How to be a VIC (IV): Think Ahead

We all like to know what to expect, so well-organised clients with generous deadlines and no surprises stand a better chance of making it to the translator’s list of VICs (very important clients). Last-minute panics, documents arriving in dribs and drabs and sudden changes are a translator’s worst nightmare. Good planning makes good friends.

Think “first arrived, first served”. It may be a good idea to give us notice or check our availability before your document is ready, but we cannot afford to keep a free slot on the mere promise that work should (may, might…) come in on a particular day as this would mean turning other clients away. If you do not deliver on time, this translates as a loss of income for us – a risk only inexperienced translators will take – and if we are available one week, we may not be available the next, which results in a lose-lose situation for all. The best option is to give us your text as early as possible, and we may even be able to deliver the work early as a bonus.

Be aware that urgent jobs can also incur a supplement just like an employee can expect to be paid time and a half on a Saturday and double on a Sunday. And as with most things, rushing can be detrimental to quality. Translation is not a job you can do with your eyes closed: it requires a high level of concentration and great attention to detail. A tired or stressed brain will struggle to generate optimum results.

Furthermore, translators prioritise their work according to the projects’ deadlines, i.e. date and time. “As soon as possible” does not tell us when you need it for and there is a day’s difference between Tuesday 9 am and Tuesday 5 pm. Save on a couple of emails by being specific.

Time management doesn’t apply to deadlines only. It is advisable to send all documents at once. This avoids the risk of missing a document or email, of needing to update a file already sent in light of another one finalised later (never a good idea!) and your translator can then have an overall view of the project. As each document helps us to understand the others, we often choose to translate them in a particular order for that reason. By sending all your finalised documents together, you help us to ensure consistency and quality.

Unexpected last-minute issues can happen and we’ll be happy to help whenever we can, but by planning well and keeping these incidents to a minimum, you stand a much higher chance of joining the VIC list. And if you’re not sure about how to plan a translation project, why not give us a ring for a quick chat?

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