After decades at the helm, translation industry giant Bertrand Gillert is set to retire from his position at LocaSoft GmbH.
In this exclusive interview, the founder of one of Germany’s most forward-thinking LSPs discusses industry challenges, business development, translation management software, and the highs and lows of his career with the XTRF team.
Please introduce yourself and your company
My name is Bertrand Gillert. I’m the owner and founder of LocaSoft GmbH, a translation agency that specializes in technical translation, software, and website localization services.
We started out in 1999, working mainly for Microsoft. Later, we also managed clients from a language school (most of them machining and manufacturing companies). However, as our client base grew exponentially, our in-house management software was no longer sufficient.
After testing various alternatives, we chose a Language Technology Center (LTC) product. We started out with Windows-based software, before later moving over to Worx, a browser-based tool.
Why did you choose XTRF?
I first met the XTRF team at Tekom Wiesbaden. We had a few drinks together and this was the beginning of our story. We weren’t at all happy with our LTC system, and after a new round of testing (with Plunet, ProjectOpen, Beetext, and other web-based tools available at that time), we decided to go with XTRF (in 2011).
The structure was pretty self-explanatory. The workflow design was also easy-to-use, as were the templates, which we require constantly.
Their pricing was competitive, and we were also able to import most of our existing data.
We also liked the ability to customize reports (mainly the layout and texts) using an open-source report editor — this was very useful.
The capacity to send job notifications or download links to customers without them having to log in is also invaluable.
What features of XTRF do you use the most?
Workflows, in particular the templates.
Trados/Studio analysis for receivables/payables.
Customer invoice creation with export into our accounting system (CSV).
What do you think about communication with the XTRF team?
It’s always excellent, they’re very responsive. We also had them customize some reports and the results were perfect.
What has been the biggest challenge for you over the years?
I’d say competition. There are thousands of competitors out there and they all say they’re the best. Many agencies or freelancers offer low rates, but what they don’t say is that it doesn’t include a separate proofreading step.
Rates have also been tricky. Customers pay less and less although the amount of work required is the same. I guess we’re the sole industry with falling instead of rising rates. Tools such as Studio or GroupShare aren’t free, but the customers don’t seem to care. They request weighted word counts but aren’t willing to pay more.
Showing what makes us special has also been a challenge. In order to stand out from the crowd, there are not many possibilities in our domain. Quality can’t be demonstrated, even if you have an ISO certificate. We tried highlighting some special services such as software localization, but many people even don’t know what that is or don’t search for it.
Lastly, I’d say finding new clients: We ran ads in Multilingual Magazine, on Google, and on Facebook but with little success. This is mainly due to the huge number of competitors. We also called potential clients found by searching through company directories on the web, but if I remember rightly we only turned one of the hundreds of prospects into a customer.
What was the best moment for your company’s development?
The take-over of the language school clients. This multiplied our turnover and allowed us to meet people from agencies from all over the world since the translations had mostly been into foreign languages.
What advice would you give yourself early in your career?
Sticking to one tool instead of always looking for another one, as this saves time and money.
Attending public events where potential customers could be (e.g. Hannover Messe), publish articles, speak at events (e.g. Tekom, Localization World).