Why Mutual Trust is Crucial for a Healthy Business Relationship

A one-time client contacted me for a super urgent translation. About 50 pages to be translated within 24 hours. Every time I receive such requests, the first thing that comes to my mind is: here we go; another client who, instead of admitting to being late to do the work, calls it an urgent job.

Being the professional I am, I asked to see a sample first to be able to give a fair rate. The reply came swiftly. The entire project was sent to my email in attachment within minutes. After viewing the files, I realized that the project was indeed huge, even more than 50 pages based on my experience. The files were in non-convertible PDF format, which meant I had to charge per target word.

So far so good.

I checked the files thoroughly, did my calculations and proceeded to writing a detailed email with the quotation.

I explained to the client that is it not humanly possible to produce an accurate translation within 24 hours, giving them the following reasons:

  • To translate around 25 pages a day, the project needs a team of 5 translators, each working on a batch of 5 pages, as one translator cannot possibly translate this many pages in one day all by themselves, not even half that number!
  • This also meant that the TransPremium team had to pause all other translation projects and focus solely on the urgent one, and would still need 48 hours as opposed to the 24 hours required by the client. The translation would then need to be proofread and edited to have a unified style since each translator would have their own style.
  • The texts were technical (legal documents), which meant they required thorough research in order to produce a correct and accurate translation. Research needs more time than usual.

Now to get to the financial part.

I explained to the client that a project of such magnitude would require them to post a down payment. I had my reasons which I did not share with them, but here they are:

  • This is a one-time client who last contacted me over a year ago.
  • This client is overseas. The only way I contacted them was virtually.
  • The project is huge and requires the effort of multiple translators, which makes the risk higher.

After sending the detailed email, I waited for a reply but to no avail. Did the client suddenly stop being in a hurry? Is the job no longer an urgent one?

I waited and waited, all afternoon, and then it hit me: when it comes to the financial part, some clients are not willing to put their trust in the translator. They would rather get all their work done before paying a single penny.

From my point of view, I had already spent time reviewing the job, sending emails and a detailed quotation. Time IS money, but it would be shallow to think of it as only this.

The question that quickly came to my mind is: why would I trust the client blindly and work on a multi thousand dollar project overnight without receiving a down payment, while they wouldn’t trust me enough to believe that I would deliver the translation in the most professional way? Especially that, the first time around, I finished the job and sent it to them before receiving any down payment, which, I think, is a huge sign of trust from my end. Why would things be so difficult this time around?

It is obvious that the client wasn’t willing to pay any money before receiving any translation, although I made it clear that the work would be sent in batches to make it easier and to show the progress of the project. They simply did not bother replying to my email, whether they were to accept or reject my offer.

At this stage in my career, I can honestly say that I also am not willing to work on such a huge project in such a short time without any guarantees whatsoever.

Moral of the story: unless there is mutual trust between the client and the language service provider, the business relationship would never be 100% healthy.



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