Lost in Translation 

Oct. 13, 2023
Avoid losing out on customers by investing in bilingual resources.

Twenty-five million. 

That’s the number of people living in the United States who do not speak English, according to a 2020 article by the American Translators Association. That’s a lot of potential customers you could be missing out on if you don’t have the resources to communicate with them.  

Oscar Gomez, the director of education and founder of Master Automotive Training in California, says that when a customer can’t properly communicate or understand what a service advisor is telling them, it quickly escalates to anger or frustration and the loss of a customer. It’s not just customers, either. Many technicians speak Spanish or another language as their primary language and benefit greatly from being able to understand and express themselves clearly by using their first language.  

It may seem unnecessary to have someone on staff who’s bilingual or to invest in a quality translator, but the benefits far outweigh the investment.  


Gomez founded Master Automotive Training in 2014 with the goal of bettering the automotive industry, one technician at a time. Prior to that, Gomez owned an emission testing center.  

“It’s all about being able to better this wonderful industry,” Gomez says of his mission in opening Master Automotive Training. “We have a bad rap, and I’m trying to fix it.”  

Gomez provides automotive training that helps make the industry better, and that now includes training for Spanish-speaking technicians.  


“If you don’t speak the language, it’s all up in the air,” Gomez says of customers and staff that speak primarily Spanish.  

California, specifically, has a large Spanish-speaking population, and Gomez says shops that don’t take this into consideration are doing a disservice to themselves as business owners by missing out on customers and quality staff. Gomez has been in plenty of shops where he’s seen first-hand how frustrated customers can get when they’re unable to communicate with anyone and many of his own students expressed frustration at the lack of training available in Spanish—it’s an issue for customers and those in the industry.   


Gomez realized that he himself was part of the problem when a technician reached out to him and asked if Master Automotive Training offered classes in Spanish. At the time, Gomez did not, so he went searching for content in Spanish and he couldn’t find much and what he did find was incorrect or taught in a manner that didn’t make sense.  

“We’re missing a whole group of people that are missing out on fundamental information,” Gomez says of the lack of training available in Spanish.  

Gomez found his Spanish instructor, German Flores, on Facebook. He saw a post about an instructor who was teaching a class in Spanish so Gomez reached out to Hernandez. Upon their first meeting, he hired him on the spot. Between Gomez and Hernandez, Master Automotive Training now offers seven Spanish-speaking classes.  


Gomez says that they’ve seen a huge influx of students since offering courses in another language. As a whole, the training company has seen a 25% growth in enrollment. They even have a student who drives all the way from Las Vegas for the Spanish content.   

“It’s interesting the small dimple that we’ve made into the market,” Gomez says.  

Gomez says that shops that invest in this will see a return on their investment and that they’ll see more of the Spanish community bringing in repairs to them. It will give shops an opportunity to speak to a new population.  


To shop owners who are skeptical or don’t see the point in offering Spanish-speaking resources, Gomez urges them to give it a try. He says it’s a great way to build relationships with both staff and customers and that it will create many opportunities to bring in new business and more quality staff.  

Gomez uses cell phones to showcase the importance of adapting.  

“Cell phones update once per month,” Gomez says. “If your cell phone updates all the time, there’s no excuse why shop owners aren’t updating if tech is updating all of the time. If we don’t change, we’re never going to grow.”  

Bilingual Resources  

Helpful tools for Spanish-speaking customers and staff   

  • Download an App: One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to communicate with a person with whom you don’t speak the same language is by using an app. Be careful, though. Many do not translate very well and can cause more harm than good. Gomez suggests DeepL Translate.  

  • Hire Someone: Finding a bilingual service advisor or CRM can be extremely helpful as they can help bridge the communication gap between both staff and customers. You’ll want to find someone who is qualified beyond their Spanish speaking skills, of course, but many highly qualified candidates speak both languages.

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