Creating Ownership and Management Opportunities With Growing Hispanic Populations in Mind
Business ownership via franchising is a good fit for the cultural and family values of Hispanic communities.
As a Cuban-American, my experience owning a Brightway Insurance retail store and marketing products to a largely Hispanic population in the Miami region should serve as a helpful lesson to any franchise owner, given the projected growth of the Hispanic community throughout the United States. It also serves as an example of why business ownership and franchising is a good fit for persons of Hispanic background from a cultural and family perspective.
First, here are some statistics to understand the Hispanic market size and opportunity. The Hispanic population in the United States has grown from just short of 15 million in 1980 to more than 53 million today. That figure is expected to hit almost 60 million by mid-2020, according to the Census Bureau.
The Miami area is skewed by a much larger Hispanic population than most other regions of the country, so it serves as a good example of how to implement effective outreach to Hispanic consumers. Other more highly populated Hispanic areas of the United States include parts of Texas, California, Florida and New York.
Here are some tactics to keep in mind when marketing to Hispanic communities.
- Maintain Spanish-speaking employees and plan staffing accordingly to allow for the availability of one or more fluent Spanish employees at all times. It’s not very impressive and companies will lose business if a message must be taken to return a call later due to a language barrier. In Miami, all Brightway employees speak Spanish; it’s important to being an effective business in the region as about 40 percent of customers prefer to conduct business in Spanish.
- Know the audience, Hispanic or otherwise, as details matter. For example, a Cuban coffee machine in Miami makes customers feel at home, more comfortable and pampered. Simple touches like this are a minor expense, but go a long way.
- Network, support various community groups, and be active in school activities. It’s not only the right thing to do and enjoyable, but resulting business is a positive outcome.
Brightway in Miami was able to reduce marketing budgets by about 85 percent through the strength of referrals by existing customers, who are a tremendously valuable and effective unofficial sales team for any franchise.
Customer Service and Employee Considerations
Great service is a key aspect to growth when working with any population. Providing 24/7 customer service is an important consideration: it’s easier to keep customers happy and loyal when they never have to wait. It’s also a big part of retaining existing customers and gaining new ones. Even for businesses that are not open 24 hours, consider whether there’s an acceptable level of interaction for customers during off-hours.
A key consideration in providing this type of service is keeping employees motivated and connected to the company and its success. Employee morale is important in a service-
oriented work environment, though it’s not always easy to maintain. Apply innovative thinking to keep up morale. Bigger ticket items like cruises and yearly bonuses are terrific if the revenue exists, but it can be just as effective to host frequent happy hours, meals and other social events that are less grandiose, yet show appreciation for employees. Include families in these events when possible. Employees will appreciate your effort and they will go the extra mile when it comes to inspiring their roles with the company.
A Good Fit
Business ownership via franchising is a good fit for the cultural and family values of Hispanic communities. Family tends to be an important focus in these communities and it’s an attractive proposition to build a legacy and opportunity for future generations through business. It’s also a way to keep the family connected across generations, which is another key aspect of Hispanic culture.
In my case, with seven siblings and four children of my own, family and business will always be connected. One of my brothers works for me and another will do so after graduating from college. Other family members may join in the future.
A key element of mixing family and business that is helpful to keep in mind for all owners is the concept of accountability. Everyone must be accountable to each other in a business sense as they would if they were not related. It’s the only fair and appropriate method of managing a business with family involvement.
The insurance sector tends to be helpful in this regard because people earn what they sell and that keeps everyone on an even setting. For businesses that do not have the same dynamic, it’s good to have strong guiding policies in place making it clear that accountability is important and job performance is expected, family or not.
As important as policies are to maintaining an orderly business, there’s nothing better than being a great role model for current peers and future generations. My success is directly attributable to tremendous business role models of my grandparents and my father. Both of my grandfathers came to the United States from Cuba and started businesses in the early 1960s. Seeing their work ethic motivated me when I was a child and I started working in my father’s insurance business as a teenager.
To learn more about Hispanic business trends and topics, or to locate a local chamber, visit the U. S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at http://ushcc.com.
Jonathan Pinto’s Brightway Insurance retail store is based in Miami and is one of the highest performing locations among more than 100 nationwide franchised Brightway stores. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org via the directory.