The Importance of an English-Speaking Crew
Here in Houston, there is a TON of migrant labor. For many, this is a great thing. Migrant workers are often willing to do many jobs others would prefer not to do (such as particularly difficult physical labor), and do many jobs at cheaper labor rates. This can be beneficial to contractors and clients alike, considerably driving down the cost of labor for many projects, which in turn creates a decrease in overall project cost. A win-win.
However, one of the main drawbacks of migrant labor is the inconsistent ability to speak English well enough to communicate fluidly with a client. Now, this may not be a problem on commercial projects, but this can become a serious issue for homeowner projects. Many homeowners (actually most, in my experience) would like to communicate with individual members of the crew to ask questions or to give specific instructions to ensure the project is done exactly to their liking. As a business owner or a foreman, it can be unreasonable or sometimes even impossible to be constantly present to translate instructions from the client to your crew. This can cause miscommunication and frustration, both of which are extremely detrimental to the project, customer service, your reputation, and the likely-hood of referrals.
Clients are also much more comfortable with a crew who they can converse, laugh and joke with. My guys often spend time building rapport with the client before, during, and after the project. This is another facet of customer service - ensuring the customer enjoys the experience they have with your business from beginning to end.
Now for a word of warning. It is completely illegal and discriminatory to require employees or workers to speak or be able to speak English only. However, requiring them to be bilingual is typically not. The determining factor in this situation is whether or not they will be able to communicate effectively to carry out their job duties. Please be very careful with this, discrimination is not to be taken lightly.
Overall, when the client is able to communicate with every employee on the job site, they feel more relaxed, engaged, able to provide input, and overall have a better experience. This makes the job flow more smoothly, and increases the likelihood of being called back to do another project, or even referrals.