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Do direct clients expect to hear 'yes' 100% of the time?
Thread poster: Ken Fagan
Ken Fagan  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:01
French to English
Jul 8, 2007

I've been in this business for many years and in all that time I've only had direct 2 clients (both came to me).

Although both of those clients understand that I am physically unable to say 'yes' to all of their requests, my understanding (pls correct me if I'm wrong) has always been that most direct clients want 1-stop translation shopping and expect 'their translator' to accept ALL jobs offered.

In my particular case, the question applies to law firms and corporate counsels.

Many thanks for your help.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:01
English to German
+ ...
Yes, they do Jul 8, 2007

...but that doesn't mean you have to actually say "yes" every time.

In my experience, they will come back if they like your service. If my team is unavailable, I will gladly suggest an alternative (subject to availability, of course) - the vast majority of them have come back to me.

What I usually add in such cases is that, unless we agree on a retainer, they cannot expect us to keep capacity unused.

HTH, Ralf


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not Necessarily Jul 8, 2007

Virtually all of my clients are direct. They understand that I am a one-man shop, that I sometimes travel or change locations or can be otherwise occupied. Many times their requests are prefaced by "can you help with...?", and my reply is positive at least 95% of the time, even when it is urgent.

I's just a matter of making sure your clients know that you have your limitations, so those few times when it is not possible, they'll understand or cut you some slack.

I must say that they have been very considerate in that respect.


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MGL  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:01
Russian to English
my experience, too Jul 8, 2007

There have been times when I have told one of my top direct clients that I cannot take something at the deadline they want (when they actually name a deadline) because I am booked. The response is "OK. I'll send you the file then." It's so frustrating! I hate having to say no, but sometimes it's my sanity that's at stake. I try to accomodate them while making it worth my while with a 50% markup. Now, if I balk at a deadline or say my schedule is tight, this client actually suggests the markup himself.

I also try to let them know if I am going to be unavailable as much in advance as possible, and they seem to respect my time when I am able to do that.

It's an issue of sort of defining the boundaries of your business relationship, I think. Sometimes I think direct clients have a blurred view of this relationship and tend to think of you as their employee. It drives me nuts. I try to think of productive ways I can stand my ground while maintaining a healthy business relationship.


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Ken Fagan  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:01
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
I wouldn't be able to say 'yes' anything like 95% of the time Jul 8, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

Virtually all of my clients are direct. They understand that I am a one-man shop, that I sometimes travel or change locations or can be otherwise occupied. Many times their requests are prefaced by "can you help with...?", and my reply is positive at least 95% of the time, even when it is urgent.

I's just a matter of making sure your clients know that you have your limitations, so those few times when it is not possible, they'll understand or cut you some slack.

I must say that they have been very considerate in that respect.


As we all know, there's no such thing as an 'average week' in this business, but most weeks I turn down (almost all of my work comes from my agency clients) about 10 jobs/20,000 words (i.e. about 1/3 of the jobs I'm offered). Given those figures, isn't it likely that I'd find it very difficult to keep direct clients, even if they wound up replacing certain agency clients?


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Riens Middelhof  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:01
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Sorry, confused by the math... Jul 8, 2007

If you turn down 1/3 (20.000) words per week, you mean to say you are able to do 40.000 words/week, or 8000 per day???

wow


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Ken Fagan  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:01
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
fewer words Jul 8, 2007

Riens Middelhof wrote:

If you turn down 1/3 (20.000) words per week, you mean to say you are able to do 40.000 words/week, or 8000 per day???

wow


Sorry for the confusion:). I translate 5,000 words/day: so I translate 25,000 words/week and turn down another 20,000 or so most weeks.


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xxxJon O  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
... Jul 8, 2007

5000 per day, still wow..

[Edited at 2007-07-08 19:43]


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 01:01
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Ken, dont know how to put it... Jul 8, 2007

...and turn down another 20,000 or so most weeks.


"...Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

'Please, sir, I want some more.'


I think I am not the only one to get this funny feeling in my stomac reading about your problems. Would not mind AT ALL to have a piece (Dickens would say ladle) of your grueling gruel. Or help you out of your misery.

Regards

Vito

PS: I know what to expect: 'That boy will be hung,' said the gentleman in the white waistcoat. 'I know that boy will be hung.'

[Edited at 2007-07-08 19:52]


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:01
German to English
Can't turn the customer down too often Jul 8, 2007

For a number of years a direct customer provided me with well-paying jobs every few months. Since the deadlines were usually relatively short, I generally had to put in long evening hours and weekends to keep the client happy, but the rate was well worth it. Toward the end of our relationship (as it turned out), the client called a few times when I was literally going out the door to the airport, so I had to refer the work elsewhere.

When I hadn't heard from the client for about 6 months, I called to see whether the firm had been unhappy with my work. The client had no complaints, but they decided to go with one of the colleagues I had referred because he was a little cheaper -- and always available.

There's nothing you can do if the client can't wait.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes Jul 8, 2007

For the last 18 days I have turned out about 135,000 words, and practically all of it printed out, certified paper translations, not just computer files.

Average output, 7,500 words per day.

Mind you I'm not talking 8 hour days nor 5 day weeks.

However, I also take 6 week vacations.

As long as that works, I'm fine.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:01
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Amazing output Jul 8, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

For the last 18 days I have turned out about 135,000 words, and practically all of it printed out, certified paper translations, not just computer files.

Average output, 7,500 words per day.

Mind you I'm not talking 8 hour days nor 5 day weeks.

However, I also take 6 week vacations.

As long as that works, I'm fine.



If I translated 7,500 words a day, I'd go blind. More power to ya!

Amy


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hope Not Jul 8, 2007

Sometimes I do think I'm going blind, but it's just poor lighting, that doesn't help when working with paper documents.

I still have some more to go, but after that it will be another vacation. You see, the work goes in spurts and then it's time to ENJOY!


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Wow! How productive! Jul 8, 2007

5,000 words a day? 7,500 words a day? Very impressive.

I'm pleasantly surprised if I hit 3,000 words in a day. A lot of the projects I do require not only accuracy but also "punchy" writing (corporate newsletters, product launches, etc.), so I spend a fair amount of time polishing the style. I guess the more information-based branches of the profession allow for higher word counts per day, but it's still awfully impressive.

My direct clients have been fairly understanding if I have to turn down a job (which I do only rarely). Usually either the deadline can be renegotiated or they let me subcontract it.

[Edited at 2007-07-08 23:30]


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Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:01
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
;) Jul 8, 2007

Vito Smolej wrote:

"...Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

'Please, sir, I want some more.'


Regards

Vito


well, quite so
Plus my humble wow to Ken's daily output.
rgds Ewa

[Edited at 2007-07-08 23:26]


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