How often do you turn down jobs?
Thread poster: Sandrine Ananie

Sandrine Ananie  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:25
Member (2009)
English to French
Feb 28, 2011

Hi,

I am in the fortunate situation of having a fairly stable flow of jobs, and hardly a day goes by when I don't have to turn down one or several requests. I recently calculated that I end turning down about half of all the translation requests I receive (all being from established clients of mine). Most often I have to say no because I am already working on another project, but I also decline offers because I feel I wouldn't be able to do a good job of them (I don't do finance or IT, for instance). I also have to say that, financially speaking, I am not under pressure to accept whatever offer comes my way, so this helps, of course.

How do you handle saying no to established clients of yours? Have you ever lost a client because they got fed up with you saying no?

Any thoughts appreciated!

Thanks,

Sandrine


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:25
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Almost never, if I'm qualified to do the job Feb 28, 2011

Of course I turn down lots of offers, both from existing and new clients. But most of the time it's because they are either outside of my areas of expertise or the rate/deadline isn't feasible.

When I'm really busy to the point of being unavailable, I usually negotiate deadlines. By the way, my best clients are smart enough to give me a heads up about projects, even small ones, so they never or almost never find me unavailable.

I'm not sure if I've ever lost a client ONLY because I turned down a job or two from them. If that has actually happened, then, given the above, I suppose it's only for the better.

[Edited at 2011-02-28 13:18 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 16:25
Member (2009)
Italian to English
Make a counter offer Feb 28, 2011

Sandrine Ananie wrote:
How do you handle saying no to established clients of yours? Have you ever lost a client because they got fed up with you saying no?


If I turn down a project because it's not in one of my fields, my clients usually appreciate this as a sign that I'm serious about what I do. If I'm working on another project and a client asks for a translation they need for the next day, I simply say that unfortunately I can't deliver for the deadline they require but offer them a deadline I can meet. Sometimes they accept this, sometimes they don't, but even when they don't, I've shown them I'm interested and willing to make an effort and in the end it's them turning down my offer and not vice versa.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

keshab  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:55
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Politely describe my situation Feb 28, 2011

'No' is a harsh word to anybody,especially for them who favor you and more especially when they are established clients. I always describe my situation to any of my existing clients when my hands are full and also state when I will be free. All clients are not in time pressure. If they think they cannot wait they can find anybody else. But if they think they have time and you are suitable for the job, they will reschedule their deadline. In business, there are ups and downs. You can't say that your good time is for ever. So it is not right way to say straight 'no' to any existing, good client. IMHO, honestly describing own situation to client is the best way.

By the way, I observed that there is no availability calender in your profile. If you activate it, the number of offers can be limited. It is helpful for both clients and translator.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:25
French to English
+ ...
Are they direct clients? Feb 28, 2011

If this is happening often, and they're direct clients, then I would try and start building up one or two trusted colleagues (and specialists if need be for the cases where you're not a specialist in the fiekd) that can do the first drafts of your translations when you're busy. You probably still need to have time to check/edit their work -- a direct client is contracting you partly because they like *your* "touch" to your tanslations -- bit this could be a way of not having to turn people down that you've built up a working relationship with.

In the case of work for agencies, your contract (explicit or implicit) probably doesn't permit this, though you could ask. But at least agencies have more chance of having somebody else they can turn to.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Enrico C - ECLC  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 22:25
Member (2011)
English to Italian
+ ...
Almost never Feb 28, 2011

Over the last 10 years i was so lucky to have a constant workflow from 2 main customers. During this period of time i must have turned down 3 or 4 works because they overlapped with others.
I organize translating slots in such a way to keep everyone happy. Occasionally i turn down jobs from one of the suppliers because they begun to drop rates while increasing the amount of beaurocracy (filling QA forms, lots of post translating editing, removal of minimum charge with many small jobs being paid lower than 2 euros etc.)
In all other cases i hate to turn down jobs.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

xxxNMR
France
Local time: 16:25
French to Dutch
+ ...
Never, and very often Feb 28, 2011

I never turn down the jobs I do on a regular basis, over the years, and jobs for which I know that the client counts on me. I manage to do them.
And I very often turn down jobs for unknown clients, clients who "suggest" prices, rude clients, and in specialization fields which are too technical for me.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Just another one of life's cycles Feb 28, 2011

Sandrine Ananie wrote:
Have you ever lost a client because they got fed up with you saying no?


I have a lot of conflicts on my time as I also do language training and coaching and that tends to take a half or even a whole day, meaning I'm often unable to do a translation with a shortish deadline.

