As a translator I must admit defeats on a day-to-day basis. This seems unavoidable.
In this job too you perform according to the method of trials and errors, but you make sure that you learn from mistakes. If something goes wrong or you get bad reactions, try to remedy them as as soon as possible and start afresh with new clients, if it won’t be possible with the old ones.
You have to appreciate every enquiry after your service, since you know there are a lot of translators out there and working on your own and not within an agency puts you in a completely different situation. Starting from disadvantages maybe. You have to do a lot of work before you may hope for offer quotes on projects. Advertising in the papers, on the internet, on frequented areas in your town etc. this alll takes up time and your effort, not to mention, your money.
So, when there is a potential client requesting that you make a bid on a project, you have to follow some rules of decent communication to be entitled to a fairly safe win.
Firstly, just like an athlete maintaining a competitive spirit, you must quick to answer a mail. Mails are the most frequent method by which I get questions from potential clients. Try to write an answer within an hour. That’s a very good timing, although when you work for an agency, for example, you must be even quicker, cause there are a lot of others wanting to get a translation made, literally standing in a queue.
Secondly, offer that what is asked of you. Be precise and concise. Base your offer on details which make a big difference considering the time when the question has been sent (now it’s summer time and many translators are detached from their computer or laptop screens, enjoying in sunrays) the prices of your colleagues you are competing against and the best possible deadline you can provide.
Thirdly- be careful how you address your clients (especially those you never had the chance to communicate with until now). Always use their last names (and you may use the first names if the client is a steady one). Never address with “Dear client,…or “Dear Sir,Madam…”. At the end of the client’s mail look for their names and take care to use those when answering. There is nothing worse than having an agency you are working with, that almost never addresses you, although you have done numerous jobs for them. Or when that agency uses your name in an e-mail or two, but then starts forgetting it and banishing it from the beginning of the e-mail. Erasing it like it never existed. I don’t know what I should call such a strange and unacceptable behaviour. Negligence? Disrespect? Not wanting to bother? Laziness?
Even when you use up these aforementioned methods, you can not evade a defeat. Defeat is surely made up of many factors, which must not have to deal with these good ways of communicating. Mostly, it’s the price. But even if you have to face a defeat, make sure to make it known in your last e-mail that you appreciate that the client got back to you with an answer, although it is a negative one. Thank him/her for the enquiry and maybe use any information in a given context (summer-vacation, near Easter- happy holidays) to turn the negative answer into a positive one in the near future.