You’ve just moved to Japan. Not a major tourist city like Tokyo, but a smaller city or town, maybe in the hinterlands. You don’t speak Japanese. But you need stuff. Like groceries. Electronics. Furniture. Clothes. Internet service. And oh yeah, a good Japanese-English dictionary.
In the stores, no one speaks English. You can’t read the signs because you’re functionally illiterate here. Last night you ran something from a Japanese drugstore website into an online translator and it returned, ‘Scenic the party rock and roll marinating the house of aardvark.’ So much for trying to buy a bottle of aspirin.
What are you going to do? You’re going to look for places that can service you in your native language.
You’ll look for websites that you can translate into English with a mouse click. Stores with someone who speaks English (you got her business card and wrote down her work hours). Support departments where they can answer your questions about what this gadget’s functionalities are and which broadband speed you can afford.
All those other websites and stores will never get a crack at your business. They don’t even know you exist. They’ve left your revenue on the table.
Now consider your business here in North America. Maybe you’re in multicultural Toronto. Maybe you’re in Dallas. How much hidden revenue are you leaving on the table?
Sure, Toronto’s famously multicultural but so is Texas – more than you might guess. Think the only languages they speak are Texas Drawl and Spanish? Think again. French, German, Czech and Polish are strong minority languages there while Vietnamese, Chinese, Hindi, Korean and Kurdish are on the rise. English is the only officially recognized language in Texas but not every immigrant will speak it, or speak it well enough to conduct business. They will naturally gravitate to whoever can help them in their native language, however much of a pain in the neck it will be.
You’re leaving money on the table. Revenue is streaming elsewhere and you don’t even know it.
“We don’t get much call for other languages,” you say.
Of course you don’t. How the hell are they going to tell you that when they don’t speak English?