EUATC Knowledge to Improve your Business, Sausage Soup and Pink Hair
By Arancha Caballero
As a self-imposed duty in order to remember what ideas were shared at the EUATC 12th Conference, I would like to describe some highlights of what was discussed there.
On a quite bright day, I attended the workshop on International SEO by Udo Leinhäuser, driven by the ongoing process to update our website. I strongly believe that smaller companies only have a year or two of advantage to use SEO properly before it becomes as common as having an e-mail account, but there is more to it.
Udo made a really good point stating that, as language specialists, international SEO should be in our hands, and offered some good advice as to how to sell this to our customers.
After lunch—an opportunity to meet and greet partners, clients and colleagues—, Rudy Tirry, President of EUATC, and Heike Leinhäuser, Qualitats Sprachendienste Deutschlands (QSD), welcomed us to the conference. They were followed by Wiebke Schulz, whose engaging working title of Expert for Leadership and Humour was enough to get my interest, being as compelling as I am a strong supporter of “happynomics“.
She was followed one of the most interesting and passionate women I have met lately, Isabella Moore, who made her points on non-financial performance measures. She talked about “LAG” indicators, i.e. areas where lagging can drive to bad results. A recognised entrepreneur and addicted to measure, she strongly advised not to have more than 7 key indicators. And more importantly, “measure what you need, not what you can”, which is sometimes the easy way to go. Some key performance indicators (KPI) to track the health of a company are in her opinion customer retention and cost per new customer acquisition.
“Measure what you need, not what you can” Isabella Moore
This connected beautifully with Peter Reynolds, member of the Kilgray board, who actively kept the industry informed about the conference via Twitter. His session versed among other things on KPIs derived from data you already collect, like profit from each project and from each customer. Even though after years of experience you need to trust your instincts, your KPIs are the way to support them. He advised us not to underestimate time spent on fixing errors as a way to measure quality.
Another savvy woman, Ruth Partington (founder of RP Translate) took the stage to help us realise how much we are giving away in our day-to-day operations. This gave me a lot of good, real-life examples of how free services can really harm you: if you do something for free, and later on you start charging for it, the client will feel robbed. Sometimes I find it difficult to explain the difference between helping and giving away. We must make clear that when an added service is not charged for a given reason we must highlight that it is an exception and moreover, make sure that the client realise as sometimes they do not even know the service exist.
Remember: A key element in any business is optimising your margin to have a profitable business by adding value to what you do.
Of course, there is no conference without a nice lunch and dinner. In a very convenient restaurant just 2 minutes´ walk from the conference venue, we enjoyed a delicious German (Bavarian, actually) dinner, including a tasting of a specially brewed beer! Despite the hassle associated to any trip, I love my job!
First sessions on day 2 usually have a lower attendance and it was a pity because we had a humorous but provocative keynote by Andrew Hickson. He really woke us up! Then, it was time to get serious with a session on security by Dr Rauf Rieken, filled with warnings about what to do when working in the cloud, as we all do nowadays. This was followed by a real-life example of what can happen to your company if you do not implement your security homework 100%. Marta Aragão bravely presented how she was blackmailed after her company drives were encrypted by hackers. She got one day into her office, and despite having done her homework their drives had been encrypted in order to blackmail her—a terrible experience. You think this will never happen to you. Remember: be sure to have a recovery plan in place, review your password policy, your backup routines, including checking the backup logs! But do implement them and be sure they are being followed all the time, no exceptions granted.
Another talented woman, Tuyen Ho, uncovered how Welocalize looks at a company’s headcount numbers. It is not that obvious for the rest of us as they use these numbers to start asking questions to find out more about the potential of a given company. Even if you are not looking into selling your business, it is indeed a good exercise to shift your company towards a more healthy and strong model; your core business will lead your way and you can create your own story, or as she put it:
“Think about the film of your company” —Tuyen Ho
She happens to be based in California so maybe she got inspiration from some studio for this quote;-) My colleagues at Elia have done a great job in choosing her as moderator of the ND Focus for Execs the coming week in Crete.
On Human Resources, Eva Reiterer shared interesting examples, tips and tricks that her company is using with their virtual teams. For a better talent acquisition, their business model is mainly virtual but they make a real effort to make everybody feel like they go the office every day. Some of the tricks she shared were not even expensive, like turning your webcam on or using a virtual meeting room like Sococo.
Lunch included another version of sausage soup, after which we had an extraordinary panel of both Tine Arhøj and Trilce Revilla-Yates. They provided very good insight on how to use LinkedIn: show good behaviour, try to connect only with professionals (this is not Facebook!), have only relevant feeds,and make use of newer features like Sales Navigator. Trilce also shared how her company is using LinkedIn for marketing purposes. She talked about showcase pages, which can be targeted to specific groups, and analytics, which provide you with suggestions and where you can compare your company against your competitors. She engaged different employees of her company to get their page updated regularly with interesting and personal touches.
Also within the Sales stream, Claudia di Lorenzo did a benchmarking exercise on the different platforms that sell translations online. I really appreciated that she praised her competitors on the features that are really well thought or well implemented. Brava, Claudia! The always talkative Renato Beninatto ended this session appealing to LSPs to really see these platforms as an opportunity, not a threat. After all, they are indeed selling more and more translations online and isolation is no longer an option in any industry.
Lastly, the representatives of the Spanish (Juanjo Arevalillo Doval, ASPROSET) Finnish (Katja Virtanen, SKTOL) and British (Isabella Moore, ATC) national associations of translation companies belonging to EUATC presented the different initiatives they are working on to increase the professionalism of this industry.
As proud sponsors of Translators Without Borders, I should not forget to mention EUATC´s commitment to raise money on behalf of this non-profit organisation. Many of us contributed a small amount on the spot but its Secretary, Geoffrey Bowden went the extra mile and got his dyed hair pink because #LanguageMatters!