Increasing rates for agencies
Thread poster: Justine Sherwood

Justine Sherwood  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:16
Dutch to English
+ ...
Nov 28, 2003

Last year I translated a catalogue for an agency at the rate that they apparently pay all translators. This year they have asked me to do it again, obviously they are not going to offer me more money. So how do you inform agencies that your rates have gone up? If it's up to the agency I'm sure I could be translating the catalogue in 2006 for the same price, whereas I'm sure they put their rates up annually. As tact is not my greatest asset does anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:16
French to English
Inform them in advance Nov 28, 2003

Hi Justine,

If the agency has already offered you the job, then in my opinion, it's too late to say that your rates have gone up. I think the best way is to inform them in advance that as of X date, your rates will be Y and Z, so then there are no surprises.

I've done this in the past and it has not backfired. In fact, I'm planning to inform a client of my rate increase when I let them know the dates of my Xmas holidays (the increase will take effect Jan. 1).

I'm curious to see what others have to say, but IMO, it's only fair to let the agency know in advance (and not when they offer you a project).

FWIW,

Erika


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:16
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Erika Nov 28, 2003

This year they have asked me to do it again, obviously they are not going to offer me more money. So how do you inform agencies that your rates have gone up?


You don't have to wait for them to offer you more money. You can simply say that your rates have gone up, tell them your new rates, let them take it or leave it.

Having said that, my policy is the same as Erika's: I give my customers plenty of advance warning of a price rise, usually three months or so. My customers have all heard of inflation so I don't have to justify the rise, but I feel that giving them chance to adjust to it, preferably by negotiating higher rates from their customers, is appreciated in a good business relationship. Customers who don't attach any value to a good business relationship are ones I don't want to work for anyway.

Marc


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:46
English to Tamil
+ ...
I beg to differ Nov 28, 2003

Are you an employee of the agency? Are they picking your medical and travel bills? Do they guarantee you regular jobs? The obvious answer is "No".
In fact the best time to increase the rate is when they approach you. This is true especially if they have not given you any work in the past few months. Otherwise it may be a little awkward, especially if their payments are prompt.
Sorry that there is no hard and fast rule for such situations. It all depends on your good or bad relations with them. Act accordingly.
Regards,
N.Raghavan


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:16
English to French
Inform them Nov 28, 2003

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

Are you an employee of the agency? Are they picking your medical and travel bills? Do they guarantee you regular jobs? The obvious answer is "No".
In fact the best time to increase the rate is when they approach you. This is true especially if they have not given you any work in the past few months. Otherwise it may be a little awkward, especially if their payments are prompt.
Sorry that there is no hard and fast rule for such situations. It all depends on your good or bad relations with them. Act accordingly.
Regards,
N.Raghavan

I fully agree with Narasimhan's approach. I don't know of any shop that contacts you out of the blue when the rates go up. Usually, they contact you when the prices go down, or at least, are lower then that of their perceived competitors.

When you want to buy, do you expect the rates to be the same as one year ago? Of course not! In fact, you expect them to have changed, don't you?

You go to the shop, or call your sales rep, and check out what is the current price. Then either you buy or you negociate, or you go somewhere else if it is really too much.

I really don't see why it should be any different.

One of my favorite customers checks out on me every time (How much will you charge for...) despite the fact we work together every second week, with files of the same nature!

I see really nothing wrong in informing your customer that your overall prices have been raised to match the demand for your services.


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Cristóbal del Río Faura  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Standard practice Nov 28, 2003

[quote]MarcPrior wrote:


My customers have all heard of inflation so I don't have to justify the rise, but I feel that giving them chance to adjust to it, preferably by negotiating higher rates from their customers, is appreciated in a good business relationship.
Marc


I totally agree with Marc. Giving 1-3 month notice of price increase is the standard practice in business to business operations as I have seen for many years.


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:16
French to English
It is different, IMO Nov 28, 2003

sylver wrote:

I fully agree with Narasimhan's approach. I don't know of any shop that contacts you out of the blue when the rates go up. Usually, they contact you when the prices go down, or at least, are lower then that of their perceived competitors.


You can't compare translators that sell a service to a store that sells items (as if it would be feasible to contact all the store's customers!).

We are self-employed workers with a base of clients (large or small) and we all want to maintain a good relationship with those clients. So it is only appropriate and respectful to inform them in advance of a rate hike. I think we'd all lose clients if we told them that our rate is now Y instead of X when they call to offer a job (especially if you work regularly for them). Why would you risk it when all it takes is an e-mail stating your new rate and the effective date of the increase?

