Welcome global recession. We weren’t expecting you and you are not welcome in our house. But it looks like we have no choice and you are here to stay for a while.
The coronavirus has already put many people out of jobs and we are just at the beginning. Many more people will be out of work. That means less spending by consumers and businesses. The stock market is in bear territory and the net worth of many people has shrunk dramatically. Shrinking budgets will become the norm in corporations worldwide. And this situation will probably last well after the coronavirus crisis is solved.
How does an LSP prepare for the recession?
It appears that many industries will be impacted by this recession. Some more than others. Since the translation and localization industry is primarily a B2B type of operation, it will undoubtedly be impacted by the recession. So how to prepare for this? Here are some of my thoughts on this topic.
Time to downsize
Many LSPs, such as GTS Translation, are built around a small permanent staff and many temporary staff (i.e. freelance translators). These small LSPS will be better equipped to handle the recession. Large LSPs with large staffs will not fair as well and will regrettably have to terminate some of their staff. As an LSP owner/manager, you will need to trim the fat (figuratively of course).
The same goes for suppliers such as marketing consultants. SEO experts, CPC budgets, industry conference expenses, advertising agencies. These expenses may be expendable in times of recession.
Time to call in the markers
Now would be a good time to focus on receivables. Recession means a cash shortage with a trickle-down effect. If your customers owe you money, now would a good time to collect and keep a war-chest to weather the storm.
Time to diversify
As I mentioned previously, some industries will be impacted more than others. Airlines and aerospace companies, for example, will be decimated. If you are an LSP serving this industry, you are in deep sh!t. Consider moving your offerings to other industries. For example, online gaming companies should be doing very well now. Pharmaceutical companies should go relatively unscathed. Try to find industries which are working well even in times of recession and adapt your sales strategy accordingly.
Time to lower prices
With shrinking budgets and the ever-increasing competition that is inevitable in a recession, consider making your price points more attractive. A lower profit is better than shuttering the doors of the business you worked so hard to build up.
Time for patience
Things are bound to improve. Patience is required to weather the storm. Of course it helps if you have deep pockets and can sustain your business in times when orders are few and far in between. Following the points mentioned previously about reducing your expenses will help.
Time to invest in automation
The industry is shifting towards automation, with human-assisted machine translation becoming a staple. If you are not involved in this activity, and if you have some budget that you can allocate in this direction, consider developing new offerings around PEMT. It will help you come out of the recession stronger, and will also help you lower your prices.
Time to go
If you have any other ideas which you think are useful, please let us all know. We are all in this together and hopefully we will get back to normal soon.
In the last 2-3 days, we are getting dozens of emails from Language Service Providers (LSPs) who are using the Coronovirus as an excuse to spam potential clients and push their services. Here is an example: _____________________________________________________________________
Dear business partners,
Despite various restrictions and quarantine measures, we operate as usual. Our technologies enable complete home-office for our project managers, translators, editors, DTP staff and other production team members. So, if you have any jobs in CEE languages, we are ready to help you.
You can be sure that even with further and even more restrictive measures (including complete quarantine), we will be able to operate without any restrictions and meet our obligations to our clients.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time at [email protected]We are available on working days from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CET.
In the meanwhile stay healthy. We believe that this situation will disappear soon and everything will return back to normal.
I find this practice to be not only annoying, but also stupid. If you want to send an email to your customers who have opted-in to your mailing list, that’s one thing. But harvesting emails on the web and spamming people to say that your LSP is working like usual during this time of crisis? Chutzpah! And the chances of getting any business from these spam blasts is ZERO. Because business is slowing down in many industries anyway. Companies probably don’t have the stomach now for international expansion, especially with most countries in the western world having shut down their borders.
Should you send email blasts to your mailing list?
I am not sure that this is effective either. The whole world is engulfed in the coronavirus crisis and people are running scared for their lives. Do you think people need another reminder about the coronavirus from their LSP? Being the bearer of bad news will usually not win you any brownie points.
Using coronavirus as a selling tactic in social media
This is another variation on the email blast. Here is an example from one of the world’s largest LSPs.
I actually think that this kind of message is much more tactful. Offering free service in times of crisis is thoughtful and cloaks the come-on in an altruistic gesture which may be appreciated by the buying public.
I actually like this tweet a lot less than that of Lionbridge. Because what is the big news that SDL is announcing? That they are open for business? It’s pretty obvious that they are even without the superfluous tweet. A large company like SDL has account executives that can contact the major clients and reassure them personally. The tweet frankly looks like, in my opinion, as a way to hitchhike on a world crisis in order to drum up business.
The bottom line
Don’t use the coronavirus in your marketing efforts. It is tactless and won’t get you any new business. If you have a special offer that can truly benefit your clients in times of trouble-then pitch it. Otherwise, don’t.
As a freelance translator or a representative of a company in the languages industry, you work with international clients in foreign lands. The nature of our business is international, so your exposure to foreign clients is inevitable. So what do you do when such a client does not pay for services rendered?
It’s a good question which affects so many people. But the answers are not simple. Indeed, many translators and translation companies can share horror stories of how they got ripped off by a client. Sometimes the loss is very painful-thousands or tens of thousands of Dollars or Euro. The damage is not only financial, it can be physical as well. Sleepless nights? Financial stress? Welcome to debt collection hell.
The following is an excerpt from a chat that I had this week with a colleague:
The XXX translation company is scamming me for 7-8.000 euros. I am sending to international debt collection this week. If that doesn’t work, I have a friend who is an ex MMA-pro that weighs 120-130 kgs pure muscle with a bad temper … and as far as i know pretty convincing. I’d worked for them for years .. small jobs .. never had a problem. There were app 100+ files over some weeks .. everything ran smoothly … jobs confirmed and invoices accepted … then no payment. They said, that there were issues with the quality of the translation.
This kind of story is, unfortunately, pretty common. This translator is in a huge bind and is searching for solutions. The part about the MMA collector was, I assume, said in jest and is of course a crazy and stupid idea. But that only goes to prove how desperate someone can become when confronted with bad debt.
The best way to prevent a collection crisis is to avoid it-PREPAYMENT!
