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Do you ever accept "prebookings"
Thread poster: satranslations

satranslations
Local time: 07:06
English to German
Jul 30, 2007

Recently, I was asked on a couple of occasions some days in advance by different agencies, if I was available on a particular day/on particular days to do a translation for them. I said yes each time but as it turned out later, this was a mistake.

In the first case, one day before the preannounced translation should have come in, I received a much larger and better paid job offer which I really didn't want to turn down. So I was in a difficult situation of either sticking to my promise and accept the losses or of finding a way of getting out of the translation I promised I would do.

In the next case, the preannounced translation didn't realise in the end as the client was able to place it with the inhouse translation department. Of course, I was notified of this only once I have waited nearly a full day for the translation document to come in.

And in the third case, the translation came in, however one day later than previously announced (as the writer of the original text was late) and the amount of words to be translated was much less than expected (they had changed their minds at the last minute). I got particularly annoyed about that, because I spent a whole day waiting again (=unpaid time) while turning down another job.

I would just like to resolve not to accept any "prebookings" any longer, but in the latter two cases it is a monthly press release I translate and I have not created much fuss so far in order to not lose this regular work. I have talked to the agency though who was quite understanding and had also spoken to the client. However, the contact person at the client's firm says that he cannot do much and that it is out of his hands.

What would you do in my situation?


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Fred Lessing
English to Portuguese
Depends... Jul 30, 2007

It all depends how important that customer is. I have several customers who give me regular work, and often large amounts. If they didn't pre-book their work with me, I'd drown in confusion. Their pre-booking also allows me to negotiate deadlines with other clients. So as a rule I'm grateful for pre-bookings.

Unfortunately I can't say much about your specific cases though. They happen to me all the time, but I work in a small team with some other freelancers, so we can shift work around.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:36
English to Tamil
+ ...
Ask for a retainer fee in advance Jul 30, 2007

That is the only solution. The retainer fee should depend on the size of the job promised, say 10%. Then only you should agree to keep the day open for the client. Otherwise there is no point in agreeing to vague promises.

Remember, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. But please do not forget to smile all the time and in your place I will have a very wide smile when asking for the retainer fee in advance. And one more thing. There is no point in adjusting the retainer fee against the materialized translation.

Regards,
N.Raghavan
satranslations wrote:

Recently, I was asked on a couple of occasions some days in advance by different agencies, if I was available on a particular day/on particular days to do a translation for them. I said yes each time but as it turned out later, this was a mistake.

In the first case, one day before the preannounced translation should have come in, I received a much larger and better paid job offer which I really didn't want to turn down. So I was in a difficult situation of either sticking to my promise and accept the losses or of finding a way of getting out of the translation I promised I would do.

In the next case, the preannounced translation didn't realise in the end as the client was able to place it with the inhouse translation department. Of course, I was notified of this only once I have waited nearly a full day for the translation document to come in.

And in the third case, the translation came in, however one day later than previously announced (as the writer of the original text was late) and the amount of words to be translated was much less than expected (they had changed their minds at the last minute). I got particularly annoyed about that, because I spent a whole day waiting again (=unpaid time) while turning down another job.

I would just like to resolve not to accept any "prebookings" any longer, but in the latter two cases it is a monthly press release I translate and I have not created much fuss so far in order to not lose this regular work. I have talked to the agency though who was quite understanding and had also spoken to the client. However, the contact person at the client's firm says that he cannot do much and that it is out of his hands.

What would you do in my situation?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Tell them this Jul 30, 2007

Tell them you appreciate having advance notice that a job will be coming in; however, you will not be in a position to commit to delivery until the job is received by you and authorized by the client.

Only at that time does the job get priority.


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Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
similar experiences--don't accept without guarantee of payment Jul 30, 2007

I recently had a similar experience that I posted under a different forum. Basically, I do a monthly editing job for a particular client. Last month, I contacted the client ahead of time to ask whether I should reserve a particular day for editing their next report--the answer was yes. In the meantime, I turned down another job from another client. However, the document did not arrive until the very end of the agreed day due to logisitical complications on the part of the client. Luckily, in this case, I explained the situation to the client and was able to get paid for my usual hours for that day even though the time was not spent working.

But previously, I had accepted a "prebooking" for a new client, who had asked me to clear my schedule as they were going to be "keeping me busy" with a big project. As it turned out, I spent 1.5 days waiting for the work to come in. They did provide a lot of work ultimately, but meanwhile I lost 1.5 days of worktime with no pay!

I've decided no longer to promise my time to clients without some financial commitment on their part.

A couple of people have mentioned something about a "retainer fee" or "holding fee" that would be a way of getting a financial commitment from a client in exchange for reserving your time for them. I would be interested in learning more about this from colleagues, as I am not familiar with the concept.

Yvette


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Carole Paquis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:06
Member (2007)
English to French
with trusted agencies and direct clients Jul 30, 2007

I do accept 'pre-bookings' in only two cases:

with trusted agencies, people I have worked with for some time, give interesting well paid jobs (and pay on time)

with trusted direct clients, who have no other translator to turn to.

Basically, I am pretty sure the job will turn up, will be decent/interesting, well paid and paid on time.

Under such circumstances, I become somehow very flexible!


Carole


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 09:06
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
my opinion Jul 30, 2007

I prefer to avoid prebookings if possible because Ive had cases when the so called promissed text does not arrive, is considerably bigger than agreed etc. In fact such cases create confusion in my translation schedule. Of course each case is different, but in general I tend to refuse such things.

