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Poll: What is your main reason for keeping lower-rate clients?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
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Dec 6, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What is your main reason for keeping lower-rate clients?".

This poll was originally submitted by Mario Chavez. View the poll results »



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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
A bit of everything Dec 6, 2015

I still work with my very first agency client. They gave me a break and helped me establish myself as a freelancer after I was laid off from my in-house job.

The rates can lean a little towards the low end, but I personally know everyone there, I know that my invoices will be paid before they're due, and they send me a lot of work. It's easy money. I was even considering a PM position in their new office, but my wife and I didn't want to move again.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 16:54
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I don’t keep such clients! Dec 6, 2015

I may negotiate a special rate, and I have done so with some agencies which have been giving me work every month for some years, but I never work below my fixed rates, and I am not cheap.

[Edited at 2015-12-06 10:44 GMT]


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:54
Member (2006)
German to English
Lower rates Dec 6, 2015

as in below your "normal" rates, or at the bottom end of your usual rates?

I have a couple of customer where I have not changed my rates for a few years simply because I have been working for them for donkeys years, and they always pay well within the "normal" terms of payment which I benfit from a lot more. This is then compensated by other customers who pay the usual rates, sometimes plus a little more.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:54
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
sentimentality Dec 6, 2015

subject matter of great interest/importance to me

not needing more money than what I already earn

value placed on a whole lot of stuff over money


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Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good idea to make us examine this one! Dec 6, 2015

I recognise many of the reasons on that list. And I have more to add in: I feel as if I'm locked in to working with this first ever client, whom I inherited twenty years ago. I also inherited the rate, and the parent company this company belongs to only allows price index-linked rises in rates. I suppose I should be grateful they haven't wanted me to lower my prices of late! But another problem is that not only does this client provide my with volume - I know that it is debatable whether that makes it worthwhile - but also with a large amount of work for the teaching institution I own. So every time I think of telling them to stuff their rates, I remember that they are also a significant client for my other business.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:54
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There has to be a very good reason in every case Dec 6, 2015

I'm editing a book at the moment at less than my normal hourly rate. But I have three months, which means it can fill odd moments that would otherwise have been less profitable.

I work for a reduced per-word translation rate for two clients, but only on one very specific type of text in each case. The work can be handled very quickly so my income per hour is acceptable. Both have asked me recently to take on other texts at the same rate, which I refused.

I used to have a fascinating job that I could use as a filler - as one of a team of linguists on a 'take what you have time for' basis. It paid less than my normal rate but it was worthwhile as I enjoyed it so much. But then the rates squeeze became ridiculous so reluctantly we had to part company.

One campsite owner and friend back in France asks me to do an occasional translation. The family-run campsite functions on a shoe-string and we go back a long way... But that's very much an exception, to help her out.

I've got rid of all those clients who wanted me to earn less simply so they could earn more.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:54
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I do it for only ONE client Dec 6, 2015

My first client after I took the plunge from a full-time job into freelancing (I had been moonlighting for them during for years already) accounted for 2/3 to 3/4 of my income in the ensuing 20 years. A family-owned company, they shifted from clients to friends. I attended the weddings of all five second-generation partners, as well as the golden wedding of the founding couple.

They have always been acknowledged as a world-class benchmark in business ethics, and everything always went smoothly. The turn of the century caused their market to change, and their previously bright star has been dimmed ever since. The multiple assignments they had for me every week are now down to only two or three gigs per year. They don't ask for that, but I automatically volunteer a 30% discount on whatever they ask me to do. I am glad that, as they never questioned my rates (unchanged in local currency since 1994 - IT and translation technology have taken care of inflation etc.), they won't start doing it now.

I recall one specific incident with this client. They called me, saying that someone there had goofed, and they'd need me to do a large rush job for no immediate pay; they'd compensate it in the forthcoming jobs. I told them I'd do it for free, and really did so. After the problem was timely solved, everybody was happy, the owner/founder asked me how could they pay me for that. I told him he had already paid it over the previous 12-15 years; no need to pay for it again. Of course, now and then I always included a freebie among their orders.



Regarding other lower-rate clients, it's THEM who don't keep me. Until several years ago, whenever demand was low, I'd take a low-paying job offered on Proz. The minimum threshold was two-thirds of my rate; I wouldn't take anything below that. I told-them it would be a one-off promo. If they liked it, any subsequent job would be at my standard rates.

