Banding Together for Better Business
By: Lori Thicke (Eurotexte)
07 February 2005
To the uninitiated, joining an association with dozens, even hundreds, of your competitors, could seem daft, to say the least. As for openly sharing information with them, well, youd have to be nuts, wouldnt you?
Or would you?
For several years now, Eurotexte, the company I co-founded in Paris in 1986, has belonged to a close network of European translation companies. In our experience, banding together has been good for business, yielding unexpected benefits, including where it really counts: on our bottom line.
Supplier and supli-ee
One unexpected benefit of associating with other European translation companies is that we have found several valued suppliers. Our "competitors" include excellent SLVs with the ability to provide Eurotexte with a quality translation product with all the services we need: translation, editing, DTP, proofreading and TM updating.
In addition to finding some great new suppliers, another unexpected benefit is that we have become a supplier to a number of MLVs, who are also theoretically our competitors. While the economics of national pricing structures would suggest that our translation company clients should come from the northern countries and the United States, even this isn't true all the time. We now have MLV clients in some surprising (southern) countries.
But even if our competitors have the potential to become clients and suppliers, we still need to keep secrets from them, don't we?
Share and share alike
Or do we? The truth of the matter is that sharing knowledge freely with other translation companies hasn't cost us a single client. In fact, we've gained some new ones because, frankly, we're better as a company: whether we're talking about using a new technology more effectively, or adapting a new marketing technique, in terms of exchanging helpful information we give as good as we get, and everyone is the richer for it.
The result of all this is that our so-called competitors have become clients, suppliers and partners.
For a professional association to be able to offer these benefits to all of us, we need ample opportunities to meet and to build close relationships. This means anything and everything that will give us the occasion to get to know each other better: dinners, cocktail parties, even weekend conferences in sunny locations (especially those!)
And why not go one step further and create forums for sharing our knowledge with each other? Given the pressures on our industry right now, we cannot afford to overlook any opportunities. With translation becoming a commodity, distinguished only by its price, anything that adds to the professional level of individual members brings up the standing of our industry as a whole.
For us, this all adds up to a win-win situation. People who fear close associations with their competitors run the risk of missing out on a great opportunity to improve as a company and, especially, to grow that all-important bottom line.
Lori Thicke is co-founder of Eurotexte in Paris. She can be reached at [email protected].