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Do project managers get paid commission?
Thread poster: Rad Graban

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:56
English to Slovak
+ ...
Jan 19, 2012

Hi all,

For nearly a year now, I haven't had a 'proper' job from an agency which used to keep me extremely busy for over three years. It's been 'dead' since a new PM started to work for them last year in February/April. I know I am the most expensive translator in my language combination on their books, but it never seemed to matter. The PM knows about me and is very good in sending me very short and/or urgent projects for which I don't charge them, but nothing else. Do PMs get paid a commission when they assign projects to the cheapest translator?


 

Jürgen Werner  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:56
English to German
You don't charge them? Jan 19, 2012

Did I get this right: The PM only sends you minor or urgent projects but nothing else and you don't charge him for those jobs? Do you have enough other jobs that pay for your bills?

 

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:56
English to Slovak
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No, I don't Jan 19, 2012

I waived my minimum/express charges (express charges for very short projects with same day delivery) for this particular client because I used to do projects worth £500-£1500 per month for them. I was hoping that getting no major projects was temporary but it doesn't seem to be the case. So, do PMs get paid commission?

[Edited at 2012-01-19 19:53 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-01-19 19:56 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not that I know of Jan 19, 2012

None of the about 30 PMs I am regularly in touch with gets a commission. Normally, in companies you give commissions to the sales people, not to the purchasers, right?icon_smile.gif

What I think could be happening is that the agency is trying to save some money and that they have given orders to the new PM to hire other people who are cheaper. Or maybe the PM is acquainted with other translators he/she trusted in her previous job and prefers to hire them instead from the present position. Or maybe the agency has lost the customer whose jobs you used to take care of.

There are very many factors involved here.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The most expensive? Jan 19, 2012

Honestly, from the rates I see in your profile I really think that this company is hiring cheaper people. If your rates are expensive for them... very probably the only thing they care about is rate.

If I were you, I would increase my rates immediately. The current ones make you look cheap, and thus unattractive to serious customers with serious translations.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 13:56
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Stop! Jan 19, 2012

Of course the agency charges its clients more than what they pay you, but I don't know about commission to the PM. What I do know is that you should stop doing any jobs for them for free. Please see recent forum posts about different possibilities of invoicing and getting paid for small jobs.

 

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:56
English to Slovak
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Rates depend on language combination, don't you think so Tomás? Jan 19, 2012

I'm afraid I can't increase my rates anymore whilst there are translators based in Slovakia willing to do the same job for £30/1000 words. That's another story though. You must be very familiar with the rates in Eastern European languages to call me 'cheap'.icon_smile.gif
Why couldn't be PM a sales person? Let's say the agency is charging client £100/1000; to make some profit, the maximum they can pay translator is £70/1000; I'm charging £60/1000. What if the agency tells PM that the difference between the price of translator they assign a project to and the maximum they can pay to a translator to make some profit would be PM's commission? Wouldn't PM do her/his best to assign it to the cheapest translator? Wouldn't that make him/her a sales person?
Just a theory.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2012-01-19 20:59 GMT]


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:56
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Perhaps not commission exactly, but... Jan 19, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

None of the about 30 PMs I am regularly in touch with gets a commission. Normally, in companies you give commissions to the sales people, not to the purchasers, right?icon_smile.gif


Right. But in industry it's not unusual for purchasing managers' bonuses (obviously they don't paid "commissions" in the sense that salespeople do) to be based in part on how much they negotiate suppliers' prices down from the initial offer. I wouldn't be surprised if there are agencies where part of the PM's compensation is similarly dependent on how much of the "spread" the preserve for the company.

Of course, it's a short-sighted approach approach for a translation agency and I'd hope most don't work that way...


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:56
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Working for nothing Jan 19, 2012

Rad Graban wrote:

The PM knows about me and is very good in sending me very short and/or urgent projects for which I don't charge them


That's where you're going wrong. You should never work for nothing. "Ciò che non ha prezzo non ha valore" - Italian saying.


 

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:56
English to Slovak
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Point taken, but REALLY? Jan 19, 2012

Tom in London wrote:
That's where you're going wrong. You should never work for nothing. "Ciò che non ha prezzo non ha valore" - Italian saying.


Can you honestly say you don't have any clients you don't charge for one-liners or short paragraphs?


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:56
Member (2008)
Italian to English
yes, I can Jan 19, 2012

Rad Graban wrote:

Tom in London wrote:
That's where you're going wrong. You should never work for nothing. "Ciò che non ha prezzo non ha valore" - Italian saying.


Can you honestly say you don't have any clients you don't charge for one-liners or short paragraphs?


I charge for everything. I have one particular client who sends me one-liners and short paragraphs all the time. We agreed a special rate for such jobs. When I add them all up at the end of each month, they come to a tidy sum!


 

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:56
English to Slovak
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Fair play to you, Tom. Jan 19, 2012

I don't mind doing 'favours' to clients who pay most of my bills (or were for last few years in this case) and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:56
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Yes Feb 14, 2012

Yes, in large companies they are getting a bonus which is based on speedy delivery and the cost (translators' fees) of the project.

That is why many of you saw, "all of a sudden" this year and last year, a rapid tightening of deadlines and a coordinated effort to lower the fees. It was not just your impression, and it was not a conspiracy either. It's not that "end clients decided all together to get their translations quicker" (!).
It's just that this new practice was implemented at around the same time in at least 2 large agencies.

I have seen one of these bonus schedules, and it was proposed to me as well when I pmed for two projects, and I did not agree, I just did it the old fashioned way.

At any rate, expect even more ridiculous deadlines and fees that in many cases will be even lower than min. wage... in the past we were the PMs friend, now we are competitors... sad.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:56
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Competition Feb 14, 2012

I have come across one agency in which two PMs were competing against each other to see who could get me at the lowest rate.

I discovered this by accident when they got their emails crossed and both started contacting me.

I wonder if this is a common practice?


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:56
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Something similar to Tom's experience... Feb 15, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

I have come across one agency in which two PMs were competing against each other to see who could get me at the lowest rate.

I discovered this by accident when they got their emails crossed and both started contacting me.

I wonder if this is a common practice?


Perhaps not exactly in the manner you describe, but I have had the experience of, say, a third-shift PM at a large agency offering me a job at some ridiculous rate, claiming "budgetary" issues, only to have one of my regular contacts there offer me the same job at my standard rate a couple days later.


 
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