The Unified Group hosts a lot of interactive discussions with its contractor members.
BROADVIEW, Ill. - Training is considered one of the cornerstones of The Unified Group, and it has been since its inception in 1998. It is also a crucial part of each member company's focus and plans for future growth.

Unified Group training programs are meant to serve not only as a learning tool, but also as an employee perk, which has a direct impact on the bottom line: Employee satisfaction is designed to drive employee retention; employee retention is designed to drive customer satisfaction; customer satisfaction is designed to drive customer retention; and, customer retention is designed to drive profitability.

The organization believes that most employees have the desire to improve, truly want to make a positive impact for their companies, and appreciate and benefit from their companies making an investment in their growth. Training is a win-win-win: for the contractor, the employee, and the customer.


There are many types of training, including formal classroom training and informal one-on-one training. The Unified Group provides both and as a member-driven organization, it polls members each year for their input in developing a formal training curriculum for the following year. The programs selected for 2006 are:

1. Advanced Service Agreement Sales Forum. Service agreement sales are a critical component in the growth of every service company. The Unified Group recently hosted an advanced forum in Kansas City for the seasoned sales professional with the desire to take his or her sales skills to the next level through:

  • Networking and referral development;

  • Relationship building and development; and

  • Prospect qualification techniques.

    2. Project Management Forum. The Unified Group said its goal is to provide training that covers every departmental area for its member companies. This year's curriculum include its project management forum and, based on attendee surveys, the agenda covers the following topics:

  • Strategies and tactics to improve construction profitability.

  • Best practices of other successful project managers.

  • New ideas to implement into a department.

  • Ways to become more productive.

  • Tools for coordination and sticking to timelines.

  • Procedures for document control.

  • Pricing strategies.

    3. Member Consultations and Members Training Members. When belonging to a group, training occurs on a daily basis in many different ways. The Unified Group provides several ways for members to help each other.

    Member consultations provide any Unified Group member with the opportunity to ask for a core group of members to visit his or her facility to focus on a particular area of frustration or concern. The consultations typically consist of four or five members with a key strength, such as sales, estimating, operations, etc., to spend a few days at a member location focusing only on that company's needs and then providing feedback, recommendations, and/or validation. During the process, The Unified Group said everyone takes away something to use in their own organizations.

    Contractor members of The Unified Group break into small discussion groups during a recent meeting of the Chicago-based contractor group.


    Unified Group members also help each other serve their customers. For example, a Unified Group member in Indiana recently required assistance in providing preventive maintenance on a York centrifugal chiller. Another Unified Group member in Chicago sent a technician very well versed in this equipment to aid the technician of the Indiana member.

    "Your technician was absolutely amazing in his knowledge and expertise of the York centrifugal we serviced," said the Indiana contractor. "He was enjoyable and helpful, and our technician said he would have been hard pressed to accomplish this service without his help.

    "We're very thankful to be able to partner with your company. We can't say enough about the good we have gained by being a member of The Unified Group."

    For more information visit

    Publication date: 06/26/2006