At GTS, our standard term is prepayment. Especially for new clients. This solves any collection issue since we get the money in advance. This is good practice for both translation agencies and freelance translators. If a new client orders a job, ask for prepayment. If they say no then you can say no too. If it is large order and the customer does not want to pay the whole thing in advance, ask for a partial advance payment.
Run a credit check
If a customer wants to pay after delivery, check them out first. If it a is translation agency, check sites like Proz and Glassdoor for the company reputation and payment practices. If your client is from another field, run a credit check on them (using BBB, D&B or equivalent). Of just use your common sense. If the company has been doing business at the same location for 30 years, they will be probably make good on their commitment and PO.
Avoid a large debt situation
If a client keeps on ordering and the debt keeps on increasing to a level which can put you in a financially precarious situation, suspend deliveries until the debt is resolved. As any utility customer knows, they will shut off your electricity if you don’t pay your bills for a while. If you default on your mortgage payments, they will eventually evict you from your home. This is common business practice and should be adopted by people in the localization industry as well.
What can you do in a non-payment situation?
Sometimes, even the most cautious business person can get burned by a dishonest company. Or sometimes the company is in financial distress and just can’t pay. What options are available in these types of situations?
Ask for the money (nicely)
This is the first step and should be done tactfully. It will not help to start your collection efforts with confrontation. OK, so with a dishonest company this will usually not help. But if the company has a financial issue, they may tell you that there is a temporary delay and that they will pay you ASAP. These kinds of discussions are better held on the phone and not by letters or emails. Emails are easily ignored and can also come across as being belligerent.
Try to settle
60 cents on the dollar may be better than getting into a fight and being left with 0 cents on the dollar. If the client has complaints and arguments to justify lack of payment, see if they will settle on a partial payment. This will take a lot of restraint on your part, but there are rewards to being pragmatic and having a half-cup full attitude. Again, try calling the client and reasoning with them. If they refuse to answer your calls, then you know you are in a collection nightmare and can go to step 2.
Go to the top
I have found that sometimes you are dealing with a non-senior person who isn’t taking your request for payment seriously. It’s not that the company does not want to pay, just that they are not getting around to it and your contact is being uncooperative. Try to write a letter to the company CEO or better yet, seek out the CEO’s secretary (if it is a large company) and tell her/him your story. This usually gets results. Sometimes, you only need to show your contact the email you are about to send and it will be enough to scare her/him into action.
Using international collection agencies
There are many international collection agencies who can try and collect your debt for you. I myself think that this is a waste of time in most cases. The collection agency has no leverage and what will they do besides ask for the money? It is easy to ignore these agencies. If they ask you for an up-front fee without guaranteeing results, you may end up throwing good money after bad.
This is common practice, especially with freelance translators. They find online translation job portals or go on social media and tell the world how the so-and-so company are crooks and avoid working with them. I find this to be a childish reaction which does little to solve the collection issue. It is more about revenge than anything else.
Some translators seem to take an altruistic approach and say “well I got ripped-off so as a public service I will tell my fellow colleagues not to work with this agency.” In debt collection, the main purpose is to get your money, not to educate the world. Writing nasty things about a company may not only not get you the payment, it may antagonize the other company to a point where they will sever contact with you.
It’s all about leverage-hire a lawyer
I am reminded of a case that we had at GTS many years ago. A client of ours, a very reputable international patent law firm, owed us about $40,000. Weeks and months went by and they were not paying. We sent dozens of emails which were not ignored. But instead of payment, they came up with all kinds of excuses. At one point, the senior partner told us that his firm owed us nothing, since they retained us on behalf of their client. When we asked if we can collect from the client, they said NO!
After we saw that payment may never get resolved, I asked a friend of mine who is an attorney to take care of it in return for a 10% collection fee. One hour after I called my lawyer friend, he called me back to tell me that the check is in the mail. After a few moments of stunned silence, I asked my friend “are you serious?” Yes, came back the reply. The lawyer called up the senior partner and told him that they don’t pay, they would be dragged through the mud. We got the payment within a few days.
Sometimes a lawyer can get you results with just a letter (referred to as a nastygram). A number of years ago a tech company in Kitchener, Ontario owed us a 5-figure sum which was left unpaid. I asked by friend Brian, a respectable barrister in Toronto, to take care of it. He faxed a letter to the company and we got the money wired to our account the very same day!
The lawyer you retain must be in the same country as the client who owes you the money. But as someone in the translation business, you have connections in many countries so finding a decent lawyer may not be too difficult. Asking the lawyer to send a nastygram will not cost you much.
What to do if the lawyer can’t collect? Litigation is costly and can also take years. Another issue with getting a lawyer is that it is usually not worth it for small debts. But as I mentioned, just having a lawyer on your side may give you all the leverage you need to collect.
Avoid any situation which may bury you financially. If you are in a debt collection situation, try diplomacy first and if it does not work then try and get some leverage. If you can’t collect, then just let it go and move on. Nothing is more valuable then your health!
International professional translation services have become a staple business service which is required by most companies in the world. This post will provide some details about translation services for professional use, and how you can order accurate and professional translation services.
Meaning of professional translation services
Professional translation services is a transaction in which a business or a person purchases language translation from a business or person whose occupation is to translate words for a living. It is estimated that there are about 3,000 translation companies and about 640,000 professional translators in the world today (as of 11.2019). Purchasing language translation services from one of these companies or translators is what is defined as professional translation services.
What would not be considered professional language translation services? Using free translation software (like Google Translate), asking one of your in-house employees or a friend who is not a professional translator to translate, or translating by yourself (if you are not yourself a professional translator) would not be considered professional translation services.
Where to find professional translation services?
The easiest way to find professional business translation services is by going online and using a search engine. The results will be overwhelming with thousands of results. Which company to choose? Many people search for translations companies in their own city or location. Many people search for translation companies according to a specific vertical, like medical translation or legal translation. Other people prefer to get a recommendation from someone that they trust about a translation company that they worked with in the past. Even if you can’t get a recommendation, searching online is a good option as you can usually get online reviews or ask for customer references.
Cost of professional translation services
Professional translation services is usually charged for by the word. If you order from a freelance professional translator, prices can start as low as $0.03 per word. If you order from a translation company, prices start from $0.08 per word. The professional translation service price varies depending on the language pair, and can go as high as $0.40 per word.
