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  • Language barrier

    This may seem like a really dumb question, but I could use some advice.

    At the store I work at, a lot of my clients speak super broken English. For example, today I had two dogs come in with the same owner.... Who barely speaks any English. He and who I think is is wife pretty much only speak Spanish and they're always super confused about everything. One of my coworkers speaks Spanish but she still couldn't get through to them. This isn't the first time this has happened. When he was telling me about how he wanted his dogs to look, I couldn't understand a word he was saying. He couldn't even read the client card to fill it out so all I have is his name, number for a phone he won't answer, and the dogs names.

    What would you guys do in this situation and what can I do in the future for clients who don't speak English?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I live in Vancouver, BC. It is a VERY multi-cultural area, with a very prominent population of English-as-a-Second-Language speakers, a LOT of our clients don't speak English. I have two co-workers that speak a second language, but with the variety of clients that we have, a huge amount of clients don't speak English well, or at all, and we cannot communicate verbally. Some days, every new client that I have is non-English-speaking.

    We have a shave chart on the wall, which helps, but we always manage to get through. I try to use keywords and gestures, use my body to communicate, and point to other dogs that are in the salon. I think dialing down the vocabulary is the key.

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    • #3
      I think visuals are universal, so maybe you could have some images of head styles and body styles to show clients whom you cannot communicate with. Or if you have an office tablet, you could have some pictures in a folder to show and they can simply point to what they like. I find it odd that your coworker who speaks Spanish can't communicate either. Either she doesn't speak Spanish well, or they're speaking Portuguese.

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      • #4
        The dude just seems very confused. He missed his appointment last Tuesday and then showed up randomly on Wednesday asking if I can do his dog bc I'm "just sitting there" but I had a dog coming in 15 mins so lol but anyways, yeah he just seems like a very confused individual. He puts his daughters or nieces on the phone because they can actually speak and understand English. But yeah those visuals seem like they could be pretty helpful

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        • #5
          This is why you learn the language in the country you live in!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Countrygrl View Post
            This is why you learn the language in the country you live in!
            AMEN!!

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            • #7
              Finally some more people who agree with me!!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Countrygrl View Post
                This is why you learn the language in the country you live in!
                Learning is an ongoing process. I don't know if you've ever tried to learn a new language as an adult. I have attempted. It is hard.

                I don't have any more difficulty satisfying a new client with a language barrier, versus a random new customer who is a shop hopper with an essay of specifics to groom to. If anything, the ESL client is more forgiving.

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                • #9
                  There's nothing much you can do in this situation. The burden is on the client to communicate in a English speaking country, not for you to learn theirs. My shop is located in the fringe of Chinatown in my city and we get several Chinese clients which do not speak English. We basically use pics and we have blade charts which show a 10 blade swatch right through the comb lengths. It's right on our countertop for them to see and feel. They all pay with cards so I just charge them even if they don't know the price up front before the groom.

                  The biggest concern is the coat length or if it's a bath and brush vs. a strip down. You don't want to mess that up. I always double and triple check when they want a double coated strip down to make sure that's what they want done.

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                  • #10
                    It was a guy with a poodle and a yorkie so it wasn't too bad if I did the wrong length. His niece said that I should go shorter next time, but they loved it anyways. I write everything down on my cards too so hopefully it'll be smoother next time

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Moo View Post
                      Learning is an ongoing process. I don't know if you've ever tried to learn a new language as an adult. I have attempted. It is hard.
                      Yes. I am in an area with a very significant population of non English speaking immigrants. I don't assume they are all refusing to learn the language as much as they are perhaps somewhere along the way in the process or maybe even just brand new. Either way, they have to be able to get out and conduct business no matter where they are in the process of adjusting and learning, and I'm willing to cut some slack for that. Their money is as good as anyone else's. It can be inconvenient, but there are puh-lenty of bred n' born here English speakers who annoy me and inconvenience me as well. Meh, just a part of doing business.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Countrygrl View Post
                        This is why you learn the language in the country you live in!
                        Was looking for the "like" button here

                        Admin: If you login with your FB Connect it is there.

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                        • #13
                          I'm with Moo and Totally on this one. It is NOT easy to learn a language as an adult. I'm always amazed that they do as well as they do. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and just imagine moving to a foreign country, and learning all you need to do just to accomplish the things of daily living.
                          Imagine how hard and embarrassing it is to get up the nerve to do something as "simple" as trying to get someone to groom your dog. You don't know all the words, or questions to ask. And people have a hard time understanding the little English you do know.

                          I think the idea of having visuals is excellent. Lots of pictures, examples of how short different blades cut, etc.
                          If you did that, the word would soon get out that you are willing to help and not ridicule. You would open up a whole new path of clients that would bring you more clients.

                          Visuals speak a thousand words. I was in China, looking at some bird cages. I picked up an item and asked what it was. The shop owner told me, in English, but for the life of me I couldn't understand her. She finally brought me over to how it was being used in a cage. Turns out, it was a little device to hold apples for the birds to eat.

                          And yes, I have run into more then one "born and bred" American that have accents I can't understand easily. (Nor could they understand mine)

                          So, to those that think it's so easy to "learn the language of the country your living in" I do hope you get the opportunity to try that sometime and move to a foreign country to live a few years. I think it will increase your empathy greatly.

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                          • #14
                            Well, it all has to do with initiative. My grandfather left everything and moved his entire family from Italy to Cuba to escape Hitler in 1942, and learned the language there. Then, when Castro invaded Cuba in 1959, he again left everything and moved to the United States, and he and his family learned the language, AND taught their children and grandchildren all the languages they knew. Different work ethic back then though - and they WANTED to be part of the new country they moved to, that's not so much the case today imo. I am from Miami, and know from experience that the majority of immigrants who arrive there want to maintain the status quo even after they move to the US, not assimilate into mainstream America or learn the language. People find pockets of communities of their own which makes it easier not to venture too far outside of it and HAVE to work at learning new things.

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                            • #15
                              In the end, it's no more of an inconvenience to me whether the non English speaker is giving me a mental middle finger and just refusing or if they're just new and trying really hard, and I don't have the energy to spend on trying to assess which it is. I'm honestly not really annoyed by it either way. I feel like most people probably would not deliberately set themselves up for so much open hostility and rejection that comes from not conforming and figure the majority are probably doing the best they can. It hasn't put me out at all to try to learn a little Spanish (the predominant not-English here) or use an online translator to try to meet them halfway. Their money is as good to me as anyone else's, and it doesn't take me any longer to interpret what's being said by a non English speaker than it does to interpret via endless online photos exactly what it is an English speaker wants.

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