While standardised pricing models are becoming increasingly popular in the translation industry, most translation agencies will not display a pricelist of their services on their homepage. Why? Because prices typically are tailored to each individual client, or even project.
Factors such as service range and complexity, expected quality level and application, subject area, text type or volume will all be considered when estimating the base prices.
A more efficient approach than asking for standard price list is to ask for a quotation, i.e., a price estimate for the services you ask to be provided. The quotations you receive should be comparable, so the information in your quotation request should indicate at least the following:
- the languages in which the service is required,
- preferred delivery time,
- how the translation will be used.
If possible, submit all content that you require translated, so that agencies can take into account the whole volume and analyse the amount of repetitive and similar content.
Pay attention to what services the prices include, as some companies will charge for Project Management as a separate service, while others will include it in the translation costs.
Specific quotations will also provide a good means of comparison if your intention is to find a long-term partner or you have a very particular set of requirements. Inform the prospective partners about your yearly volumes (even better if you can give some statistics of translated materials from previous years) and about your long-term translation needs, as it has significant impact on how translation the agency will construct the price proposal.
Either way, be wary of very low prices - professional translation agencies have made considerable investments (human resources, technologies, quality standards etc.) to ensure professional service. So, unless the agency can give a credible explanation, a significantly lower price may indicate some corners have been cut.
All translation agencies will claim that they offer excellent quality and are simply the best with whom to work. Do not just take their word for it, but rather see what proof there is for such claims. Go to their websites and look for:
- Case studies. Look for case studies of clients in your industry or accomplished projects that are similar to your projects.
- Certifications. While not an automatic guarantee for quality, certifications according to standards such as ISO 9001:2008 or EN 15038:2006, will mean the translation agency has defined procedures and uses a systematic approach for ensuring that the services provided meet customer requirements.
- Testimonials. While some will find them overly positive, it still is praise well earned. If you have your reservations towards a selection of a carefully selected examples of positive work on homepage, ask them to put you in touch with at least 3 of their customers to obtain up-to-date references. Or ask the translation agency to give you specific samples of the accomplished work that is relevant to you.
- Values. When browsing through agencies’ homepages, you should be able to get some feeling as to what their identity, ethical and work values are. Look for companies with whom you share the same values and ethics.
To be sure you are receiving a good quality service, but not overpaying:
- Understand the approximate price range by asking for a free quotation to several agencies;
- Be clear about what level of quality you expect and the intended use of text;
- Pay attention to what services are included in the quote, so that quotes are comparable;
- As prices may differ significantly, ask for clarifications if some quotation is considerably lower than others.
Visit a translation agency’s website or ask for specific project examples to check its qualifications:
- Look for case studies that are similar to the type of work you have;
- Standards and certifications will signal commitment towards quality and customer satisfaction;
- Check testimonials or ask for direct contact with its customers in order to obtain up-to-date references.
- Shared values will help make cooperation more productive and positive.
The first part of the article discussed communication aspects, while the final part will describe what to consider regarding security and technology.