As a freelance translator, it’s critically important to meet all your deadlines. After all, your translation business is dependant upon your reliability, and some negative feedback regarding your capacity to deliver work on time could be very damaging for your translation career.
However, mistakes do happen. And whilst we hope you don’t ever have to find yourself in this position, this Translators’ Hub post will give some advise on what to do when you discover that you’re going to miss an upcoming deadline.
Give your client as much notice as possible
Once you’re aware that you’re going to miss a deadline, the first thing that you should do is to contact the client immediately and inform them that you’re going to be late with their translation.
To avoid disappointment, try and explain that the reason for the delay is because you don’t want to compromise on the translation’s quality. Whilst this isn’t ideal, hopefully your client will appreciate that you’re treating their translation with care instead of rushing it, which should help mitigate the bad news of the missed deadline.
Explain the reason for the missed deadline
Be completely transparent with your client and briefly tell them the reason why you won’t be able to meet their deadline. If you have a good reason for the delay, such as a personal emergency, then your client is more likely to be sympathetic to you. Of course, make sure you’re honest with your explanation, as clients won’t take you seriously if you’re always missing deadlines because of extraordinary situations.
Deliver the work you have done
When the date of your missed deadline comes around, give your client everything you’ve completed thus far. This will show your client that you’re still actively working on their translation, and that the final part is on the way.
Your client will want to check your translation anyway, so if you’re lucky you’ll be able to finish the final section of the translation whilst they check what you’ve submitted thus far.
If you’ve tried taking the above measures and your client is still unhappy with your service, then you should offer to make amends. This could take the form of offering the translation for a reduced fee or free of charge, or perhaps adding an additional service (such as adjusting the document’s image formatting or layout) as a free bonus.
Whilst giving away your work for free isn’t ideal, you should think of this as an investment into your business: if you waive the fee for a delayed translation you could win the client back and continue to receive future work from them. Your client is also less likely to talk about your business in a negative light, which could put off new clients. So whilst you might not make any money on the delayed translation, you could ensure that your next few potential customers don’t walk away from your service after hearing negative feedback about you.
We’ve discussed what to do when you miss a deadline in the future, but perhaps you’ve already encountered this before? If you have, what steps did you take to make things right? Did you manage to win back your client? Let us know about your experiences in the comments box below.