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Securing Your Services Supply Chain

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: January 31, 2019

Amidst all the Brexit preparations, the focus has been on getting goods across borders. We have seen pictures of queues of lorries, overworked customs officers and reams of paperwork. But it’s not just goods that have to cross borders. How will your business secure the talent and services it needs after Brexit? To be more specific, how can UK companies get access to the language services they will need once this is all over?

One business leader I heard had a rather interesting strategy for dealing with linguistic difference. Apart from relying on the soothing effects of alcohol, he suggested to a crowd of upcoming exporters that all they needed to do was to find a likely candidate in the country they were exporting to and hire them to do the work. No fuss, no worries.

It sounds tempting but comes with risk. If you don’t know the local market, you could easily find yourself relying on the other party in the negotiation to find someone or pinning your hopes on a last minute Google search. Let’s see why neither option works.

If you allow the other business to find someone for you, it could be that they are honest and put you in contact with a local professional who does a good job. It could also be that they are not so honest, or simply have a dry sense of humour, and bring in the equivalent of “Uncle Bob who spent three weeks in France during his gap year.” The results of that could range from frustrating to ridiculous. That’s hardly what you want from a good meeting.

Even if they are honest, the interpreter would still be there because they were recommended by the other company. While all interpreters strive to be fair to everyone concerned, the likelihood is that they will already have some sort of relationship with the other business that they really want to keep. They could easily find themselves with a serious conflict of interests.

As for relying on Google searches, well, the steps you need to take before that have been talked about on this blog before. Suffice to say that hoping that you get a reliable Google result and then assuming that good SEO leads to good interpreting quality is a very risky strategy.

So, what should you do? Whether you are looking to export tomorrow or set up an international conference in October, the answer is clear: start building partnerships with good interpreting suppliers now. Talk to a good agency or solid consultant about your upcoming plans, look to pre-book interpreters and equipment in advance, get advice on likely availability.

The difficult fact to swallow is that Brexit seems to be leading good British interpreters to look to move elsewhere. A recent survey by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting found that 16% of their members were considering or planning to leave the country. That could cause a shortfall in capacity, which means that it is best to talk through your plans with a good supplier now.

The truth is, no-one knows what will happen with Brexit. It could all blow over and lead to nothing. But, just as it is prudent to talk to your suppliers to make sure you have enough raw materials in case the worst happens, it makes sense to ensure your invisible supply chain of skilled service providers too. It really is a great time to check that you have the right interpreters in place for everything you want to achieve this year. 

If you feel you need help with those plans, drop me an email to book a free Skype consultation now.

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