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Raising rates with existing clients
Thread poster: Marie-Hélène Hayles

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Italian to English
+ ...
Nov 28, 2005

I've been translating full-time for getting on for three years now, and still do regular work for some agencies at the rate I agreed with them at the beginning. Now I have no problem in setting a (higher) rate when a new agency contacts me, but am ridiculously "embarassed" at the idea of sending out an email to existing clients telling them my rates are going up. How would you go about it? How have you gone about it? What response did you receive?

I'm thinking of sending an email saying something along the lines of "due to the rising cost of living, from January 1st my rate will be xxx".

I know my embarassment is daft, I put it down to my British upbringing!

[Edited at 2005-11-28 15:13]


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Maria Antonietta Ricagno  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Member
English to Italian
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Rates Nov 28, 2005

Hi

I use this method: on January 1rst I send out an e-mail explaining that starting from that date my rates will increase to the amount established.
I have done it about 3 times with long-established customers, and they did not object anything to the change, due to the small rise in my rate and also because they already had an established working relationship with me.
The best thing happens with a wonderful customer I have been knowing since 2001: every now and then he sends me an e-mail explaining that he decided to raise my rate 'if I agree'!

Regards

Antonella


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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:15
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Rising cost - market value of quality work Nov 28, 2005

"due to the rising cost of living, from January 1st my rate will be xxx".
Yes, this is a good reason, of course! You can add that you also invested in education, advanced (additional) equipment etc.
If some irregular clients contact me after a while (say 1-2 year) I
tell them that my rates are not the same anymore. Most of them accept it. By the way: your market value became even higher, or not?
Marie-Helene: You are much better now than 3 years ago, I guess.
Don't hesitate to do that.
Regards
Steffi


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good points! Nov 28, 2005

Thanks, Steffi. And Antonella, can I work for your client please?

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
Flemish to English
+ ...
Inflation, cost of living.... Nov 28, 2005

Do inflation and the cost of living go down or up? If the answer is up, then rates should follow suit.

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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:15
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Nov 28, 2005

I have done that a few times but did not mention the cost of living. I wrote something like "my other customers pay xxx-yyy cent per word, therefore I am asking you to increase the rate you have been paying since 2001 (or whatever) to xxx cent per word."
Of course you have to be prepared to lose some of your "old" clients. In general, they tend to accept the new rate. In one case, a client of mine accepted the new rate but the volume of work has significantly decreased, therefore I assume they use someone else and contact me only for special projects, which is fine with me.

Laura


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
I don't think clients are very interested in your costs.. Nov 28, 2005

I don't have this problem because I negotiate the rate for each project depending on its difficulty and how long it will probably take me.
I do have a "base rate", though, but this is only a guide line
(correlating with my running account balance).


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's worth bearing in mind! Nov 28, 2005

I'm not actually worried about losing the clients paying lower rates, as I'm lucky enough that most of my work comes from agencies paying higher rates.

I do like the idea of telling them that it's to get their rates in line with other clients, especially as in some cases I'd be trying to apply a 30-40% increase (not really justifable on inflation alone). These include agencies which I like working for but are bottom of the priority list due to their low rates - if I could get them to accept higher rates, all well and good: if not, I wouldn't be losing much work anyway.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My situation is different Nov 28, 2005

Harry Bornemann wrote:

I don't have this problem because I negotiate the rate for each project depending on its difficulty and how long it will probably take me.
I do have a "base rate", though, but this is only a guide line
(correlating with my running account balance).


I have a standard rate with each client, I've never negotiated on the basis of each project.I work on the "swings and roundabouts" principle.


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Aliseo Japan  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 05:15
Member
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
Rating by the time spent Nov 29, 2005

Marie-Helene Hayles wrote:
I have a standard rate with each client, I've never negotiated on the basis of each project.I work on the "swings and roundabouts" principle.


This is what most of us usually do, although I think we should do away with it whenever we can. Recently, I have been pondering that switching from this ever-established pricing method to a new one that allows for more flexibility often suits better the client (discounting where possible) or the translator interest (being paid based on the real translating efforts).