The most common item ordered from translation companies is document translation. The types of documents that need to translate include documents for immigration (like birth/death//marriage certificates), medical reports, legal documents like contracts, employee handbooks, technical documents like manuals and specifications, sales and marketing brochures and a lot more.
Professional Translation Services Legal
One of the most common type of documents that need to be translated are legal documents like contracts, patents and agreements. So if an international company is leasing office space in another country, the legal department may want to check the lease agreement in their own language and will order a translation of the document. Patents will be translated into various languages for local filing in different countries.
Professional Medical Translation Services
Another common type of document that requires professional translation service are medical documents like medical reports, informed consent forms and clinical research documents. Clinical trials can be conducted in several countries at the same time and the study documents need to be translated into the local language. People that require emergency medical care in foreign hospitals will need to translate the medical reports when consulting physicians at home.
Executives and senior employees who are trying to get a job in another country will need to translate their CV into the local language. CVs should be translated carefully as mistakes will reflect poorly on the candidate.
Today, almost all companies and organizations have a website. If they operate in an international market, it makes sense to translate the website in the language spoken in each market. There are translation companies that specialize in website translation-these companies are proficient at interfacing with and working inside Content Management Systems (CMS), which are used to author and maintain enterprise-level websites.
Professional Certified Translation Services
Many kinds of documents require certification, if the body that the documents are intended for so require. Many government offices some courts of law require that the translated document be signed and stamped by a certified translator. Find out what kind of certification is required prior to ordering professional translation services government.
Professional Translation Services Online
There are many translation companies that offer professional document translation services online. Using one of these companies is a good option when you need a quick, affordable translation service. The leading online translation companies are rev.com, stepes, onehourtranslation and gengo. Click here to find out how you can get the best professional online translation services.
Professional Language Translation
There are over 6,000 languages which are spoken in the world as of 2019. The top five spoken languages are English, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Spanish and French. With so many languages, there are tens of thousands of language pairs which can be translated. Here are some of the most widely ordered languages pairs.
Professional Translation Services Japanese to English
When translating texts from Japanese to English, the industry tends to charge according to the number of Japanese characters. Each English word is equivalent to between 2 and 2.2 Japanese characters.
Professional Translation Services Chinese to English
Similar to Japanese to English translation, the industry tends to charge Chinese to English according to the number of Chinese characters. Each English word is equivalent to between 1.6 and 2 Chinese characters.
Professional Translation Services English to French
French is spoken in many countries and it is estimated that there are 275 million French speakers in the world. Although France is the country that people associate most with the French language, French is widely spoken in many African countries including Niger, Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Togo. It is spoken in Quebec, which is one of the USA’s largest trade partners. It is also spoken in other European countries like Switzerland and Belgium. When ordering professional French translation services, specify the target country in order to get the desired result.
Professional Arabic Translation Services
Arabic is the main language in most middle-eastern and in many African countries. The baseline for the Arabic language tends to be Egypt, which is the cultural center of the Arab world. Arabic is a right-to-left (RTL) language, which is an issue when localizing software and high-end graphics materials to Arabic.
Professional Chinese Translation Services
Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, which is no surprise since the People’s Republic of China is the world’s most populous country. Chinese is also spoken in Taiwan, Singapore, Macau and Hong Kong. The standard form of Chinese is Mandarin. Other forms include Cantonese and Wu. Traditional Chinese is a character set used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Professional Russian Translation Services
By size, Russia is the largest country in the world. Russian is spoken by over 150 million people as a native language, making it one of the world’s most spoken languages.
Professional Spanish Translation Services
As one of the top five most spoken languages in the world, professional translation services English to Spanish are in high demand. The good thing is that there are a lot of professional Spanish translators, which means that Spanish translation prices are at the lower end of the price spectrum.
Professional Translation Services French to English
As French is also one of the top languages in the world, many companies need French to English translation services. Although there are major differences between European and Canadian French, all French to English professional translators can translate out of both Canadian and European French.
Professional Services Translation German
German is not one of the most widely spoken languages in the world – it is spoken mainly in Germany, Austria and in parts of Switzerland. However, Germany’s position as a major powerhouse in the automotive industry and in engineering make German translation services one of the most highly demanded language pairs. Many companies order German to English of technical and engineering materials.
Professional Italian Translation Services
Italian is not even in the top 10 world languages. But Italy’s strong position in many areas such as fashion, tourism, automotive and engineering place Italian translation services in high demand.
Is it possible to get free professional translation services?
It is possible if you are married to a professional translator, have a child or relative who is a professional translator or if you can offer something valuable in return for a translation. Otherwise, it is not possible to get free online professional translation services.
Is there such a thing as Google Professional Translation Services?
No. Google does not sell professional translation services. Google provides free machine translation via Google Translate. Google also offers customized machine translation through Cloud Translation and Google Translate API.
Professional Translation Services Jobs
As mentioned previously in this post, there are about 640,000 professional translators in the world today. Which means that a lot of people are making a living as a professional translator. Many of these translators work out of there home, which is ideal for work-at-home Moms and other people who hate to ride the train to work. Working as a professional translator can be lucrative, as some translators make over $100,000 a year. You can sign up for freelance translation jobs at GTS here:
As professionals in the translation industry, whether you are a translator, a PM, a designer, a sales manager or a translation company owner, we all live with the clock. Anyone who has worked in this business knows that deadlines are a part of our life and are sacred. If you promised your client to deliver by COB London time, it better be delivered on time!
However … deadlines are always being missed for one reason or another. In my opinion, there is no excuse for being late. I once heard a saying that goes like this: the best lie is the truth. If you are late with a delivery, better to come clean and tell your customer the truth. And offer a discount if you deem it necessary to keep your relationship intact. Making excuses, in my opinion, makes a person seem incompetent at best, if not outright dishonest. At GTS, if one of our translators makes an excuse for being late, we tend to write off that person as being unreliable and dishonest.
Having said this, we get LOTS of excuses and I thought I would share some of these with you.
1. Death or illness in the family. This is part of life and unfortunately these things happen. But I tend to be suspicious when someone tells me that her mother-in-law is in the hospital. Illness in itself is a valid excuse: we had a brilliant German to English translator (named Ruth Laskowski may she RIP) who tragically died of cancer. But she never used this as an excuse and always delivered her work on time. Ruth’s husband eventually informed her colleagues of her illness so they could transition accordingly.
