This is part 2 of this post. For part 1, please follow this link.
Why is your Price So High?
When a prospective client asks this question, a good quick answer is “That’s a good question, thanks for asking. Think Mercedes-Benz versus Honda Civic.” A more detailed answer depends on whether a prospect compares us to a competitor or a provider of some other professional services.
Comparing with Competitors
Compared to a low-cost translator who works at a rate of, say, $0.05 per word for English to Russian translation, we offer three distinct advantages:
Quality. We do an independent review of each project; that is, we have another pair of eyes on the translation, which makes a huge difference in terms of quality. Not only this is an industry-proven process, it’s also a requirement of the EN 15038 standard. And we also perform extensive computer-enabled quality assurance checks. Not all low-cost translators employ the translation memory (CAT) programs that enable such QA to begin with.
Reliability. As a company, we’re in a better position to provide a high level of reliability than a low-cost provider who is typically a hobby translator. We won’t fail to deliver a job because of getting sick or for another similar reason since we always have a cushion of capacity to complete it even in case of an emergency. Our clients also have the assurance that we will be there when they come back with an urgent addition or a new project six months later. A hobby translator may be unavailable due to a vacation or already pursuing a different career.
Experience and expertise. With translation, the price is always a function of experience and expertise. When I first started as a professional translator, I was so inexperienced that I had no other option but to offer low rates as my only selling point. Frankly, my lack of experience caused many blunders. I didn’t even realize how to use 50% of the features in a translation memory tool that clients expected me to employ in my work. In a similar vein, our competitor providing bargain-basement rates is often a hobby translator who doesn’t have the necessary competence to translate important materials. For example, it’s not uncommon for this type of translators to claim they know how to use a computer-assisted translation program and then deliver a test translation where every single tag was deleted. By paying a premium for the first-rate services, a client is protected from this kind of risks. Make no mistake, this is not to say that as a company, we are flawless. We also make mistakes as all humans do, but the amount and magnitude of those mistakes is negligible, in particular over the long term, and we are also able to fix errors quickly while a hobby translator might have a hard time doing that.
Comparing with Other Service Providers
It’s not uncommon for a prospect to think that by charging a high rate, a translator will be making a disproportionately large amount of money compared to other professions. But is it really so? At our current rates, we are lucky if we make $20-25 per hour as a company. To put this in perspective, let’s look at some of the examples of how much other local service providers make per hour:
- A taxi driver taking you to Moscow will charge you $15 per hour.
- An English teacher charges $15 per hour for an individual training session.
- An air-conditioning installer makes $15-20 per hour.
Although all of the above are examples of one-man operations, they earn just as much as we do.
Because translation prices vary widely in Russia, it’s a good idea to start a conversation with a prospect by confirming their budget. And if a best-of-breed translation agency charges higher than some of its competitors, it should be prepared to clarify its competitive advantages to potential clients and even explain that its rates aren’t that high as they seem to be compared with other professional services.