It may seem counterintuitive for a language service provider such as Avantpage to write a post about how to break up with your translation company. But, after more than 20 years in the business, we’ve seen it all, and we know how hard it can be to transition to a new LSP. So, if you don’t tell your current LSP that you’re reading this article, we won’t either. That said, we will tell you the best way to leave your present translation company and move to another.

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Of course, if you’re reading this article because you’re thinking of breaking up with us, call me first! At Avantpage, we always want the opportunity to earn your business and make things right.

Try to salvage the relationship

Before you terminate a contract, ask yourself, “Is this really the end?” Is there anything to be done to make it work? If you’ve identified a fundamental problem or issue in your working relationship, give your LSP the chance to fix it. Clearly communicate what’s going wrong, what you need to see resolved, and give the company a time frame in which to hit those goals.

Sometimes the issue isn’t with the LSP as a whole, but with a particular team member or aspect of a project. If that’s the case for you, reach out to other people you know at the company. There’s a chance that your project manager isn’t communicating your problems broadly enough, and most LSPs will have account managers or client relations departments that will be more than happy to help.

Be honest

If you’ve tried to salvage the relationship and it’s not working, now is the time to walk away. But, this isn’t a time to use the “It’s not you, it’s me,” excuse. Instead, be honest with your LSP about what the irreconcilable differences are. Address the key reasons for leaving. Was it the quality? The turn-around time? The price? The service? A particular person? It’s beneficial for an LSP to know why you’re leaving so it can adjust its processes for future customers.

Honesty is just as important when it comes to assessing your own organization. Before you move on to a new translation company, get real and really think about what your team could have done better to reach the results you desire. This introspection and organizational awareness will also help you be more satisfied with your new provider.

Review your contract

Before you decide to have the breakup conversation, make sure to review your agreement carefully. Some include a provision for 30-days’ or 10-days’ notice, and others will spell out who owns the content. Make sure you understand your legal obligations clearly before you leave.

Get your Translation Memory file

One of the most useful and practical items you can bring to a new LSP is your Translation Memory file. Translation Memory, also known as a TM, is a database of all the translations that were created for you. Think of a TM as a long list of A = B, where A is a sentence from the source document, and B is the same sentence translated into the target language. This file can potentially save time and money with a new provider. While your new LSP won’t use your old TM without review, it could potentially use it to create a new TM for future projects.

Leave with your editable target files

An editable file is a file that can be edited by your translation team. Think of it as a file where you can insert a cursor and start typing. You want to make sure you get these types of files for every project you’ve done with the LSP that you’re leaving. If all they returned to you is a PDF (essentially an image of your translated file), then your new LSP will need to retranslate and reformat your documents from scratch when you want to update them. This can be more costly and time-consuming.

Examples of editable files include InDesign documents (.indd, .imdl) or Microsoft Word documents (.doc, .docx). PDF files (.pdf) are not editable and may need to be rebuilt from scratch. If you do get an InDesign document, make sure that you get the full design package, which should include fonts and images used in the document.

Breakups are never easy and nobody looks forward to them, but sometimes they are necessary to move on to bigger and better things. If you can prepare for them thoughtfully, you can make the experience worthwhile for all parties involved.


At Avantpage, our experienced team can help you navigate even the trickiest translation situations. To find out more about our services or to get a free quote, Email us at sales@avantpage.com or call us at 1-530-750-2040, extension 6.

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