One of the news items recently making headlines was the opening of LG Electronics USA’s 40,000-square-foot expanded headquarters and state-of-the-art training center. The company’s goal for the learning academy is to educate contractors, technicians, and engineers under one roof.
This comes on the heels of Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) recently opening the doors of a 12,600-square-foot training facility, which is devoted to increasing the industry’s awareness of variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology, equipment, and operation. The center, which officially opened in July, boasts a hands-on lab, two 25-person-capacity classrooms, audio/video conferencing capabilities, and a full curriculum to help HVAC contractors and sales professionals deliver quality VRF solutions.
Also, I am hoping to get down to Houston sometime soon to take a look at a new training facility for Daikin AC dealers, and Emerson is preparing to open its Helix training center at Dayton University in Ohio.
I’m sure I’m leaving someone out, but you get the point. Everywhere you look, HVAC manufacturers are investing in training and education.
As contractors, you should be doing the same. I realize this is easier said than done. A training program is like a diet — it’s good in theory, and you know it will work, but, when push comes to shove, it’s easier not to do it. Of course, I’m certainly not speaking from experience.
Finding the time for training is not easy, especially during the busy seasons. When you take a technician off the road, he or she’s not making you any money. But, good contractors see the big picture. I was recently on the phone with Kevin McNamara, senior vice president of sales and operations for LG Electronics USA, and he was talking about how, in the long run, training saves businesses a lot of money.
“For the most part, product costs are all pretty much within a couple of percentage points of each other. The variable cost is the labor. That’s where the risk exists for the contractor. Helping a contractor figure out how to install systems faster, reduce callbacks and lost time on a project, and prevent warranty calls are all extremely important to us. Education is paramount to contractors,” McNamara said.
So, those are the benefits. A well-trained technician is probably not making a return trip to the customer’s home because of an error. That saves the company money and produces goodwill with customers. Warranty issues can also be costly for a contractor. A well-trained staff should cut down on those, as well.
And, if that isn’t enough, another added benefit is your employees will feel good about you investing in them. Employees want to feel like the company they work for values them and wants to make them better at their jobs. Most in the industry realize how hard it is to recruit new talent. The latest stat is the industry will need an additional 115,000 workers by 2020. By educating your employees, they’re less likely to leave for a few extra dollars an hour.
For years, The NEWS has run a Best Contractor to Work For contest where employees nominate their companies. Inevitably, one of the first items they highlight is the training provided by the contractor and technicians value this.
I’ve heard numerous speakers utter this phrase at least a hundred times: The question is not what happens if I train my employees and they leave; the question is, what if I don’t train them and they stay?
So, check out one of these great training centers the manufacturers are building. Or, bring trainers into your building to get the job done. It doesn’t matter what route you take, as long as your employees are educated on the products they are installing.
Publication date: 12/7/2015