[Editor's note: Welcome to another installment of "Money Talks." Each month, Terry Nicholson, president of AirTime 500, provides business management information with the aim of helping contractors, as he put it, "make money every day."]

Recruiting the best team for your company is only half of the battle when it comes to making money every day in the HVAC industry. Once you have the best people, you have to guide them toward your goals. You have to train them to achieve.

The best athletes in the world still need training. They still need a coach to help them reach their highest potential. Each year the best and the brightest prospects are picked in the various sports' drafts, and invariably there's at least one athlete who never reaches his full potential.

While nailing down a reason why is tough, it probably revolves around the athlete's attitude, training, and accountability. Your employees are no different. Even your superstars need constant training and motivation to reach their goals.

Achievement Attitude

Training to achieve starts by fostering the proper attitude in your team regarding training. I know the different attitudes people have when it comes to training. Some automatically think of it as a waste of time. Others think of it as a distraction they look forward to because it gets them away from their job for a bit.

The ones that will be successful, though, will have the achievement attitude. They'll look at training through the eyes of improvement, and they'll soak up the knowledge and ask for more. This is the type of attitude you must foster in your team if you're going to train to achieve.

It starts with your own attitude towards training. Are you excited about training or do you get your team together with a ho-hum, "let's go"?

Do you stress how important training is to your team and attend training sessions with your team members? Doing so will show them your dedication to their betterment and education. Do you seek training for yourself and reward your employees for their improved performance?

Every Day Is Training Day

The most common training question that pops up when I talk to contractors is "How often should I train my team?" To which I promptly reply, "How often do you need to train them?" Every team is different, but I live by this motto: "Every day is training day."

Many contractors will train their team just once a week, but that gives your employees six days to forget everything you just taught them. Training your team to achieve means training them every day.

But what do I do with my team every day? The training options you have available to you are truly endless. You could conduct role-playing exercises with your technicians. You could sit down with your call takers and listen to how they handle incoming calls. You could sit with your dispatcher and observe if he or she is sending the right technician on the right call. You could practice with your salespeople to help them handle any objections they frequently encounter.

You could also incorporate group training sessions, training videos, or guest speakers. The important thing is to train your team frequently and hold them accountable for what they learn.

Test For Success

Holding them accountable is, in fact, the third component of training to achieve. The best training in the world won't be worth its salt if it doesn't produce results. To get the results, though, you have to make sure your team is following through with the training.

After you've role-played with your technicians, ride along with them to see if they're using the presentation they just learned. Sit with your call takers and see if they are answering the phone the way they should be. Your team will never achieve any more than they do today if they aren't putting the training you provide into play.

Your ability to make money every day revolves around the dedication and skill your team brings to work every day, and if you are planning on making even more money tomorrow, the level of skill and dedication they bring each day has to increase as well.

That's why it's important to train your team to achieve and hold them accountable for what they've learned. Train your team to become the best and remain the best. By doing that, you'll become the best, too.

Nicholson is president of AirTime 500. For more information on AirTime 500, call 800-505-8885. Nicholson can be reached by e-mail at tnicholson@venvestinc.com.

Publication date: 11/15/2004