How Training Improves Your Bottom Line: #1 Why Train?

Note: This is the first in a series of blog posts based on Business HindSite’s “How Training Improves Your Bottom Line” presented by David Crary and Ruth King.  To watch the entire show, click here.

By David Crary  

field service businessesFor many field service businesses,  training is a one-time event done for each new employee.  The newbie is trained either by the owner, the manager, or a veteran in the company on where things go/are, how a typical work day goes, and anything else they will need to know for a typical work day.  Once they have learned the ropes, a check-up training, yearly training, or additional training is usually neglected or forgotten.

But training is one thing that actually shouldn’t be neglected within your company.  So why should your company continue on with training long after the newbies first day?

  1. Keep ahead of the competition.  You can’t keep ahead of or even keep up with competitors if you are not continuously moving your business forward.  Learning moves your business forward.

    You learn from mistakes every day and that in turn makes you a better person.  The same is true for your business. By figuring out what doesn’t work, you can sit down and train your techs on what will work.  This will keep the business on the right path towards growth and success.

    One of the best “training” experiences I have found are trade shows.  Every employee from the field technician to the office person can benefit from trade shows.  When I owned an irrigation business, my techs got to go and test out all of the new equipment on display, my secretary attended presentations on how to better manage the office with irrigation business software, while I got to head to seminars about things like small business growth strategies given by professionals in the irrigation industry.

  2. Trust employees.  By doing regular training sessions with your techs, you can ensure that they will truly know what they are doing out in the field.  A yearly, monthly, or bi weekly meeting is not a bad way to ensure employees are trained on the most up to date way tasks/jobs/services should be performed.  And let’s face it., technology and all that comes along with it is always changing.  You can’t expect your guys to stay up to date by never being trained on the newest and greatest.

    For instance, if you use a field service software program, you can bet there are new updates, buttons, features, etc. that your guys should know about.  We are always telling our customers that they should call us every few months for an “update training”, because our field service management software is always changing and growing and we want them to get the most out of it.

    An added bonus?  It’s a stress reliever having frequently trained employees.  It is reassuring knowing your employees are competent and knowledgeable, both out in the field and in the office, so you can focus on what you do best, instead of worrying if they are installing parts or entering in data correctly.

  3. Impressions on customers.  Having a tech that has the technical skills required for the industry you are in is a must.  But a lot of techs struggle with the communicating with the customer side of the business.  A lot of techs are introverts (hence the profession they chose) and don’t do well with one on one settings with customers.

    Customer service training courses are a great way to get your techs comfortable talking with customers.  You don’t even really have to pay to send them off to classes if it’s not in your budget.  You can teach them yourself how you would like them to approach customers.  Providing them with a checklist of things to do at a customer’s property as well as an “onsite” day where they practice their customer interactions will work just as well, perhaps even better since it’s “hands on.”

    I call this training for the “soft skills.”  These are not extremely technical skills that your techs must acquire, but rather good general skills for all employees to have.  This is not to say they are any less important, they just are not the “hard” technical or performance based skills that techs must learn.

  4. Flexibility.  Training multiple employees makes your company extremely flexible.  I learned this the hard way.  When I owned my field service management company, I only had one employee who was capable of back flow testing.  No one else knew how to do it and so if he was sick or unavailable, we would have to schedule or reschedule him.  Having techs that are flexible and able to provide multiple services is an impressive trait customers value. 

    If the tech that is on site can perform a multitude of jobs (even if they weren’t scheduled) your customer will appreciate your business that much more.  They won’t have to schedule another visit by another technician who specializes in what they need, they can have it completed that day or sooner than if you only have one employee capable of doing the job.

  5. Pride.  Don’t you want to be the best at what you do?  As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.  By staying up to date on not only employee training, but also your own training as a business owner, you are making your business a strong unit that you can be proud of.  Instead of sitting back and staying stuck in your ways you are venturing out and learning new, better ways to serve your customers.

    Training makes your business an expert in the industry.  The more you train and learn, the better and more reliable your knowledge is of your business.  It is the same as getting a degree in college.  You don’t study everything under the moon except what your major is in, because that isn’t what you love to do or what you enjoy.  You study the classes and topics that will benefit you and make you qualified for your degree so you can go out and do what you love, all while having the knowledge to do it.  Plus, it’s always a little fun to show off what your company is capable of.

Training sometimes gets forgotten when businesses really get on a roll.  Owners begin to think they don’t need to learn anything new because their business is doing great.  The saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind.  While it is good to be confident in your business, you don’t want to be so confident that you think you have nothing new to learn.  Learning helps you grow, not only as a company but as a person as well.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment of Business HindSite’s “How Training Improves Your Bottom Line: Training Programs That Are Never Successful.”

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