September 17, 2007

Hiring for the Ethnic Marketplace

By Paul Bieber

The ethnic marketplace is growing in the United States. Glass use is cross-cultural, in that people of all cultures need glass replaced. Don’t confuse economic class with cultural class. Poor people of any culture wont buy a new frameless shower, but middle and upper class in every culture are customers for heavy glass.

You goal is to make it as easy as possible for every culture to buy at your shop. It is a basic law of business that customers will buy from a company that they feel comfortable with. In your approach to selling in the ethnic marketplace, the first step is to have a counter or salesperson be fluently bi-lingual in the target language and English. The next time you hire, make this a requirement for hiring. You will pay more for a bi-lingual person, but it should prove to be worth it.

Oh, a detail…How do you hire someone who is bilingual? You state your need in your help-wanted ad. If this doesn’t bring in the right candidates here are the back-door ways to hire.

•If the target market is big enough for you to want to sell into, there will usually be a newspaper in that language. Place your help-wanted here.

•First and second generation ethnic groups in America have the highest percentage of religious affiliation of any group. Find the church or temple, make an appointment to meet with the leader. Explain that you wish to hire someone with language skills. Every leader I ever contacted was brimming with ideas and candidates. They know who needs a job, know who can do a job, and who has the desire to work hard. This was my best source of hiring of dual-language speakers.

•Contact the state or county employment center. Explain fully what you need. In some areas, State referral systems often have a rule requiring that every applicant be sent to you, and the employment counselors can’t prescreen. Even if this is the case, it is worth it. Spend a day on short interviews and bring back serious candidates for second interviews. PS, never hire someone without a second interview. Try to make the second interview at the same time as the start of the shift they could be hired for. If they can’t get out of bed for an interview, they surely won’t make it for a daily job.

•There may be a city council member who is of the ethnic group you want. Contact their office and you will get a couple of candidates. Politicians love this kind of phone call and will almost always come through for you.

The most important advice is: Don’t forget you are in the glass business. Your first criterion in hiring is: Can the person serve your customers with your products? Hire someone that is trainable in glass, or has some construction related experience. Maybe a strong background in retail will be most important if you have the capability to teach the glass business.