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Giulia TAPPI  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:06
French to Italian
+ ...
Why don't you do as for interpretations? Jul 30, 2007

I often happen to be called for interpreting, and asked to put an "option" on this date. That means I might have this job, but the client has not confirmed it yet.
If I have a firm offer from another client for the same day, I ask the first person to confirm immediately, otherwise I cancel my engagement.


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
it's not "on" til it's on (my desk)... [maybe] Jul 30, 2007

I've encountered this problem too often in the past year, and it is driving me crazy. I try to live by the above motto (which another ProZer suggested a while back).

I've decided not to turn down good jobs if the promised job isn't on my desk. But here's the mess I'm in today:

Two good clients each promised me large jobs (about 15,000 words) and they were both due to arrive the WEEK BEFORE LAST. And what happened?

I've gotten about half of each assignment, even though the clients insisted, in one case, that the "drop-dead line" was last week, and in the other other, Aug 3.

Fortunately, one of the clients had three (!) other projects for me to work on, so I'm starting on those.

This scenario just reinforces that you can't know in advance what will arrive and what won't and when. So, you ought to consider weighing each offer individually, considering who the client is, how much you want the job, how much or how little work you currently have, etc., and then decide what to do.

There is no law that says you have to have a "policy" about not accepting advance books...


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Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:06
Italian to English
+ ...
Give them a deadline for confirmation Jul 30, 2007

You can't confirm anything, as Patricia says, till it's on your desk or in your inbox.

If I get tentative availability requests for long and urgent documents "probably arriving tomorrow" I always tell them I need the job confirmed that afternoon. If no confirmation is forthcoming I just ignore it and accept the next offer that appeals.


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Anne Patteet  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:06
English to French
+ ...
Check this Poll Discussion: Jul 31, 2007

"Have you ever missed the chance to work on a project due to a delay in receiving a previous one?"
From July 20...


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Terms of a prebooking Jul 31, 2007

satranslations wrote:
Recently, I was asked on a couple of occasions some days in advance by different agencies, if I was available on a particular day/on particular days to do a translation for them. I said yes each time but as it turned out later, this was a mistake.


Do not accept a prebooking unless the client can tell you how large the job would be, when he will be able to send it, and when he'll be wanting it back.

Do not accept a prebooking unless the deadline is at least a day or two longer than you would normally require for the job -- this could help if you suddenly find more job offers for the same period of time.

If the date and time when a prebooked job would have arrived, come and go, follow-up with the client -- perhaps there has been a delay.

If the prebooked job is fairly large (say, more than a day's work), phone/e-mail the client two days before the job is supposed to arrive to confirm if the job is still in the pipeline.

You can follow a principle of "not accepting prebookings", but who knows, you may be a client's only translator (or his preferred translator)...


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Only real prebookings with known customers Jul 31, 2007

I only accept real prebookings from well known, proven customers, and I'm always open to other offers because I know that dates are usually not precise.

When a prebooking comes from from another source, I don't actually believe that things are going on until I receive the original.

In either case I'm used to follow up my pre/sales activity very closely, so that I'm usually well aware of a job coming, when and how.

Ruth @ MW


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:06
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The balancing act Jul 31, 2007

Having taught 76 seminars on Time Management (as a consultant, not a translator), I developed a set of customized "tools" which I use as a freelance translator.

First, I always "pad" my deadlines. On a given week, I prefer to promise a delivery for Friday and actually do it on Wednesday than the other way around. So Mr. Murphy and his Law are kept at a distance.

Second, I strive to keep a healthy mix of jobs with varied degrees of urgency. I can offer relatively lower rates for "whenever you have the time"-type jobs, while deadly urgent services must pay a premium.

So if anyone wants to book a specific date with me, the first thing I check is the impact it will have on my schedule. If it clashes with a most urgent project, I must check if my "padding" above will cover it. If it won't, my likely answer will be a no. If that day was "assigned" to a longer term, less urgent, job, there is no need to rip off the booking client with any overcharge. If they give me a no-show, I'll still be in full production.

The "padding" also solves other problems. I was in the middle of a DVD translation for subtitling when a desperate lady called me at 10 AM. She'd need a short sworn translation, which she would take on an international trip, boarding a flight on the same day at 7 PM. She was on the other side of town (and Sao Paulo is huge), so she had messengers on motorcycles crossing it twice, but everynthing was ready well in time.

The whole issue is about making specific, allocated time (e.g. Thursday from 8 AM thru noon) more expensive than unallocated time - things that can be done anytime. Then, the solution is to have a mixed demand for both, so that if an allocated time event flops, you may salvage part of it by doing work assigned to unallocated time.


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Iza Szczypka  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:06
English to Polish
+ ...
Exactly Jul 31, 2007

Giulia TAPPI wrote:

I often happen to be called for interpreting, and asked to put an "option" on this date. That means I might have this job, but the client has not confirmed it yet.
If I have a firm offer from another client for the same day, I ask the first person to confirm immediately, otherwise I cancel my engagement.

I have a major customer (agency) who sometimes pre-book, clearly stating that the end customer hasn't confirmed the job yet. It's closer to an option than a booking. I can afford that easily as they are extremely cooperative and notify me on the spot if the job is cancelled. And of course their PMs work very closely with prospective customers as well.


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