2. The work is on my home PC and I am away. A total BS excuse in my opinion. Especially today when everything is in the cloud and smartphones are like a PC in your pocket.
3. My PC was stolen. My house was robbed. I actually just got this one today (and it in fact gave me the inspiration for this post). It does not sound like a believable excuse. I guard my PCs more carefully than I do my wife (well, maybe not but you get the picture). In over 30 years of owning laptop PCs, I never had one stolen. Also, laptops have become so cheap that the market for a stolen notebook PC can’t be much and why would thieves steal them?
4. The work is done but we need extra time for review. This is actually the most clever excuse in that it (a) assuages the client that the delivery is imminent; and (b) shows the client that quality is your top concern. But still, it is an excuse for being late and when you commit to a deadline, it should include all the time you need to deliver a good job.
5. Time zone confusion. This in another one we tend to get. “I thought we were supposed to deliver it COB West Coast time.” If you are the person or company that ordered the translation work, be very specific about the deadline (e.g., we need it by 9 AM EST on October 23).
6. I thought you assigned to work to another translator. This is usually an honest mistake. If you are the PM, make sure that everyone knows their assignments so you don’t have to be the one making the excuses yourself.
7. Sending the original files back. Sometimes people send you back the original back instead of the translation. Is it done by mistake or is it a ploy to gain some extra time? Who knows?
8. No, please use this version instead. Sometimes the translators will send you a file and then send an email an hour later saying “no please use this version instead, I found a mistake.” This wreaks havoc on PMs who are faced with a deadline themselves. What do you do once you delivered the first version? Send the second one? Ignore it? The good translators don’t pull this kind of stuff.
9. You mean I need to translate the graphics too? Another variation on this excuse: you send an Excel file with multiple tabs for translation and it comes back with only one translated tab. As a PM, be very specific about what you need to translate so as to avoid such excuses.
10. Wow, I forgot. This excuse is one of the worst ones as it shows an absolute disregard for the client. Still it happens even to the best and most reliable people. If you use this excuse with a steady client who knows and trusts you-then OK. If you do this with a new client, don’t count on getting more orders from them.
In summary, making excuses for missed deadlines is not recommended. If you are starting out as a translation provider or are working for a new client, don’t ever miss the deadline. If you do need more time, the truth works better. Better to be honest than make up BS excuses that are transparent in their duplicity.
(thought of one more)
10a. Partial delivery. This is one of the most annoying excuses. The deadline for delivery of 5 files is looming near. Your translator delivers two or three files while assuring you that the rest are coming soon. This is bad for the PM as it makes her/him deal with multiple emails and juggle multiple files.
10b.I have some computer issues and I don’t think i will be able to finish the translation on time. A freelance translator with computer issues is like a fire engine with no water. Yet many translators feel that this is a valid excuse. In reality, it is a crappy excuse which also makes the translator look incompetent. Computers today are pretty cheap and a good professional will have a backup in place for this eventuality.
At GTS Translation, we made a strategic shift about three years ago and started to sell document translation services online. It is a simple concept which is used by several other companies like gengo, onehourtranslation and translated. The customer only needs to upload her/his documents and select the source and target languages. They get the translation price quote online within seconds and can then complete the order and payment online. Delivery and approval of the job are also done online. Many customers prefer this method of buying over the traditional method of yesteryear, when they had to call up the translation company by phone, sent files by courier or email, etc.
We also prefer the new way of selling. We can deliver faster and at better prices. Overhead is reduced which means cost savings and happier customers.
The key difference between serious and non-serious online buyers
We noticed something interesting in our transition to selling online. Many non-serious buyers ask questions instead of placing an order. Serious customers that want to buy online just do it (like it says in those Nike ads). Non-serious customers engage our chat lines, send emails or call on the phone to ask questions. We usually make the effort to respond to these questions, but in analyzing hundreds of such queries, we have concluded that over 90% of these inquisitive customers end up not buying. Which is really not fair, if that word can even be used in a business buying situation. These customers are not only wasting their own time, but sadly they are wasting the time of other people who can be doing better things than responding to questions which can easily be answered by checking the company website.
The buying signals
Anyone who has read books about selling will recall one or more chapters about how to interpret buying signals. Questions like “does the product come in black or brown?,” “how long is the warranty,” and “can you deliver it next week?” were considered to be buying signals. I also recall reading in some of those sales books that a lack of questions usually indicated a lack of interest on the part of the buyer and a lost sale.
That may have been true then, but when selling online it appears to be mostly the opposite. Not that questions always result in no sale-some customers are serious about buying and can’t find the information they are looking for online. So they call up or send an email. Some of those customers convert and do end up buying. But they are a minority in the world of online sales. If you have a company that is selling online, I would not recommend that you invest too much effort in responding to these queries and learn to weed out the non-serious buyers.
Typical sales queries
Here are some of the queries and questions that we tend to encounter frequently.
1. Customers who are shopping for general price information, especially for a future project. Even worse, customers who are preparing a large bid in which translation services is just one of the components. There is ZERO percent chance of getting any business out of these inquiries. Don’t put any effort at all into these scenarios, unless it is a customer who has bought from your company in the past.
Automate your query response system
AT GTS we rolled out a translation cost calculator tool that allows customers to select languages and enter a number of words to get an instant price estimate. If you are selling translation services online, either develop a similar tool or feature a website page with general translation price information. Then when the non-serious buyers call you can send them the link and put your time to better use.
2. The files are not ready yet, the final version is not ready, the files are confidential.
These statements tend to come from non-serious buyers. If the files that the customer needs to translate are not ready, how can the customer be a serious buyer? In 99.99% of these scenarios, the customer will get the information and then disappear. The files are confidential you say? We’ll be happy to sign an NDA should be your response. If they disappear on you then you will know that they are not serious.
3. The project is scheduled to launch in Q3 of next year.
If a customer is asking for a price quote for a project that is in the distant future, the chances of getting a sale are very slim.
4. Are the translations done by humans? Are they certified?
On the GTS website, we have this information spelled out in great detail. In fact, our home page slogan is “Best Translation Quality Humanly Possible.” We also have several pages on our website that describe what kind of translation certification we provide. Yet we receive many chats, phone calls and emails asking these questions. Most of these queries are from non-buyers.
