# How long does it take you to work out a quote?

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How long does it take you to work out a quote?
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray
Netherlands
Local time: 00:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
 Oct 8, 2009

G'day everyone

How long does it take you to calculate how much to quote for a any given job? Aspiring translators are often told to work out a method for quoting beforehand, so that they can quote quickly and confidently when clients phone or e-mail them. I would have thought that most translators have a fairly good idea of how much they'd willing to quote and are able to do a calculation fairly quickly, but is this really so?

I recently posted a little rates survey in which I asked translators to quote on a piece of text. I had thought that the survey would attract more participants from people who are survey-shy because the survey requires only one thing, namely to quote on a given text, and... how long can it take to work out a quote, after all? So I'm wondering... if the client had sent you the file (so you can see the entire file before quoting) and it is a simple MS Word file of about 10 pages (5000 words), how long would it take you to determine how much you'd ask for its translation?

Wouldn't it be as simple as doing a word count (or character count, or unit count), scrolling through the text to get an idea of the complexity and subject matter, perhaps using an automatic text analysis tool, and then multiplying the unit count with the appropriate rate? Or what other things do you do when determining a rate?

Samuel

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Astrid Elke Witte
Germany
Local time: 00:54
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
 How I work out a quote Oct 8, 2009

Good morning, Samuel!

Providing a quote for a Word document does not take so long. However, in the case of your document, you pasted it into a Word document containing other text besides, so that it was necessary to copy and paste it into a separate Word document first (a little bit inconvenient, that).

Yes, it is possible to see the subject matter and level of complexity at a glance, or by looking briefly through the document.

To obtain the number of lines that will be charged, I create a project in Studio, add together the given character count and word count, to obtain the number of characters with spaces, and then divide this figure by 55 to obtain the line count. Then, all that is left, of course, is to multiply the line count by the line price.

Astrid

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT
Spain
Local time: 00:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
 1 minute Oct 8, 2009

My regular customers rarely request quotes.

Prospects coming via Proz.com spare me the time of making a quote as soon as I report my base rate (I try to report it in my first reply). They always find it too expensive and either A) don't respond to my reply (most frequently) or B) say that unfortunately they chose another translator.

So in 95% of the cases, 1 minute is all it takes [not] to prepare the quote.

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Laurent KRAULAND (X)
France
Local time: 00:54
French to German
+ ...
 Strange you should say that, Tomás... Oct 8, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Prospects coming via Proz.com spare me the time of making a quote as soon as I report my base rate (I try to report it in my first reply). They always find it too expensive and either A) don't respond to my reply (most frequently) or B) say that unfortunately they chose another translator.

So in 95% of the cases, 1 minute is all it takes [not] to prepare the quote.

Quite the same here. I use the same method as Astrid, only that the text is directly counted in lines -or any other conventional units for that matter- by the ad hoc software, which I use as a reference tool according to my GT&C. A little math et voilà, the quote is ready and goes back to the potential client after a last check. Overall time: 5 minutes.
I will deal with a more detailed (and binding) quote only if the potential client gets back to me. Useless to say: this does not apply to "best rates chasers"...

[Edited at 2009-10-08 09:49 GMT]

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Kay Barbara
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:54
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
 Not very long Oct 8, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

My regular customers rarely request quotes.

Prospects coming via Proz.com spare me the time of making a quote as soon as I report my base rate (I try to report it in my first reply). They always find it too expensive and either A) don't respond to my reply (most frequently) or B) say that unfortunately they chose another translator.

So in 95% of the cases, 1 minute is all it takes [not] to prepare the quote.

This sounds awfully familiar

I do not have to quote for my regular customers: we stick to our agreed rate unless I propose a higher rate for a particular project.

One possible scenario for a higher would be that a project contains of a lot of strings which are totally out of context. This requires more cross-referencing and sending questions to the client than usual, so I would charge accordingly (fortunately, this is rather rare).
Therefore, to make sure that a project is "normal rate material", I usually have a more or less thorough read which can take up to 30 minutes. But usually it really takes just 1 minute...

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Heinrich Pesch
Finland
Local time: 01:54
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
 Simple, but... Oct 8, 2009

First you have to know, if the file will be delivered in pdf or editable format, than you have to see the text and if it is a pdf must extract it in order to get a count. Then you have to make sure the customer is serious or not, are they prepared to pay my rates. It sometimes takes an exchange of 3-4 messages to get at this stage.
But if all is well, one minute should be enough.
Regards
Heinrich

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Edward Vreeburg
Netherlands
Local time: 00:54
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
 if i have the file? Oct 8, 2009

< 10 seconds
Word count / determine complexity and check deadline - Presto ! you can have your quote.

On the phone: please send me your file, new clients +0,02 cent on my basic rate...

Very easy process!

For complex assignments (like daily news artivles for a period of 6 months )- I need a little longer, about 24 hours.

