Just as important as being Latino-ready is being Latino-friendly to effectively cultivate Hispanic customers. In fact, some would say that being Latino-friendly is more important. That’s because friendliness is universal and is always appreciated. You can travel the world over and not speak any language other than your own, and you will find yourself gravitating toward the friendly people, businesses, restaurants, and places that make you feel welcome.
Being Latino-friendly doesn’t cost a thing. It just requires that you make your business a place where Hispanic customers feel welcome and appreciated. And just like the Latino-ready step, it starts with your staff. Even if no one on your staff speaks Spanish, they can be Latino-friendly simply by making eye contact and showing warmth, sincerity, helpfulness, and personal service. Essentially, it’s all the basics of good customer service and good common sense rolled into one.
A store manager at Sherwin-Williams, the largest retail paint company in the world, told me that he didn’t have anyone on staff who spoke Spanish at his store in Dallas. However, he had a large and thriving clientele of Hispanic customers. I asked him how he served and handled his customers. “We make sure they know that we want their business,” he told me. “We make them feel valued and welcome. When they walk in the door, we make eye contact, smile, and say ‘¡Hola!’ (Hola is Spanish for ‘hi’). When they see us smiling and greeting them, they ...