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Rates for direct clients
Thread poster: Petra Johansson

Petra Johansson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:57
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
Jan 23, 2014

Good morning,

I would like to know your thoughts regarding the difference of rate for direct clients vs. translation agencies. That is how important the difference is (if there is any), and how you motivate it...

So far, over 10 years now, I have almost only translated for translation agencies or fellow translators. Recently I did a small translation for a direct client, but only realized that afterwords so did not charge him more than my standard rate..quite silly!!


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Paulinho Fonseca  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:57
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Direct clients Jan 23, 2014

I have charged direct clients double the prices I deal with agencies and payment has been on time.

As for agencies they are not very flexible with pricing.


Paulinho Fonseca.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:57
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's a matter of added value Jan 23, 2014

Some agencies add value to your work.
They prepare files for you to translate, for instance: OCR, extracting text from DTP files, compiling reference material, glossaries, TMs, providing proofreading/checking, doing DTP, many other things.

Some agencies are mere file-pushers.
If you sent them the wrong file, that's what the end client would get.

If neither engages in post-delivery nit-picking with you, there is no way you can tell one from the other.

A direct client supposedly needs completely finished work from you. They'll seldom put your work under a magnifying glass to add more value to it.

Discount by volume? It's questionable. I had a direct client that accounted for about two-thirds of my income over two decades. I don't (and wouldn't) have a translation agency with that status now.

Supposedly, you'll be translating each and every word assigned to you. Supposedly you should be charging for your time & effort, not for the type of client you are doing it for.

Direct clients will check a few translators for cost/value, so your ratio should be perceived as desirable.

Each agency adopts its own strategy:

a) They'll impose upon you their rates, terms, and conditions. If these are worse than your own, you'll be buying a one-way ticket to eventually competing with free online machine translation.

b) They'll ask you about your rates, terms, and conditions and, if these are competitive in terms of cost/value, after having added their markup, they'll pass the total cost to the end-client.

It's a matter of accurately assessing:
a) the cost of your time & effort;
b) how long a job will take you to get done to the require standards.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:57
Member
English to French
Taking over the agency's work Jan 23, 2014

Doubling your agency rate for end clients is indeed common. This is more or less what agencies charge end customers. To compete with agencies, you can offer a better service (responsiveness, availability, single contact...) for the same price.

But usually you add third-party editing besides yours and all the "CRM" expenses (end customer maintenance and hand-holding, file preparation, glossary building, consulting, New year's gifts, stationary, etc.).


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Petra Johansson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:57
Member
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree with all of you, Jan 23, 2014

and thank you for your input. I will take all these possible added values into account when defining rates for end clients, and it will also help to justify rates.

Thanks a lot!!


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
Not necessarily any difference Jan 23, 2014

I have a number of end-clients. I have never charged an end-client more than an agency on account of their being end-clients.

There are Swedish translators who get very good rates from direct clients, but that has got little to do with the end-client aspect as such. The relationship you can create with an end-client has a potential for very high value, which agencies sometimes probably can't afford.

Another characteristic is that these individuals are highly qualified outside of translation, as it were, and could more or less effortlessly go into something else where they would be making the same kind of money. Some have probably been ready (financially) for a comfortable retirement for quite a while, on top of that.



[Edited at 2014-01-23 13:38 GMT]


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Strongly disagree Jan 23, 2014

Mark Benson wrote:

I have a number of end-clients. I have never charged an end-client more than an agency on account of their being end-clients.


Because

1) You have to provide that "added value" mentioned before

2) Commercially speaking you force agencies to lower their rate to end clients and the consequence will be (already seems to be) those unacceptable rates we see nowadays.

3) Why earning less if you can earn more?


[Edited at 2014-01-23 23:29 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:57
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sorry, but no Jan 23, 2014

Angie Garbarino wrote:

Mark Benson wrote:

I have a number of end-clients. I have never charged an end-client more than an agency on account of their being end-clients.


Because

1) You have to provide that "added value" mentioned before

2) Commercially speaking you force agencies to lower their rate to end clients and the consequence will be (already seems to be) those unacceptable rates we see nowadays.

3) Why earning less if you can earn more?

P.S. IMHO this is one of the reason (not the only one of course) of the destruction of the industry as I am afraid many colleagues are acting like you.


You - and apparently countless other people - assume that end-clients will pit freelancers against agencies, and hire the one offering the lowest price, whatever they are.

If it were so, all streets everywhere would be crammed with Tata Nanos and Fiat Milles, and Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, and a bunch of others would have gone belly-up to meet Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick "in eternity".