Ed

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Henry Hinds
United States
Local time: 16:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
 Quite Variable Oct 8, 2009

If it is a Word document, I can have a quote almost instantly by just using the word count function. But I deal with a lot of paper documents also, including .pdf. Getting a quote on those can be a bit tedious and time-consuming, and some clients want it. Through the years I have become more efficient in counting those.

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KSL Berlin
Portugal
Local time: 23:54
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
 It varies Oct 8, 2009

For established clients it's usually a matter of a minute or two unless a document has special requirements or there is other complexity involved. In the case of your survey quotation I simply haven't had time to look at the material yet, but if, as Astrid says, you have extraneous information in the document that will slow things down. If a customer sends me a long document with various bits marked in different colors with separate instructions for each damned color, you can bet that it will take me a long time to get around to submitting a quotation for something like that, and it may be punitively expensive because of the bother of dealing with such nonsense.

Quotations for new customers or prospects are usually a bit time-consuming, though I do save myself some time by using standard text components. I do not feel it is worth my time to type a base rate in an e-mail response, attach a CV perhaps and click "Send". Probably most people would consider my quotations to be serious TMI overkill. But I think it's important to explain our preferred processes and how we handle work here. The response from prospects top this is generally good. I don't bother with the statistics any more, but I know that the "catch rate" is well over 50%. Of course I do not include jokers from the zoos who are just looking for another monkey to cage. I ignore them or amuse myself with the correspondence with no intent of doing business. I'll be blogging about a fascinating exchange with a leading Indian agency soon that reveals some interesting perspectives but makes it clear that such companies are a waste of time.

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Philippe Etienne
Spain
Local time: 00:54
Member
English to French
 A additional time-saver Oct 8, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
....So in 95% of the cases, 1 minute is all it takes [not] to prepare the quote.

I publish my rates. This way, agency enquiries from the directory bear far less "noise". I really felt the difference, even more so living in a country with a perceived or actual low cost of living.

As I am not interested in so-called "easy" or "general" texts (I think no translation is easy), roughly one size fits all for agency customers: readily CATable texts I find interesting and challenging or "difficult". My pet peeve is to fall asleep out of boredom during a translation.

Working out a price is therefore very quick. The e-mail message that goes with it can take up to one hour, as quoting also means convincing the agency in a few paragraphs that they will get their money's worth and that I am not a clown.

Have a good day,
Philippe

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Susan van den Ende
Germany
Local time: 00:54
English to Dutch
+ ...
 Different treatments for different requests? Oct 8, 2009

I could imagine that a RFQ via a profile, saying "Dear Samuel", with a job that would suit your translation appetite because that's what the potential client was looking for, would get a different approach than a job posted to 100 colleagues.

Am I right?

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Wolfgang Jörissen
Belize
Dutch to German
+ ...
 Exactly! Oct 8, 2009

Susan van den Ende wrote:

I could imagine that a RFQ via a profile, saying "Dear Samuel", with a job that would suit your translation appetite because that's what the potential client was looking for, would get a different approach than a job posted to 100 colleagues.

Am I right?

In the latter case, it mostly even takes me less than a second. About the time it takes to hit the "Delete" button.

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Anne Lee
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:54
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
 sadly, sometimes not long enough Oct 8, 2009

No matter how long I've been in this business, I was still caught out recently by quoting for a Word document that had actually been converted from a pdf file, which meant that the layout was problematic, to say the least. Any conversion can be useful but should be examined with care.
Another danger area is the reported number of repeats. An agency recently gave me the number of repeats calculated by the client. Firstly, the numbers were very wrong. Secondly, they were based on several texts being translated together, whereas I was just going to translate one of them.
Every time something like that happens, I vouch to be more careful next time, but it is good to be aware of the pitfalls when quoting in a hurry.

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Samuel Murray
Netherlands
Local time: 00:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
 Does it have to be different? Oct 8, 2009

Susan van den Ende wrote:
I could imagine that a RFQ via a profile, saying "Dear Samuel", with a job that would suit your translation appetite because that's what the potential client was looking for, would get a different approach than a job posted to 100 colleagues.

I understand what you're saying, but does it really have to be different? The fact that a client sends you a file personally and not as part of a mass mailing may simply mean that he has more time before the deadline or that he is working his way down a pre-qualified list of translators. It doesn't necessarily mean he has a higher threshold of maximum acceptable rate.

That said, if the job was posted to 100 translators, all the more reason to be able to quote accurately quickly. The client won't wait for 100 responses -- he might wait for 5 or 10, but the longer you take to reply, the bigger the chance that the client will decide "that's enough, I'm going to make a decision".

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Samuel Murray
Netherlands
Local time: 00:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
 Off-topic, @Kevin Oct 8, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:
In the case of your survey quotation I simply haven't had time to look at the material yet, but if, as Astrid says, you have extraneous information in the document that will slow things down.

Download it again -- I've now put the text in a separate file.

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