Selling your agency
Thread poster: STB Ltd

STB Ltd
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:07
Member (2004)
English
+ ...
Apr 24, 2015

Hi I'm George Cooke, the boss of Surrey Translation Bureau. We were approached recently by a freelance translator who was interested in transferring his private clients he couldn't service to an agency in return for a commission or lump sum. I honestly don't know if this is a common thing but I thought I would ask if translators in the same situation might respond if we placed an advert, which could be a good growth opportunity for our agency.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:07
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Ethics Apr 24, 2015

There's no way I would "sell" my private clients to a translation agency. I'm ethical that way. I would at least ask them first (and I think I know what their answer would be)

[Edited at 2015-04-24 09:20 GMT]


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:07
French to English
Common in other fields Apr 24, 2015

Accountants, dentists, sales reps... at least in France, these professionals "sell" their clientele, so why not translators? Assuming the translator has some kind of written contract with the end client that could be transferred to another party of course! Otherwise it's like buying air... in my other areas of business referral fees are also common, I don't see anything unethical about it, but that's just me!

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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:07
Member (2004)
English to Italian
I don't really see... Apr 24, 2015

how this is going to work... surely, as an individual translator, he will be charging his private clients less than an agency... this is usually the norm... so, you'll have have to drop your prices (unless, as an agency, you charge your clients very little) plus you will have to factor in his commission... or lump sum... doesn't make sense to me...

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STB Ltd
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:07
Member (2004)
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for replies so far Apr 27, 2015

To clarify, I'm talking about the possibly rare situation where a translator or one-person agency has a portfolio of clients paying good rates that he/she thinks would be happy being referred on to a larger agency provided the price and service were similar. Is this thinking part of anyone's business plan?

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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:07
German to English
I hope to sell in around 20 years. Apr 28, 2015

I don't think that it's rare for freelancers to charge as much as agencies for direct clients. I've certainly had potential clients (convincingly, although I obviously can't verify whether it's true) tell me that I charge more than well-known agencies they work with. It might be a problem for agencies to find translators who can consistently supply them with the necessary level of quality and dependability for a much lower price, but I don't think that is out of the question.

When I decide to retire, I would certainly expect to be able to sell my list of clients (with their prior consent) and my accumulated knowledge of the situation in my very specific market and probably also a list of prospective translators (probably the most valuable asset) either for a lump sum or on some kind of commission basis.

I would think that people retiring or otherwise leaving the business would be the most likely source of the kind of situation you are looking for - and I wouldn't think it's all that rare. Sometimes a given translator and a given client are almost a match, but don't quite fit together (because of range of languages, range of subjects, volumes, etc.), so that might also be a source for what you are looking for.


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STB Ltd
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:07
Member (2004)
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again - anyone had a good or bad experience? Apr 28, 2015

Thanks again - anyone had a good or bad experience of negotiating commission with an agency?

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