A while ago I wrote an article about the expected difference between hiring a freelance translator and an agency, as guidelines for the end client. I'm still waiting for negative feedback proving that I was wrong in any of them; received none so far, neither from translators nor from agencies..

So the difference is that, upon working for direct clients, the translator will have to do the translation and add whatever value the agency would add to it. The total cost should be about the same.


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Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
There's nothing to disagree with Jan 23, 2014

Angie Garbarino wrote:

Mark Benson wrote:

I have a number of end-clients. I have never charged an end-client more than an agency on account of their being end-clients.


Because

1) You have to provide that "added value" mentioned before

2) Commercially speaking you force agencies to lower their rate to end clients and the consequence will be (already seems to be) those unacceptable rates we see nowadays.

3) Why earning less if you can earn more?

P.S. IMHO this is one of the reason (not the only one of course) of the destruction of the industry as I am afraid many colleagues are acting like you.


My dear, I must beg your pardon! I would be willing to understand anything you're trying to say with that, but you can't agree with whether or not I charge what I charge. Because I do, and that kind of says itself, even though it's not ever been brought up as a topic here.

Next: Are you accusing me of destroying the industry simply because I do not put an equals sign between 'end-client' and 'higher rate?'

I know you might not like it, but if that actually is what you're attempting, I can throw that right back at you quite instantly. What I expressed was my view that there is nothing in and of itself that makes it necessary (or even plausible) to charge an end-client more than an agency.

Whatever you wish to express is equally subjective and will never give you the right to accuse me of anything, much less mere derogatory expressions such as being involved in destruction and the like.

Since you did take the liberty to make such insinuations, why shouldn't I say the same thing about you:

Did you base whatever you think on anything else than that, and this is how I take it, if one doesn't think like you do, one is part of a destructive force, or whatever else unpleasant?

And lastly, if you could present your views in a way that preferably does not involve my person at all, but if necessary at least does not address me and my views in an aggressive way, then I am more than happy to consider them! And you are strongly encouraged to do this!

At this point, I have José's article open in the next tab for some reading when I get done with the last bit of work I still have to do. That is because I quite like to take part of an idea that, if not elaborated and eloquent as José has certainly earned a reputation for here on the Forum, is at least presented as such, and not some objective truth that I have no choice but to accept.

All the very best/
Mark

Edit: Scribble, scribble... But your post did make me a bit upset, which you are kindly asked to understand, with thanks!


[Edited at 2014-01-23 23:10 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-01-23 23:13 GMT]


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Just expressed my opinion Jan 23, 2014

I had no intention to accuse, just to disagree with that point of view, my apologies if you feel accused, I did not mean to be aggressive.

Best regards

PS: cancelled the last part

[Edited at 2014-01-23 23:30 GMT]


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:57
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
The same of the agency, yes Jan 23, 2014

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

So the difference is that, upon working for direct clients, the translator will have to do the translation and add whatever value the agency would add to it. The total cost should be about the same.


Not the same rate that a translator provide to agencies, in my opinion.

So, you are saying that if an agency charges 100 to a direct client, a translator should charge 100? Am I understanding correctly? If yes we are saying the same thing, if not, then I will read your article.

Hasta luego!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:57
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I'm not talking figures Jan 23, 2014

Angie Garbarino wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

So the difference is that, upon working for direct clients, the translator will have to do the translation and add whatever value the agency would add to it. The total cost should be about the same.


Not the same rate that a translator provide to agencies, in my opinion.

So, you are saying that if an agency charges 100 to a direct client, a translator should charge 100? Am I understanding correctly? If yes we are saying the same thing, if not, then I will read your article.

Hasta luego!


Each translator has (or should have) their own 'cost' calculated. It's usually a cost per time unit, then adjusted by some productivity factor of their own for each type of work, and finally converted into some unit that the client can relate to, as it's what they want to buy.

The unit cost is expressed per word, 55-ch line, thousand chars, cartelline, normzeile, laudas, minutes of video, whatever will appear on the invoice as the unit of service provided. Multiplication then renders the payable amount.

Some translators may be more competitive than others, either by charging less per billable unit, or by offering more value per currency unit. Agencies too.

When the job is for a value-adding agency, they demand quality, since adding value to crap is a costly enterprise. Direct clients also demand quality, has they will be hiring a pro to do a complete job.

