How to lock in a desired high rate & keep my customer? Advice is appreciated!
Thread poster: Fernsucht
Fernsucht  Identity Verified
United States
English to Russian
+ ...
Sep 10, 2011

Hi there!

I have a customer whom I helped to win a tender for a multi-million project. Not that all of those millions are going to my customer, but I know that the project is a big buck.
Some info about project: highly technical and accuracy is critical.

I have worked on a kind of "short notice" + "limited time" => "high rate" basis, as my customer would not give me a good notice before sending me a load of files for translation.
I have been able to charge a rate that was a really good one as it was almost x2 the rate I am normally able to get.

I want to kindly as my fellow translators for a piece of advice:
What kind of strategy should I choose to lock in a pretty high rate for the rest of the project?
How do you negotiate? Would you just offer your customer the same high rate and wait to see the reaction? How far do you go down on the rate?

Please, give me some advice here, any input is welcome!

Thanks,
Ivan


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 10:17
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
The Equation Sep 10, 2011

"quality translation" + "prompt delivery" = "high rate"

Then again, I guess this is kind of obvious.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Language consultant Sep 10, 2011

My suggestion – try to build up a relationship with your client that is consultancy rather than mere translation. Ways of doing this:

If possible, visit your client in person, and build up your understanding of their business. people and products.

Develop a large technical glossary (ideally during your visit).

Be available 24/7, able to receive e-mails wherever you are..


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Sandra Peters-Schöbel
Germany
Local time: 09:17
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
and prepare for the "volume argument" Sep 10, 2011

Besides of the beforementioned good ideas you could already prepare your points of view regarding the discussion which ALWAYS comes:

"please give us a very competitive rate due to the large volume of work (sometimes only to be expected, but it never comes...)"

- the work and the hours I am sitting in front of my PC is still the same, unless there are thousands of really identical sentences the fuzzies are not that much of a help...

- Sometimes if they ask for a concrete price I offer a lump sum (which is based on my regular rate, minus some euros to make it a nice looking sum and give them the feeling they made a good deal).
Some agencies like it because that way they can better sell it to the end client.

I hope you'll get this good job!
Good luck.

Sandra


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:17
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Go the extra mile! Sep 10, 2011

Simply put:

Show your customer that you are not only ready to go the extra mile, do it!
Translate in evenings, at weekends and do NOT charge extra for it.
Do not charge for linguistic answers to questions from the customer.
Do not charge for small text additions like 1- to 3-liners.
Give tips about language sources which the customer might find helpful.
etc, etc.
The above suggestions of course are subject to limitations.
You must of course be vigilant against abuse of your willingness to help.
Use common sense and your own discretion.

Other tips:
If you find faults and errors in the source text, most customers appreciate your correcting them,
because the text originator might very well cherish it and plus points might be earned.

Make sugggestions about disposition, layout, graphics, headings etc.
It shows that you do care about the final quality of the text as it it will be used

Do not be a slave! Customers also have a learning curve.

Summary:

Everything that your customer can see and experience as assistance on your part will with great probability ward off thoughts about asking you for a lower rate.

Mats]

[Edited at 2011-09-10 12:10 GMT]


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Paul VALET  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:17
English to French
+ ...
What kind of client? Sep 10, 2011

Fernsucht wrote:

Hi there!

I have a customer whom I helped to win a tender for a multi-million project.
an [/quote]

The answer could be different depending on the kind of client: direct client or translation agency?


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Fernsucht  Identity Verified
United States
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Direct client Sep 10, 2011

Paul VALET wrote:

Fernsucht wrote:

Hi there!

I have a customer whom I helped to win a tender for a multi-million project.
an


The answer could be different depending on the kind of client: direct client or translation agency? [/quote]

It's a direct client. Type of business - Construction. Range of file formats for translation varies from Excel, Word, PDF to Visio, MS Project, etc.

Thanks for everyone's input so far!


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Bewildering! Sep 10, 2011

Mats Wiman wrote:
Do not be a slave!



Here I agree absolutely.

But then:

Mats Wiman wrote:

Translate in evenings, at weekends and do NOT charge extra for it.


What else is expected from slaves than to be always available without claiming anything extra? This is indeed highly contradictory.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 15:17
Chinese to English
Don't do anything Sep 10, 2011

I have to say, I disagree with everyone here.

I'm in a position which is very similar to yours. I'm working with a client who is doing a deal that needs a lot of translation. I've been working with them from very early on. It's not exactly the same situation as yours, because I'm also interpreting for them, but the basic background is the same.

My advice: don't give anything. Don't even suggest that you might give anything. They need you. Much more than they think. Let them try one time, just one time, with another translator, and see how that turns out. Then they'll know.

