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Cost saving tips, Part III: Time is money.

Imagine you are sitting in your office, it’s 6 p.m., you are slowly wrapping up your work for the day and getting ready for dinner out with a friend. Suddenly, you get a call from your client. They have a rush assignment for you, which they need done first thing tomorrow. You are certainly prepared and willing to help your client, but you also have that dinner planned and cancelling on such short notice might not be received well. What do you do?

The relative value of time and money

My guess is you call off the dinner and do the assignment, because you wouldn’t like to hang your client out to dry. But the value of the time you spend working on the assignment will likely be higher (for you) than for other assignments.

This applies to translations just like any other business. Rush surcharges can range anywhere between 10% and 100%.

And, even worse, sometimes you might not be able to clear up your schedule at a short notice and the client will have to spend time looking for another translator. This can obviously have serious implications for the translation quality. Asking yourself why this should be the case? Read our recent article here.

Communicate with your translator, even (and especially) if pressed for time

The one thing that can help in these situations is communication (incidentally a topic of another article we wrote). It’s always very helpful if the client lets you know in advance they might need you for a rush job. It means you can clear up your schedule, maybe ask a colleague to help with your other assignments. Ultimately, this will have positive implications for both the cost and the quality of the translation provided that the information the client provides is sufficiently specific (think subject-matter, page count, time of delivery of the assignment and the completed translation).


Obviously, rush jobs cannot always be avoided. Sometimes your client gets served with a pleading that could easily fill volumes and you only have a few weeks to submit your reply. But even if that is the case, it still might be possible to avoid excessive costs.

Here is how:

  • Decide on your priorities. Which parts of the documents need to be translated asap? Are there any parts that might wait for the time being?
  • Decide on the quality required. Obviously, all the text must be accurately rendered. That is the bottom line. But maybe you can do with a less-than-perfect style for certain pieces of evidence submitted by your adversary? And, on the other hand, the time saved on that piece of text could be devoted to perfecting more important parts of your documents.
  • Communicate with your translator. This tip sure pops up a lot :-) But, really, we are here to help. Just let us know what’s important in the project you are working on!