Changing priority orders of your clients
Thread poster: kinta
kinta
Japan
Local time: 17:51
English to Japanese
Sep 13, 2014

Hi,

I would like to ask your opinions about chainging priority orders of your clients.

I have been working for mainly three companies for six years, and one of them (Company A) has been my main income source (maybe 65% from this company and other 35% from the other two companies).

It happened to be that way, because Company A tended to be give me lots of assignments, also I had a very established, friendly relationship with them (getting invited for dinner with the president once a year, but not as a personal favor). It is a very small translation company.

However, my relationships with other two companies (Company B and Company C) are improving a lot and I am accepting more work from them. Also, these other two companies are large, global companies, and they tend to assign me with long-term projects with better rates. So I have become happier working for these other two companies.

But as a result of taking a lot of work from Companies B and C, it has become very hard for me to find time to work for Company A. I think Company A has always been heavily relying on me, also it is a small company with less number of translator.

Although I am a freelance translator, do I have obligation to inform them that I may be less available from now on? The contract says that I am obliged to tell them if something that would affect my work negatively occurs, I need to tell them immediately. But they are not entitled to sue me or anything, are they?

Thank you very much for your opinions.


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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:51
Russian to English
+ ...
Obligated? Sep 14, 2014

You're a vendor, not an employee. I imagine your contract obligates you to tell the agency if you will have problems delivering an accurate translation for which you have a PO (or the equivalent) on time, but not if you become less available for some unspecified work in the indefinite future.

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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:51
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Raise your rates for Company A Sep 14, 2014

At least to the level of what B and C are paying, and see what they reply.
They may send you less work, but that would be OK because they would pay more, and you don't have time to do more anyway.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:51
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
I wouldn't rely much on "global" companies Sep 14, 2014

You are a valued asset for the small company, but a little, expendable cogwheel in the machinery of the big ones. I do work for some, but they are at the bottom of my priorities. I also don't like their system - they just assign translation to one person and proof to another, with no regard to these people's qualities. So either somebody comes and completely ruins my translation, or I am completely reworking somebody's very bad work. With small companies, you have some control over the result. I wouldn't shed a long-term client just because I have other work that pays better - unless the original client really pays very little - I do have an agency like that that I discontinued, but they had never ben a MAJOR client. And are you really sure that your relationship with the biggies will last?

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:51
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never 25% of your income on each customer Sep 14, 2014

If you ask me, it would not harm you to diversify your customer base much more. Having 65% of you income depend on one single customer is quite a risk, since a change in their financial situation automatically puts you in trouble. Yes, I can accept that it feels comfy to have to deal with just two or three customers, but we all know of people who got in deep trouble because their marketing skills were all rusty when they lost a big customer. It would be a sound move for you to try to reach a point in which no customer amounts for more than 25% of your income. That means not only working for A, B, and C, but also trying to find a D and an E.

Your sense of loyalty to Company A speaks lots of you and is honourable indeed, but you are a freelancer in order to maximise the profitability of your working time. If Companies B and C pay you more for the same effort and show good prospects in terms of volume, clearly you should favour them when you are offered simultaneous assignments.

As for what to do at this moment, personally I think I would keep the relationship with Company A as it stands now, and on top of that stretch a bit for six months to take more work from Companies B and C and see whether they really meet your expectations in terms of volume and rates (i.e. that one day they do not expect you to lower your rates because of the additional work they are giving you). Additionally, I would try to make at least two more customers among small to medium companies in order to diversify your customer base.

[Edited at 2014-09-14 06:54 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:51
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Your level of risk is terribly high Sep 14, 2014

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
If you ask me, it would not harm you to diversify your customer base much more. Having 65% of you income depend on one single customer is quite a risk, since a change in their financial situation automatically puts you in trouble. Yes, I can accept that it feels comfy to have to deal with just two or three customers, but we all know of people who got in deep trouble because their marketing skills were all rusty when they lost a big customer. It would be a sound move for you to try to reach a point in which no customer amounts for more than 25% of your income. That means not only working for A, B, and C, but also trying to find a D and an E.

Very small companies are great to work with, but just one job going wrong can put them perilously close to bankruptcy. And with 65% of your income coming from them then you stand to lose an awful lot. It's nice that you have a good relationship but this is a client, and you owe them nothing more than quality translations delivered on time.

Large agencies are notoriously fickle. You could be their favourite translator for months and then never hear from them again. Another translator coming along who does a good job for one cent less could spell disaster for you.

It's great to have three reliable and regular clients. But no one client should be providing more than about 25% of your income long-term; and the three together must still leave room for new clients.

In the short term I'd give notice to Company A of a rate increase effective in a month or two, putting the rate to at least equal to the best you get, preferably a little more. I'd also start spending a little time actively marketing my services and finding time to work with new clients. This may mean saying "Sorry, but I'm fully booked" occasionally to your "big 3".


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kinta
Japan
Local time: 17:51
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your advice! Sep 14, 2014

Thank you all for your valuable comments.

Every one of your comments was worth reading.

It is very true about global companies (which is Company B to me).
I had a similar incident with them, caused by an incompetent employee.
Although they found out that was misunderstanding, I still don't completely trust them.
I will be careful with them.

In regard to Company A, I asked for a pay raise to make their rate at least up to the same level as the other companies. I think it is a fair move.

As for Company C, it is the company with the highest priority. Although it is a large company, I used to work with them when I was a full-time office employee. So I trust them a lot. I try to maintain our relationship. I will ask them more in details to make sure I can get sufficient amount of work regularly.

Thank you again for your advice.


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