calls he/she asks you lots of question, like price, turn around time, and other questions and he/she steal all that information and goes to another translator and by using your rate and other info he/she gets from you and she/he gets good deal.
3. Mislead: This is one of the best thing happens every day in the translation market. After the client steals info form the first translator he/she mislead the other translator to lower the price and eventually the translator mislead by the client and lower his/her price.
4. I forgot this one
5. Hibernate: This one is funny. After the client gets every information and does 1-4 he/she does not want your service any more because she/he got a better deal som where and will not come back. She/he is gone forever.

So when you deal with your client you need to know what stage they are. Before you negotiate the price you need to “pre-qualify" the client. Remember you should do this first. It will save you time and money. That is why you need to investigate about the client by going sites such us Blue Board and others sites about this client.

I did not give you the link to the site because the moderate may think this is advertising our site. If you want I will.

[Edited at 2006-04-28 20:03]

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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
Member (2004)
German to English
Not how I choose to operate Apr 28, 2006

You seem to be saying that when dealing with a new client we should assume that they will lie, steal, mislead and hibernate. I don't think that having those sort of expectations is an appropriate way to approach clients. I have my own standards of professionalism, integrity, goodwill and honesty and, until proven otherwise, I will assume that those with whom I work share my approach. Obviously I will minimise my exposure to risk - for example, by not taking on a second job for a new client until they have paid for the first one - but I will not think badly of anyone until I have concrete evidence that I need to do so.

I assume that all of us stop working for clients who don't pay or with whom we simply don't get on; one of the pleasures of freelancing is that we can choose what work to do and what not to do.

And what did happen to those Words of Peace that I'm sure used to be on the home page?

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Local time: 00:10
Amharic to English
+ ...
to tackle the sophisticated tactic of the sales people Apr 28, 2006

I am not saying all clients are there to steal or to lie. What the trainer was saying in order to tackle the sophisticated tactic of the sales people though out years, mankind developed five things to win the sales battles. These five things are buyers defensive mechanisms to win the sales people. So we are both. We sale our services and we buy products and services and we need to switch our mode depend on where we are. So when we are a saler, that means selling our service, we need to know what the buyer (client) has in his/her mind. That is all. So if we know the out come in advance . There is no surprise. That is all.

To share what I read from the Rich Dad Book. Read it if you like it

Those of you how would like to open your eyes to be a true entrepreneur and business owner should read The Rich Dad Book. I will not give you the link just type Rich Dad at Google web site and you will find the link. Believe me I read that book and it gives me lots of idea how to deal with Client and customer and how to build a business. One of the Motto he has is “Don’t work to earn, work to learn”. He put four kinds of Quadrants.
E quadrant, S quadrant B quadrant I quadrant.
E= Employed
S= Self Employed
B= Business

Most of freelance translators are at S quadrant but wants to be in B. If you want to be rich (Financially independent) you have to be in B or I quadrant. But the path is very hard and you have to know hot to get up and fight when you fail. So for my brothers and sisters you need to read this book if you are in E and wants to be in B quadrant. It will save you your time. I wish I read this book long time ago

So according to this book there are five things you need to have to have a successful business
2 Legal
3 System
4 Communication
5. Cash Flow

Also you need to have Mission, Leadership and Team

So most of the translation professionals have one thing, that is PRODUCT
And they need to have four more to have a successful business or if they want to move from S quadrant to B quadrant.

So if a client refuses to pay you money that means he is affecting the Cash Flow. That means the ripple effect will be too much. If want to have a business with healthy growth you need to have good cash flow. If you spend too much and your customer is holding your cash or unable to pay you, that means it is affecting your business too much. Legal is your guardian, you need to have it. system is how you implement your business and communication is a key how you interact inside and out side.

You need to have a good mission and a good leadership as well as a strong team
So when you want to open a good business you need to look for people with skills and knowledge to fill those spots. Most entrepreneur especially translators are like self-employed. They do not have business. And they are every thing for their company. When that happened you will not have too much growth in your company.
Also you need to have one tactic and several strategies

For example Wal-Mart has one tactic that is Low price
But several strategies to get low prices

So build your strategies around your tactic

And make sure your cash flow is flowing like a water.

[Edited at 2006-04-28 19:47]

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Dinny  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:10
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Will soon be firing some of my customers Apr 29, 2006

I don't think your publishing of "fired customers" is such a great idea, the hot water has already been invented and Blue Board is a perfect place for making these announcements. I agree that it should be supported by everyone on ProZ and that maybe a lot of people doesn't remember or choose not to insert bad clients on the BB. Still, it's the best we have.

As for firing customers I was actually thinking about starting a round myself, not by publishing it anywhere but just telling some of my clients that I will erase them from my database and I will let them know why.

Normally, I too have just pretended to be unavailable to these few bad apples, but as for satisfaction I really think I would enjoy more telling them that they will be erased. Some of them know already, of course, but others still seem to believe that they can get away with not respecting terms (mostly payment terms, but also changing terms after start-up or even after delivery) and still come back with other work to be done.

As for the very bad late-payers, I have reported them all on BB. But what to do with a client that agrees on 30 days nett and afterwards tells you - when you claim overdue payments - that they will see to it within the next few weeks? I get so totally pi...d off when facing replies like that that I choose never to work for them again, nevertheless I don't report them on BB.

