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    Small business in a tourist town.
    I'm curious how do you handle customers that don't speak English or any other language that you know?

    Let's say you own a bakery. The town you started the baking business in is a touristic one, thus, tourists enter your bakery daily.
    But some don't speak English. How do you sell to them: they point, you point, everybody points?

    Maybe signs in multiple languages at the entrance are a good idea?


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    Sure, signs do help. Many tourists who are traveling to the US are going to know some English or at least enough to get by. It may do you well to learn some starter phrases in a few different languages, too, so that you are able to understand more of the basics and vice versa when you get regular tourists to the shop.


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    I can tell you from experience how it's like to be a customer in such a shop where the staff doesn't speak any other language than their own. We used to have local guides who spoke a bit of English help us with our order. (We were a group of young people from many countries all over the world attending a training in Latvia.) However, it was not a touristic city. They did not have so many foreign customers. In a touristic area it's more likely for you to be able to find staff who speak at least a bit of English.


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    I think signs in multiple languages is a good idea, provided you only have to cater to a few of the major ones, but I think it would be much more practical to just utilize pictures instead of words since those are the easiest to comprehend and are the most universal. Symbols can also help a lot, but it might be worth considering to not to make it too prominent as it might deter some people because they might see it as unprofessional. Pictures would be the best bet, I think, because with this they can just point at what they want and pay the necessary amount.


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    Haha, yes this has happened to me before. Lots of pointing was done. Now I have a translator app on my phone and I just type in the main keywords and work my way through. But this problem doesn't happen too often for me. I agree the signs is a great idea.


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    Signs are the most basic way to understand customers that do not speak english. It's best to have bigger signs and price signs as well so there won't be much of a misunderstanding.


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    Since you expect to get tourists in your bakery always the best way to deal with this once and for all is learn the magic words:

    Do you speak X language . . .in as many languages as possible.

    Once that is done you can get online and get translations of the names of your products in as many languages as you can . . . print and laminate the list of products you sell and when a tourist who speaks any language comes in; exercise your newly-acquired linguistic skills [in the broadest accent you may manage, to dispel any notion that you're fluent in that language] to find out if they speak a certain language and hand them the appropriate list. It may be be more convenient than pointing and grunting

    It's just a thought.


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    Lot's of pointing, smiling and improvised sign language! Also be very clear in the way that you mark the prices of different products, they need to be able to understand how much everything costs. They won't be able to ask you if the $3 price tag is for this product or the one right behind/next to it. Having personally lived and worked in countless countries.. I will most likely leave the item there if I'm not sure how much I'm going to have to pay for it. I don't like surprises.

    If you have a lot of visitors who speak a certain language, then it might also be worth it to use Rainmans suggestions for those few languages.


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    You definitely need to hire a local who can speak English. That's the best thing you can do since you won't be able to sell to customers if you yourself cannot communicate with them. I suggest you hire a person or even 2 or more.


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    Pictures with the corresponding price helps a lot. Yes, it's going to be all about pointing on many occasions. If your business is in a high traffic area with international customers, then it helps that prices are also printed both in dollar and local currency. If you can afford to hire an interpreter, this is probably the best solution.


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