What I have been trying to do - after agreeing a "reference" rate - is fixing a new forfait-like price only upon seeing the actual source text and figuring out how long it will actually take to translate. Sometimes the figure goes up vs the theoretical standard rate, but sometimes it goes down based on the type of job. It should not be a matter of standard, semi- or specialized text anymore in my opinion, but rather on the time you actually spend on a given job.

For instance, I often find that it takes less to translate a specialized technical text than a business letter, a corporate brochure or more in general marketing/advertising texts that force you to squeeze you brain even more if you want to be able to convey the intended meaning. The universal thinking however seems that it should be the opposite.

In my opinion, moving from the "old" pricing method to the new one would also free us from the commodity-like image we often feel beset by. Most of the translation agencies won't agree on this new method, whilst direct clients in most cases will.

Mario Cerutti


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
You do not have to raise all rates Nov 29, 2005

Marie-Helene Hayles wrote:
... and still do regular work for some agencies at the rate I agreed with them at the beginning. Now I have no problem in setting a (higher) rate when a new agency contacts me...


There's not need to have a single rate for everybody. You can raise your rate (and put the new rate on your web site) and silently continue to charge your "old" clients at the old rate, if you wish to do so.


...but am ridiculously "embarassed" at the idea of sending out an email to existing clients telling them my rates are going up.


A good way to do this is to increase the rate annually, by just a little bit. This way you won't lose as many clients by the "steep hike" in your rate when you do decide to raise your rate, and it does not come unexpectedly to the clients either.


I'm thinking of sending an email saying something along the lines of "due to the rising cost of living, from January 1st my rate will be xxx".


No. Don't make excuses. If you want to strike a friendly tone, you could mention that your rate has not increased for X number of years, and that you will be raising your rate by such and such starting from January 2006 (but because the recipient is such a valued client, your new rate will only apply to them from the beginning of June 2006).


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
but I do want to put my rates up! Nov 29, 2005

[quote]Samuel Murray wrote:

There's not need to have a single rate for everybody. You can raise your rate (and put the new rate on your web site) and silently continue to charge your "old" clients at the old rate, if you wish to do so.

[quote]

THe point is I *do* want to put up my rates with the old clients - the lower paying ones, anyway. THe higher paying ones I shall leave as they are.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Agency clients raising the rate is not necessarily uncommon Nov 29, 2005

Maria Antonietta Ricagno wrote:
The best thing happens with a wonderful customer I have been knowing since 2001: every now and then he sends me an e-mail explaining that he decided to raise my rate 'if I agree'!


If the customer is an agency, it could simply be that it is their policy to pay the translator a certain percentage of the end amount. If they wish to raise their rates, they'd have to raise yours. Some clients insist on knowing how much of their payment goes to the translator, the proofreader, the agency's commission, etc.


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daruthie
Local time: 21:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
CPI Nov 29, 2005

Hi Marie-Helene,

This year, I am planning to increase all my rates under a certain amount by the % of the Consumer Price Index of each year since I last put them up (I have to do a few sample calculations first though so as not to alarm anybody).

I think it is perhaps a little more professional to use this as a basis, since it is something the companies are aware of and that they use themselves as a basis for employee salary increases (in Spain they do anyway).

I am going to send out individual e-mails before Christmas with the new rates, and indicate that they are applicable as of 1st of January.

If a client gives you a lot of work and thinks your new rate is too high, I'm sure they will prefer to negotiate first rather than directly taking their business elsewhere.

HTH!

Ruth


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Raising rates Nov 29, 2005

Marie-Helene Hayles wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
There's not need to have a single rate for everybody. You can raise your rate (and put the new rate on your web site) and silently continue to charge your "old" clients at the old rate, if you wish to do so.

THe point is I *do* want to put up my rates with the old clients - the lower paying ones, anyway. THe higher paying ones I shall leave as they are.


I repeat what I said earlier... tell them, then tell them that because they're such loyal clients, that you'll continue to offer them translation at your old rate for the next six months. Don't tell them that you're doing this with everybody.


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