Another solution, of course, would be to accept another job for these people and when deadline has passed and they claim delivery, just tell them that you will see to it within the next few weeks....

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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Good Idea Apr 29, 2006

Dinny wrote:Another solution, of course, would be to accept another job for these people and when deadline has passed and they claim delivery, just tell them that you will see to it within the next few weeks....

I like this solution:)

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Miguel Colina
Local time: 09:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Use "pre-payment" as a shield. Apr 29, 2006

The idea of "firing" a bad client is attractive although it implies loosing a potential source of income (and in my case there are very few sources of income). Consider the following alternative to firing a customer.

A translator can ask for pre-payment when doing business for the first time with a new client. This is because the translator has no previous knowledge about the client and therefore has no reason to trust on him. If the new client is satisfied with the translation and returns for more, the translator may ask for deferred payment (30 days, 60 days, 90 days or whatever the translator may impose). If the new client pays as promised, he will retain his status as a trusted client and will continue to enjoy the privilege of deferred payment.

If the client does not pay as promised, he will loose his status as a trusted client, will be considered a new client and will be requested to pay in advance the next time he requests a translation. Evidently, a client who dishonors his promise to pay on time cannot be trusted and must loose the privilege bestowed upon those who pay on time.

This will not change the world but it will make it a little bit more difficult for those to choose to dishonor their promises.

This alternative has the advantage of letting your clients know that they have to pay for their mistakes.

There are more drastic measures that can be taken with clients that repeatedly pay late, and you should seek the advice of a professional accountant to use the most appropriate measure in your country.

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Local time: 09:10
bad clients or bad agencies?? Apr 30, 2006

In my 20-year experience as a freelancer, the only bad ("bad" for various reasons) clients have ALWAYS been agencies, and NEVER any of my direct clients (though I charge high rates and set my own deadlines).
So the solution might be very simple: don't work for agencies, or at least not for those agencies who are known to be late payers, cheapskates, hagglers, disorganized, bad faith, etc... If good translators refuse to work for them, then they can't get the job done, then they'll lose their clients and go out of business, which is all they deserve.

What boggles the mind is why so many freelancers continue to work for those agencies even though it is known (BB and equivalents on other sites, plus word of mouth) that they always pay late or try to haggle over a few words or pay low rates...?? Anyone can get caught once, but getting caught twice because we have accepted a second job from that same unreliable agency is masochistic!

Interestingly, bad and cheap agencies seem to hire primarily incompetent but cheap freelance "translators": they should therefore not be surprised if their own clients pay late or refuse to pay for bad quality (cross-referencing between low-rate job offers and BB entries and translators' rates on profile and low quality of translator's questions/answers provides mutliple examples of this).
Or could it be that all of this is inter-correlated: cheap and incompetent agencies, cheap and incompetent freelancers => non-paying clients... ?

(BTW, you were right that including your web address in this forum thread would have been unauthorized advertising, particularly since you are an agency).


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Local time: 00:10
Amharic to English
+ ...
customer is Anyone who is using my service. May 1, 2006

For me the definition of customer is as follows.
Anyone who is using my service.
These includes, direct clients, agencies, individuals, individual translators, and so on. In translation business there are big sharks and small sharks. The big sharks are the big translation companies who are getting too much contract from the direct client for so many languages even they do not have qualified person in their staff. Sometime these big translation companies swallow more than they chew. That means they promise for their clients to fulfill everything but with out having enough resource. Since these companies have a binding agreement to fulfill the service, sometimes when they are asked to do a project which is not in their list they will choke. When this happens they will look for you. Especially when their clients ask them to provide unusual languages in an unusual place. Since they are in desperate and to keep their contract alive they will act generous and friendly. But that friendly face will not last long. Once they got what they want they will flip. You will have so many of these desperate sharks. By the way I am not saying all of them. As a matter of fact the big translation companies are the feeders of small and freelance translators.

Big sharks are the gatekeepers who are preventing the small and freelance translators fom getting project from direct clients. I am not sure how it works in other countries but in US most direct clients want to deal with one translation company for their translation need and who ever win the bid some times abuse the system.

Also internet is making it hard and easy for small translation companies and freelance translators. From what I see small companies and freelance companies who are in US and Europe will have a tough time near the future. Because the big shark companies are out sourcing their job for other companies. In my opinion the good life will be for interpreters. Because for example in US several cities are required to offer translation and interpretation services for their clients. That means if the direct client award the job for big sharks what the big shark will do is outsource the translation but forced to hire local interpreters because the interpretation has to be in person. So where the job will go believe it or not it will not be to Europe, it will be somewhere. But what it will do is making hard for some people to compute and it damps the price and it increase the profit margin for the big sharks. So my advice is if you are a freelance translator and living in a cheaper countries never damp your price too much to get a project because you loose money too. What will happen one day if you may move to Europe and US or any other country and you want to work as a translator? Guess what will happen? It will be hard for you to work as translator because you already killed your price and you will decide not to work as a translator because it does not worth it. But who dump the price. You did.

So before you charge your client know what others are charging. Know how much you worth not in just in your county but in the world. That will keep you to grow and will not be eaten by the big sharks.

Does it will have a negative effect on big sharks? Of course it will one day the direct client will wake up form his sleep and will bypass the big sharp. So knowing a price how much to charge is a good away.

[Edited at 2006-05-02 16:05]

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