So you are planning a visit to China, for business or for touring. And you are thinking about whether or not you should hire a Chinese interpreter or translator for your China trip.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, I’m going to share with you all the information you should know to make a better decision, including:
- whether or not you need a Chinese interpreter;
- the benefit of hiring an interpreter;
- the cost of hiring an interpreter;
- how to find the right interpreter.
Let’s dive right in.
Do I need a Chinese interpreter?
Lets start by asking yourself a quick question:
What’s my purpose of visit?
Being clear with the purpose of your visit is probably THE most important thing.
If you are visiting China for business,
say you are in the process of importing some products from Chinese suppliers,
and you manna visit their company or factory so you are more confident dealing with your supplier (or pass them),
you probably should hire a Chinse interpreter / translator.
If you are travelling to China to visit some famous scenic spots and you’d like to have a private tour guide to plan your journey in China,
you probably should hire an interpreter.
But if you are familiar with China and have no problem travelling alone, you don’t have to have a personal assistant.
Benefit of an Interpreter
If we make a summary, it’s that:
The benefit of hiring a Chinese interpreter for business: SAVE YOU MONEY.
What? Are you telling me that the interpreter pays me to work for me?
Of course not!
But keep reading…
Lets say you are going to visit your suppliers in China, here is a list of things a Chinese interpreter in China can do for you:
Pick you up from the airport.
If you need someone to pick you up from the airport, a Chinese interpreter can do that.
Of course, you may also ask your supplier if they can.
However, from our previous experiences, not all customers prefer to have their supplier pick them up.
Because they want more efficiency and privacy travelling alone or with a Chinese interpreter who actually works for them, and not the suppliers.
Arrange meetings with your suppliers for you. (and handle changes)
This sounds easy, right? Well it’s not actually too difficult if you’ve done pretty much of the job before you came to China.
However, if you haven’t planned all the meetings yet and you want to come to China first and pay an unscheduled visit, an interpreter will help you find the place easier.
(most factories are not located in downtown areas and finding these factories can be headache as some small sized factories may not even have a clear sign)
There are also cases where you’ve scheduled a time with suppliers, but you or your supplier need to reschedule it for some reason.
In this case, the translator can save you a ton of time for communication.
You never want to talk English with your supplier on the phone after one try.
It’s just too difficult to understand each other on the phone if they don’t have a good English speaking salesman.
Assist you to rent a local car or use their own. (so you don’t have to struggle yourself)
Since factories are mainly located in suburb areas, the best way to get there is usually by taxi or by a private car.
If you only need to visit one supplier, taking a taxi is probably a better option money wise as it’s only one trip that usually costs less than that of renting a private car.
(Of course, it’s also dependant on the distance.)
If you are planning to visit a few suppliers in one day, say 2-4 suppliers. I personally believe taking a car is necessary, both money wise and time wise.
I had a poor experience guiding my customers to a far located supplier (2 hours drive) by taxi as they preferred.
Going there is no problem for us. But the nightmare happens after we’ve finished meeting with the supplier.
Believe it or not, you may have to wait for an hour to grab a taxi from a not so crowded industrial area.
Help you negotiate prices and other terms regarding your products. (This may cover what you pay the interpreter)
This is the most important thing, of course. As it may save you what you pay the Chinese interpreter, even though it’s invisible sometimes.
Here is how:
From the supplier’s point of view (generally speaking),
if a foreigner visits their factory or office for a meeting regarding your products, chances are that they will offer you a higher price (compared to you working with a Chinese interpreter) for the following reason:
You probably will end up meeting with their salesman or designer, and not their sales manager or boss who are usually busier. A salesman can hardly give you the best price.
And trust me, reaching an agreement or a potential agreement while you are talking to supplier face to face is ideal for you. (That’s when you can get the best possible price)
The ultimate benefit of a Chinese interpreter: You talk to the owner of your supplier and get a better deal!
What if you visit a factory with the assistance of a Chinese translator?
A simple fact is, the size of Chinese suppliers who can export products to you vary a lot, from a 2-person company to one with tens of thousands of employees.
Many small sized Chinese suppliers are family businesses,
and it’s very normal that you are dealing with a supplier that no one in the company speaks good English (though they can use simple terms for emailing)
An English Chinese interpreter will bridge the language gap and help you negotiate pricing:
he or she can provide more background information about you and your company to suppliers, who will then take you more seriously and thus, offering a better price.
You can ask to meet with their salesman as well as their boss even though the boss doesn’t know a word of English, which is the fact 90% of the time.
Believe me, a boss will usually offer you a better price than a salesman. And if there is any chance you can meet with the boss or manager of a factory, you should try your best to do so.
Apart from a possibly better price you may get for a specific order, you want to build long term relationship with a supplier.
And if their boss has a good impression of you, trust me, you’ll get support from the supplier more than you can imagine.
