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How much should you lower your rates for large projects?
Thread poster: Francesca Martina

Francesca Martina  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:25
German to Italian
+ ...
Jan 5, 2011

Hi,

A translation company offered me a large project (2 million words). I don't know if the job will be distributed among various translators, however it would keep me busy for a while.

The problem is that their rate is not negotiable and the offered me 0.02 Euro per source word below my minimum rate. Would it be fair to accept? I surely would allow a discount, but maybe that's too much.

What would you do?

I thank you all.

Francesca


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 15:25
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Forget about it Jan 5, 2011

This is no decent outsourcer and no acceptable rate. Large projects are no advantage, if you lose other, probably better jobs during the work.

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Michal Berski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:25
Polish to English
+ ...
I would refuse Jan 5, 2011

Francesca Martina wrote:

Hi,

A translation company offered me a large project (2 million words). I don't know if the job will be distributed among various translators, however it would keep me busy for a while.

The problem is that their rate is not negotiable and the offered me 0.02 Euro per source word below my minimum rate. Would it be fair to accept? I surely would allow a discount, but maybe that's too much.


Large project means large workload. There are perhaps some advantqages of large projects, such as becoming familiar with the topic, however, they do not increase your productivity proportionally to decreased rate.
BTW, when the company expects to pay you? when the whole project is completed?

Regards,

Michal


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:25
English to Polish
+ ...
depends ;-) Jan 5, 2011

Francesca Martina wrote:

The problem is that their rate is not negotiable and the offered me 0.02 Euro per source word below my minimum rate. Would it be fair to accept? I surely would allow a discount, but maybe that's too much.


If your normal rate is EUR 0.022 per word, sure. If it's double that (or more), sure not.

There is an easy way of calculating a viable discount. Take your hourly rate, be it the rate you charge clients an hour or the rate you effectively earn per hour, and using this rate add up:

- the administrative cost of a project, including the time needed to invoice the client (probably not big), plus
- the cost of learning to use the typical glossary, reading the instructions, style guide, etc., assuming that this is the way you operate on a typical project, plus
- the typical cost of additional marketing per project, if any.

Now, I assume these costs will be identical for a 1000 word project and a million word project. Divide the total by the typical size of your project (number of words). You will obtain a typical fixed cost per word. Then divide it by the number of words on this project. The difference is your maximum discount per word in euro terms.

______________
Additionally you might factor in the cost of not working - this project might keep you 100% busy for an extended period, while you would normally spend say 20% of your time idle. The cost of not working does not have to be based on 100% of your hourly rate. After all, time spent away from work is not at all wasted


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:25
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
At least 100%! Jan 5, 2011

Large volume projects are a privilege not to be taken lightly. Thus I would recommend a discount of at least 100%, and if you can afford it, you might consider a bonus for the PM for such generosity.

If, on the other hand, you are greedy and fail to recognize that money is somehow entwined with the root of all evil, you might contemplate why you have a minimum rate in the first place. If it is not simply an arbitrary joke, respond accordingly.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 14:25
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Deadline Jan 5, 2011

I think a lot depends on the deadline. If it is generous, you can do this project alongside your normal work and get a nice extra revenue stream for a long period. If the deadline means that you will hardly have any time for other work, it's probably not worth it.
Then again, it also depends on how much other work you're expecting.

I quite like large projects, they allow you to get to know the area well and work really efficiently after a while, which easily offsets even rather significant rate reductions. It all depends on how conveniently you can fit it into your schedule.

As to the "how much", if you can expect no repetitions in the text or there is a CAT repetition discount, I'd give a 20-30% discount if the project is interesting. If the text is repetitive and the client is in the dark about the wonders of CAT tools, maybe even more.

[Edited at 2011-01-05 15:23 GMT]


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Francesca Martina  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:25
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's what I wanted to hear Jan 5, 2011

Dear collegues,

Thank you for your answers.

I really needed to hear something like that. You know, sometimes I wonder if I should be more flexible...However, you are right when you say that due a large project I may lose better opportunities.

I also wanna thank you for the instructions to calculate my discount

We haven't discussed the payment terms, yet, since we stopped our negotiations at the price.

I'll definitely decline their offer.

Thank you

Francesca


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
My gut instinct... Jan 5, 2011

... is to agree with the first two posters who said you should refuse to lower your rate. Generally speaking, I do not lower my rate for a "large project", but then again, I don't know if I've ever received one single project involving more than about 30,000 words.

