2009 is over but has anyone told the “crisis”?

Posted on Posted in Intrawelt, Translations

Nowadays, there seems to be just too much information and too many choices. How many different breakfast cereals do we really need, for instance? And how many different cups of coffee does Starbucks need to invent?

And so we come to the “crisis”. Whilst almost everyone agrees that 2009 is over, there is debate on the c-word because people tend to look at whatever statistic supports their belief. With GDP, unemployment rates, interest rates, consumer spending, and so on and so forth, everyone’s able to pick their statistic and cling to it.

Whether or not the crisis is over, what counts even more at this time is the quality to cost ratio. Every translation agency will tell you that they deliver quality (well, what else are they going to say?) but how does that explain some agencies charging twice what we charge?

The large translation agencies invest lots of resources in sales, marketing and IT. Many are public companies and, to protect their share price, they have to deliver strong quarter-on-quarter results. But did you know that in these companies, the actual cost of the translator could be as little as 20% of the price you pay?

Let’s compare four ways to get your translation done.

1) Go direct to freelance resources
On the face of it, this is the cheapest route. But don’t forget that you have to find the resources, verify their competence somehow, possibly prepare documents for them, project manage everything, then possibly take their translation and format it. Do you have the skills and personnel to do this?

2) Go to Intrawelt

3) Go to a large translation agency

4) Go to one of the (very large) top-30 global translation agencies

Nearly every translation agency uses freelance translators. So let’s assume that the translation, proof-reading and quality check costs are the same.

Because Intrawelt is a private company, we don’t answer to shareholders and we grow at a healthy, sustainable pace. Our sales, marketing, IT and other costs are kept to a minimum. We still like to make a profit, though!

whatYouPayLarge companies and public companies have greater overheads and invest heavily in sales and marketing and IT and so on. Look at SDL, for example, in their Annual Report (http://www.sdl.com/en/company/investors/financialoverview.asp), their overall administrative expenses for 2008 were £61.3 million. Lionbridge’s annual report for the same year (http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=111612&p=irol-irhome) shows that just their sales and marketing spend was US $33 million.

Now we all know that businesses need to make money. But when your receive the next invoice from your translation company, ask yourself what percentage of that cost was actually used to translate. And what percentage went to pay for overheads, sales and marketing.

In this graph, we show how the translation tasks are, more or less, the same, but the overhead expenses increase drastically. When you pay for a translation project, think about how much you’re paying for your translation and how much you’re contributing to their overheads.

freelance translators have only their own cost but by going direct to a freelancer, you have the overhead of project management and finding and assessing the translator. Do you have these skills in place?
Intrawelt keeps overheads to a minimum to save you money.
large translation agencies spend much more on sales and marketing – costs that they pass onto you.
very large translation agencies spend millions on marketing and have huge overheads. But the translator’s cost is, more or less, the same as ours.