Making a Commitment to Training

It’s a reasonable expectation that in order for someone to be able to do well at their job, they need training.

Following that, it should also be understood that training isn’t a one-shot deal: You don’t just enroll in whatever relevant course, program or certification, complete it and then spend the rest of your work life reading from that one textbook. It’s absolutely the opposite. There is always something more to learn.

If you’ve been around for a while in this business, think about how different the things you work with every day are. When managers think about education and training for their staff, the typically think of it in terms of equipping them with the necessary skills and abilities to perform their job to a basic standard of competence.

Note here that I said a basic standards and not a minimum standard. I think we can all agree that our teams should always strive to achieve more than just the minimum.

It’s better to think of training as equipping your staff with the ability to excel, and perform at a higher level. This is a win/win/win outcome that benefits employer, their people employees and you clients.

Training, combined with motivation, is what empowers your people to be more efficient and productive. And efficiency and productivity are cumulative. If your people are more efficient, that means that your project manager can schedule more tasks, and your teams can complete them in the same time relative to a less efficient crew. That’s a realization that can be applied to every silo in your business.

In the simplest terms, if your team can grow from doing work on one task list a day to three, which is more than reasonable, your productivity has tripled. Increased productivity directly affects both the top line revenue and bottom line profitability of the company.

Beyond installs, on the service side of the business, if service techs who normally can make two service calls in the morning and two in the afternoon can consistently add a fifth service call into their day, that’s a 20% increase in productivity. I know readers can nitpick my examples, since the real world can be complicated, but I’m simplifying just to make a point.

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Beyond just your technicians, your sales people who’ve upgraded their sales skills and, more importantly, their follow-up habits will deliver higher closing ratio.

There are also less-obvious benefits to well trained personnel that aren’t as tangible as entries on the Gantt chart or on the monthly income statements. Displaying certifications from professional organizations contributes to building your company’s brand, and differentiating you from competitors. It’s something your salespeople can talk about. Even if your clients have never heard of your industry’s certifications, they’ll still recognize that they mean something.

At least, that’s what we hope. I remember talking with a client whose project we were in the middle of and telling him I had just passed the exam to be a CEDIA-certified Professional Designer.

“So what does that mean?”, he asked.

I replied, “That means you can trust me with a quarter million dollars’ worth of equipment and I probably won’t burn your house down by accident.”

Getting back on track here, in terms of access to training resources, AV dealers should find themselves spoiled for choice. Beyond just the annual courses your professional organization offers for continuing education credits, all of your vendors offer training programs, whether in the form of in-class courses or online training via webinars or training portals.

For example, the distributor I work for has committed significant resources over the years to building and maintaining an online training portal for our dealers that offers up to date training modules for all of the brands our dealers buy from us. And on my sales calls and meetings with my dealers, I continue to make sure they’re aware of these training resources that are available at no cost to them.

Whether there’s a monetary cost to the training resources your company uses or not, there’s another cost to investing in training: time. And that’s something that I know is always in short supply.

However, whether it’s an investment of days of in-class time, a 90-minute webinar or a 15-minute video module, spending the time on training to increase your team’s knowledge and skills, it’s an investment worth making. The dealers I work with comment that they notice the improvements when their people commit to ongoing training.