Can’t avoid rush translation requests? At least you can avoid rush fees!

Technology has transformed the way we communicate globally, challenging us to process more content than ever. For professional translation agencies, this means delivering consistent quality without missing increasingly tight deadlines. There isn’t much that a good agency won’t do to keep pace with you.

Sometimes a higher rush rate or additional fees apply when you request a last‑minute translation that has to be done outside regular business hours. You may also pay more if you need a large volume translated over a short time frame, as this requires that several translators be simultaneously dedicated to your project.

Rush fees that add up to unacceptable levels can be a cause for serious client dissatisfaction. But best management practices, such as those leveraged by professional translation agencies, can really help you avoid unnecessary costs. In addition to their game-changing tools, professional agencies use proactive communication and joint planning—very successful strategies in the language industry.

Discover 7 ways to avoid rush fees with the help of a professional translation agency:

  1. Giving a heads-up before sending urgent translation requests
  2. Having your documents pre-analyzed
  3. Providing reference material
  4. Starting translation on draft versions
  5. Considering staggered deliveries
  6. Minimizing standby time
  7. Getting fact-based expert advice

Can you lower your rush fees by dealing with a single agency?

Businesses meet their translation needs in various ways. Some choose to deal with different agencies for different projects or situations. Others have a dedicated agency that handles all their translation needs and serves as a trusted advisor on matters that include overall cost control. Rush-fee avoidance is one of the key benefits a dedicated agency can provide.

1) Giving a heads-up before sending urgent translation requests

Emergencies may be urgent by definition, but not all of them arise unexpectedly. As it turns out, you can save on rush fees by giving your agency a heads-up whenever possible. Say you find out that you’ll soon need 10,000 words translated: just letting your agency know three days in advance can give its experts the time to organize your project so that no rush charges will apply. This alone could result in a 35% savings on total project costs.

You’re expecting an emergency but don’t have a specific date yet? Use the time to plan so that you get the best translation at the lowest possible cost. Simply contact your agency, explain your situation and share the information you already have.

If you have no existing business relationship with the agency you’re contacting, be sure to play it safe by requesting a non-disclosure agreement before you share any project information.

The project manager you deal with should be able to:

  • Assess the time and resources required to complete your project
  • Provide a preliminary estimate (cost and timeline)
  • Help you organize your project so you can save as much as possible
  • Select and even reserve the agency’s most qualified experts for the project
  • Answer any question you may have

This type of initial assessment speaks volumes about the agency’s professional approach and service.

2) Having your documents pre-analyzed

Your documents aren’t quite ready for translation, but their content is 70% final? Don’t wait: have your agency analyze them so it can provide a more detailed action plan for the project.

Did you know?

  • It’s always better to send original files, without converting them into read‑only PDF documents
  • The agency has to convert any read-only file before it can proceed to its analysis or translation (this costs you more and entails unnecessary risk)
  • Your agency should be able to handle all regular and specialized formats (e.g. Adobe InDesign)

A two-pronged approach


  • Format (software/applications used)
  • Special challenges (read-only sections that can’t be edited, intricate layouts)
  • Overlaps (similar content that appears more than once in your documents and that should result in efficiency gains)
  • Time required to complete the project


  • Field of specialization
  • Subject and complexity
  • New or specialized terminology
  • Parts of your documents you may not want translated (e.g. comments in a PowerPoint presentation)

A skilled project manager should be able to tell you how to avoid most rush charges at this point. You can expect them to ask relevant questions and to answer yours. If you’ve been comparing potential providers, you should now be in a position to select the best one for your project—based on the quality of their estimate and recommendations.

Case study

See how having your documents pre-analyzed can help you avoid 75% of all rush charges and reduce total project costs by 40% to 50%. See the case study >

3) Providing reference material

There are two types of reference documents you can send the agency ahead of time to help it deliver optimal work and reduce rush fees.

a) Previous versions of the documents you’ll need translated

Say your project is an annual report. Send your reports from past years so that the agency can immediately analyze their content (including overlaps) and save them in its databases. This way, translators will be able to access everything from the outset—thereby working more efficiently.

b) Any other document showing key preferences

Professional translation agencies always look for reference material—ideally bilingual—that helps them deliver translations that are consistent with their clients’ existing content. Try to send documents featuring key concepts or messages in their context. Think of material containing special terminology that your agency should be aware of and that it may need to adapt if no equivalents exist in the target language.

For translations about a system or application, don’t forget to include screen shots that show the exact location and designation of various buttons and functionalities. Translators will be able to look everything up in their databases during the project, which means they’ll work better and faster—delivering maximum savings.

