Bryant Academyâ„¢ is a business service program Bryant offers to its contractors that is designed to help Bryant contractors run successful and profitable businesses. Currently the academy is comprised of 20 courses that focus on sales and business management. This national program is executed at a local level with Bryant distributors hosting the contractors in a classroom setting.

As of last month, 961 people have participated in Bryant Academy courses in 2005, representing an 11-percent year-to-date increase over participation in 2004. This can be accredited to curriculum additions and updates.

Bryant Academy includes a marketing class that helps contractors understand what they can do to obtain more leads through creative and economic means. In addition, the program recently updated its service agreements course to highlight fiscally smart ways to departmentalize a business; this is aimed at making the service agreement a profitable component of the business.

Finally, Bryant is currently updating the industry benchmarks that are presented in its "Throughput" class.

The most popular classes are "Pricing for Profit" and "Throughput: Increasing Profits through Productivity." Class participants continue to give positive feedback on "Sales Essentials" and "High-Impact Selling," which show participants how to connect with the homeowner and use the principles of retail selling to improve their closing rates.

Contractor's Viewpoint

Contractors are finding valuable business training interwoven into the classes. Glen Skelton, residential manager of Timberline Heating & Air Conditioning, Redding, Calif., said, "These classes help because we focus on the pricing seminars and the business nuts and bolts. And being there with other businesses like ourselves, we have a lot of positive discussions about our marketplace."

"I've taken the Comfort Options Program [COP] three times, which is a new construction/builder class designed to enhance your profits in new construction," said Bob Barnes Jr., vice president and general manager of Western Heating and Air Conditioning, Boise, Idaho. "I take this class and encourage my people to take it for business enhancement.

"New construction always has and always will be one of the least profitable HVAC markets, but this [COP] is an enhancement opportunity to enrich profits in new construction."

Brenda Schmidt, Bryant training and development manager, said, "In the future, Bryant will continue to focus our curriculum on the specific concerns of the HVAC industry and provide pragmatic solutions that will show our contractors how to be more successful in their local marketplace. In addition, through technology, Bryant Academy will expand beyond the classroom to include a broader range of participation options for our contractors."

Expanding delivery options through new technologies will mean more flexibility and less out-of-office time. These options may include the use of "webinars" (where a facilitator and participants collaborate via teleconference and a shared Web site), self-paced online learning, and other tools made available through Bryant's intranet site,

The company is already making strides towards this goal by hosting a 13 SEER session during the summer. This discussion will center on upselling early and leveraging the 2006 industry change at the point of sale with homeowners. The program will cover how contractors can upsell now and increase business profitability with the same number of installations. Contractor feedback on this webinar pilot will give the company ideas on how to present and discuss other industry topics throughout the year.

"Bryant Academy has explained to me why my spreadsheets are formulated the way they are and where the weaknesses are in my pricing formats," said Skelton. "This helps me from both sides of the fence - doing a greater service to my customer and to my company. I am upselling with the knowledge of the bottom line and how it will benefit us and our customers."

Barnes said that he makes every effort to attend the classes. "I like to go and sharpen my knife a bit and see if the Bryant Academy changes any of the curriculum," he said. "If I can attend the classes along with my people, I feel it means more to them seeing me there and taking notes. They get more out of it."

"Personally, I strongly believe in the benefits and value of this program," said Schmidt. "Our contractors have given us very positive remarks on how it has improved their business, and we look forward to continuing to do whatever it takes to support them."

Bryant contractors can register for courses by visiting

Publication date: 05/30/2005