Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is Volume Pricing Appropriate for Translation Services?

Freshly back from vacation, I received an inquiry about pricing for a rather large translation project. Some translators argue that because the same amount of work per word goes into a small project as does into a large one, we shouldn't offer volume discounts. "We sell a valuable service, not shoes," I've heard say.

While I certainly agree that selling a professional service is different from selling everyday items, a large project does lower our cost, as well. That cost reduction may not be as dramatic as it is for a retailer receiving a steep volume discount from the wholesaler, but it does exist. For one, I can spend the next two or more weeks just working on the project, instead of having to spend part of my time in unpaid attempts to get work.

Then there is the fact that the more familiar I am with a particular text and the way it is written, the faster I am translating it: much of my terminology research already occurred during the first twenty or thirty pages, I become accustomed to the writer's style and "get into the groove". So I do think that volume pricing has its place even in translation.

That said, beware of agencies requesting the lowest possible price with the promise of large quantities of future work. You don't know whether that work will actually materialize, you still have to negotiate each project separately with the agency, and if the work is from different agency clients, the time savings from working on a consistent piece evaporate.

1 comment:

Thanks for your comment. I will review comments weekly, so please be patient if you are expecting a reply. - Barbara