Choosing Your Vendors
Choosing vendors to take on parts of a larger project can be a sensible choice – if you choose your vendors wisely and know how to manage them.
It’s a common mistake to think of being a freelancer or a sole proprietor of a small business as a lone wolf, an island, just a single cog in the immense machine of industry we’re all part of. Certainly it’s a pretty common attitude among those of us in the translation services industry; you think that since you’re toiling away in solitude in your tiny office or kitchen, you don’t need to be concerned with things like vendors. After all – you are a vendor!
This is absolutely the wrong attitude, however. We’re all connected. No matter what aspect of the food chain you represent in the translation industry or other business, the way you and your clients or partners or peers think about vendors affects your business and your success or potential thereof. Whether you are hiring vendors yourself or being asked for advice from clients or peers about choosing vendors, there are a few things to consider.
Vendors and Reputation
First and foremost, too many freelancers of any stripe look at vendors as a convenient way of placing blame for problems. When you hire a vendor, you are of course pushing some of the work that needs to be done onto a third party – but don’t for one second imagine that you can thus escape all responsibility for the quality of the work and the keeping to deadlines. If your chosen vendors mess up, you will undoubtedly be held responsible.
Worse, if you do try to push responsibility off to your vendor, you are undoubtedly going to make yourself look bad. It will be regarded as an excuse, and your attempts to avoid responsibility will not burnish your reputation. And finally, if your client was unaware that you were farming out parts of the work to vendors, this may be unwelcome news to them. Think twice before you attempt to shift blame.
Vendors and Capabilities
When you bring a vendor on to your project, you’re handing over responsibility for that chunk of the work and you will lose control over it. It’s essential that you only choose vendors that have a proven track record of hitting dates and doing professional-grade work. There are a couple of ways to establish this before you hire them on:
- Recommendations: Reach out to peers and get recommendations for vendors. When people in your business you respect tell you they did a good job, you can be reasonably assured of success.
- Testimonials: If a vendor looks good, ask them for some satisfied customers you can contact to ask about the experience.
- Samples: You could also hire the vendor for a small project that won’t be a huge problem if they don’t handle it well, and see how they work.
Sometimes a vendor experience also just comes down to how you interact with them: Don’t underestimate the power of personality. Whatever you do, never forget: The work is still your responsibility!
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