As a previous owner of an HVAC company, I understand the difficulty of creating and applying a training program for new hires or as a refresher for current employees. With standards and methods constantly changing, the problem has only been exacerbated. So the question to ask becomes: How do you know if your current training methods are the best you can do? Let’s face it, in today’s environment when it is hard to find good employees, we need all the help we can get. Using the correct training methods to build the right training program may be necessary.

Assess your training methods.

Examine your current training methods. Are you just going through the motions and hoping your employees will pick up what you are saying? The key is to be honest and ask yourself the hard questions. “Are my methods working?” “How can I improve so that training works from the start?” An effective way to evaluate your training is to simply ask your staff. Test your current training program on a select group of employees and use their feedback. Oftentimes, your best information can come from your team members.

Create a plan.

Many business owners wing it when it comes to training employees. I have found that winging it rarely leads to desired results. Planning is necessary and most likely leads to better outcomes. Create a strategic training program plan, just like your business plan. You can identify key problem areas and refresh and improve your training methods. Set clear expectations, construct a training budget, and list your desired outcomes.

Compare yourself to competitors.

Sometimes it can be upsetting to compare your company to one that seems to be doing better than your own, but let’s face it, there may be a reason they are thriving. Why not explore the training techniques they are using and maybe adopt a few as your own? For instance, maybe they have longer training periods for new employees, or they have a more thorough training process in place. From there, you can implement some of what they are doing to help your own business succeed.

Look at industry trends and standards.

Skills are constantly changing, with new trends, standards, and methods introduced all the time. Maybe there are new techniques being used that produce higher quality and faster results. Familiarizing yourself with the new standards in your industry can lead to long-term benefits for not only your business but your employees as well.

Don’t forget the soft skills.

The need for strong communication skills is equally important and plays an important part in a service business. Your technician’s soft skills make a difference in your business’ image, which in turn affects whether your company is successful. So it’s important to continually assess attitude and communication skills as much as technical skills. This brings us to role playing, which can be a great way to assess and teach.

Add role playing.

Many people learn by doing. This can make role playing on-the-job scenarios a great way to help determine an employee’s ability to cope with clients. If you provide some structure and a little direction to a number of scenarios that typically arise, a business owner can determine how employees handle different types of service calls. Providing this dedicated time for your entire staff to participate may seem impossible but having employees with the knowledge on how to best handle a number of tricky service calls will pay dividends in the long run.

Invest in continuing education.

In a rapidly changing world, there will be some things that you just can’t cover in your training program. The next best solution is supporting continuing education with tuition reimbursement or covering the costs associated with pursuing industry certifications. Allowing employees to take a course offered by a local university or technical school can be a simple but invaluable way to help them grow their skills, which would definitely be to your benefit.

Rather than simply letting go of an employee for not living up to your expectations, investing in each of your workers can be beneficial to the whole organization. Designing a training program best suited for your goals can be a better solution. Proper training is crucial for the success of any organization and is a long-term investment that can yield great results. You have spent time and money building your business. Why not do the same for your employees who are the business’ very foundation?