If you’re looking a potential client looking for professional translation services, you need to know what to look for before signing on the dotted line
Don’t get got up in a scam. You don’t want your important company documents, trade secrets, or personal information in the hands of an amateur.
Here are the questions you need to ask.
1. Do They Look Like a Professional Translation Service?
Do they have a proper looking webpage that isn’t full of errors? Their own domain name professionally hosted? Or are they using some free AOL page they started 20 years ago and never updated? An email account that is tied to their website?
2. Is their information easy to find?
If you have to search all over Timbuktu on their webpage to find out how to contact them, drop them and move on to someone else. When a professional translation service wants your business, its information (address, phone, skype, email, social media) should be easy to find. If not, don’t waste your time.
3. Is there a real name attached to the professional translation service?
If you’re dealing with a freelance translator, this is usually easy to find. However, if you are going to contract with a translation company, you need to find an actual person. If there is no person’s name on the company’s information or webpage, then stay away. Why would a company want your business but be too afraid of listing anybody that works there?
4. Is the professional translation service willing to discuss your project?
If the translation company or freelance translator you take your business to doesn’t want to discuss your project, take it as a sign that they will not spend adequate time on your project. Every translation company should want to meet AND exceed their clients’ expectations. This won’t be done if the company or translator in question isn’t even willing to talk to you about your project before she begins translating.
5. Where is the company/freelancer located?
You might not think this matters too much. I mean, hey, I’ve even talked before how translation is such a great career choice (even in retirement!) because you can do it from anywhere and aren’t tied to geographical boundaries. This is true. But as a client, you need to understand where the person is from originally and where they are located currently. Each one of us has expectations when we encounter someone new for the first time. In order to better understand those expectations and make sure they don’t ruin future client/provider relationships, we need to acknowledged simple things like location.
6. What is the pricing structure for the professional translation service?
One of the things I find strange when I look at the websites for translation companies and freelance translators is that some of them list no information on pricing. If I’m a potential translation client who is looking into hiring one of a various number of translation companies, I’ll be much more inclined to reach out to the company or individual that gives me some idea on pricing. Especially if this is the first time I’ve hired a professional translation service provider. The translation company should provided at least some sort of pricing structure or outline so that you can know what you’re paying for and about how much it will cost you.
7. What are the company’s policies regarding revisions, unacceptable deliverables, etc.?
Does the company offer anything in writing that addresses the consequences when the company fails to deliver the product as agreed upon? If not, maybe look at a different company. Not every translation provider is going to be 100% perfect 100% of the time. That’s just not possible and not likely. That’s OK. What they should tell you, though, is what’s going to happen if your results are not what they should be. That way you know what your recourse will be right away. A good translation company knows that they won’t always be perfect. But they will understand that it’s their job to make it right the second time.
8. What is the company’s turnaround time?
How long is your translation going to take? Every translation project is different. Believe me, I know that completely. But every translator or translation company worth is weight should be able to give you a ballpark estimate on how much your translation will cost you.
9. Who specifically is going to work on my translation and what relevant experience does she have?
This is especially true if you decide to hire a translation company instead of a sole freelance translator. You should know who is doing your translation and what particular set of skills they possess that make them an ideal fit for your translation project. Every project is going to be different. You want to make sure that the freelancer or professional translation service company understands that and sets things up for complete success.
10. How “professional” do I need my translation to be?
Before you agree to anything, you should know how professional your translation needs to be. Is it just a letter from a pen-pal in China that doesn’t carry much significance? Or is it a PowerPoint presentation that is going to be given to a company’s buyer? The more professional you need your translation to be, the more services you are going to need from your translation provider.
11. What kind of other services does the professional translation service provider offer?
And speaking of services, if you have an idea that you’re going to meet additional services up front, look for a professional translation service provider that can provide all those things for you so that you don’t have to go to five different providers to get your finished product. These “extra services” can be things such as formatting, desktop publishing, notarization, etc.
12. Can they deliver the finished product to me in the form I need?
Before you hand your original project over to a professional translation service provider, you need to first understand what you want the finished product to look like. That way you can communicate that information to the provider. Do you want your html original to be in a PDF file when you get it back? What about graphics? Where do you need it mailed? Communicate the answers to these questions to your provider so that they better understand what you need.
13. Does the professional translation provider understand the concept of Non-Disclosure Agreements and the privacy of my work?
If you don’t know what non-disclosure agreements mean as related to translation, watch the video below. Even if you decide you don’t need one, the provider needs to understand the level of privacy and security you require regarding your translation project.
14. Can they provide any references for past work?
Past work is the best predictor for finding a good professional translation service provider. Certifications can be made up and don’t mean much. Previous school work or degrees are not that impressive. Client testimonials can be faked also. However, if the translation provider can point to a slew of previous clients along with contact information to validate, you are much more likely to find a professional that can deliver your project the way you want.
15. Are they involved in the greater translation community?
Not a deal breaker. However, in my experience, translators that can be readily identified as being a part of the greater translation community tend to run successful translation businesses. A scam artist is not going to be brave enough to put themselves out to be scrutinized by the community as a whole. Look for a translator or professional translation service provider that is willing to give back.