We'd Like to Pay More, Please

It's all about the money. Or is it?
A few weeks ago, we received a pair of quite puzzling phone calls from two of our favorite clients. We've tried to transcribe the gist of both conversations here. We've added some lines for comedic effect, but the point of the conversations has been left intact. We are on very friendly terms with both clients and our conversations are usually quite casual.

Client: Hi Judy, thanks for the holiday chocolates.  I am eating them right now. No calories, right? Just like you said on the card?

Judy: You got it! No calories. Happy holidays. What can I do for you?

Client (making munching sounds): Oh, you know, we are a pretty big client of yours.

Judy (stomach dropping, quick to answer): Of course you are! We are so grateful for your business. That's why you get chocolates.

Client: Glad to hear. We think you are awesome, too, but we really have to talk about what we are spending with Twin Translations.

Judy (fearing the worst): Sure. Looks like you are working on your 2013 budget. Is it tight?

Client: Yes, I am working on the budget. It's taking forever. What do you mean by tight?

Judy (telling herself to grab the bull by the horns): Well, I mentioned the tight budget because you are calling a vendor to get a lower rate.

Client (laughing): Oh, I am sorry. You misunderstood! I was just reviewing the rates of what we pay for services that I think are essential to our business, and I don't think you make enough. We would like to pay you some more. So have a look at our current contract and change the number on the per-word rate.

Judy (cannot believe her good luck): Oh wow, yes, of course. I am sorry, I almost fell out of my chair. I thought you would be asking me to lower our rates. And yes, certainly, I will adjust the rate and send the contract back to you.

Client: Great. Just come up with a new number that you feel comfortable with and send it my way. Happy holidays!

Judy: Thank you so much, will do. Happy holidays to you as well. It's a pleasure to do business with you.

Client: By the way -- I just recommended you to a friend. I told her you guys were great, professional and very affordable!

Judy (baffled): Thanks so much for the referral. We really appreciate it. Have a great day!

Client: Talk to you soon.

Our thoughts:
1) Christmas miracles do happen.
2) Things aren't always what they seem.
3) It's important to hear people out.
4) We've been called a lot of things, but never affordable.
5) Looks like we've done a good job at convincing our client of our value.
6) We should raise our prices across the board.
7) We have the world's best clients.

We'd love to hear your thoughts, dear readers!


Alice in Translation on December 27, 2012 at 5:32 PM said...

This is the perfect client! Good job ;)

Unknown on December 27, 2012 at 6:29 PM said...

In retrospect, I would have left out the possible tightness of the budget. To me, it seems to allow for the creation of a (nonexistent) problem. However, one of our greatest fears is that a client wants us to reduce our rates. It is far better to meet the challenge up front and resolve it than to let it simmer.

Amazing clients who believe you deserve a raise are worth their weight in gold, and help confirm what you already know. Just remember, one person's affordable is another person's exorbitant.

I'm due to have a business meeting within 3 days with my partner. I think I'll try using your thought #6 with him. Congrats on retaining desirable clients.

EP on December 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM said...

"I don't think you make enough. We would like to pay you some more." Pay more? OK, how much do you want for that client? Never mind. He or she is priceless!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on December 28, 2012 at 3:17 PM said...

@Alice: Thank you very much! Yes, we are quite fond of these two clients. :)

@Emily: Great point about not bringing up the budget, but I was so stunned I didn't quite know what to say. I said the first thing that came to mind, hehe. Good luck on your business meeting!

@EP: We are sorry, my dear, but those two clients are not for sale. We love them too much and could not live without them. :) It is pretty amazing that this situation actually happened.... We are still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but alas, it has not.

Carmen on December 30, 2012 at 12:35 PM said...

What if the client had called you on April Fools' Day?

Thank you for sharing a great story. Best wishes!

Unknown on January 2, 2013 at 12:24 PM said...

U n b e l i e v a b l e! What an awesome client! Or... there was something in those chocolates...just admit it girls ;-) Seriously, you must be doing a really great job and are wery lucky to have clients that appreciate it.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on January 3, 2013 at 11:02 AM said...

@Transliteria: Yes, we are very lucky, you are absolutely right. We do think we do quite a good job, but it's almost too good to be true. :)

Elisa Bonora on January 11, 2013 at 4:55 AM said...

Wow, amazing! Thanks for sharing this story! It shows that we should never ever compete on price, but rather on quality - it pays off, literally!
And of course one may have good convincing skills, but real value is what makes it possible. Congratulations! :-)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on January 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM said...

@Elisa: Thanks for your very nice comment. I think a few factors come together here: the client's previous experience with a lower-cost, but wholly unreliable provider, a federal law that says they have to translate all their materials into Spanish, the fact that we are reliable and that the client really likes us, and the fact that one of these two customers is a linguist herself. It all helps, and we feel very lucky to have clients like these. And yes: competing on price is never a good idea.

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