However, if you, yourself, were going to receive 2 million words - or even 200,000 words - the story might be different. As Krzysztof points out, having such a large project would definitely make up for some time during which you might otherwise be idle, or busy with administrative (i.e. unremunerated) work for smaller projects.

But again, there is a difference between shaving 2 cents off a rate that is 7 cents a word and one that is 12.

Let's say the rate you quoted for this project is 10 cents - reducing this by 2 cents is a 20% discount - that's not an insignificant sum. The question you have to ask yourself is whether the "steady work" will be worth a 20% discount for the time you *will* be spending working. In other words, if you ordinarily earned 200 euros for a full day of work, you would only be earning 160 euros for the same amount of time worked on this project.

I'd say one thing you need to know for certain before you agree to such a discount is the (minimum) volume of work that will be assigned to you.

IMHO, If you come to the conclusion - yes, if I'm busy for x amount of time, the 20% discount will be fully compensated by the fact that I will be paid for that entire time - then you should make your proposal/acceptance to the company *contingent* on receiving the volume of work (words) that will equal x amount of time.

Hope that makes sense - good luck!

[Edited at 2011-01-05 17:01 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
20% reduction for volume? Jan 5, 2011

If we're talking your published rates here, you're giving them a 20% discount. Personally, I might give some discount for large volumes, for reasons discussed here (less time spent on marketing and administration and perhaps more paid-for hours in a day), but no more than 5%.

My major concern with large jobs is "will I love doing it". If the answer is even "maybe it won't be a whole lot of fun", I'd have to start thinking of charging extra rather than giving a discount. If I turn the job down, hopefully other, more interesting (and maybe even better-paid) jobs will come along.

Then, again as already mentioned, there's the question of payment, if that's going to be on completion. Remember that every day between typing the translation of a sentence and receiving the payment is effectively 0% credit you're giving to your client. If you can fill the next week with jobs that are paid just a couple of weeks later you'll be doing much better, even for the same rate.


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Benno Groeneveld  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
Words don't Jan 5, 2011

become cheaper by the pound/kilo. I'd rather ask for a premium because -- as was already pointed out -- you'll might have to pass up on some possibly more lucrative jobs.

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Francesca Martina  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:25
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Definitely a too high discount Jan 5, 2011

to Benno, Sheila and Janet

thank you for your opinion.

Apart from losing other job opportunities, such discount would be too high and Sheila is right when she says that I might not like the subject. Being involved with a long-term project that I find boring is really a risk that I shouldn't underestimate.

Thank you again


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
Volume discounts Jan 5, 2011

There's no "should" or "shouldn't" about it: you'll have to decide based on the specific needs of your business and what you think makes sense. Maybe you'll reach different conclusions than someone else.

As for me, I never give volume discounts because I don't understand the rationale for them in our profession.

I see why they exist in manufacturing (since making something in a factory involves setup costs that need to be amortized over however many copies of the item will be produced), but I don't see any parallel with that in translation. As Benno said, words don't get cheaper by the pound.


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
are you sure Jan 5, 2011

this is not some glorified (or not) form of scam?

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Anja Weggel  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:25
Member (2007)
English to German
no way Jan 5, 2011

To me, 0.02 Euro is under no circumstances acceptable.
Think about it, with so many words, you won't be able to accept anything else so you will have to earn your living with 0.02 Euro. You may get a bit faster because you will become familiar with the text but it won't be enough. So the question is, can you make a living for a few months on only 0.02 Euro? I know, I couldn't....

Generally speaking, I give a small discount... usually something like, it would cost 4460, so I offer 4400 to show my appreciation that I will have work for a while. I have to say though I am not too fond of really big projects since I do not like to say "no" to my other customers too many times.


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Susan van den Ende  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:25
English to Dutch
+ ...
Large volume discounts can make sense, if... Jan 5, 2011

Playing devil's advocate just for the sake of it: in some cases a discount makes sense.

If...

1) you haven't got a steady flow of work coming in at your regular rate
2) the deadline is reasonable, so that only about half your time is booked for this project and you won't be forced to say "no" to other customers
3) you like the subject matter
4) you're the type who enjoys marathons rather than sprints
5) you trust the agency
6) other conditions that apply in your specific case are met

... then why not?

You can't blame the agency that they want to find a competent translator for whom the job would work out well (business sense on their part), nor will a good agency blame you for declining if that's not the case for you.


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