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(Direct) clients who ask to drop documents off at your home
Thread poster: Jenny Moussabel

Jenny Moussabel
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:07
Italian to English
+ ...
Jun 11, 2009

I have had a couple of clients (usually private individuals who have found me through the yellow pages) who have insisted on coming to my house in the past few months to drop off their documents as they either don’t have access to a computer and therefore need me to photocopy/scan their document and others who say it will be quicker than sending their document through the post.

Whilst I do like having personal contact with clients as it can help to break up the isolation of freelancing, I do have concerns about allowing strangers to enter my home, particularly as I am alone during the day. I also worry about what kind of impression it makes on clients as obviously I want to promote a professional image and I don’t have a designated office set up. I'm also soon to have a baby and when I return to my freelancing work after maternity leave I worry about safety issues if I allow customers to come to my home.

I’m wondering whether other translators are happy to have their clients come to your home office to hand the documents to you. Is it rude to ask clients to post their documents and how do you go about this without the risk of losing the client?

Thanks for your suggestions / comments!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your business, you are the master!! Jun 11, 2009

If letting customers come to your door raises concerns (I think it would raise the same concerns in my case), I would simply ask them to mail the documents to you and you will mail the translation back. I have trouble believing that they don't have an email account! Only very old, non computer-literate people have problems with email and scanners...icon_smile.gif

 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
No problem Jun 11, 2009

Like most translators, I work from home.

I am always happy to invite clients to my 'office'. I show my exact location on Google Maps, so that clients can find me more easily. However, it not often necessary, or geographically feasible, for clients to visit.

If you feel embarrassed because you do not have a non-residential 'business' office then you are probably overlooking the essentially 'homeworking' nature of this industry. An alternative could be to arrange a meeting in the local Starbucks.

I live in Spain, and I know most Spaniards would be extremely reluctant to invite clients into their home. But I believe that most Brits and Americans would not be uncomfortable with the idea.

Perhaps, if I was a woman I would see this question in another way.



[Edited at 2009-06-11 11:05 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Inviting people home, really difficult in Spain Jun 11, 2009

Indeed we Spaniards usually have trouble inviting people to our homes. And we are not used to going to other people's homes either! I always feel uncomfortable when some US/UK contact invites me home. I always end up thinking.... "What does this woman/guy want from me!" Yes, we are sick!icon_smile.gif

I agree that a "Starbucks meeting" would be best in this situation.


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:07
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
it all depends on how much business they generate Jun 11, 2009

If they generate enough income, I would try to meet on natural ground, local coffee shop (not the Dutch version), business center or something.
At the "home" offices I worked for had no problems receiving clients, but there where usually 2 or more people (and a collection of dogs, children, and goldfish) in the office...
If you are translating as a community service for the elderly, you can even offer to pick up the documents at their home!
If you are annoyed at strangers wanting to come to your home, cancel your yellow page subscription, or increase the minimum charge for small jobs.

It's your business, you make the rules.
Ed


 

Andrea Martínez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:07
Spanish to German
+ ...
I know this problem, Jun 11, 2009

as I'm working from home, too. Generally I don't have many direct clients / private persons because I specialize in technical translation. But as I am in the yellow pages, too, as a sworn translator, it happens that people call me to translate their documents.

If your problem about this is only the lack of professionality you are afraid to have, I think, this is not a problem. Indeed, it never turned out to be a problem in my case. Private clients do not use to be continuous clients, they need a document and the relation is often a short one.

But if the problem is about being afraid about receiving strange people when you are alone at home, I would simply tell them, this is not possible. Tell them to drop the texts in your mailbox or meet them in a public place, if this is really necessary. (e.g. a copy shop?) Explain them your personal "policy" about this and simply refuse the job if they do not agree.

Kind regards!
Andrea

[Bearbeitet am 2009-06-11 11:41 GMT]


 

Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 22:07
Japanese to English
No problem surely? Jun 11, 2009

If your clients are the sort who want to pop round to your place, they're probably not the types to think much of a hyper-professional image. (The only one of my clients who ever wanted to drop by did so in a holey sweater, but he's nevertheless a sophisticated buyer of translations.)