5. We want free translation samples
This is a classic. People who ask for free translation samples will take the sample and disappear 99% of the time. Serious buyers have better ways of doing due diligence like calling customer references and checking online reviews. My recommendation: don’t waste time on these requests. Imagine the response you will receive if you walk into a McDonalds and ask for a free Big Mac as a sample.
6. What are the translator credentials? or We want to see the translator CVs
Again, these questions usually indicate that the buyer is not serious. As I wrote in the last paragraph, there are better ways of doing due diligence.
7. Can I get a price discount if I give you a longer lead time? My document has a lot of numbers, can I get a discount for this?
These types of questions are not as bad as some of the previously mentioned ones. But still, most of them indicate a non-serious buyer on the other end.
8. Request for Proposal (RFP/RFQ)
As a translation company with a high online profile, you probably get a lot of RFPs. Some of them are very serious and potentially very lucrative. But they are sent out to several companies and the competition is usually fierce.
Additionally, some corporate buyers have already decided who they will order from. They just want competitive quotes to better their leverage with the supplier. And from experience, some of these RFPs can take hours or even days to prepare. As a translation company sales manager, you need to decide which RFPs to accept and which to decline. And if you accept, be prepared to get rejected which means time spent for nothing.
9. Can we pay against a PO after delivery? Can we pay 50% in advance and 50% after delivery?
These are actually good questions and very often result in a sale. Check out the customer and make a decision. If Apple or Microsoft are asking for you to front them translation services against a PO- Go for it! If a customer is negotiating a 5 or 6 figure purchase and has a good credit rating, 50% in advance is a great deal.
10. My credit card is being declined. The word count I received in the quote does not match the my own records. Can I get the translation sooner?
These are serious questions. The low-hanging fruit in online selling. Answer these queries quickly and with alacrity.
Summary of the online selling paradigm
If your website is layered correctly with a clear sales funnel; with content targeted to each stage of the buying decision and process; and an easy process for ordering online. Then the majority of the questions you will receive are from non-serious buyers. Treat them accordingly.
Search for patterns in the inquiries you receive and make your own conclusions on what are the buying signals.
Without impalas and hyenas, the lion cannot be the king of the jungle (African Proverb)
The translation industry has been dominated by huge players from Europe, North America and East Asia overshadowing important translation initiatives in other parts of the world. But in the rapidly developing region of East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan), translation has been a booming industry for years.
In an effort to shed some light on the state of the translation industry in East Africa, I’ll be talking to Alfred Mtawali, Founder and Director of CAN TRANSLATORS from Nairobi, Kenya and current Chair of the East Africa Interpreters and Translators Association. Alfred, who is an English- Swahili, English – Giryama translator started his translation career, back in 1992, as a Bible translator translating the holy scriptures in his native Giryama, a coastal Bantu language spoken in Kilifi. He has since then gone on to co-author books and train translators in both Kenya and Tanzania.
Are there many professional freelance translators working in East Africa?
Yes, there are many freelance translators in East Africa some of whom even advertise on proz.com and Translatorscafe. Only very few of them though are registered as paying members on those two sites.
How many commercial translation companies are there in East Africa?
I cannot tell you exactly how many there may be but I would put the figure at around 30. Most international clients use companies from Kenya and Tanzania, however.
East Africa is a multilingual and multicultural region. How many languages are spoken among its countries?
East African languages are divided in the following language families: Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic. Kenya has a total of 43 languages, Tanzania has 126 languages (according to Ethnologue). We estimate the languages spoken in East Africa to be around 300.
What are the most common languages Eastern African professionals translate from or into?
The most popular working languages in the region are: Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Luganda, Kirundi, Somali, English and French. Swahili is East Africa’s lingua franca. English is an official language in East African countries and a source language in most projects we work on.
There is English-speaking Africa and French-speaking Africa but even French-speaking countries are slowly beginning to embrace English, like Rwanda.
Do East Africans generally speak a lot of languages and can you learn those languages at school?
All East Africans speak 3 languages: the language of wider communication, one European language and their mother tongues. In the present context, these would be English, Swahili and their mother tongue. Only languages of wider communication are formally taught in schools. These are Kinyarwanda, Swahili and Luganda.
Where do professional translators train? Are there university courses for translators in East Africa?
Some professional translators formally train in university while others learn on the job. Several universities teach translation and interpreting in East Africa, among which the University of Rwanda, the University of Nairobi, St Paul’s University (Nairobi), the Africa International University (Nairobi) and the University of Dar es Salaam.
You are the current chair of the East Africa Interpreters and Translators Association (EAITA.ORG). What does it aim to achieve?
We aim to promote the interests of our members in the region by giving them more visibility online and organizing empowering events and conferences to help them get more skills. In some cases, we even follow up payments from non-paying clients on their behalf. We also form partnerships with CAT tool developers so that our members can purchase CAT tools at subsidized rates. As of now, we have members from Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo.
What type of companies are interested in translation services in East Africa?
Translation buyers include banks, non-governmental organizations, international corporations, individuals, religious and development organizations. Governmental agencies are also translation buyers. They usually request translations of important government policy documents and laws. As there are many African refugees around the world, foreign governments may also request translation services such as the translation of medical prescriptions and personal documents.
Finally, East African translation agencies often collaborate with translation agencies from Egypt and South Africa too.
Do you work with non-African companies as well? Can you give examples of non-African companies which translated their products and services in East African languages?
Microsoft is one company that has translated its products into Swahili and other African languages. Mobile phone companies, especially, want to reach clients in their local language. Uber and Facebook also provide work for East African translators.
Do translators in East Africa need a license to operate?
Translators in East Africa do not need a license to operate, however those who join the EAITA have a better chance of recognition than those who are not members.
How do East African translators get paid?
Translators get paid via PayPal and Skrill, however not all East African countries support these as very few banks allow you to withdraw funds from PayPal and Skrill to your bank account. Where the service is not available, international payment can be done via Western Union, MoneyGram or Kenya’s innovative mobile phone-based money transfer app, M-Pesa.
What tools do East African translators use to do work?