My marketing strategy was that, with such low rates, they might have never seen a decent translation job done, so I'd show them one.

It flopped. Bottom-feeders shall remain so forever. All of them loved what I delivered, wanted more of that, however none wanted to pay me what it costs. A few insisted that I should do it at their rates, but I didn't take it.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Dec 6, 2015

Because they are all I have?
No, seriously, it depends on what you mean by lower rates. I have occasionally been accused of having rates that are too low for my EN-ES pair, at a basic eight euro cents per word. However, I don't allow discounts for repetitions, fuzzy matches, etc., so even if other translators may be charging 10 or 12 cents, I imagine they are most likely allowing these discounts, which means things more or less pan out at the end of the day.
If I ever find myself thinking that my rates are indeed too low, I'll put them up. So far I've managed to hike my rates for 2 long-standing regular clients this year, but I'm not in any big hurry to raise them for the rest.


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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:54
Member
German to English
+ ...
Since 2007 Dec 6, 2015

I have one client who has been giving me work since 2007 but had been paying the same rate all that time. I recently managed to put them up half a cent but am planning to increase another half on January. Payment is on time, they have a solid extranet, which allows to ask the end client questions, for example, and they used to have good PMs. Recently things have not been so good. They started analysing texts with a different CAT tool without saying anything, which largely gives them a word count in their favour and the PMs are a little aggressive at times. I think they must be losing freelancers as they recently sent a questionnaire around asking about their relationship with suppliers.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Long-term relationships mean a series of other reasons for working for them Dec 6, 2015

Clients at the lower end of my rate scale are long-term clients, but that means they are GOOD clients for a variety of other reasons.

They are hassle-free. I have had enough work to do for most of my career, and have simply dropped clients with time-wasting portals, CAT tools I do not like, long procedures for explaining so-called QA which really only count commas and capital letters...

If you include the time spent on that kind of thing in the rate paid, and divide the fee received by the hours worked, my apparently low-paying clients are more profitable and cause me less stress.

I know their routines and their end clients and I have good TMs, mostly accumulated by me, but some provided by them. Whenever they can, they allow reasonable deadlines, or they pay extra for rushed jobs. They are efficient and helpful about sorting out issues, and most issues have already been sorted out anyway. It all helps to make working for these clients faster and a pleasure.

Some of my long-term clients pay very good rates as well, but even if the nominal rate is at the lower end of the scale, the fact that I have not dropped them means that overall, they pay quite well.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:54
Member
Italian to English
Rate is not the whole picture Dec 6, 2015

Often rates are not the whole picture when considering the jobs to accept. Medical texts, for example, my speciality, tend to pay a higher rate per word: on the other hand they are generally more difficult, and shorter than texts in other areas, such as tourism. So a longer job paying a slightly lower rate actually pays more than a shorter text with higher per-word rate.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Lower rates Dec 6, 2015

neilmac wrote:

Because they are all I have?
No, seriously, it depends on what you mean by lower rates. I have occasionally been accused of having rates that are too low for my EN-ES pair, at a basic eight euro cents per word. However, I don't allow discounts for repetitions, fuzzy matches, etc., so even if other translators may be charging 10 or 12 cents, I imagine they are most likely allowing these discounts, which means things more or less pan out at the end of the day.
If I ever find myself thinking that my rates are indeed too low, I'll put them up. So far I've managed to hike my rates for 2 long-standing regular clients this year, but I'm not in any big hurry to raise them for the rest.


What you say here reminds me of a strategy I used with a longtime agency in California. If they offered me a rate 1/3 below my going rate for a Trados-analyzed project, I would accept such lower rate but for the entire wordcount, not just the no matches or high-matching fuzzies.


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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:54
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
I don't accept lower rates Dec 6, 2015

or at least very rarely and just for a specific purpose/project.

Also, I don't waste my time on negotiating. Same standard rates for all clients - take it or leave it.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 12:54
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other, because... Dec 6, 2015

I do have such clients for two reasons, which are not on the list:

1) In Brazil, all agencies pay 50% or less of the regular price in Europe and North America.
2) I do not have enough jobs to fill-in my entire availability (yet).

Hence, I accept such jobs when I have time available. I already got rid of several of these clients as soon as I was able to replace them with foreign clients. As my portfolio increases, I'll be able to get rid of all of them. I only have two regular Brazilian clients (agencies) currently. So I only need two more good clients abroad.

If you make this same question in about April, 2016, I'll be able to select one of the other answers.


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