Mentee Fresh

By Ron DeVoe
Total Marketing, LLC

A little time has now passed since InfoComm 2018 turned off the lights. I hope that the sore feet have un-throbbed, the voice has lost its hoarseness and the bloodshot eyes have cleared.

I attended my first NAVA a “couple” of years ago and I remembered how exhilarating that show was with all of the AV gadgets and gizmos that one could sell. At InfoComm 2018, I met one of my dealers who had with him a new salesperson who was attending his first InfoComm. He had the same wide-eyed expression. It made me reflect on my time, the talented people I know and how many are still active within this industry. Conversely, I think of how many of the talented people moved on or out of this industry and that still bothers me.

I sat next to Chris Miller of PSNI, at an AVIXA meeting during InfoComm and Chris related that on recent trips abroad, he asked AV leaders in different companies what challenges they were facing. From Beijing to St. Petersburg, the answer was the same… finding and keeping good people.

Why do we lose good, talented people from an industry that is full of promise? Some feel that technological advancements are hard to keep up with, as are the changing acronyms. However, there is a common frustration seen among newer people within this industry. They feel overwhelmed, overworked, underappreciated and underpaid. These frustrations are nothing new. Noah’s wife complained while on the ark, although she did not tell me personally.

A great answer has been training, which can be found in abundance through manufacturers, AVIXA certifications, webinars and so on, but a common theme at this year’s InfoComm was the need for mentorship. John Thomas of Visitec Marketing presented “How to be an effective Mentor” to a large group. In this session he discussed along with a panel, the process, commitment and payback of a program. Amanda Eberly Boyer of AVIXA conducted the Inter-Council meetings with the theme of Mentorship. Attendees left the Inter-Council meetings with a dedication of mentorship. Gary Kayye, the esteemed publisher of this publication, called out to industry members to embrace AVolunteerism, which included mentorship.

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So, mentors are available, they understand their role and are ready to help. Now all that is needed are the mentees. A few years ago, InfoComm organized a mentors group, but no mentees came forward. Studies show that businesses with a mentorship program have greater employee retention. Within dealerships, there might be that one person that can mentor while not coaching. This person has to be able to listen and have the confidence that the mentee’s thoughts and concerns remain private. Dealerships, no matter what size have their own process and culture and many feel that mentorship should not be from outside. However, factory reps or independent reps are an excellent source for mentors in that they do understand and recognize the process, culture and the reward of seeing a dealer’s employee become more enthusiastic, energized and productive. The “silverbacks” of the AV Industry are an excellent source for mentors, although any mentorship sessions become irrelevant when introduced with “in my day…”

Ours is a small but growing industry that has not become so large that people do not count. Our industry does need to grow by continually filling it with quality people.

Mentees, we are here for you. We want to keep you excited.