Refuse to Be Average Part 1
July 5, 2005
A Business Owner's Guide to Contractor Education
By: John Zink
The success of a business can often be traced to the owner’s dedication to continuing education and encouraging their employees to constantly learn new skills. When considering the idea of educational programs for yourself and your employees, keep these thoughts in mind:
Recognize the Massive Benefits of Training.
A tech who mumbles through the explanation of what’s wrong with the furnace and leaves a mess for the homeowner to clean up will not get the next service call.
The tech who has been through a customer relations seminar and proper service training can explain the problem in clear terms, fix it right the first time and probably sell a maintenance agreement along the way. If the customer has confidence in the tech, they are also less likely to blame unrelated problems on the tech’s work, resulting in fewer callbacks.
Long term, a company with properly trained techs will gain loyal repeat customers, while their competitors with untrained employees will have to rely on charging the lowest price.
Employees are customers as well, and most want an employer who can offer the best overall value. Quality employees know that a company that offers training will help them gain skills and make them more valuable for the rest of their career.
Owners should work to make their shop the only one in town with the positive reputation of investing in its employees through regular training opportunities. You will have the best people in town knocking on your door looking for a job.
Make the Time to Attend Educational Programs.
When work is busy and things are happening fast, the idea of stopping everything to spend time in a seminar seems crazy. When times are lean, contractors say that they are busier than ever just trying to find enough work to keep the guys busy. Typically the work they are taking is lower quality, higher risk, with lower profits, outside of their preferred work area, for clients that are harder to work with.
Training needs to happen throughout the year, in good times and bad, so techs are continuously focused on improvement. This focus will let you field a team of highly trained and professional techs that will help the company build a solid base of repeat customers. These loyal customers will feed the company a steady stream of business and allow you to become more selective about the work the company takes on. Lose the low profit, high risk work and you may be able to double your profit margin with 25 percent less volume.
Owners need to attend educational programs, too. Company culture starts at the top, and owners are responsible for setting the attitude that education is important.
Recognize that there will never seem to be a good time to stop everything and attend a seminar. Accept that it’s a planning and discipline issue, and commit to attending educational events on a regular basis.
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