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An agency requires lowering my rates --- How to respond :-)? ...
Thread poster: Michal Surmař

Michal Surmař  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 06:41
Member (2010)
English to Czech
+ ...
May 22, 2013

Hiya all,

sorry to bother you --- my first topic on ProZ. Apologies in advance for any novel-like descriptions but I’m a bit upset and lost about what to do next.

I was asked to lower my rates for a particular client/agency and this is the first time ever it has happened to me.

Sooooo:

I’ve been working for this agency for a while (2 years) and I thought they appreciate that creative work (marketing etc.) + the additional service of updating the client’s glossary from time to time. That’s why the rate has been slightly higher than the "standard" one. All those 2 years.

A few days ago, a new project manager came in (probably a back-up) and the price went down by a few cents. Out of the blue. I applied the same price as before, I was asked reasons for "increasing" my rate and I replied by saying that I use the same rate.

Now, the original project manager came back and I keep receiving what I find slightly aggressive e-mails (e.g. multiple exclamation marks used) about the need to lower my rates as they are too high for this "regular" client.

A few other notes: this agency used to apply what might be called "a minimum rate". They cancelled about 3 months ago and a "price per word" system is now used even with small jobs. And now comes a request to lower my rates. The last sentence in their e-mail also says that the rate should be even lower than the standard rate because it is a regular client ...

Some ideas about what to do now:
- do nothing and wait,
- quit the cooperation and tell them to find someone else,
- lower the rate to the "standard" one and stop performing additional services (= updating the glossary),
- lower the quality accordingly icon_biggrin.gif (unthinkable),
- something else.

Many thanks for your time you’re going to spend reading this icon_smile.gif.

Michal

[Edited at 2013-05-22 15:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-05-22 15:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-05-22 17:09 GMT]


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:41
Russian to English
+ ...
Just inform them that unfortunately you cannot lower your rates May 22, 2013

Tell them that you thought that devoted translators were supposed to be rewarded by receiving higher rates after they have worked for a particular company for quite a long time, providing them with high quality work, and not punished instead. Translation is also not the same kind of commodity as gold and oil, so when the prices become not affordable the service provider's have to be lowered. When the translation prices become not affordable for a particular company, they should either reduce the number of words they want translated -- cut the text to its very essence, or go out of business. There are the rules of the market. You can only purchase what you can afford.

 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:41
Member (2008)
French to English
Finding new clients May 22, 2013

One question, how much work do you put in to finding new clients? A client doesn't lower your rates, they ask you for a lower rate and if you don't agree you and they part company. You should never allow any one client hold more than about 20% of your total portfolio, to avoid being held hostage. Then you will be able to stay in the driver's seat when it comes to rates.

 

Sigrid Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:41
Member (2011)
Danish to German
+ ...
Do you want to keep the customer or not? May 22, 2013

The question really is: Do you want to keep that customer or not. I have been in this situation several times, I am very lucky to have more work as I can handle, so customers with low rates simply get a no thanks, please find someone else who is able to work at those rates.

But you have to consider your situation. Do you have enough work? Could you handle better payed projects? Or are you finding it hard to get orders?


 

Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 06:41
German to Swedish
+ ...
Terminate May 22, 2013

When interactions in a business relationship begin to leave a bad taste, it's time to terminate it.
Make up your mind, state your terms pleasantly, and if they are not met - walk. The self-respect gained will serve you well in future business relationships.

But you've already made up your mind! This is no longer a relationship you enjoy, multiple exclamation marks and all. The rest depends on what other clients (= financial flexibility) you have.


 

Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:41
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Get moving May 22, 2013

Find yourself new clients that pay your rate as fast as possible and drop them.

 

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Put yourself in the position... May 22, 2013

...in which you choose who to work for. That's the name of the game. As other colleagues pointed out, never work only with one or a few clients. This happened to me with clients I have had for at least 8 years. They started asking me to lower my rates and I did not accept. Little by little, they are sending me less and less work and I am also refusing more assignments from them, since I have better paying clients. They used to send me a lot of work and I enjoyed working with them (easy projects, punctual payment, friendly PM's) but life goes on also without them...

 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:41
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Similar thread May 22, 2013

A couple of months ago a very experienced colleague found herself in a somewhat similar situation. I strongly recommend that you read that thread, as she found a way to restore the previous good relationship. You may wish to give it a try.