A lot of translators are well-versed in a number of CAT Tools such as memoQ, Trados, Wordfast and DeJa Vu. The majority use Office suites and mobile phones to communicate with their clients.
What are the biggest challenges East African translators face on a day-to-day basis?
Technological challenges such as poor internet connections in some countries but also high-priced CAT tools, low translation rates and bad paying clients. Local clients, for example, expect us to charge them by the page, when everywhere else rates are usually set by the word.
The Internet has fundamentally changed the way we shop and the way we do business. No doubt about it. People are spending less time going to stores and more time shopping online. The geographic location of a business and its proximity to your home or office has become much less significant than it was in the past. Whether you are shopping for groceries, shoes or travel services, getting it online can save you time and effort. And the goods can usually be delivered to your doorstep.
The same holds true for translation services. Everything is done online today and rarely do you need to physically go to the translation office yourself. Everything is delivered by email and if something needs to get delivered in hard copy, there are overnight courier services for that.
Having said that, some people still seem to prefer to order translation services locally. They want to call up on the phone, perhaps even visit the office. Pick up the translated documents in person. That’s why keyword searches like ‘translation companies near me’ and ‘translation agencies near me‘ are very popular in search. According to SEMrush (a popular SEO and digital marketing tool), these two searches alone are made over 1,000 times a month. In addition, there are thousands of monthly searches for phrases like ‘translation agencies in NYC’ and ‘translation companies in Atlanta.’
When is it to your benefit to order translation services locally?
If you have an important document and only have one copy of it, like a birth certificate or a last will and testament. And if you are worried about sending it via courier because it may get lost or damage. Then it may make sense to take the document yourself to a translation agency. Or if you are computer illiterate or have a fear of the Internet. Getting into your car and driving downtown to the translation company office may be more convenient for you.
Of course most hard copy documents can be scanned into an electronic file and sent via email or uploaded to the Internet. No travel time or paying for a parking spot is needed.
If you need a signed translation certificate or affidavit, then using a translation agency near you may be beneficial as well. Some authorities will not accept a digitally signed translation Statement of Accuracy and want a signed, original hard copy. In those cases, using a local translation company may be better since you can stop by and pick up such certificates yourself. Many online translation companies do not offer physical delivery. And even if they do, they will probably charge you a handling and delivery fee.
When is the location of the translation agency irrelevant?
When you need to order any document that it is an electronic file format, like a PDF or Powerpoint file. Especially if it is not a scanned document. Then the location of the translation agency makes absolutely no difference. If you need to translate a brochure, a technical manual, a legal contract, a patent, an informed consent or any document which was created in software-then it makes 100% sense to order it online. It is faster, easier and cheaper. Because you are not limiting yourself to a translation company that is located in your city or state, the competition for your business becomes much larger which means better prices for you as a customer.
GTS Translation is an online translation agency with customers in every state in the US, in every European country and in most Asian countries as well. No matter where you are located, GTS delivers your translation services quickly and efficiently. Translation agency near me? Order translation services from GTS.
The translation and localization industry is one of the fastest growing business-to-business (B2B) market segments. International companies know that language services play a key role in global expansion and translation budgets are growing. More and more content is being translated more than ever before and into an expanding array of languages.
The Slator Language Industry Market Report 2019 provides a comprehensive view of the global language services and technology industry, which, according to Slator was a USD 23.2bn market in 2018 and projected to grow to USD 28.2bn by 2022.
With such a large and growing market size, opening a translation business makes sense. There is a lot of money to be made if you know what you are doing. So how can you start your translation business and make a good living? As someone who has been in the translation industry for over 20 years, I think I am qualified to provide some insight into this and would like to impart some of this knowledge to our readers.
Knowing and loving languages helps. Being a polyglot is not a prerequisite, but it can help you start your translation business. If you yourself are a translator, then it will be easier for you to hire good translators, check the quality of translations and manage quality control of projects. You can then also translate materials yourself, but that is not recommended if you want to have your own translation business. Better to farm out the work and leave your own time for managing the operation.
Translators, translators, translators. As a translation company owner, one of your greatest assets are the translators and reviewers who will do the actual work. So it is key that you get your hands of good professional translators who will turn in good work. Once you identify a good translator, make an effort to nurture that relationship and keep them happy. They will help you make money. Whether it is a freelance translator or an in-house staff member, make an effort to keep these people happy and working for you.
How to recruit translators? There are numerous ways of doing so. One easy way to seek out freelance translators online is via websites such as Proz and Translator Cafe. If you are looking for in-house staff, you can also use conventional hiring practices like wanted ads and headhunters.
Quality, Quality, Quality. This is the cardinal rule-always deliver the best quality work. Quality complaints will kill your translation business so avoid them at any cost. Review the work you deliver rigorously. There is no excuse for turning in poor work. Reputation is everything in this business so keep yours clean.
Customers, customers, customers. Need I say more? Your customers are the lifeblood of your company. The translation business is all about service. As in customer service. Give your customers great service and they will keep on coming back with more orders. Repeat customers is what will make your business. Does your customer need the translation first thing in the morning? No problem. Do you guys do Norwegian too? Of course we do, thanks very much. Can we get a discount? Sure thing. Get the idea? Learn to say the word Yes and remove the word No from your vocabulary.
How to get knew customers? Not an easy task but not impossible either. If you have your own connections, get them involved. Your uncle is Operations VP in some company? Your aunt is a partner in a law firm? Why wouldn’t she/he want to help his favorite niece/nephew? Tell all of your family and friends that you have a translation business. Network with people and spread the word. The beautiful thing about the translation business is that every company and business needs translation services from time to time. Tell your next-door neighbors that you have a translation business and who knows, maybe a few years down the road they will get you a killer lead. It happens, believe me.
Project Managers. PMs are a very important part of a translation business so recruit good ones. PMs provide the interface between your customers and your translators. PMs will get to know your customer’s preferences and will provide the customer service that will keep your business going. Larger translation companies will also have vendor managers and customer sales reps to grow and establish new accounts. Very large translation companies will also have M&A people to buy other translation businesses in order to grow market share. But as a new translation company you won’t need some of these activities. But in time you may do.
Position your translation business. There are many verticals in the translation industry. Medical translation. Legal translation. Business translation. Official translation of documents for immigration. Translation for the automotive industry. Each vertical has its own requirements and possible forms of certification. Equip your translation business with the resources needed to service your chosen verticals.
