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Dwindling rates
Thread poster: Ayano Murofushi-Arno

Ayano Murofushi-Arno  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2016)
English to Japanese
Mar 5, 2015

I have just come back to work from my maternity leave (I had 10 months off) and two of my clients have asked me to reduce my rates... and I'm thinking to myself, did something happen in the translation business while I was away??

Maybe it's a general trend - that the rates are going down, but I managed to keep my rates the same for 4 years prior to my maternity leave, so why this all of a sudden? And the reduction these agencies are proposing is quite big, i.e. $0.03!

I have done lots of work for these agencies in the past and I know they are happy with my work, and now they are promising they will give me even more work from now on if I agree to the lower rates. I am not sure if I should stay with them or not - if they indeed will give me more work, I feel like I should stay with them but at the same time I feel like I should find new clients that would pay my original rates.

Anyone in a similar situation?


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Don't Mar 5, 2015

Ayano Murofushi-Arno wrote:

I have just come back to work from my maternity leave (I had 10 months off) and two of my clients have asked me to reduce my rates


Don't do it. Tell them you won't do it, implying that they can get lost, take a walk off a cliff, etc. If they liked your work, they'll be back. If not, you're well rid of them. I've always found that if I have the cohones to say "no" to a client who wants a reduction, 10 minutes later they come back and say OK.

[Edited at 2015-03-05 11:44 GMT]


 

Ayano Murofushi-Arno  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2016)
English to Japanese
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Tom Mar 5, 2015

It's reassuring to hear that - I think I was subconsciously looking for someone to tell me not to do it when I posted on here. It is a bit scary as one of these agencies is my biggest client and losing them will mean a dramatic reduction in the amount of work I get... but I've got to be strong! I will send them a reply nowicon_smile.gif Cheers

 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
with Tom Mar 5, 2015

Agencies (and other clients) will try to squeeze rates if there is so much as the slightest chance that they might get away with it.
The agency knows that you had time off work. They will probably assume that you are not in the most comfortable financial position and that smaller clients will likely have found a substitute for you. So naturally, they will try to take advantage of these circumstances. Once you agree to that, it will be very difficult to raise them again.

The simple fact that you allowed yourself a reasonable and healthy maternity leave tells me that you're not in a desperate financial situation that would warrant accepting such reductions. Satisfied clients are less likely to disappear. But even if they do, you still minimise your financial loss by dedicating a couple of months to finding new clients instead of working at a reduced rate in the long-term.


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:25
Member
English to French
They found a cheaper competitor... Mar 5, 2015

Ayano Murofushi-Arno wrote:
...so why this all of a sudden? And the reduction these agencies are proposing is quite big, i.e. $0.03!...

while you were unavailable, who charged $0.02 less than you, and realised they may get cheaper translations from you with a bit of bullying.

Some years ago, an agency worth 40% of my turnover didn't accept a very sensible, reasonable rate increase. As a self-employed provider, nobody tells me what I should charge, so I dropped them. It made room for other incumbent agencies, I finally got time to secure new contacts and within a year I had got back to business as usual, with an improved customer base.

Sometimes it's worth taking well-weighed risks.
You're the boss, and only you can assess whether you can risk losing the customer if you don't grant them a permanent XX% discount with the only incentive that they sent you work!

Philippe


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2008)
Italian to English
They'll be back Mar 5, 2015

Ayano Murofushi-Arno wrote:

It's reassuring to hear that - I think I was subconsciously looking for someone to tell me not to do it when I posted on here. It is a bit scary as one of these agencies is my biggest client and losing them will mean a dramatic reduction in the amount of work I get... but I've got to be strong! I will send them a reply nowicon_smile.gif Cheers


They'll be back.


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2014)
English to German
Join their game Mar 5, 2015

Philippe Etienne wrote:

while you were unavailable, who charged $0.02 less than you, and realised they may get cheaper translations from you with a bit of bullying.

Philippe


If Philippe is right, and he might be, then it is obvious that they preferred you over the other cheaper translator, otherwise they would stay with them.

So either stick with your price or take the opportunity to raise your rates. If you haven't raised your rates in four years then this could be a good opportunity - there is still such thing as inflation!?

And look for other new clients at the same time.

[Edited at 2015-03-05 13:10 GMT]


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Inflation Mar 5, 2015

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

So either stick with your price or take the opportunity to raise your rates. If you haven't raised your rates in four years then this could be a good opportunity - there is still such thing as inflation!?

[Edited at 2015-03-05 13:10 GMT]


In fact, parts of Europe are in deflation, meaning prices are falling, and even interest rates have gone negative a few places (e.g. Denmark). I'm not so sure what's the case in the rest of the world, but if you live a place where prices are falling, just keeping your rates unchanged may amount to an increase of your purchasing power. Here in Germany, I have noticed falling and stagnating food prices.

That doesn't mean that you can't successfully increase your rates if you're already in demand, of course.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
They feel you're open to it Mar 5, 2015

I expect they think you're feeling vulnerable, as though if you don't agree to this proposal you'll lose your footing in the profession. I believe like others that they're just bullying.

