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Poll: How much of your work comes from your three main clients?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:03
SITE STAFF
Sep 21, 2017

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How much of your work comes from your three main clients?".

This poll was originally submitted by Fiona Robson. View the poll results »



 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:03
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
50-70% Sep 21, 2017

Usually, about 60% comes from two of my regular customers (every month); the rest is from occasional clients and one-offs.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
I don't know Sep 21, 2017

If I have to make a guess at it, I'd probably say 70% to 90% - but these are the type of things I only start to look at when I have no actual work to do. However, right now I can't remember the last time when I didn't have plenty. In fact, none of the translators I know personally is short of work these days, which I found out last week when trying to find someone to pass work on to. Maybe the economy is finally picking up after almost 10 years of "economic crisis" and austerity...

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
>90% Sep 21, 2017

I don't see why putting almost all your eggs in three baskets is a problem if you choose those baskets carefully (in my case, one country's central bank, another country's largest commercial bank, and a statutory government agency in a third country, none of which are likely to disappear in a puff of smoke)

 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member
English to French
>90% Sep 21, 2017

Reports from Translation Office 3000:
From 01/01/2017 to date: 97%
From 01/01/2016 to date: 88%
From 01/01/2012 to date: 75%
I realise there is not much left for the non-Top 3, but it suits me well.
Two European agency clients remain in my Top 3 in all these periods, which means a fairly stable client base over the past 5 years.

Philippe


 

Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:03
Member (2008)
English to Italian
more than 90% Sep 21, 2017

I have 3 main clients who give me regular work every month.
I have another one who sends jobs constantly but in a lower amount
I have other clients who send me work every now and then


 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:03
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
>90% Sep 21, 2017

I am aware of the fact that one of them could disappear for one reason or another, so I don't burn all my bridges.

BTW: I am really surprised that so many in this forum have just a few main clients (like me).


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
@Yetta Sep 21, 2017

Yetta J Bogarde wrote:

I am really surprised that so many in this forum have just a few main clients (like me).


I guess the rest are too busy chasing ambulances


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:03
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It varies Sep 21, 2017

For about 20 years, now in the distant past, about 75% of my work came from ONE client. After a change in paradigm, which made them shrink considerably, it took me about 7 years to replace them with a number of other clients.

I have less than three strictly REGULAR clients, i.e. at least one job per week, every single week. Others request my services like every 2-5 months. Yet I get a few one-off BIG assignments every month, which may lower my main clients' share. Furthermore, my main clients' jobs vary strikingly in size, ranging from one to four digits in USD each.


 

Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:03
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Wow Sep 21, 2017

Really impressed at the number of colleagues being so dependent on such a small number of clients!

Chris S wrote:

I don't see why putting almost all your eggs in three baskets is a problem if you choose those baskets carefully (in my case, one country's central bank, another country's largest commercial bank, and a statutory government agency in a third country, none of which are likely to disappear in a puff of smoke)
Disappear, no. But they can drop you anytime. Or decide to cut your rate by half. Except if you have a contract with them with a guaranteed amount of work at a guaranteed rate over the next 10, 20, 30 years?

My 3 main clients are below 30% of my income. That's the level I try to maintain. I once had a very lucrative client, who made up 40% of my income (so top 3 would reach 50%, by the time). I knew this would be a problem some day, and we indeed stopped collaboration when they decided to cut rate by one third. Fortunately, I was aware that this was likely to happen and I did not suffer too much. But I feel much more comfortable at today's level!


 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Depends if I'm working on a novel or not. Sep 21, 2017

I prefer literary jobs if I can get them. A novel is usually about 80,000-120,000 words. I'm working on one at the moment and it's about 90% of what I'm doing. But there can be long periods without one, and in them it might be 90% of agency work, technical and commercial.

 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:03
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
It just worked out this way Sep 21, 2017

I cannot say that it's due to some strategy of mine to have 3 main clients that provide >90% of work. But I am happy with the situation because they are great clients, pay my standard rates - and on time.
Besides, the PMs are pleasant and professional. So why would I decline work from them just to spread my eggs into more baskets?

In fact, a couple of years ago I did 'lose' one of my main clients, that is they got acquired by another agency, which is not nearly as agreeable, I usually decline work from them. (All kinds of bureaucracy, long payment terms etc.)

But it just so happened that another big client showed up and is now one of my top 3.


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
banks are among the best clients Sep 21, 2017

[quote]Sophie Dzhygir wrote:

Really impressed at the number of colleagues being so dependent on such a small number of clients!

Chris S wrote:

But they can drop you anytime. Or decide to cut your rate by half. Except if you have a contract with them with a guaranteed amount of work at a guaranteed rate over the next 10, 20, 30 years?

My 3 main clients are below 30% of my income. That's the level I try to maintain.


Banks are among the best clients. These sums are peanuts for them anyway. And Swedish into English is a pair which is quite rare, especially in the financial field. I think it can't be compared with agencies. In my opinion, one central Bank is better than 10 agencies! And I guess that their rate is far better. I guess if you have a client which pays you 0.3 euro per word, you don't waste your time looking for clients which pay you
0.12.


[Modifié le 2017-09-21 17:32 GMT]

[Modifié le 2017-09-21 17:36 GMT]

[Modifié le 2017-09-21 17:44 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Clients come and go, big or small Sep 21, 2017

One of my main clients in the mid 90s didn't drop me but the owner decided to hang her agency hat for good. So, 3-4 years of working steadily for them came to a screeching halt.

Our colleague Mr. Lamensdorf needed seven years to replace an important client with other clients. There's a lesson there for some of us.

I think I kind of reported early this year that I secured two new clients around March 2017 after sending carefully worded letters (via email) to about 40 companies. The English>Spanish marketplace is quite saturated with translators of all stripes here in America.

I don't think there's a magical number of clients or some “rule” to follow as to the minimum number of clients one has to have to be profitable and keep occupied. Too many factors in play to be prescriptive about it, I think.


 

Peter Simon  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:03
Member (2013)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Depends Sep 22, 2017

I've never thought about this, but no wonder: even if I look, it could vary from month to month, quarter to quarter, even year to year. Some of the bigger ones stay with me but do not always have the same amount of work. Others, I come to dislike working for them. And yes, if I get a big project with one, or have a novel to translate, it all shifts the balance for a long period.

 
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