Know your competition. Find out of who you are competing against and try to outperform them in some way. Better prices? Better service? Think out of the box on this one and try to snare away some of their business. Or if you don’t want to step on any toes, at least find out which customers they are serving and see if there are some opportunities that they are overlooking.
Advertise your business. There are various ways of doing this. For a translation business, digital advertising online is key and probably the most cost-effective form of advertising. Establish an online presence by creating a website, a Facebook page, LinkedIn, Instagram. The returns on this activity will take some time (even years) but will prove to be worthwhile. Start writing good content and circulate it online. Trade shows are always good as they will put you in direct contact with buyers and competitors. At first, if your budget is modest go on your own to a industry conference and give out business cards. Once your business gets bigger, get a booth and staff it with your sales people. Spread it all out as you never know where your next lead will come from.
Keep expenses low. At the beginning, you will need to develop your company and the revenues may not come pouring in right away. Bill Gates is quoted as saying that he always had enough cash on hand to run Microsoft for one year without one penny of sales. This is good practice for your business too.
Keep your nose clean and hope for the best. I myself am a religious person and believe in prayer. But even if you yourself don’t, it can’t hurt to hope for the best. Luck never hurt anyone but ultimately a person creates her/his own luck. Work hard and don’t give up. Success is right around the corner.
Translation is a big business. According to the localization industry research firm CSA, the global market for outsourced translation services in 2017 was US$43.08 Billion. That’s a lot of money! Nearly every business in the world needs translation services. Whether you are a restaurant owner who needs to translate your menus, an airline that needs to translate it’s in-flight safety videos or a chemical company transporting chemicals to another country-you need professional translation services for your business. Many private individuals will also require translation services at some point. This includes professionals who wish to relocate to another country, hospital patients who were treated abroad and people involved in divorce proceedings.
Once you have realized that you need professional translation services, you can start looking for a suitable translation agency. But there are thousands to choose from. A daunting task no doubt. How should you start? This post will try to help you sift through the noise and find the right translation agency for your needs.
The biggest companies in the world, like the Fortune 100 companies, will need a high-end translation company. These companies include Transperfect, Lionbridge, Welocalize and SDL. These and other large LSPs (Language Service Providers) have the resources to carry out large scale deployments of product releases, global Internet sites, software releases and social network campaigns.
Tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Facebook maintain a presence in every country in the world. So when they release a new product or update an existing one, they will need to localize and translate the materials in as many as 100 languages at the same time. This requires the deployment of a massive team of hundreds of translators, editors, project managers and software engineers.
Such efforts also require very advanced technological capabilities: such as integration with internally developed Content Management Systems (CMS), use of online translation aids and content sharing by many people at the same time. Only translation companies with significant resources can work at that level. The annual localization and translation services budgets for these companies will run in the millions of dollars.
Industry-Specific Translation Companies
Some types of translation requires advanced specialization and in-depth capabilities in not only the translation work itself, but in other aspects of the work in general. This includes translation companies that specialize in patent application filing, in medical device translation, aerospace industry and automotive industry translations. So if you work for an auto company (like GM), there are companies that specialize in translation of the car owner manuals, assembly instructions, parts maintenance and such.
In today’s translation industry there is a consolidation of companies, and many of the industry-focused companies have been acquired by the big LSPs. For example, Transperfect acquired a company named Crimson Life Sciences in 2005, integrated its activity into its own operations and re-branded it to Transperfect Medical Device Solutions.
If you are working for one of the leading companies in one of these areas (e.g. Boeing, Medtronic, Pfizer, Ford Motor company), chances are that you will be in touch with one or more of the large LSPs mentioned previously. Here too the budgets will run in the hundreds of thousands or even millions annually. If your budget is less than that, your best bet is to find a small of medium sized LSP with relevant industry-experience. That should narrow down the field considerably.
Language-Specific Translation Companies
Single language vendors (SLVs) are companies that focus on one language, or the languages of a specific geographic region. For example, Sandberg Translation Partners specializes in the Nordic languages like Swedish and Danish. Or Middle East Localization, a translation company that specializes in Middle-Eastern languages like Arabic and Farsi.
These companies tend to market their services in the relevant countries in which these languages are used most; or to other LSPs that lack the resources in that specific set of languages. If you are running a multiple language translation project, chances are that one or more SLVs are being used without you even knowing it.
Local Translation Companies
These companies are throwbacks to the translation agencies that were dominant 40 years ago. Before the age of the Internet, translation companies would advertise in the Yellow Pages and the local newspapers to local businesses. They would provide a full range of translation services from restaurant menus, to immigration papers, legal court documents and other business documents. In large cities like New York and Chicago, the local translation companies sold their services to the large companies located in that city. Because email and the Internet did not exist, much of the work was physically delivered in hard copy. Obviously being local gave you a big advantage.
Even today with email and everything, being close to your customers can be of significant importance. Some customers, like private individuals, want to visit the shop in person. Some papers still need to be notarized and delivered in hard copy; and even though Fedex can get to any location in the USA within 24 hours, being local gives some customers that warm, fuzzy feeling that they need to do business. One of the biggest translation-related terms in Google search is “Translation Services near me.”
Some language providers specialize in on-site interpretation, simultaneous interpretation and phone interpretation services. LanguageLine Solutions provides interpretation services over-the-phone (OPI) when needed by hospitals, courts or in video conferences. CyraCom International, Inc. is an company that provides over the phone and video interpretation services. Some companies provide simultaneous interpretation to venues like the UN where a speakers words are translated in real time and delivered on headphones. These interpretation companies will have a large staff of interpreters as well as the equipment needed for this kind of work.
Website Translation Companies
Publishing a website in multiple languages requires both language expertise and technological capabilities. Many companies offer website translation services. But there are companies that specialize in translation of websites and that have made this their predominant line of business. Examples include MotionPoint and Smartling. Translations.com (owned by Transperfect) is one of the leaders, if not the biggest, in this area. Here too, the Fortune 100 companies are going to be using one of the large LSPs or one of the large website translation companies.
