8 Rules for Selling Más to Your Hispanic Customers.

Obtain Customers > Establish Loyal Customers > Maximize Profitability



Yesterday Ayer (i-YAYR) we were talking about the Hispanic Entrepreneurship boom in the construction industry. Whether it’s Construction Materials, Tools, Safety Gear or Jarritos, millions of Hispanics are spending billions each year on the things they need to get the job done right.


Bebidas Populares



Despite the huge numbers, few construction retailers have made a committed effort to making their stores incredibly friendly to Hispanics.



Why? There are a bunch of reasons…

“It’s hard.”    

“The competition isn’t doing it.”

“They know enough English to get by….”

“English is the language of Commerce, isn’t it?”

“English-speakers will get offended.” 

“If we do Spanish, we gotta do Polish too.”

“Hispanics are very price sensitive.”

“Shakira learned English, why can’t they?”

“It’s a rabbit hole… once you start, where does it stop?”




All these excuses are garbage.

Take care of your customers while you still can.



Failure to adapt to the changing environment will mean your customers – er, former customers – will decide for you. They’ll vote with their feet. And their wallets.


In the meantime, Lowe’s and Home Depot represent the Lowest Common Denominator because at least they have bilingual signage.




If you believe a comfortable buying experience for Hispanics can be part of your Competitive Advantage, here are 8 Rules to help you in your quest:




UNO: Make a First Impression. 

First off, smile. Yeah, I know construction is a testosterone-fueled war against the world, but take it easy…. At least smile and give a head nod. Acknowledging the existence of a customer should be the bare minimum in retail.


Second, create some Spanish-language marketing that is immediately noticeable upon entering the store. A bilingual banner, floor mat, video en Español, Chivas de Guadalajara pennant – something, anything to let the customer know you are making an effort.

The key here is Instant Recognizability. If it’s Spanish sub-text in size 4 font beneath the 288 font English… that does not qualify.




DOS: Understand the Odds.

Research out of the Pew Hispanic Center indicates that roughly 50% of all Hispanics in the US speak some English. So half the time you say, “¡Bienvenidos!” or Welcome! to a Hispanic customer, he’ll say, “Thanks dude. It’s great to be here.




TRES: Remember Cheers.

Sam Malone was a great bartender not just because he pitched for the Red Sox. He was also friendly, funny, and always knew the names of his regulars.

Cheers – 2nd best theme song ever. #1? Gimme a Break with Nell Carter.


So should you.



Try these out.


¿Cómo te llamas?

(KOH-moh tay YAH-mahs)

What’s your name?



Or, a simpler approach:


¿Tu nombre?

(tooh NOHM-bray)

Your name?



After you learn their name, tell them yours.


Soy _________.

I’m _________.

¿Qué onda? Soy Ángulo Rojo….





CUATRO: Listen to your Customers….

Learn some Spanish so you can listen to their needs. No, you don’t have to be fluent. Learn just enough to understand how you can help them.


When determining what to learn, think of the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle says roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

For example:

  • 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the salespeople
  • 80% of the touchdowns come from 20% of the team
  • 80% of the injuries come from 20% of the workers
  • 80% of the donuts are eaten by 20% of the people


You get the idea.


80% of the sales in your store come from 20% of the products and services. Identify what your Hispanic customers are buying the majority of the time and start there.




CINCO: Make Pricing Abundantly Clear. 

Numbers transcend language barriers. Regardless of ethnic background and language preference, everyone speaks English on Payday. Money talks.


Say you have no Spanish-language marketing and zero Spanish-speaking employees. If the prices are clear, you still have a chance of making a sale despite presenting your firm as an undifferentiated commodity pusher. But at least you’ve got a potential sale….


Numbers speak for themselves.

Don’t make pricing a secret.




SEIS: Make Images Abundantly Clear.

People like pictures. It’s been said they are worth a thousand words. True, if the words are in a language your customers cannot understand, they’re worthless. But if you have large images directing your customers, at least they’ll arrive at the productos they need.


Once they are there – the pricing better be clear.

See Rule CINCO.




SIETE: Use Humor. 

Humor takes the edge off. Have some fun. If your store has all the brilliant ambiance of a morgue, the addition of a language barrier will multiply the misery.


When Hispanic customers walk in, say “Bienvenidos” (bee-ayn-bay-NEE-dohs) Welcome. If they incorrectly sense fluency and unleash a 600 word-monologue en Español, say:


Despacio Capitán… Estoy practicando mi Español.”

Despacio (day-SPAH-syoh) Slow yer roll…

Capitán (kah-pee-TAHN) Captain

Estoy (ay-STOY) I am

Practicando (prahk-tee-KAHN-doh) Practicing



Then smile (see Rule UNO) and start over with your Spanish skills from Rule CUATRO.




OCHO: Know Your Audience. 

The average Hispanic construction worker went to school through the 6th grade. Translating ASTM standards into Spanish means you are over-thinking it (“But my friend Carlos is Mexican and he went to MIT…. He’d want to see the tech specs.”)


Or you may be under-thinking it (“Just take whatever we have in English and translate it into Spanish. We’re all construction guys, right?”)


It’s a different buyer. You should market to them with a different message.




The construction industry is changing. The firms most adaptable to this change will win, have fun, and throw fantastic parties. The others will die… some slowly, others with surprising speed.




How are you adapting to your changing customers?

Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry.

Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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