When a project starts later down the road?
Thread poster: Ronnie J Rigdon

Ronnie J Rigdon  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:39
French to English
Nov 17, 2015

I have often received job offers or worked with clients that say a project will start at a later time (e.g. next week, in a few weeks, in a certain month, etc.). I just wonder what I should do in the meantime, especially if they don't give a specific date. I'm sure I don't want to start any other projects that may interfere with the upcoming work but on the other hand, I still have bills to pay. Any advice?

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:39
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You take it with a pinch of salt Nov 17, 2015

Ronnie J Rigdon wrote:
I have often received job offers or worked with clients that say a project will start at a later time (e.g. next week, in a few weeks, in a certain month, etc.). I just wonder what I should do in the meantime, especially if they don't give a specific date. I'm sure I don't want to start any other projects that may interfere with the upcoming work but on the other hand, I still have bills to pay. Any advice?

As you say, you have bills to pay! And their projects are just as likely to disappear in a puff of smoke, leaving you with no work and no income. I never promise anything personally.

All you can do is remind them that the only way you can guarantee availability is to reserve the time - and that time then goes on their bill, whether or not you do work for them. Perhaps an advance payment of a bit less than you'd normally earn, deductible from the actual earnings if the job materialises? If it's likely to happen much in your business (it doesn't in mine), I would imagine you'd want to include definite terms in your T&C, with cancellation clauses etc.


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:39
English to French
+ ...
Are you paid? Nov 17, 2015

Unless I am paid a retainer at my full rate to sit on my hands waiting for a project which may or may not come in the future, I answer politely along the lines of "Please contact me when you do have a project to translate."

For the record, most of the time, such hypothetical projects never materialize anyway.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 05:39
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
A bird in the hand is worth ten in the bush... Nov 17, 2015

You can never be sure when these projects will turn up, or that they will turn up at all.
If someone offers you a confirmed job here-and-now, then take it!

Several of my clients have booked me in advance over the years, and the situations vary. You need to make the agreement as firm as possible, and check, as the starting date approaches, that everything is going to plan. When it is, then it is good to be able to plan ahead.
If the text is delayed, or bigger or more complicated than you expected, then you may need to negotiate a later deadline if possible.

You certainly can't pay bills with jobs that don't materialise.

You can tell the client up front that you need to know as precisely as possible when the text will be ready and when the deadline is. I (almost) never confirm acceptance of a job until I have seen the text, because clients are sometimes very hazy about how big it is, and other important factors.

If you are afraid that a firm offer will conflict with one of these possible jobs, you can ask the potential client how their project is progressing, and decide for yourself. Perhaps you can negotiate with both clients and fit the jobs around each other.

You can only make conditional offers as long as you do not know precisely what you are offering to do. Clients often sound out several translators, so they may simply choose someone else.

If I am booked by one of the agencies I work for regularly, I take them more seriously, but even then, the end client may disappear for one reason or another...


[Edited at 2015-11-17 17:23 GMT]


 

Terry Richards
France
Local time: 05:39
French to English
+ ...
A combined approach Nov 18, 2015

I offer to let them know if something comes in that will conflict with the proposed project. At that point they can either give me a firm order and pay for my time or they can let it go. I also point out that an immediate decision will be required if the situation arises. In this way, I have shown some flexibility and customer service but I have not turned work away and they have time to consider whether this is likely to become a real project or not.

Most of my projects are fairly short and I bid jobs based on 60% of my maximum capacity so I can almost always fit in another job while I'm waiting for the promised project to materialize. In the rare cases where the new project was too large to do that, I have made the offer to the first agency and not one has ever taken me up on it. Somehow, the "definite" & "urgent" project immediately becomes a bit less definite and a bit less urgent.

In my experience, very few (if any) of these future projects actually happen. The few that do change either their dates and/or size and have to be renegotiated anyway.


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:39
German to English
Don't be held prisoner by the client Nov 18, 2015

I can't count the number of times a client (usually an agency) has asked me to reserve time in advance of an upcoming project. When I was less experienced, I'd turn down jobs in anticipation of the "big project" – which frequently didn't materialize. My response now is "Contact me again when the job comes in".

There are some exceptions to this. I have a couple of clients who have regular projects, usually newsletters or quarterly/annual reports, that come in at predictable intervals. If possible, I make time for them, as there's a lot to be said for loyalty.


 


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