How to distribute clients
Thread poster: Conrado Portugal

Conrado Portugal
Local time: 08:50
German to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 11, 2005

We're a group of translators thinking of uniting our forces in order to make a common effort to get new clients and to optimize our services. I was wondering what you out there in similar situations do in case that a new client comes to you thanks to this common effort: who's getting the assignment? According to which rules will the workload be distributed? What are your experiences?



Elena Matei
Local time: 09:50
English to Romanian
+ ...
friendly Feb 11, 2005

I think it is a good idea as long as the team is working FRIENDLY. They have to choose between themselves who they cooperate with. If all are the same ,like each other and have the same opinions they can work together,they can share profit. I think a real misfit and difference in behaviour is the problem: they will start to compete and misunderstanding appears so the problem with money will separate them.
Find a team that itself will find the comfort, then the problems of distribution of clients will be solved easier.


Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Member (2002)
+ ...
How far do you want to optimize? Feb 11, 2005

Hello Conrado,

This is certainly an interesting topic.
How far do you want to join forces? I mean, are you only interested in joint advertising campaigns, mailings etc. , but you still have separate accounting so each translator still writes his/her owns invoices?

That might be the best solution if it's a larger group of translators and/or there might be a risk of mutual competition later on.

Depending of what kind of companies you are aiming at, it would however make a better impression if you offer your services from a company, rather than each translator does his/her own stuff. Do you want to establish some company and make all translators share-holders? You may also have to ask yourself about the money being generated from the jobs (in the later case).

If translator A has lots to do, generating 50k euro in profit in one year, but translator B and C only doing 20k euro each, does that mean that total 90k euro would have to be split up at the end of the year?

These are only some basic questions you should ask yourself at the very start, having in mind that you will never reach the same (or similar) profit level for all language combinations.

Best regards and good luck!

Erik Hansson
Technical translator DE-SE
Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH
Am Birkenwäldchen 38
D-01900 Bretnig-Hauswalde, Germany
Phone +49 - 3 59 52 - 321 07
Fax +49 - 3 59 52 - 322 02
ProZ profile


Conrado Portugal
Local time: 08:50
German to Spanish
+ ...
fair distribution in the same language combination Feb 11, 2005

Hi Eric,

Thanks for your input. Exactly, we want to offer our services appearing as a company (Germany: GbR): common mailing campaigns, common invoicing, etc. We are thinking right now what to do with new clients that come to us because we are a company. That is, everyone will keep its own pool of clients, the question is: what to do with new clients? If we get an assignment for, let’s say, German or English > Spanish and there are three of us with the right language combination who should then get this assignment? What do you think it’ll be the fairest way to share the workload among translators with the same language combination?

That is what we are thinking about right now and I would really apréciate any further comment on that or experience, good and bad, sharing.




Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:50
German to English
Distribute by specialty Feb 12, 2005

Many, if not most, translators have certain specialties. Some prefer technical, others medical, and still others prefer financial texts, even though they may have some competency in other areas. It wouldn't make much sense to have a co-op formed of 3 medical specialists, for example. Over time, the share of jobs should even out, assuming your organization is marketing its services widely.


Elena Petelos  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:50
English to Greek
+ ...
Depends..... Feb 13, 2005

Kevin Fulton wrote:

It wouldn't make much sense to have a co-op formed of 3 medical specialists, for example. Kevin

Hello Kevin, Conrado and Erik,

having done just that, I don't agree with your statement.

Having four medical translators (same team) allows us:

-to ensure availability for good clients,
even if one is fully booked, another one can take over

-to ensure correct terminology; medical translation covers too many areas and we are always able to help each other with terminology and references.
Even to the point of sharing translation memories...:-)

-to deal quickly with large projects. If a client has a project of 50.000 words, which has actually happened, and needs it completed in a week, we can say yes. Sharing memory and being familiar with each other's style we can split the work between us.

A lot of agencies, use two or three translators, for the same project, which can cause chaos in terms of consistency, memories and stylistic differences, especially as most of the time the translators don't even know each other.

So, I think it depends on the people that will collaborate and
what they ultimately aim to achieve.



Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Member (2002)
+ ...
Clients from many different sectors? Feb 14, 2005

I can agree with Elena if you are all really specilized and really work within a very narrow field. In such cases several translators can work in one project in order to keep a deadline *and* ensure high quality, something which can be hard when several colleagues contribute with their different parts.

You should however have in mind that when working with such projects there will be no time at all for other clients and other projects.

Personally I would suggest a group of translator, each one specialized in their own fields, however still keeping the option open that the colleagues could swap some jobs in case one colleague has too much to do. By exchanging TMs within the group it would still be possible to have another translator (who normally does texts for other clients) doing the major part of a project, in case the "1st translator" for a certain client is busy.

TMs would not 100 % but quite far ensure correct terminology, even if the "2nd translator" would do the job. 1st translator would in any case proofread the job before delivery to client.

Conrado, you wrote about each translator "keeping its own pool of clients". This can be problematic, because this could develop into damaging mutual competition. What if a client, who has always required translations into Spanish (delivered by colleague A) needs translations into French (delivered by colleague B). Whose client is it then? And who's going to charge?

In my opinion I think you will need to establish a trustful basis for your work within this company, because you cannot on one hand establish a company, GbR, acting like one provider towards your clients, and on the other hand, letting the translators keeping their pool of clients.

And will you have several translators in your team offering exactly the same language combinations? And what about wages/salary for the translators? Will this be linked to the profit the translators have generated? There are many factors to consider before starting up this group.

Another thing: When negotiating with banks (possibly) you might be in a better position with GmbH instead of GbR. Of course, GbR means muss less red tape than GmbH, but I have seen many GbR, consisting of only 2 or 3 partners, just dissolving because there were internal problems, "one doing the job and the other one waiting for the money..".

Just some thoughts coming into my headicon_wink.gif



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