If your budget for website translation services is not in the hundreds of thousands at least, you will need to find a small or medium size translation company. Try to find a company with relevant experience, a company that has IT people that can oversee the integration of the translated content in the CMS that your company is using.
Online Translation Companies
These companies are the best option for when you need quick delivery of documents like a contract, a technical manual, a consent form, web content or a marketing brochure. These companies provide an instant online price quote, online payment and fast online delivery. The prices will be considerably lower than those offered by the medium to large LSPs. And there is no minimum budget required to work with these companies. Some of the online translation companies include OneHourTranslation, Gengo, rev.com, Straker and GTS Translation.
Free translation software is a good option for translation of text that you need for internal use. Like if you received an email in a different language from a colleague; or basic instructions for a cellphone app. MT is not perfect but it will deliver the job in a basic way. Since the translation is for internal purposes, slight inaccuracies will not be that damaging to the business at hand. Free translation can be an excellent option if you yourself (or someone in your organization) are fluent in the target language. So you can run the text through an online translator, edit the outcome and fix any inaccuracies yourself.
The advantages of working with a freelance translator are obvious. You will save money since you are cutting out the middleman. What are the disadvantages?
Lack of quality control. Unless you are fluent in the target language, you will not be certain that the translation is of good quality. Even the best translator can have an off day; or be uncomfortable with the text you have assigned to her/him; or be unaware of the correct subject-specific terminology to use; or be in a rush to complete the translation and assume that it will be reviewed prior to delivery.
Inconsistency of service. Let’s say that you found a good translator and are happy with the work that she/he turned in. But since that translator does not work for you on a full-time basis, there is a good chance that the translator will be unavailable for the next project. Sick, vacation, other work, etc. There are a 100 reasons why the freelance translator you hired may not be available for the next project.
Form of payment. The majority of translators in any given language tend to live in the country where the language is spoken. The translators you want to work with may live in Russia, Thailand, France, Egypt or any other country on the planet. So how will they get paid? Check in the mail? Not feasible and most translators will not be interested. Credit card? You will find that most freelance translators are not set up for credit card payment. Wire transfer (ACH)? This is a good option but (a) international wires are costly ($30-$40 for each bank wire) and (b) can be a hassle if you are not setup to execute this form of payment. Online payment platforms like Paypal and Skrill are good but may also require some time-consuming configuration on your part.
Multi-language projects. If you require a translation into several languages, you will need to negotiate with multiple translators. This will be a time consuming effort.
Lack of buying experience. If you are first time buyer, you may not be aware of the price levels and can overspend on your project. Unless you are a translation industry professional, getting to know the prices requires a time investment on your part. So the money you save on translators costs may be offset by the time that you spend doing the due diligence. As an inexperienced buyer, you may be missing some price discounts that an experienced buyer would take advantage of.
Hiring a Professional Translation Company
Hiring a professional translation company will definitely cost more than using free machine translation, and will probably cost more than hiring freelance translators. The advantages of working with a professional translation company are the reverse of the disadvantages listed previously for working with freelance translators:
Guaranteed Quality Control. A good translation company will always deliver work which was reviewed by a second linguist. Additionally, a seasoned translation company Project Manager will know which translators to assign the work to based on the type of text and availability of resources. Most good translation companies have a Quality Management System (QMS) in place which is designed to deliver consistently good quality. And a good translation company will have a proven team of translators who will consistently deliver high quality.
Consistency in service. Professional translation companies will have the resources you need to deliver your translations on time and at the desired level of quality.
No-hassle payment. Translation companies are usually set up for all forms of payment and will be happy to accommodate your preferred method of payment. This includes payment after delivery.
Buying experience. Translation companies have professional buyers who know the business. They will know how to get you the best prices for reviewed, high quality translation. Some of these buyers purchase thousands of dollars of translations a day, which means that they get better prices than you would get from a freelance translator.
Translation Certification. Some translations, like immigration documents, medical device instructions and clinical trials documents, need to be certified. A professional translation company will have the experience and backend required to get you the necessary translation certification papers.
Customer reviews are an integral part of the due diligence people perform before buying a product or service online. For example, before going to a hotel I will usually check the online reviews. If a hundred people are saying that the hotel stinks, it is probably a good idea to stay away.
Last year I reserved several nights at the Boston Harbor Hotel. The reviews for this hotel were incredible (and indeed the hotel was amazing). But one week before we went to the hotel, I found out from reading the online reviews that the hotel’s indoor pool was closed due to maintenance. Now I myself am a swimmer and booked the Boston Harbor hotel with the knowledge that I would be able to perform my daily swim routine. Had I read the online reviews more carefully, I may have booked a different hotel. As it happened, and since I was unwilling to forgo my exercise, I found a public pool nearby the hotel called the Mirabella pool. Since I enjoyed the outdoor, Olympic-size Mirabella pool the story had a happy ending.
Google My Business. To check user reviews on any business, including translation service agencies, just do a Google search on the business name and the address of the business. For example, do a Google search for “GTSTranslation, 4747 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140, USA.” Then click the reviews link to read the customer reviews.
Pickwriters is an excellent resource for translation agency reviews. It has numerous lists categorized by industry (e.g., top legal translation companies, top medical translation companies, etc.).
ConsumerAffairs is a well-established reviews website that has been in existence for 20 years. ConsumerAffairs offers custom partnerships that start with proactive review collection by phone or email. This allows them to gather authentic, useful feedback from verified customers. The problem with this website, from a user perspective, is that translation companies that are listed on ConsumerAffairs must pay thousands of dollars a year to get listed on the website. So this review board may be skewed in the sense that 98% of the translation agencies are not mentioned here.
Goodfirms has a list of translation companies and collects reviews for each one.
Trustpilot is a company that collects online reviews for its customers and places the rankings on its own website as well on major search engines.
Yelp is the modern, online version of the Yellow Pages. This is a ‘catchall’ reviews platform with no specific industry focus, certainly not for the translation industry. Yelp seems more suitable for local retail businesses and not so much for B2B segment.
G2 provides fair listings of companies ranked in order of their review quality/quantity. Categories like G2 document translation reviews receive thousands of visitors hoping to research a market unbiased from a third party. Individuals can request to contact said organizations through G2. They provide both free and paid options (the paid option provides review generation campaigns using by-hand techniques and/or automated software outreach.