Friday, September 10, 2010

How to Proceed With New Clients

An e-mail I received recently made me think that it would be good to post a standardized procedure for handling requests from potential new clients. Some of my colleagues, such as Corinne McKay in her blog post "Responding to a request for quote", have written about their own procedures. To contribute to that debate, here is my approach:

  1. I receive a general e-mail inquiry.

  2. I check the background of the e-mail's sender (see my earlier blog post on Checking Out Potential Clients).

  3. If the results of that search indicate a professional company without complaints about non-payment, I reply to the inquiry requesting the following information (unless already supplied in the initial inquiry):

    1. Exact word count of source text
    2. Field of specialization/type of text
    3. Format of source text (Word doc, PDF, Excel spreadsheet, ...)
    4. Deadline requested
    5. Text sample

    If the results of my search do not indicate a professional company, or I see repeated complaints about non-payment, I decline the project.

  4. The client supplies the information requested.

  5. I evaluate the text sample, source format, total length and deadline requested in light of other pending projects. If I can handle this project, I confirm the word count and deadline and state my standard per word rate, as well as the total price and payment terms:

    1. A deposit of 50% of the total price prior to starting work on the project.
    2. If the project is expected to take less than 2 weeks, I'll invoice the remainder of the total price at project completion and expect payment within 15 days of invoice date.
    3. If the project is expected to take 2-6 weeks, 25% of the remaining total price is due after 2 weeks, with the final 25% again invoiced on project completion and due within 15 days of invoice date.
    4. For long-term projects (more than 6 weeks), I propose a schedule of partial deliveries, with due dates for partial payments.

  6. The client agrees to my price and terms, confirms the order and sends the entire source text.

  7. I send an invoice for the deposit, including information on where/how to pay it. Depending on the timeframe involved and the client's location, this may be my PayPal account or a bank account.

  8. The client pays the deposit and notifies me by e-mail or Skype, or I receive an e-mail from PayPal.

  9. I confirm receipt of the deposit and start work on the translation, backing my work up as I go along (see my earlier post on Backup Procedures & Disaster Preparedness).

  10. At the latest the night before the deadline I e-mail the completed translation to the client, asking for confirmation that the file was received.

  11. The client confirms receipt of the translation.

  12. During my next invoicing cycle (usually once a week), I generate an invoice for the remaining price of the project.

  13. I receive payment of that remaining amount and mark this project closed.

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