Training Starts With the Manufacturers

June 12, 2006
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Participants in Lennox “Masters of the Game” Pittsburgh meeting are (from left) Doug Matz, owner of Flanders Heating & Air Conditioning, (Riverhead, NY) and his senior managers Terry Gage, Lorraine Peppe and Michael Schneider.
If you need to know how to install or repair a piece of equipment, who is the most logical source for the answer? If you need to know how to sell to or service a customer who has a specific piece of equipment, who is the most logical source for the answer? The answer is pretty logical - you ask the equipment manufacturer.

Although training occurs at all levels of the HVAC hierarchy, through vocational schools, distributors, contractors, and associations, the original source for each training curriculum lies with the manufacturer. After all, who knows the equipment better than the company that produced it?

Keeping their customers updated on the latest training and education is the goal of equipment manufacturers, like Carrier Corp.

"Through the creation of new workshops, a wide variety of advanced product training or strategic partnerships with leaders in the HVAC industry, we are continually looking to offer tools for our dealers to become and stay the best in the industry," said Brian Haberer, Carrier manager of training.

"Over the last 12 months, Carrier has introduced new programs and training opportunities that helped Carrier Universityâ„¢ achieve one of the most successful years in history with over 300 courses offered in 2005."

In one particular Carrier interactive workshop, students begin the process of committing to a service agreement strategy that suits their business goals. Students are introduced and trained on a service agreement program model that is used by some of the best HVAC dealers.

"This workshop is designed to get the owner and service manager engaged and educated on techniques to prepare themselves and their company for a business strategy involving the implementation and utilization of a highly productive service agreement program," Haberer said.

One company believes that training is more of an ongoing process rather than just a one-time event. Trane and American Standard Residential Systems have terminated "training" from its mindset. "The word ‘training' implies an event, but learning how to grow a profitable business is actually a lifelong process," said Jerriann Massey, program director of learning resources for Trane Residential Systems.

Trane offers continuous learning in all areas that determine the success of running an HVAC dealership. Trane built on its well-known boot camp program with an "Own the Sales Process" program. "Now we have launched the Trane Air Experience to help support those dealers who have hired new retail salespeople," said Louis Cook, vice president of Trane sales. "They learn that Trane Air is not just hot and cold, but fully conditioned."

Companies like Lennox International have a number of different categories and levels of training. For example, HVAC Learning Solutions is a Lennox International division that provides sales, business, and technical training to residential HVAC contractors, commercial mechanical contractors, and Lennox employees across the United States and Canada.

"With nine live labs, 27 classroom locations, and professional development programs for 17 specific job functions, HVAC Learning Solutions is a recognized leader in training and business development services," said Ed Brickell, manager of public relations for Lennox.

"Contractors can choose from instructor-led courses that allow students to earn continuing education units, online eLearning services, or a complete library of DVD and VHS courses. HVAC Learning Solutions also offers business analysis and consulting services to help HVAC contractors pinpoint profit leaks and optimize their business practices to drive double-digit net margins on residential replacement and service work. All of HVAC Learning Solutions' technical courseware has been awarded NATE [North American Technician Excellence] recognition."

HIGHLIGHTING SOME PROGRAMS

Brickell said that the Lennox training includes some of the following programs:

  • Updated retail sales training. Lennox has updated Comfort Advisor training to reflect the changing habits of homeowners and the new 13 SEER standard. The updated class includes important information about selling to women, the new high-efficiency Lennox products, and new selling tools to help you increase sales.

    It features the updated SCORE sales process - a five-step plan to win replacement sales. SCORE is the same successful sales process taught by HVAC Learning Solutions, now updated to reflect current consumer buying trends and the change to 13 SEER.

  • Invitation-only dealer events. The Lennox Masters of the Game Conferences deliver advanced business management tools to Lennox dealers. Masters of the Game Conferences bring together leading dealers from different markets across the United States and Canada for hands-on business planning sessions with leading HVAC industry consultants. Work sessions are woven together with luncheons, dinners, and social events that give dealers from all parts of North America the opportunity for networking.