4) Starting translation on draft versions

Managing multiple versions of the same documents is part of any good agency’s service. Your provider should in fact use professional version-management tools and processes. Why is this important? Because it means you don’t have to wait for documents to be final before you send them for translation.

It really pays off to get translation started as soon as you have drafts that are 80% final. Translated drafts need only be updated once you submit final versions of your documents. The goal is to extend your project-completion timeframe as much as possible so that only part of the translation work ends up being truly urgent and costing more. Minimizing the most urgent portion of your project also simplifies overall management. Lastly, when translators aren’t compelled to turn around very large volumes in very little time, they’re in a better position to deliver top quality.

If you’re preparing a proposal in response to an RFP, for instance, there may be sections that get written faster. Consider dividing your translation project into consecutive parts so that you can send each section or document to your agency as soon as it’s ready. This way the agency may be able to complete part of the work without charging rush fees.

5) Considering staggered deliveries

Sometimes you simply have no flexibility in the early stages of a project and can’t send the agency anything, meaning that 100% of your material really does require urgent translation. Staggered deliveries, however, may help you avoid at least part of the rush charges.

This solution often works well for large projects, when the entire translation must be reviewed internally—by someone in your organization—before its publication or distribution. Your internal reviewers typically can’t go over everything in a single day, so it makes sense to have the translation delivered one section at a time over a few days. This way rush fees may not apply to all sections. When you deal with a trusted, dedicated agency and project manager, you can rest assured that each section will be delivered exactly when you expect it while rush fees will be kept to a minimum. That’s what makes staggered deliveries a winner.

6) Minimizing standby time

In the last stages of their urgent projects, certain clients request that language experts be on 24/7 standby in case additional documents or updates require last-minute translation or revision.

This is a costly safeguard: standby resources aren’t just available; they’re literally sitting in front of a computer and ready for immediate action. As a result, the agency has to charge every standby hour.

Professional agencies should have a more cost-effective alternative to offer—one that still guarantees all the right resources at the right times. The idea is to target the most relevant standby time slots, even during unpredictable periods. The more you keep your dedicated project manager informed of the unique challenges you face at any given time, the easier it is for them to build a customized action plan that factors in all possible scenarios and can be constantly updated.

Case study

See how smartly managing translator standby time can really help minimize rush fees.  See case study >
Professional translation agencies ensure that experts are available whenever you need them. They’re as good with up-to-the-minute project coordination as any support team within your own organization.

Did you know?

  • You can prepare for emergencies—even unpredictable ones
  • Promptly share any information you have with your agency’s project manager
  • Ask for a project plan and timeline that factor in all possible scenarios
  • Be sure to request a workback schedule with all project milestones carefully covered for maximum efficiency at the lowest possible cost

7) Getting fact-based expert advice

Translation agencies aren’t just there to translate. Providing strategic advice on all multilingual communications issues is a key part of their mission, and that includes controlling costs as well as avoiding rush fees.

You can expect detailed, reliable reports and estimates from your agency—at no additional cost. But data alone doesn’t cut it. Professional translation agencies help you analyze project information so that you know what works best and how to use translation services to your greatest benefit at all times. Plus, you don’t want lower costs to mean poor quality or unacceptable delays.

Download our free checklist

This practical tool summarizes the many ways to avoid rush fees. Save it on your computer and check the boxes as you leverage each strategy before, during and after each project.

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Proactive communication pays off

When you keep communication channels open with a professional translation agency, you’re guaranteed speedy service that often comes at no extra charge for emergencies. Your best bet is to choose a single trusted provider where the same project manager always supports you and provides expert advice. The closer you work with your agency and project manager, the more savings you can expect.

Hundreds of local, national and international organizations have chosen Versacom as their designated translation agency. Our professional firm and experts are committed to helping you control costs and avoid rush fees. Our mission includes planning and managing emergencies for optimal results.

Choosing Versacom means dealing with highly skilled and well-equipped managers who leverage a suite of specialized tools and processes to better serve you. Language, technical and administration experts also play a key part in assessing projects and recommending the best strategies for rush-fee avoidance.

You can rely on Versacom for all your urgent translation projects, no matter how unpredictable. The savings we deliver have no adverse effect on either quality or deadline compliance. We provide professional support that allows for cost control and avoidance through proven strategies you may simply not be aware of. Beyond day-to-day communications, we can arrange regular meetings or conference calls to discuss key issues and potential new language or technology solutions that would drive further efficiency gains for your organization.

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