Spanish American Capitalism

Capitalismo (kah-pee-tahl-EES-moh)


In my Red Angle travels, I hear a common objection.

 

Why should I have to learn Spanish? We’re in America, shouldn’t Hispanics learn to speak American?

 

I understand the objection. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Everyone’s opinion counts. If you happen to have Hispanic customers, this type of thinking will run your business into the ground, but there is certainly nothing wrong with the opinion.

 

Learning some Spanish to help you sell more stuff doesn’t make you less of an American – it makes you a Capitalist.

 

El dólar honesto

 

Especially if you are a retailer in the construction industry, a critical question is  this: “What percentage of your revenue comes from Hispanic bolsillos (bohl-SEE-yohs) – pockets?”

 

For arguments sake, let’s say it’s 10%. If you were largely ignoring and/or taking for granted 10% of your business, wouldn’t this be an opportunity in 2012? The variables in the construction industry that made 2011 what it was appear to be about the same in 2012. Agree or disagree?

 

So… what are you going to do differently in 2012 that you didn’t do in 2011?

Recently I’ve had several conversations that have gone like this where the Hispanic customer base far exceeded 10%:

 

Client: Can you help us increase sales?

Me: I’m not sure yet –  can I ask a few questions?

Client: Sure.

Me: Great. In which direction are sales currently trending?

Client: Flat at best. It’s month-to-month….

Me: Will you do anything different in 2012? Marketing? Training?

Client: Between you and me… No. Not really.

Me: OK. What percentage of your buyers are English-speakers?

Client: 70%.

Me: What percentage of revenue do they account for?

Client: About 70%. 

Me: OK – when they come into your store, do you say hello?

Client: Of course. If they are regulars, we know their names. 

Me: Do you try to help them buy what they need quickly?

Client: Absolutely – right away. We’ll walk right up to them, ask to help. 

Me: Great – do you cross-sell them? Suggest other things they may need?

Client: Oh yes, construction guys love buying new gear!

Me: They sure do – Do you try to sell them low-dollar, high margin items at the counter near check out?

Client: Yep – and they buy about 50% of the time.

Me: Great – Do you thank them after they buy, let them know you truly appreciate their business?

Client: Every time. Absolutely. 

Me: Great. OK – what ethnicity is the remaining 30% of buyers?

Client: Uh, almost entirely Hispanic.

Me: OK – and they represent what percentage of revenue for your business?

Client: About 30%.

Me: OK – and for this 30% of your business, what language do they prefer?

Client: Spanish. Some know a little English, but they prefer Spanish.

Me: Right – Is anyone here fluent in Spanish?

Client: No. 

Me: Does anyone speak any Spanish on the Sales Floor?

Client: No.

Me: When they come into your store, do you say hello?

Client: No, not really. We don’t speak any Spanish. 

Me: Do you try to help them buy what they need quickly?

Client: Well, we hope they know what they want. We don’t speak Spanish.

Me: OK – do you try to cross-sell them? Suggest other things they may need?

Client: No, not really. We don’t speak any Spanish.

Me: Do you try to sell them low-dollar, high margin items at check out?

Client: No, not really. We don’t speak any Spanish.    

Me: Do you thank them after they buy, let them know you appreciate their business?

Client: No, not really. We don’t speak any Spanish.

Me: OK. Do you believe sales is all about relationships and making customers feel comfortable, respected, and appreciated?

Client: Uh, yes.

Me: If you were Hispanic, would you be a loyal customer, impressed at how far your store went to connect with you?

Client: Probably not….

Me: OK – How much of your business is Hispanic?

Client: About 30%…

Me: My recommendation? Learn some simple Spanish – Sell more stuff.

 

The Hispanic population growth over the past ten years in the US has been nothing short of HUGE. Hispanic growth outpaced the White (US Census designation, not mine) growth by a factor of 10.

 

Hispanic Growth = 41%. White Growth = 4%. Act accordingly.

 

This trend will continue.

 

Redux: Learning some Spanish to help you sell more stuff doesn’t make you less of an American – it makes you a Capitalist.

 

And if you have Hispanic employees, you know what they say…. Treat your employees like your best customers. For better or worse – Do you?

Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry. He’s enjoys Capitalism, Abe Lincoln biographies, and helping Clients be more profitable.

Spanish Twins: Just in time for Christmas...

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Categories: Jobsite Leadership

2 replies

  1. Nicely said!! We need to cater to every customers with equal respect and with the increase in Hispanic workers in almost all sections of the society it really does make sense to either learn Spanish or have bilingual employees to meet your customers’ need

  2. Great post! Go, Spanish, go!

    So long as people keep their heads in the sand, though, that will mean more opportunities for those of us who do speak it 😉

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