My 2 cents,

Erika


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:46
English to Tamil
+ ...
We seem to be having different assumptions Nov 29, 2003

There are agencies and agencies. Agency A is contacting you very occasionally, say once in a few months, whereas Agency B is giving you work very regularly, in fact one finished work sent back, another work is in the pipeline.
My recommendation concerned the Agency A. Let me illustrate with my example. This agency sends me work after a gap of one year. In the meantime it has ignored me and I too did not contact it as I was busy elsewhere. While sending the above work, the agency said that the rate shall be the same as per the last time. I promptly told them that my rated had gone up by 20% in the meantime. They replied that this was a steep hike and should not be applicable to regular clients. I pointed out that they were not regular clients, as they had not given work for one year and could not expect the price to be stationary.
Fact was, I was not very keen to work for this agency, as I was having quite a handful of jobs at hand at that moment. To cut a story short, the agency gave me the job after we negotiated a rise of 15%.
Moral: If you are sure of your grounds, don't give in.
With Agency B one has to be more vigilant and propose rate increases well in time. You don't want to lose it.
Regards,
N.Raghavan


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:16
English to French
Not convinced Nov 29, 2003

Erika Pavelka wrote:

sylver wrote:

I fully agree with Narasimhan's approach. I don't know of any shop that contacts you out of the blue when the rates go up. Usually, they contact you when the prices go down, or at least, are lower then that of their perceived competitors.


You can't compare translators that sell a service to a store that sells items (as if it would be feasible to contact all the store's customers!).

We are self-employed workers with a base of clients (large or small) and we all want to maintain a good relationship with those clients. So it is only appropriate and respectful to inform them in advance of a rate hike. I think we'd all lose clients if we told them that our rate is now Y instead of X when they call to offer a job (especially if you work regularly for them). Why would you risk it when all it takes is an e-mail stating your new rate and the effective date of the increase?

My 2 cents,

Erika

Services? OK. Just imagine you went to a dentist, or lawyer 1 year ago and paid 100€. Now you need their services again.

Do you expect the price to be exactly the same as one year ago? Wouldn't you inquire about what the price is now?

Of course, if you work with a customer on a very regular basis, like every 2 weeks or so, it is good manners to inform them in advance.

But I would certainly not contact all and sundry about a rate increase. I received "rate increase" notifications at least twice from people whom I have never even worked with (they sent me a CV before, or something) and it felt completely stupid.

Besides, I do not have fixed rates, as is the case with many of us around here. I get a file and give a quote every time, so I can talk of price increase only on documents of very similar nature (say, technical specs sheets following the same template,...) Most documents are widely different, so I can't even talk about a price increase.

There is a quote. The client accepts/discuss/declines, as applicable, at the time of the order.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:16
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Yes, agree with silver Dec 1, 2003

We should not stick to fixed rates but look at each job in each situation. If I'm booked full but get an offer, which would mean overtime/weekend, I ask more than when I'm idle. If the original is much more difficult than usual I charge more.
In fact one should try to guess the time the job will take and charge according to that.
One client sent me first word-files and agreed to a rate X. Later she started to send me faxes (poor quality) and pdf-dokuments, and I was stupid enough to charge the same price. but finally I came around to increase my rates and restrict the fixed price only to word-files.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:16
German to English
+ ...
Other professions Dec 1, 2003

sylver wrote:
Services? OK. Just imagine you went to a dentist, or lawyer 1 year ago and paid 100€. Now you need their services again.

Do you expect the price to be exactly the same as one year ago? Wouldn't you inquire about what the price is now?


Most of the analogies with other professions are only of limited use, but this one is very revealing.

People go first and foremost to a doctor or lawyer they trust. If they don't trust these professionals, they won't use their services, however cheap they may be. That trust also includes confidence that the professional is not going to rip them off.

My impression is also that when people go to the doctor, they don't normally ask what the treatment is going to cost, and if they do, it is not for the purpose of shopping around. The same is true of lawyers. Cost might be mentioned but it is not going to feature strongly in the discussions. The client is interested in the treatment or legal service. The cost is very much secondary.

Ideally, translators should be in the same position. The customer may want or in some cases need to have an idea of what a translation is going to cost, and may even want or need an exact, binding quotation. But the whole emphasis upon price is detrimental to the image of the services which are being provided.

When a new potential customer calls me, I get a very good idea of what the relationship is going to be like and how willing the customer is going to be to pay my rates from whether they begin by asking me about my services - or my prices.

This is the very reason why, once a business relationship has been established, I find it convenient, for both the customer and myself, for the price to remain constant until such time as a choose to raise it (or, as has sometimes happened, lower it). I am talking about the same type of work here for the same customer. Obviously, different types of work attract different prices - but that should be obvious. Just because some of us don't quote individually for each job doesn't mean that we don't have different prices for different types of work.

So, my customer - let's assume an agency customer here, as that was the original example - has an ongoing arrangement with an end customer to supply translations of certain types of texts. In this case, my customers would find it very strange if the price per line or word were to change with each order. Why should the price vary according to whether I'm busy or not? I certainly wouldn't expect my customer to suggest a lower price because he knows the market is flat, for example. If the price for the same thing differs each time he calls me, he will soon conclude that it has no direct bearing upon the service he is actually getting.

Eventually, I will want to raise my prices to this regular customer. Telling him in advance is consistent with the idea that the price is secondary. When he calls me with the next job after the price rise, he is already prepared for it. I don't have to announce it or do anything to make it acceptable. He's already accepted it tacitly, by calling me.

Marc


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