 

Richard Foulkes (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
German to English
+ ...
Quite a lot... Mar 5, 2015

has happened in the world economy in the last year, particularly in currencies, which affects us greatly.

The yen and euro have both cratered against the dollar (and the euro against sterling) by 15-20%. So, if your client is a US agency that bills their clients in yen or a UK agency that bills a client in euros, they are 15-20% worse off than a year ago if their yen/euro per word rate has remained constant, leaving aside inflation.

You could go down the 'I'm not budging on my rates because I'm a translator, which means I'm special' road, but it may that your client is left with no other option or is seeking to share the load with you. Perhaps you could discuss it with them and, if it is a currency issue, talk about a temporary rate reduction until the dollar weakens (I assume the dollar is an issue for the OP since you mention it in your post).

This may happen if the US is forced to do more quantitative easing. Then again, some say the dollar is only at the start of a prolonged bull run. Meanwhile, the euro is sure to weaken further when QE starts on Monday, which has implications for us European language bods!


 

IrimiConsulting  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:25
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Not bullying, just business! Mar 5, 2015

Lowering rates is not bullying. It's just business. .

If the client is nice, pays in time, communicates well et cetera, I advise you to argue your case. You have to tell them what you can add, which few or nobody else can. Some points that have worked well for me:

- Does the client have routines or workflows which takes some time to get the hang of? In my experience most have -- forms to fill, special filenames to use, special FTP folders, notifications and so on. If so, remind them that introducing a new translator to these routines will take time and effort from their side, and probably cause errors which they will need to fix.

- Are there major end clients or text types that you handle well, or certain subject areas or client terminology that you have learned over time? If so, remind the client that introducing new or less experienced translators will lower the quality, make the client unhappy and possible require lower rates from the end client. Worst case scenario: they lose a client. That could be worth a lot.

- Get some inside sponsors. Ask one or a few PMs which you work well with to confirm your quality, flexibility, subject area knowledge, friendliness and general skillset. They are not interested in low rates -- they are interested in smooth cooperations with you the translator. They usually want things to work as they always have (take it from me, I have been a translation PM as well).

- If your track record is good, remind them. Remind them of all those times you saved their a**es by accepting late and tightly planned projects, worked weekends, exceeded expectations during delivery, got encouraging comments from the end client and how the PMs just love working with you.

Over and above, the first rule of negotiations is to always take if you give and give if you take. If the client wants to lower the rates, demand something in return that you find worthwhile. Every economist knows this, but preciously few translators do (we are not trained negotiators). The client knows this too and doesn't expect to lower rates without giving something.

Also, it's usually easier for the client to accept a proposal rather than to think of something themselves. If you are offered a lower rate, suggest something real and practical in return. Adjusted fuzzy matching scheme perhaps (if you use CAT tools)? Higher minimum charge? There are as many possibilites as there are clients.

In short: Prove your worth, and then flaunt it.


 

Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 14:25
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
I am sorry, Mar 5, 2015

but your language pair is quite rare, which means that competition is rather low.

And, never ever put all your eggs in one basket. Don`t be charmed by rates, volumes, etc. Learn this rule by heart.


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:25
Member (2014)
English to German
Really! Mar 5, 2015

Thomas Frost wrote:

In fact, parts of Europe are in deflation, meaning prices are falling, and even interest rates have gone negative a few places (e.g. Denmark). I'm not so sure what's the case in the rest of the world, but if you live a place where prices are falling, just keeping your rates unchanged may amount to an increase of your purchasing power. Here in Germany, I have noticed falling and stagnating food prices.

That doesn't mean that you can't successfully increase your rates if you're already in demand, of course.


In the last 4 year there has certainly been no deflation here, wages have risen below the rate of inflation and then cuts by the government haven't made things easier. But its meant to improve ...


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Deflation Mar 5, 2015

Gabriele Demuth wrote:
Really!
In the last 4 year there has certainly been no deflation here, wages have risen below the rate of inflation and then cuts by the government haven't made things easier. But its meant to improve ...


As the UK is not in the euro zone, it is not so directly affected by the euro disasters as euro zone countries. The UK is generally not following the same economic cycles as the euro zone.

As food is a major expense post, I keep track of food prices in a spreadsheet.

Examples:
- 1 litre of fresh milk (any local supermarket). January 2014: 69 cents. January 2015: 59 cents.
- 1 kg of French fries (Lidl). December 2013: 95 cents. December 2014: 79 cents.

I'm not talking about promotional prices. I keep those separate.

I've seen a few other prices go down over the last year, but most prices have stayed exactly the same.

The EU and the ECB are desperately trying to create inflation because deflation means that those who have indebted themselves (our governments, notably) end up with higher debt burdens during deflation (because GDP goes down while the debts stay the same, so the debts as percentages of GDP go up), whereas inflation eats savings up.

A translator living in a country concerned by this can remain competitive simply by not increasing his/her rates while enjoying a higher purchasing power for the same money.


 

Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:25
English to German
+ ...
Thomas, how about Mar 5, 2015

heating and electricity? They increase every year.

 
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