    Lennox and HVAC Learning Solutions are building a community of dealers who participate in the Masters of the Game Conferences. Members enjoy direct communication with one another and can share ideas and questions with a group of people with similar goals and interests.

  • Spanish-language technical training. HVAC Learning Solutions is introducing an HVAC industry first: technical training in Spanish. The 2006 ProLearn Technical Training DVD Series features six interactive technical courses. Each course includes an interactive DVD, leader's guide, student workbook, and final exam. Subscribers can select Spanish or English and receive a rich multimedia learning experience in either language.

    Carrier's Haberer said, "In the minds of Carrier Corp., sales and business skills training is an important piece to continue delivering the best products through the best dealers in the industry. To support Carrier Corp.'s leadership position in the residential market, Carrier University delivers a business skills training program utilizing innovative learning techniques to drive dealer success and profitability in the HVAC industry."

    For example, as one of the most popular Carrier University programs, the Service Agreements workshop provides information and skills training for startup and/or expansion of a dealer's service agreement program. The goal of this one-day, Carrier University training program is to energize a dealer's service agreement program to produce cash and value for their business. Facilitated by a certified Carrier University trainer, this program will help dealers attain a thorough understanding of the choices HVAC dealerships face when initiating and sustaining a successful program.

    The High Impact Product Selling (H.I.P.S.) series of workshops is a group of ½-day training programs designed to broaden a Carrier sales rep's understanding of the advanced features and products within the Carrier product line. With the knowledge gained, sales reps will have increased confidence to present and discuss the new advanced Carrier products with consumers, and truly be the experts in the mind of the consumer.

    The Product Essentials program provides a complete introduction to all Carrier product lines and the essential Carrier selling strategy - selling integrated comfort systems rather than individual components. The H.I.P.S. courses as well as the Product Essentials course are extremely popular, as they provide a great introduction to the new lineup of 2006 Carrier products.

    Larry (left) and Spencer Coleman of Coleman-Novak Inc. (Norfolk, Va.) take their Bryant training seriously but on this day they shifted gears to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
    Carrier is continually looking to expand and improve the Carrier University dealer-training program. "We are excited to introduce a new opportunity for dealer training called Graduate Studies," said Haberer. "As part of this new opportunity, Carrier Corp. has partnered with select HVAC industry leading trainers to provide advanced dealer training opportunities."

    Key to the success of Carrier's dealer training programs is the support from Carrier distributors. They have played and will continue to play a key role from providing input on new training programs, to reviewing current programs and scheduling and hosting training events for their dealers.

    "We need to challenge ourselves and our dealers with new ideas from a variety of learning sources," said Bob Kihslinger of Auer Steel Distributor. "The new Graduate Studies concept promises to do just that. I look forward to these new opportunities to enhance the know-how and skills of our dealers."

    American Standard is doing its part to educate dealers on the importance of getting a strong foothold on the IAQ market. Trainer Pat McCormick leads American Standard's successful Clean Air Dynamics class to help its family of dealers capitalize on the introduction of the American Standard AccuCleanâ„¢, the new breakthrough whole-house air cleaning technology that removes up to 99.98 percent of airborne particles down to 0.3 microns.

    The coursework includes an overview of the market for indoor air cleaners, why 0.3 microns matters so much, and how to use clean air to sell systems and in turn capture market share. More than 800 American Standard dealers have completed McCormick's class.

    Self-paced learning and testing is available for Trane and American Standard dealers through online tools. "By March of this year, 40 percent of American Standard dealers had logged onto the site and many had already completed classes," said Jamie Byrne, American Standard vice president of sales.