You probably will get better prices than their other clients;
You can get shorter lead time;
You may get more flexibility in terms of payment;
Follow up orders. (Very important)
You may think that after placing your order, you’ll just need to drink your coffee and wait for the finished goods to arrive at your warehouse as planned.
DON’T DO THAT.
Having someone to keep an eye on your order production is crucial, especially if you are placing a large order you can’t afford to have any mistake from.
SADLY BUT USUALLY TRUE, what you’ll get from bulk production can be slightly different than what you expected from the previously approved sample.
This can be caused by various reasons, ignorance, mistake etc.
But thinking about how to solve a problem is never a better option than trying to prevent it from happening, especially when it doesn’t cost you much.
Big buyers tend to hire a full time employee to work right in the supplier’s factory on their behalf.
The employee’s job is to follow up the production of their order from the very beginning, just to make sure the finished products are as they expected.
For a small and medium sized company, it may not be necessary to hire a full time employee, but someone who can pay a visit to the supplier and check the goods during production or after production is very important.
And if you’ve hired an interpreter before, they will be your first choice.
Because they know what you are buying and they will think for you.
Of course, you can find a QC online easily, but it’s not easy to find a one day QC who really thinks for you.
What an interpreter can assist you in shipping is that they can help you choose a shipping agent or shipping forwarder.
In China, the scale of shipping agents vary a lot from 2-person to tens of thousands of employees.
Finding a trustworthy shipping agent is as important as finding a reliable supplier.
Generally speaking, if you have only one supplier, it’s not too complicated to arrange shipping.
But in many cases, you’ll have more than one supplier and you want the goods from different suppliers to be shipped in the same container or airplane.
This is where it gets a bit complex.
Someone will have to coordinate suppliers and shipping agent, to make sure the goods get shipped on time, to the right place (which is usually written in Chinese) and you never want to do that yourself.
(It’s better to drink a cup of coffee at this time and think about your next order or your new business idea, right?)
How much will an interpreter cost?
In this guide, I’m not going to have a detailed introduction of them but I’ll make it pretty simple for you:
If you are visiting your supplier for a small meeting (2-10 attendants) and all that you expect from an interpreter is to have them translate the conversation between you and your supplier, without too high accuracy in every word, and make sure crucial information (price, quantity etc.) gets translated right, you probably need an escort interpreter.
The rate varies somewhere from 90-300 USD/day for a decent interpreter.
If you need to make a speech and would like it translated paragraph by paragraph, you probably need a consecutive interpreter.
The rate varies from 300-500 USD/day or so.
If you need someone to instantly translate your speech while you deliver, you will need a simultaneous interpreter.
The rate will probably start from 500 USD/day. (usually counted by hour)
How can I find an interpreter?
While there are a few ways that you can try to find an interpreter, like using the internet to search for interpreters from China, ask a translation agency from your city, ask your friend who’ve used interpretation service from China before or find one on site, I believe the best way is to find one online.
If you do a quick search on Google, Bing or Yahoo, you’ll find a few pages of websites that actually provide the service. As you can see below:
And in this guide I’d like to share some of the websites with you.
WeServicers.com is a platform that covers most cities in China, big and small, with a wide range of languages. It supports online ordering, meaning that you can order interpreters’ service on the website and make payment online, manage your orders on the website and receive order receipts. This is like an online shopping experience. You don’t have to worry about fraud as everything is transparent for both the customer and interpreter.
Check out the website.
2, Interpreter Database (https://interpreterdatabase.com)
Interpreter Database was founded in 2015 by me. Until now (Sept. 2018), there are over 1000 registered interpreters on the platform.
Though we are late into this industry, we’ve attracted the most talented interpreters and translators to join us.
Some of them have served big companies like world fortune 500, and some have been doing escort interpreting for a few years.
We will never forget our ultimate goal of building this platform: To connect client with the right interpreter with the least time.
Until now, we’ve covered interpreters in:
Harbin (Ha Er Bin)
For other cities that are not in the list, we will either arrange a nearby interpreter or find one local for you.
The languages we covered are English-Chinese, Spanish-Chinese, French-Chinese, Germen-Chinese, Japanese-Chinese, Korean-Chinese, Italian-Chinese, Arabic-Chinese and Russian Chinese.
We’ve also made it available for clients to filter interpreters by industry. This will better guarantee that the interpreter you selected is experienced in your industry.
Most of our interpreters provide product sourcing services as well, so if you are doing business with China, you can definitely find a handy interpreter from our platform.
Click here to know more about Interpreter Database.
3. Travel China Guide
Travel China Guide is more focused on tours. It’s similar to Tripavisor, but more China-focused. If you are planning a journey to China, you probably will find this website useful. Apart from their forums where you can find a Chinese interpreter, they also have their own private tour products listed on their home page that you can consider.
You can click here to know more about them.
Now I’ll turn it back to you.
I hope you enjoyed reading my guide to find a Chinese interpreter. How do you think about it?
Or maybe you have a question.
Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.
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