I had this a couple of months ago. My client turns up to negotiations with a document that they've drafted and had translated by someone else. We start to go through, and the meeting turns nasty very quickly. Disputes, arguments, contention. We get through ten articles of a document then break for the day; I suggest that I retranslate the rest. The next day, we sail through all the remaining content in an hour. There was never any disagreement between the two, just bad wording that made it seem like there was.

If you're not there in the room, I completely understand that you feel like you can't take that chance. But I promise you, if they find a cheaper translator than you, they will not be happy. Sometimes you have to take the risk, let them try, then see what your value really is. If you know this deal, you're actually worth 10 times what they're paying you.

Don't get me wrong, I understand. You don't want to mess with a good client. You're a freelancer, and this is your living. But you are a valuable person. Really valuable - you do not need to compromise now (or ever). Believe it.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Slaves and consultants Sep 10, 2011

Christel Zipfel wrote:
Mats Wiman wrote:
Do not be a slave!

Here I agree absolutely.
But then:
Mats Wiman wrote:
Translate in evenings, at weekends and do NOT charge extra for it.

What else is expected from slaves than to be always available without claiming anything extra? This is indeed highly contradictory.

Not necessarily. Some companies are prepared to pay a lot of money to a translation consultant who is always available, is always helpful, works any hours of day or night – in short, becomes indispensable to the company. Some lawyers and bankers operate like this.

It may feel like slavery – until the money arrives. That, I think, is what Mats was getting at. [/quote]


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
If he is paid like a consultant, then it is ok Sep 10, 2011

Peter Linton wrote:

Not necessarily. Some companies are prepared to pay a lot of money to a translation consultant who is always available, is always helpful, works any hours of day or night – in short, becomes indispensable to the company. Some lawyers and bankers operate like this.

It may feel like slavery – until the money arrives. That, I think, is what Mats was getting at.
[/quote]

Top managers also don't get paid extra hours but are supposed to be always available if need be.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:17
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
if it is a direct client Sep 10, 2011

definitely they wouldn't mind paying you a more reasonable rate. On the other hand, if it is a translation agency, they might not accept a higher rate. The fact that you helped them win the project doesn't mean they will have you do the actual work.

I helped many of my translation agency clients win big tenders but the actual jobs under these tenders rarely came to me because my rates are higher.

They just paid me for the test samples I did for them, most of which were accepted by their direct clients.


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Dave Bindon  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 10:17
Member (2010)
Greek to English
Slaves...on high income Sep 10, 2011

By some of the aforementioned definitions, I am a slave. Nine files were sent through yesterday evening with no attempt to ask if I'm available or if I mind working over the weekend.

However, before I agreed to get locked into this "slavery", I negotiated a very high rate which applies across the board for all work I do for the end-client.

The agency and end-client understand that:
- Short-notice, quick-turnaround medical translations are never going be cheap (especially when so much of the source text is handwritten).
- They never have to worry about getting the files translated on time.
- By promising to be available for all of their work (even though I don't know how much there will be each week or when it will be sent to me) I have to turn down other jobs, or fail to win jobs because I have to add a couple of days to my can-do-by date. I therefore need to be compensated for 'loss of earnings' from other sources.
- They get free 'added-value' services from me.

This 'slavery' agreement works so well that I can lead a very comfortable lifestyle just from this one 'master'.

So, to the topic-starter: yes, go full your full rate (if not more). 21st century slaves can earn far, far more than free citizens in 9-to-5 office jobs





[Edited at 2011-09-10 14:32 GMT]


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Paul VALET  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:17
English to French
+ ...
Look continously for direct clients Sep 10, 2011

jyuan_us wrote:

if it is a direct client definitely they wouldn't mind paying you a more reasonable rate. On the other hand, if it is a translation agency, they might not accept a higher rate. The fact that you helped them win the project doesn't mean they will have you do the actual work.



I agree with jyuan_us on that point. And I would suggest you to follow your direct client in order to know whether it will contract out the whole of its translations to a translation agency. It is a trend with many purchasing departments.

In that case, if you don't have a personal and strong relationship with a decision-maker over the Purchasing department, you should lose your direct client without being certain that the translation agency will engage you as a subcontractor.

So, I would recommend you looking continuously for direct clients.

[Modifié le 2011-09-10 14:36 GMT]


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:17
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Thansk Peter Sep 10, 2011

for understanding my arguments so well!

Paramount: Be vigilant against abuse. Use you discretion.

The messaage to the customer should be : YES I'm interested to help you.

The customer will include that in his price deliberations.

Don't tak about it!
Act it!!

Mats


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