    There can be a fun side to training as well. At a recent Bryant dealer meeting in Las Vegas, the company rolled out some new product offerings including its IAQ product line Bryant Perfect Air Solutionsâ„¢ with Evolutionâ„¢ compatibility and the Bryant Perfect Airâ„¢ purifier. Trade shows like this are vital for introducing members to product lines and offering valuable backup training, according to Kevin Dudash, Bryant brand manager.

    "Our dealers want IAQ products to expand their sales and customers are asking our dealers for IAQ products," he said. "Our dealers are able to offer solutions which include air purification and enhanced filtration."

    Bryant dealers Eric and Darlene Brown of Eric’s Heating and Air Conditioning (Stockton, Calif.) take a break from the normal dealer training routine and visit the garage area at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
    The Las Vegas event was followed up with a less formal training and social event for Bryant dealers and distributors in Indianapolis during the annual Indianapolis 500 car race. Dealers were given a recap of the product lineup during a trade show on Friday of the event. The next day a series of training seminars focused on the new Bryantman advertising campaign.

    "Dealers look for training in sales and business skills," Dudash said. "They are comfortable with their technical skills. One of the greatest opportunities to grow their businesses comes from soft skills and sales training."

    He added that there are also training programs available via Webinars for Bryant dealers.

    The rest of the Indianapolis meeting involved the lighter side of training meetings: having fun. Dealers and employees attended special events on Saturday and then attended the traditional 500 race on Sunday. Mixing training and fun leads to camaraderie and loyalty, according to Dudash.

    "Our dealers are critical to us," he said. "We want as much of their loyalty as possible. These events help build relationships."

    Educating their dealer networks through distributors and innovative training programs will continue to keep the bar of professionalism and HVAC expertise high throughout the trade. Johnny Johnson, Carrier brand manager, summed it up.

    "Our leadership and expertise in the HVAC industry extends beyond manufacturing. We're also committed to offering the best training, marketing programs, and advertising opportunities to meet the needs of our dealers."

    Sidebar: ACCA Partnership Expands Courses

    FORT SMITH, Ark. - The Rheem Air Conditioning Division enhanced its Training Network: Tools For Success contractor training program by adding Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) contractor profitability courses. Effective immediately, The Training Network: Tools For Success is now better equipped to support Rheem and Ruud distributors and their contractor customers with an array of tools to help them grow their businesses.

    ACCA collaborated with successful contractors in creating a unique and broad curriculum designed to help contractors of all types and sizes meet their business and personal goals. These courses are taught by successful contractors and use real-world techniques and real-world results for valuable instruction. The ACCA School of Business provides professionally developed modules and courses that focus on key areas of business impacting growth, success and profitability. Modules available include management, sales, operations, marketing, human resources, and accounting.

    "We are very proud of this agreement to provide ACCA School of Business courses to contractors who turn to the Rheem Training Network: Tools For Success programs to succeed in all aspects of their businesses," said Kevin Holland, vice president, business operations and membership, ACCA. "Today's successful HVAC contractor needs to be able to combine skill sets in so many different areas. This arrangement empowers Rheem and Ruud contractors to truly set themselves apart in competitive marketplaces."

    "This agreement with ACCA expands the resources available to our distributors and contractors. Our mission is to provide the industry's best business tools from the best sources to help contractors deliver increasingly high levels of customer satisfaction and to efficiently grow their businesses," said Karen Meyers, manager, industry relations and marketing services, Rheem Air Conditioning Division. "The ACCA School of Business uses proven training techniques that show contractors how to improve their profitability. This approach fits perfectly into the Training Network's philosophy of incorporating real-world successes and best practices into business courses that show how to increase profitability, enhance customer satisfaction, build employee confidence, and promote continuous improvement and growth."

    The Training Network: Tools For Success offers a line up of business, financial, and sales courses. Training programs are also available for technical product expertise including gas furnace, airflow, residential cooling systems, residential heat pumps, split a/c electrical, and commercial rooftops. For more information, visit www.thetrainingnetwork.com. For more information on the ACCA School of Business, visit www.acca.org.

    Publication date: 06/12/2006

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