Can employees who can’t speak Spanish put you out of business?

What is the bottom line for a business when English-speaking employees can’t speak Spanish? Is it just inconvenient, or can we measure how expensive it is to hire employees who only speak English? Businesses can hire bilingual speakers, but if they don’t have enough, could teaching employees who didn’t pay attention in high school Spanish save your bottom line?

Example 1: A Denver Spanish-speaking kitchen worker explains to the chef that two of the lobsters have gone bad, but the rest in the pan are probably fine. Should he throw them all away or just the bad ones? The chef, not understanding the question, replies that they are probably all fine.

Cost to the business: Chipotle experienced a 44% drop in sales. Taco Bell did not recover business for 15 months. Smaller restaurants would be less likely to even survive.

Example 2: A restaurant chef pulled a steak from the refrigerator, lifted it to his face to get a good whiff, set it back down and turned around to grab other ingredients. In that moment, a kitchen worker who had seen the chef smell the steak, threw it in the garbage, assuming it had gone bad. When the chef turned around, it was too late. The perfectly good $100 slab of prime rib was ruined. The chef and the kitchen worker did not speak the same language and the miscommunication was costly for the high-end restaurant.

Cost to the business: $150.00

Example 3: A small construction company was having difficulty on site because most of the supervisors spoke only English and most of the construction workers spoke only Spanish. There were several bilingual workers on site, and they were used for communicating complex directions. But the most common communication came in the form of safety warnings, which did not leave time for calling for a translator. The impact of construction workers injured while not wearing safety glasses or hard hats can be catastrophic.

Cost to the business: OSHA fines for employees not wearing hard hats are $1600 per occurrence. But OSHA also fines more than $30 million per year to construction and contracting businesses with fewer than 10 employees. One of the categories? Lack of training.

Example 4: A couple walks into the front office, but speaks no English. The secretary calls the only bilingual employee in the building out of a meeting to have a conversation with the couple.

Cost to the business: It depends on the meeting that employee was pulled from and what the couple needed. In this case, a room of 30 people was waiting for the employee to return.

Example 5: A meat-packing plant decides to be proactive about providing Spanish and English classes for their employees. All employees share what they most need to be able to say and understand. The highest priority is emergency and safety protocol, resulting in a crazy story in class about a worker who gets his arm stuck in a meat grinder and other employees have to call for an ambulance and try to help. When a similar situation happens on the floor, the employees are able to call for help, take care of the injured man and avert a tragedy using what they had learned in class.

Cost to the business: Catastrophic consequences averted because the employees on the floor responded to the emergency in time to get the employee life-saving help.

How can Fluency Fast Corporate Spanish Classes save you money?

Fluency Fast starts by doing a deep dive into companies. We spend time on construction sites (while wearing hard hats, of course), in restaurant kitchens, with front office staff, on the plant floor and in the golf-ball company to find out what employees need to be able to say and understand to effectively and safely communicate. We also ask owners and employers what their goals are. We personalize our teaching to your business.

We then put that information into a vocabulary list, cross-reference it with the highest frequency words in Spanish and from that, create stories in context that we can teach and that can later be read and listened to.

The difference between what we do and what a standard CD or book provides is personalization to the particular needs of the company. Standard industry-specific books contain thousands of individual words. It is as effective as reading a dictionary in alphabetical order. The truth is, most employees don’t need to be fluent in the language. They just need to be able to communicate effectively and have a solid base of the most important phrases in Spanish. Our approach is also different because with our method, larger classes are better. Our optimal class size is 30-75, but we can present to as many as 200.

Why is Fluency Fast better? 

Our live classes are designed to leverage what adults already know to accelerate their acquisition of Spanish. The nature of what we do and our commitment to help companies make and save money requires that we work with a limited number of clients. We will create a personalized proposal for your business on a 6-12 month contract. Depending on the number of employees, the number of sites and the number of hours employers can make employees available, we will develop a package. When a professional level of language ability is required in a position, we will recommend hiring more bilingual, fluent employees.

Self-directed software programs have a 1% rate of completion. They are expensive and don’t work. The goal is to have bilingual employees to help the business save and make money. That cannot be accomplished with computer programs.

Approximate Proposal Estimates

All of our proposals contain the following elements:
– 2-day site visit
– Curriculum creation
– Beginning Spanish Classes for Business
– 8-15 hours of instruction per month
– Follow-up audio download and reading material
– Pre-instruction and post-instruction tests

​Factors that contribute to estimates:
– Number of site locations
– Number of levels of Spanish content required (simple to complex)
– Number of hours per month
– Number of teachers required