It’s obvious that as a business owner you want to make money from every client you work with. Yet quite often, that is not the case. There are several reasons for that and there are also ways to address it. Let me suggest a systematic approach to resolving this issue.
Find the problem.
Often, translation business owners admit that they are not sure which clients are profitable and which are not! It’s important to start with measuring the profitability per project and per customer.
The first thing is to analyse whether you sell at a higher price than you buy. That will show you that each project has a different margin and some of them even fall below zero. But that’s the easy part. It would be even better to add the value of the time spent on managing each project and client to the final cost. That’s far more complex, but it is the only way to show the actual profitability of each client.
We often hear about cases when the rate per word agreed with the client seems high, leaving a nice margin after you pay the suppliers. However, when you include the hours spent on managing each project compared to its value, you discover that the margin has become negative.
Decide if you want to keep the client.
It is crucial to know the real profitability of each client, including the internal project management costs. It can help you decide to stop working for some of them.
There will also be those you decide to keep anyway for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s a brand that you want to keep as a reference in your client portfolio. Or maybe you hope to get a big job from them one day.
It is reasonable not to cut such clients. More often than not, we end up accepting lots of small jobs while waiting for a profitable assignment. What to do in such a situation?
Cut process costs.
The problem with small assignments is that the margin is eaten up by internal project management costs. The best approach for reducing these costs is automation through technology. The next points suggest how it can be done.
Collaborate through an online tool.
Most of us would agree that personal relationships with clients are crucial to our business. However, on the one hand, there are projects through which we build relationships with clients. Then there are those small rush-jobs where the client’s focus is on delivery time.
A perfect tool to handle the latter would be a dedicated portal. The clients would appreciate such a Portal even more as it makes you available 24/7, which might be a great benefit to them. On your side, a request for a quote placed in the Portal automatically creates a project in your system. This saves you time and cuts internal costs.
Automate your processes.
In an online portal, the client orders a new project by choosing a service from a list defined for him. It automates the process on your side and helps the client to decide on the various types of assignments that meet his needs.
That means that a project can be started automatically without a project manager’s involvement.
Agree with vendors on automatic assignment rules.
Just like with your customers, you want to have good relationships with your vendors. It is necessary to share an online collaboration tool with them. You need to make sure that they feel comfortable with it and understand the rationale behind it.
Having clear rules with vendors will guarantee that a good number of them will accept automatic assignment for new projects. It will enable you to start projects much faster and with no operational costs on your side.
An online Client request can automatically select and assign a vendor, minimizing turnaround time.
If the whole project is automated, the project manager focuses on oversight, not execution. In an ideal case, the project will be delivered to the client through an online tool. It means that when the quality control process is completed, the project gets delivered to the client.
It can happen during normal working hours, in the evening, or even on weekends. So you can deliver projects faster with minimum overheads. That way you regain profitability on all your projects and keep the clients that are important to your business.
The above guidelines will help you to track your bottom line and optimize your processes. Leverage modern technology to transform your business and keep your clients happy.
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