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Poll: Do you generally increase your rates every year?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Jun 22, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you generally increase your rates every year?".

This poll was originally submitted by Jo Rourke. View the poll results »



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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:45
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jun 22, 2013

My main clients (international organizations) increase them automatically ever year. For the others, I tend to increase them every second year.

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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 02:45
English to Russian
+ ...
Three ways to increase your rates Jun 22, 2013

Actually, "Dear client, effective tomorrow my rate will be X+10% instead of X", though possible, is the least convenient ways to increase one's rates.

Most of us allow some flexibility in the rates, so another way to increase them is to give fewer discounts and/or impose more surcharges.

Finally, one can pick up new clients at higher rates and say goodbye to old ones who are used to paying too little.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 01:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
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Other Jun 22, 2013

I used to increase my rates every two/three years until the recent economic crisis in Europe, but nowadays I quote on a per-project basis.

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Kai Döring  Identity Verified
Philippines
Local time: 08:45
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Others Jun 22, 2013

From experience it is very difficult to increase rates for existing clients. I am trying this if I did not work with a particular client for some time.

And otherwise I go about it like Anton. Increase for new clients and 'skip' lower paying ones.


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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:45
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not so much tricky... Jun 22, 2013

... but something that needs consideration. I have a fairly loose rate structure that I tend to raise every two year, but I have a few agency clients that simply will not budge in the rates they are willing to pay. With regards to direct customers I tend to set a fee per project and leave rates for what they are.

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
French to English
Question already asked Jun 22, 2013

And on more than one occasion too I believe. However, in the current climate, it is interesting to know whether colleagues are increasing rates or even decreasing them!

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
French to English
Per project Jun 22, 2013

Teresa Borges wrote:

I used to increase my rates every two/three years until the recent economic crisis in Europe, but nowadays I quote on a per-project basis.


I generally used to increase my rates to keep up with inflation, applying the official annual cost of living % increase, rounded up. I would also round up to make for an increase in rates as over time, experience = quality = better price. I have always worked on a project basis, except with clients for whom I have extremely regular work, that is a few thousand words a couple of times a week, or more or less. It comes in, you do it, you bill it, they pay. That is that. For bigger jobs and one-off projects, then there has to be a degree of flexibility, up or down depending on... well, depending on things which are beyond what is being asked here.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:45
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other & the same Jun 22, 2013

Kai Döring wrote:

From experience it is very difficult to increase rates for existing clients. I am trying this if I did not work with a particular client for some time.

And otherwise I go about it like Anton. Increase for new clients and 'skip' lower paying ones.


Offers for just a few cents, perhaps even in USD are simply unaffordable. When I receive such offers, I always inform them of my rates and then proceed with "paid" work.


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Lucie Lessard  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:45
Member (2003)
English to French
+ ...
Every tow years Jun 22, 2013

or three, depending on the financial situation pf the country.
Like one colleague suggested, new clients/Agencies receive a higher rate when quoting.
I did once set-up a complete rate scale for after business hours, rush rates, Saturdays and Sundays rate for a client that was always getting in touch with me on Friday at 16h. They stop sending projects right away in Feb 2012 but are now coming back since last month at my requested rate. Market rate did catch up with then for my main pair.
Must read Judy Jenner "The entrepreneurial Linguist". One lesson from that book... always set the price you want to earn as it is very difficult to raise after you have started...
and learn how to say NO to project that do not meet your floor price or have unfair deadlines. It's difficult but it always pays back on the long run. Client education is difficult. But once a direct client receives a subquality translation after refusing your offer, they are more open to discussion.
Another reading suggestion, Laurie Lewis "What to charge". It's not targeting specifically the translator but shows you how to do a post-mortem analysis if you ever have time to do one


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Heather McCrae  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:45
Member (2012)
German to English
one can but try Jun 22, 2013

unfortunately it doesn't always succeed!
but I always try to up the rates a bitwith a new client, also haggle about the CAT rates. But happy enough with what I get at the moment
Difficult though to persuade clients that I am not happy to do a huge job for less money and wait 2 months for pay, where I have another client who pays within a week and is happy with my rates. What don't they understand?
Also, how am I supposed to live with working even more for even less and with even less time available? I don't work for those kind of clients. If you pay rubbish, you get rubbish. But not with me! Nearly 20 years experience has to have a certain value, as I tell people who want me to work overnight/through the weekend for no charge and so on.

Shame there are so many people willing to work for peanuts and produce poor quality work.

Heather


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Steve Kerry  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:45
German to English
Chance would be a fine thing! Jun 22, 2013

As most translators on this board are aware, downward pressure on rates is fairly intensive. What was considered as a reasonable rate five years ago is now often regarded by agencies as too high, not to mention the increasing demand for CAT tool discounts. The reasons are manifold, but include a surplus of translators from developing countries who are prepared to accept low rates and an increasing tendency on the part of customers to accept lower quality as a trade-off for lower rates. One has only to look at the daily papers to see that the value placed on correct English, for example, is much less than it was ten or twenty years ago.
Coupled with the increase in prevalence of machine translation, I can only expect the decline in rates to continue, at least in the medium term, until the number of experienced translators leaving the profession causes rates to "bottom out" and then recover slightly. I must admit that I will be glad to retire in five years' time from a job which, although interesting and to some extent addictive, is grossly underpaid and undervalued.

Steve K.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, I do. Yes, I can. Jun 22, 2013

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

And on more than one occasion too I believe. However, in the current climate, it is interesting to know whether colleagues are increasing rates or even decreasing them!


I try to revisit rates once a year. I did that with an excellent translation agency on the West Coast (California) a while ago. I offered to revisit my rates (to raise them, that is) in an invitation-toned email (tone is important for negotiations). They accepted, but asked me to wait until the end of the year, which I did. Afterwards, they had me wait for a few weeks, then they set up a phone conference to discuss it.

Of course, I had invited them to revisit my rates and offered a specific increase (larger than the one I really expected to get from them).

The phone conference went on smoothly, simply because I let them start the discussions and offer the explanations and rationale. Then they offered me a slightly higher rate, which I accepted. I didn't have to haggle because I had done the heavy work in the months prior.

So, it is possible to negotiate your rates upwards under these conditions:

a) Provide added value, not just what you are being asked to do.
b) Start the negotiation in an invitation tone, not in a demanding tone.
c) Offer a specific rate increase (say, 10% or 20%) or a ballpark (a range).
d) Renegotiate in good faith, thinking of the long-term relationship you have with this client.

Of course, I answer requests from newer clients with higher rates, like some of you do. That's a given. Also, I am sometimes asked to do an out-of-town assignment or contract. In these situations, I reply with a very high rate to find their pain point (i.e. what their budget can afford) or to deflect their request if I'm not interested in moving away for a few months.


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:45
Member (2008)
English to Italian
other Jun 22, 2013

With an long-term client, I have always discussed an increase, and they have allowed it, until the recent crisis hit the market. They have always been available to increase rates, only a couple of times they said: I am sorry this year we have to to say no.
New clients are asked the rate I decide, obviously I am open to discuss particular needs.
Other clients: the rates is the one agreed and which is ok for me.


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:45
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
This way Jun 22, 2013

Finally, one can pick up new clients at higher rates and say goodbye to old ones who are used to paying too little.



Because, on the whole, once you set rates with a client they remain written in stone for ages.

[Edited at 2013-06-22 16:23 GMT]


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