Spanish for Retailers Pays Off
Tyrone Wicks, a manager of a RadioShack store, didn’t care much for Spanish the year he took it in high school.
Now, he’s finding that understanding the language (at least a little of it) is both personally rewarding and good for business.
Mr. Wicks is among a number of business people who have taken SpeakEasy Survival Spanish classes at Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College to find ways to better communicate with and serve Latino customers.
“We have a lot of Latino customers,” he told the Pensacola News Journal. “Often, when I approached them in the store to ask if they needed help, they would answer or signal to me that they were just looking. I learned they were just intimidated to ask because many of them can’t speak English.”
While Mr. Wicks is admittedly a long way from fluency in the Spanish language, he said, “I’m now able to find a common ground with these customers, and just a ‘buenos dias’ (good morning) helps a lot. Our sales had a significant increase.”
Myelita Melton, author of SpeakEasy Survival Spanish, said a little Spanish (“poco español”) can go a long way.
“Focus on communication,” she said. “Use body language. Speak clearly, slowly and learn the words that have a similarity.”
Discussion Questions: What role do language classes have in retailer training programs? On a scale of importance for successful store operation, where
does language compare to other disciplines, such as checkout responsibilities, facility maintenance, stocking procedures, etc.?