If you have ever read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, then you understand what the term “Sharpen the Saw” means. I was reminded of this last week, when I had the opportunity to attend another training that was held in New Jersey with Weldon Long. “Sharpen the Saw” is Habit 7 of Stephen Covey’s best selling book, and it’s amazing how important this is to companies that want to become successful contractors. Only contractors that valued training and personal development made the time to attend a training like this.
Training should be a priority
“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
It’s also important to consider Habit 3: Put first things first. Stephen Covey discusses his time management quadrants and how to apply them to life and business. The two most important quadrants are 1 and 2. Quadrant 1 is the urgent and important quadrant. Quadrant 2 is the not urgent and important quadrant. Unfortunately quadrant 2 is where training lives and fails. Many companies in our industry don’t prioritize training over day to day emergencies (quadrant 1). These are the companies that are always worrying about keeping their guys busy in the off season. They are more concerned about day to day activities, rather than the big picture and long term success. For example, there were 3 companies that had signed up and paid for the training that I attended in New Jersey, that didn’t show up. This was a sales training to teach them how to change their mindset, set and achieve goals and go over a sales process that will increase their overall sales. The 3 companies that didn’t show, probably had a sales person that was too busy to learn how to improve their sales process. Our most successful companies, have not only sent every sales person through this training, but in some cases twice. One of the consistent traits of the best companies in our industry is that they prioritize training. It is a regular part of their weekly or monthly schedule and is as much a requirement of the job as showing up in a clean truck and uniform.
Everyone should train
“No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.” – Peter F. Drucker
It is just as important to attend training as it is to be the trainer. There is nothing more humbling than to be in front of a group of your peers, and not knowing the material. Someone will only have to experience this once to never let it happen to them again. When you have training at your shop, you should have your own employees do the training. Give them plenty of notice, so that they can prepare. Not only will the other employees have a better training experience, but the trainer will become an expert.
Training is for everyone
“What if we train them and they leave?
What if we don’t and they stay.”
If you read my previous post “3 Steps to Grow your Ductless Business”, you will understand who you should train. As mentioned in that post, your first step is to change your mindset. Not just your mindset, but every employee that works for the company. Remember, this is only for companies that want to rapidly grow this segment of their business. Every company will not do this. Only the ones that recognize that this is important to increase their profitability. I had a company tell me the other day that they had doubled their overall profitability, by converting more of their business to ductless.
Different types of employees, require different training:
- Office personnel: This includes anyone that has interaction with customers on the phone.
- Basic features and benefits of ductless heat pumps.
- Best types of applications.
- Energy savings opportunities.
- Proper appointment setting techniques.
- Identifying lead source: This becomes important for building your referral business and identifying what types of marketing works.
- Installation and Service
- Salesmen can attend basic installation training, so they understand the limitations of the prouct.
- Factory training is available at authorized training centers. Find a Manufacturer or Distributor that offers this type of training. This training isn’t free, but to be an expert, it is required.
- Advanced features and benefits of ductless heat pumps.
- Product application and installation limitations.
- In home sales techniques.
- Lead generation techniques.
- How to develop a referral program.
- This type of training is to show the business case to decide to grow the ductless business.
- How to manage a referral program.
- This is better conducted one on one.
Identify each group in your company that needs training. Get it on the calendar and identify who is going to do the training. Some of the training can be done in house, but other training will require manufacture or distributor help. Once it is scheduled, only let it be changed for an extreme emergency. (Remember Stephen Covey’s quadrant 2: not urgent and important) The more you prioritize your schedule in quadrant 2, the less quadrant 1 emergencies make their way into your schedule.