Brokerage as a business model for translation companies and translators in some domains
Thread poster: Anil Gidwani

Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:24
German to English
+ ...
Jul 20, 2009

Real-estate brokers the world over have a good time (in good times, that is). They introduce buyers and sellers, take care of a few procedural formalities, help close real-estate deals and provide a service that requires a minimum of skills, yet are paid handsomely, anywhere between 2% to 7% of the deal value, which is typically the price of a house. In other words, they rake it in. While their contribution is hardly 0.01%, they take away a rich 7%.

On the other hand, translation companies/translators provide a highly valuable knowledge-intensive service in many business dealings allowing buyers and sellers, principals and agents, companies and investors to communicate across borders and cultures and seal deals that provide new markets for products and new employment opportunities in this globalizing world. Yet we get paid by the word/line, and I dare say a pittance. I'm sure there are no statistics, but I would venture to say that while their intellectual contribution is around 5%, a translator/translation company barely gets paid 0.01% of the value of a deal. And even there, they have to face competition eager to provide services at half the cost.

Should translators and translation companies in some domains be looking at a brokerage model? In other words, should a translation company involved in providing translation services for a business deal, or a translator lucky enough to be directly involved in such a deal, price their services as a percentage of the deal value?

The more we remain anchored to a "word" or a "line" rate, the less likely we are to be able to enjoy the well-deserved fruits of our contributions, which are highly underrated by the business community.

Personally, I have tried to do so with a local company that is beginning to branch out globally, but did not hear back from them on my proposal. Maybe they found it too outrageous. But then, I've met many brokers in many fields, several assuming the highly glorified title of consultant, contributing much less and earning much more, and I think the concept of translation services priced in such a way is far from outrageous.

Should the industry be exploring this business model? And if we don't like to be called brokers, we can always call ourselves consultantsicon_wink.gif


Local time: 19:54
Spanish to English
Not too crazy about the translation equivalents myself, but... Jul 20, 2009

Well, I'm sure some adventurous soul will try to implement a brokerage model into the translation field, but with extensive eperience in both, I personally will stick to word/ hour rates.
The real estate salesperson / broker who actually brings about the sale, sweats through the mortgage process and lawyers quibbling over deposits and contract terms typically receives half the stated commission, with the other half going to the agency which provides the facilities, advertising and other overhead expenses (unless, of course, there are two different agencies involved, in which case the fee is split).
For all the unsuccessful calls, missed appointments and "shoppers" who don't buy, there is no compensation, just time lost.
Now, you could apply this principal to translation, by having your client sign an agreement calling for a "success" fee of x% for, say, a bid or proposal, whereby you'd receive a fee (albeit a hefty one) only if the bid was successful. You could apply the same principal to CVs and school transcripts for people applying for jobs. Even birth and marriage certificates for immigration would be fair game.
For myself, I think I'll stick with per-word pricing.


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