Translation agencies have to be pretty adaptable. Sometimes it seems that they have to bend over backwards when clients appear to be constantly changing their requirements. How adaptable is your translation agency, or if you are a freelancer, how rigid are you and how far do you go to meet your client’s needs before getting exasperated?

Just imagine, for instance, being a waiter at a nice restaurant, one that prides itself on its diverse menu, good cooking and excellent presentation. In comes a diner who scans the menu for something he likes. He starts off by choosing a particular dish, but instead of leaving it there, he asks for a number of changes to the way it is cooked, the sorts of ingredients that are used and how it is finally presented. Is the restaurant able to cope with individual exceptions to the usual customer practice or will you, at the coal face, as it were, say very politely that what is on the menu is all that is available?

Handling translation clients is a bit like the example described above in the restaurant with the only difference being that it can happen much more frequently. The bottom line, of course, is what you charge. Run of the mill translation may be charged by the word, but when there are very specific requests that have to be handled additionally then you may have to build in an extra cost for time spent on adapting the client’s translation requirements. Experience is really the only way that you can make a realistic quotation in advance for what might be a complex and seemingly ever changing translation task.

In the restaurant example, the smart restaurant may have a way around dealing with the “awkward” diner experience. “Yes, Sir. We can arrange exactly what you would like, but it may be considerably more expensive than what is on the menu. Instead of the price for the standard meal of 35 dollars, that might be 50 dollars”. This can be politely noted on the menu so that the diner can make the decision based on how much they are prepared to pay for a meal that they really like.

The reality is that any good translation business needs to be prepared for the likelihood that some of their clients are going to want to change the details of their translation project. The way to handle that is to make sure that an honest quotation is made at the outset which details exactly how you charge for a project and what it might cost for every extra amendment.

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