I do sometimes find that clients go quiet after a couple of of refused jobs and I think I've lost them. Then, up they pop again! I suspect they go somewhere else until that person turns down a job, so they come back to me. After that, I generally take over the N°1 spot again.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Only of less interesting customers Feb 28, 2011

I rarely turn down jobs. With my regular customers, I prefer to strech and do the job on the side of other scheduled work and keep the customer happy. This has worked for me for 15 years, although there are always times in which I feel I work too much.

I regularly turn down jobs from a customer that pays so little that I cannot gather the will to do the job on the side, taking a chunk from my generally scarce leasure time. In this kind of customers, if I can do the job comfortably I take it, otherwise I politely decline.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:25
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
low-paid / pdfs Feb 28, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I regularly turn down jobs from a customer that pays so little that I cannot gather the will to do the job on the side


I quite agree. I get a kind of sinking feeling.

I used to squeeze almost everything in, but I must admit that I now reply to those lower-paid, pdf-scanned jobs with a "sorry, I'm absolutely snowed under" apology.

I used to worry that turning down a job would put clients off, but it doesn't. They keep coming back.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
Turning down through Feb 28, 2011

offering higher rates per word is my strategy. In fact, the only jobs I turn down are those from agencies offering sub-standard rates (never end-clients). Usually, they happen to be rush jobs as well, so I explain that I can squeeze in the required translation (overnight or on the weekend) at a 50% higher rate than my regular rate per word. That does the job!

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:25
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The rate... Feb 28, 2011

Emma Goldsmith wrote:
I used to worry that turning down a job would put clients off, but it doesn't. They keep coming back.

I think that in this case we must resort to the only possible solution: raising rates.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Bilbo Baggins
Catalan to English
+ ...
Mentor somebody Feb 28, 2011

Neil Coffey wrote:

If this is happening often, and they're direct clients, then I would try and start building up one or two trusted colleagues (and specialists if need be for the cases where you're not a specialist in the fiekd) that can do the first drafts of your translations when you're busy. You probably still need to have time to check/edit their work -- a direct client is contracting you partly because they like *your* "touch" to your tanslations -- bit this could be a way of not having to turn people down that you've built up a working relationship with.

In the case of work for agencies, your contract (explicit or implicit) probably doesn't permit this, though you could ask. But at least agencies have more chance of having somebody else they can turn to.


This is an ideal situation in which to mentor somebody less experienced than you who can take some of the slack for you and yet who gets a break because they are promising translators: both of you win. It should be someone you trust, who trusts who, and with whom you can work out a mutually beneficial relationship based on fair rates and conditions.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Avoiding "no" - but still saying no Mar 1, 2011

I don't know how people manage not to turn down jobs. To me, this seems to be part and parcel of this business. There are only so many hours in a day or week, and only one of me.

In my case, almost all of my clients are translation agencies. They don't usually have a lot of leeway to extend deadlines or even rates, and both sides are aware of this.

The best I can do is to try to avoid a simple refusal. I almost always analyze the situation (examine the file(s), deadline, etc.) and provide feedback to the client.

At that point, I can
1) propose weekend/overtime work (at higher rates) if at all feasible,
2) state that I would be able to accept the assignment if the deadline were extended to xx, or
3) state something to the effect of:

"I've taken a look at the file(s) you've sent, and I believe it would take me x full days of work to provide the translation plus basic proofreading. Unfortunately, I am currently working on another project and it will not be possible for me to fit in the x days of work before your deadline; I'm sorry to say this, but it does not look like I will be able to assist you at this time. However, please do let me know if the situation or deadline changes."

This indicates to the client that you would help them if you could, but also says in no uncertain terms that you can't take the job as it's been presented.

My clients seem to understand...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sandrine Ananie  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:25
Member (2009)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Mar 1, 2011

Thank you for all these very helpful comments. Yes, these clients are agencies or at least outsourcers. Of course I don't just reply "no", but I let them know that I'm truly sorry, but that given my current workload it does not look like I would be able to take on their project. I know some can reschedule their deadline, but most of them have a strict deadline. None of them seem to have taken offense, but of course I do wonder about the possible business consequences, so when I see that I have been refusing work from this or that client several times in a row I just make a mental note to do my best not to turn down the next one, as of course I am aware my luck could run dry and I want my sources of work to be as diversified as possible. Also, I work with some of those "mammoth agencies" which just seem to have an endless flow of jobs coming from their offices around the world.

Anyway, thanks for all your input.

Back to work now!

Sandrine


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

How often do you turn down jobs?

Advanced search







BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search