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The Value of Proper Training

March 1, 2007
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Professional cleaning and restoration cleaning companies are often faced with the challenge of paying for certification training seminars. When all the expenses are compiled, including travel, overnight lodging, meals, class fees and lost production, at first glance it might seem that training is a poor investment. However, if you look at the overall benefit of proper training, it is pretty easy to see enough return on investment to make it a good value.

The primary benefit of proper thorough training is increased efficiency of production. The better trained the technician is, the more efficient he or she will be in performing the job. Increased efficiency equates to higher quality production in less time, thereby saving money and increasing customer satisfaction and confidence, Well-trained technicians make fewer mistakes that lead to re-cleaning situations, angry clients, or increased involvement by supervisors or managers.

Another related but less measurable benefit of well-trained technicians is an increased self-confidence and sense of professionalism that often leads to additional sales and increased customer confidence. This same positive attitude that often results from good training seems to also correlate to taking better care of company equipment, being more conscious of wasted chemicals, and projecting a strong, positive company image. I don’t have any studies I can quote on this one, only personal experience, but I believe it to be the case. Service companies are often judged on the perception of quality that is conveyed by the image presented by the confident technician as much as by actual results after the job is completed.

Your company’s training program needs to actually have three stages or levels. Stage One is the basic skills training needed for a newly hired team member to provide the minimum level of acceptable production. This includes both minimal procedural training and a certain amount of instruction on the company’s attitude toward professionalism and customer service, things like how to speak to customers, what image the company wishes to put forward, or how to handle difficult situations.

The question often arises as to when a newly hired technician should be sent to a certification class. Naturally, you want to be sure this new person on your team is a “keeper” before investing in training. On the other hand, it is not good business to have an untrained technician in the field where expensive mistakes might occur. Some businesses have strong in-house training programs for new hires while others use less expensive basic skills training materials available in the industry to get the new technicians on the road to certification from the first day on the job. In any case, a plan must be in place to get new hires trained as soon as it is reasonable.

Stage Two is where the technician actually learns to master the skills of the profession. Generally this is through certification classes taught by professional instructors. Completion of the certification process requires passing the standardized exam, and gives the manager a level of confidence that the knowledge has actually been absorbed. The technician gets the sense of accomplishment and pride in knowing he/she are among the top percentages of skilled technicians in their field.

Stage Three of a complete training program is continuing education. Everyone needs a refresher, an update, or a little fine-tuning of skills from time to time. Sometimes just the experience of attending a workshop, seminar, or convention and rubbing shoulders or talking shop with other industry professionals can recharge a technician to new levels of performance and personal pride of workmanship. Too many times, the company owner or manager does not include the front-line technicians in industry continuing education opportunities. A potentially expensive approach, as technology advances but technician training does not keep pace.

I guess this is all summed up in a little phrase I often heard from an industry colleague and instructor, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

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