I write a column in the MultiLingual print edition where clients share why they do — and don’t — buy professional translation. This issue, which just went live, features Hank Enright, director of international training at Papa John’s, an international pizza chain based in Louisville, Kentucky.
While discussing how Papa John’s chooses translation partners, which you can read about in the print edition, Enright additionally gave us an inside look at the company’s unique approach to in-country review (ICR). Papa John’s gamifies ICR, offering employees virtual cash for every error found.
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Raised in Mexico to American parents, Enright considers himself fluent in English and Spanish. So he oversees translation between the two, performing a lot of the work himself. He’s says he’s not the only employee the company has translating, though: “When available,” Papa John’s relies on “internal resources to either translate, edit or proof content” into multiple languages: Enright translates Spanish, the company’s Beijing team reviews and edits Simplified Chinese, and the company’s new international business director handles Korean.
“For other languages — based on the volume to be translated or reviewed — we have had our native-speaking franchise business consultants provide feedback,” Enright says. “Where we do not have a native speaker, we have leveraged and partnered with the in-country franchise team as appropriate, and even on occasion spouses who have worked in the food and hospitality industry.”
“When you translate your own materials internally, you are your own customer, provider and editor,” he continues. “It can be tempting to not include a feedback cycle.” So Enright developed a reward system that encourages employees to find each other’s mistakes.
Eligible content includes menus, box labeling, leaflets, websites, collateral for new market openings and other marketing material. Documents are translated by the local franchise or marketing team, which then challenges Enright to find errors and typos. When Papa John’s expanded into Guatemala, Enright earned eight quetzales (around $1) from errors in a menu board panel. “I have yet to return to Guatemala to collect,” he jokes.
According to Enright, it works — for Guatemalan Spanish, at least. “By partnering with the local franchisee on material review, we launched the brand with coherent and properly translated materials, which is a win-win. Thanks to our expanding market needs and addition of new staff, we now use standardized templates to reduce or eliminate my well-intended revenue stream.”
Of course, paying employees to find errors in translation could incorrectly and negatively skew a client’s perception of translation quality: the method rewards quantity, after all, with no reward when errors aren’t found. And Papa John’s has systematically had a hard time finding a translation provider it’s pleased with — one reason Enright gives for why he translates so much personally.
To the company’s credit, though, one past provider made obvious gaffes — like translating “Give it your guts; it ain’t harder than that” as “Give your matured guts, anything harder than that.” In instances like these, Enright says, “It takes just as much time to edit a translation than to do it all internally.”
Regardless of who translates, he adds, “If not cross-checked, you can end up lost in translation or with an entirely different meaning.” Like any client, Papa John’s wants translations that are industry-aware and brand-specific. When the source content’s tricky, Enright says, “A translator can put forth their best effort but if a native speaking, subject matter expert does not proof and verify that the meaning behind the words is interpreted correctly, you will end up losing credibility and transferring incomplete or incorrect information.”
Papa John’s may have stopped offering staff money for uncovered mistakes, but that doesn’t mean the game isn’t still on for Enright: “I still have native speaking Spanish speakers and others reach out to me for translating, edit, proofing or correcting in Spanish and English…I take great pride and ownership in reviewing, correcting and editing Spanish language material. It is critical that the end product facing the franchisee or customer reflects professionalism and — as much as possible — does not seem as if it were translated from English.”
However your company handles ICR, Enright stresses that “proofing and editing [are] often not given the importance and time [they] deserve. The feedback cycle to the translator is vital to increasing the quality of future translations!”
Learn more about Papa John’s translation process and purchasing decisions in the current issue of MultiLingual.