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/235042-agency_gives_the_client_a_discount_and_sets_your_rate_down.html


 

ExScientiaVera
Faroe Islands
Local time: 05:41
Danish to English
+ ...
Have you kept yourself fresh? May 22, 2013

Perhaps market realities are going to force your rate down anyways, but take into consideration, what changes to your CV have you made recently?
If your standard rate has been over what the company pays the other translators, perhaps you had something the others did not have.... at that time.
Take a small part time break at the new rate, expand your income source and sign up for a few university courses. Tell the project manager that future rates will be negotiated when you come back from your courses, and your rate will reflect your updated CV.
If the PM insists on lowering your rate, showing disinterest in what you will learn, not only has the shine you used to have gone, they agency isn't interested in your potential. Find a new agency, which will respond to your courses with interest, and negotiate a price late in the game, when you have the agency hooked.
If the two rates are the same, you need to adjust to a market reality.


 

Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:41
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Firm and polite reply + prepare to let them go May 22, 2013

Dear Michal,

Even if they have been good clients for a couple of years, the simple fact that they repeatedly tried to force a change in your usual terms without any negotiation is a very bad sign.

I know that in some markets looking for new clients is not really an alternative in itself, and you have probably already been looking for new clients at the best of your abilities for the most of those two years. However, my advice is not to give up on your rates, if they are well adjusted according to your needs, or you risk to get in a very dangerous spiral to inevitable burn-out.

I think you should politely reply: all you strong arguments are already quite well set in your original posting, just elaborate on them as you did here. Be firm, but, if possible possible at all, offer your availability to some fine-tuning, possibly not just in terms of rates, to serve their needs at best. If their reaction is still kind of abusive, keep in mind that it is probably better to loose this client and free up some time to look for some new avenues.

Also, never forget that they might eventually decide to go back to you on your terms after some negative experience with cheaper providers.

Good luck,

Luca



[Edited at 2013-05-22 17:14 GMT]


 

Ata Arif  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:41
Kurdish to English
+ ...
lower all our expenses first May 22, 2013

I want to ask the electricity, gas, water, telephone, fuel etc... companies and my accountant as well to lower their rates!
When that done I shall inform all and we would be more than happy to lower our rates all.
Hope this is clear enough


 

TranslateThis  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
I refused and they still send me work May 22, 2013

Sigrid Andersen wrote:

The question really is: Do you want to keep that customer or not. I have been in this situation several times, I am very lucky to have more work as I can handle, so customers with low rates simply get a no thanks, please find someone else who is able to work at those rates.

But you have to consider your situation. Do you have enough work? Could you handle better payed projects? Or are you finding it hard to get orders?



In principle, you should not lower your rates. But I guess I have to agree with Sigrid. It really depends on whether or not you have enough work from other sources. If you do end up accepting a lower rate for the time being you should try to find better paying clients pronto so that you can drop this agency.

I was asked to lower my rates twice. I politely refused and guess what, I still get work from both agencies. So if you have plenty of work, don't budge.


 

Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 01:41
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
In addition to the good advice given here by colleagues... May 22, 2013

If you are in a position to spare the client (which should be the case, and if it's not changing this should be your #1 priority), I would reply, politely but firmly, that I was in fact going to raise my rates this year, considering the premium services and high-quality provided for each and every assignment. You should enumerate all the extras you do for them (marketing localization, glossary updates, file conversions, you name it) to illustrate why your rate is in fact too low for your current expertise and that you were planning to raise it accordingly.

After making this point, you can offer as a concession to their current budgetary limits to postpone this raise for another year, guaranteeing the same rate and service for this period of time even though it's clearly an exception just for them as a courtesy for their repeated business.

Anyway, regardless of the approach used, let us know how it went!


 

NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:41
Portuguese to English
Rates should only go in one direction May 22, 2013

I’m shocked at this situation, at that in the thread Attila mentioned and at the fact that others have also faced similar requests. I’ve had trouble raising my rates with some agencies, but rates going down?! It should be a given that rates only go in one direction! I realise everyone is different but I could never agree to lowering my rates - even if I ‘needed’ the particular client - because I would feel completely degraded and unprofessional. I would prefer to keep my self-respect and find the money elsewhere. I would send an email along the lines of what Rosanna suggested:

Rossana Triaca wrote:

...I would reply, politely but firmly, that I was in fact going to raise my rates this year, considering the premium services and high-quality provided for each and every assignment. You should enumerate all the extras you do for them (marketing localization, glossary updates, file conversions, you name it) to illustrate why your rate is in fact too low for your current expertise and that you were planning to raise it accordingly.

After making this point, you can offer as a concession to their current budgetary limits to postpone this raise for another year, guaranteeing the same rate and service for this period of time even though it's clearly an exception just for them as a courtesy for their repeated business.


 

Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:41
German to English
Your call May 22, 2013

What rate we are prepared to accept from whom is quite simply our own business - I don't understand why you need other people to tell you how to respond.

Having said that, I would tell them to

(dragged away kicking and screaming by moderator)

Steve K.


 
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