At the bottom of the price scale, things are different. The low-level wannabe translator will produce tons of gibberish for a bottom-feeding agency at grovelling rates, a fair price for their deliverables. Meanwhile that low-level wannabe will try to rip off direct clients, under the rationale that "These suckers are hiring me only because they've never heard of Google Translate, which gives for free much better translations than mine!


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 00:57
German to English
+ ...
making it fair and thought through Jan 24, 2014

As a starting point, price is calculated according to the amount of work expertise etc. are involved. After that you may give discounts or incentives because of things you want to achieve.

In general, the work is often the same for both kinds of clients. Both the agency and the end client give me the same kind of document, which has to have the same final quality. I invite end clients to look through the material if they can (almost everyone is bilingual) so there is a second pair of eyes. Most agencies I work for do not have a proofreader. When there is a proofreader, it is not someone of my choice, and sometimes they introduce error. Agencies make me wait 30 - 60 days for payment. The end client pays me immediately or even in advance.

So in this scenario, where I'm doing the same amount of work and get paid immediately, possibly with fewer complications, why would I reduce my cost for one of the parties. (I'm seeing it not as penalizing end clients by charging them more, but rather, reducing your calculated cost).

Otoh, if a company presents some kind of advantage, then maybe there is reason to give preferred rates. In the reverse case - say there is a company that wants you to jump through a lot of hoops, complicating matters and wasting time through their procedures, and on top of it are late payers, shouldn't they be paying a premium to make up for it?

Agencies resell our work. They will always charge their end client more than we charge them. Our relationship with agencies is double-sided, because we both collaborate with them and compete against them. Why should I charge my end client $50, charge the agency $20 for the same work, and then watch the agency sell my work for $40 and thus win clients away from me because of the discount that I gave them? How does that make sense?

The argument FOR giving favorable treatment for good "regulars" is that you have repeat business, a well-oiled working relationship, and you want to keep this going.


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I think you and I misunderstood it Jan 24, 2014

Angie Garbarino wrote:

Mark Benson wrote:

I have a number of end-clients. I have never charged an end-client more than an agency on account of their being end-clients.


Because

1) You have to provide that "added value" mentioned before

2) Commercially speaking you force agencies to lower their rate to end clients and the consequence will be (already seems to be) those unacceptable rates we see nowadays.

3) Why earning less if you can earn more?


[Edited at 2014-01-23 23:29 GMT]

I hope it is okay that I'm getting into the middle of your conversation but I'm only doing it because I believe this is what I and you thought he meant: "I have never charged an end-client more than I would charge an agency" and what he means is: "I have never charged an end-client more than an agency would charge them (the end-clients)".

I misunderstood it the first time I read it, as well.
I hope I'm right.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:57
German to English
Specialized translators Jan 24, 2014

I definitely agree with José's article regarding a need for additional services, very high volumes, large numbers of languages, and an inability to peronally check the results as good reasons to go to a translation agency. As always, eloquent and clearly stated - and therefore also a good basis for a critical discussion.

If I needed a specialist translator or an especially high-quality translation, I would never dream of going to an agency. Easy texts and more-or-less adequate translations are all that I would entrust to agencies, at least if I was looking for anything outside the core areas of maybe IT/law/medicine/finance in major language combinations. With an agency, I can't depend on them to provide me with the same translator or the same PM every time and they need to take a huge cut from the total cost in order to even get by. I also assume that agencies tend to work with dependable, fast, cheap generalist translators instead of often-booked-out, slow, expensive specialist translators, because the latter would cost them too much time and money.

If I were to have my website translated into a third language, I would find a freelancer who I trusted to do a good job and not hire an agency that (1) I don't trust (their interests are mostly contrary to mine) (2) to find someone that I will never know to translate my text at a race-against-the-clock rate and then have it (3) "checked" by someone else at a race-against-the-clock rate (4) in a situation where it is in everyone's interest (except mine) to not question anything unless absolutely unavoidable.

I also chose to go to an agency when I needed my driver's license translated: because I would have paid more money for the inconvenience of finding and going to a freelance certified translator, because I could check the results, and because (with the exception of a few tricky non-corresponding terms) it was an easy text.

I almost never work with agencies (maybe ca. 5 times a year with one agency, which is specialized in my field and on urgent projects that happen to fall within a dry spell), because I can earn more money, take more time with my translations, get more useful feedback, and meet more interesting people with direct clients. Direct clients care about qualifications in a specialist field, they care about quality, they care about a translator's ability to speak their language, etc. etc. If someone can offer these things, then a lot of direct clients will be happy to pay them as much or more than they would be prepared to pay an agency.


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