As to opening your door to strangers, I understand that it's a concern, but do you open your door to people you haven't heard from beforehand anyway? If you do, then you may feel more secure in having at least some information about your customers.

Otherwise, you'll probably have to look for a different sort of customer (more formal, and 'corporate' minded perhaps).


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Goldfish Jun 11, 2009

Edward Vreeburg wrote:
At the "home" offices I worked for had no problems receiving clients, but there where usually 2 or more people (and a collection of dogs, children, and goldfish) in the office...


Hm... Never heard of goldfish as defensive animals. Now that I know, I will keep a close eye on any of them beasts!!icon_wink.gif


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 15:07
German to Serbian
+ ...
Why? Jun 11, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

"What does this woman/guy want from me!"


I don't know Tomás, it could be a wide range of things. Use your imagination.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:07
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Get a private box near your house Jun 11, 2009

Jennifer Moussabel wrote:
I have had a couple of clients (usually private individuals who have found me through the yellow pages) who have insisted on coming to my house in the past few months to drop off their documents as they either don’t have access to a computer and therefore need me to photocopy/scan their document and others who say it will be quicker than sending their document through the post.


If this happens very often, get a private box at a private postal company near your house, and ask clients to drop it off there. Tell them that you can't be sure if you'll be at home, so its safer to drop it off there.


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not sick Jun 11, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Indeed we Spaniards usually have trouble inviting people to our homes. And we are not used to going to other people's homes either! I always feel uncomfortable when some US/UK contact invites me home. I always end up thinking.... "What does this woman/guy want from me!" Yes, we are sick!icon_smile.gif



Tomás - The Spanish are definitely not sick. But, let's say, it's a country with 'high walls'. I sometimes wonder if this is an inheritance from the Muslim past.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, must be something medieval indeed! Jun 11, 2009

John Rawlins wrote:
Tomás - The Spanish are definitely not sick. But, let's say, it's a country with 'high walls'. I sometimes wonder if this is an inheritance from the Muslim past.


You might be right. Another frequent touchy area is when we are praised by someone. We immediately get suspicious. The worst situation is when you are visiting someone's private home and you are praised in front of the goldfish fishbowl!!! DEFCON 1!icon_smile.gif


 

Andrea Martínez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:07
Spanish to German
+ ...
I never thought about this before... Jun 11, 2009

John Rawlins wrote:

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Indeed we Spaniards usually have trouble inviting people to our homes. And we are not used to going to other people's homes either! I always feel uncomfortable when some US/UK contact invites me home. I always end up thinking.... "What does this woman/guy want from me!" Yes, we are sick!icon_smile.gif



Tomás - The Spanish are definitely not sick. But, let's say, it's a country with 'high walls'. I sometimes wonder if this is an inheritance from the Muslim past.


but it's true. It is so much easier to get in contact with Spanish people in a public place than it is in Germany, but access to their homes is much more restricted than it is in Germany. I think, it is a different kind of perception: in Germany (and England, I guess), the private home is the center of life, in Spain it is more like a "safe harbour", a private place for you and your family.


 

Lauren Butler
Local time: 14:07
Russian to English
+ ...
you don't have to be 'at home' Jun 11, 2009

The worst situation is when you are visiting someone's private home and you are praised in front of the goldfish fishbowl!!! DEFCON 1!icon_smile.gif


Tee-hee-hee.

Seriously, I like the Starbucks option.

Or--give them your address, tell them that you 'won't be home' or 'won't be available' but they are welcome to put the document in your mail box or though your mail slot. That will relieve both of you from any feeling of social obligations.


 

Barbara Turchetto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:07
Member (2008)
German to Italian
+ ...
It sometimes happens Jun 11, 2009

Direct clients sometimes ask to deliver documents at my "office"...because they think I hyave an office. I always feel a little uncomfortable when I open the door and welcome them in my sitting room or even in the kitchen.
I must say that this kind of clients are generally people who do not have frequent contacts with the world of translation, are generally elderly people and computers and fax machines are not a must for them.
If the client is a company or something similar they generally ask me to drop the documents off "at my office" or at a bar or local where it can be easy for the both of us to meet...and in that case I definitely choose the second option!!!


 
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