The other day, my husband and I ventured over to our local hardware store to purchase a Big Green Egg grill and smoker. You see, it was a deal between the two of us: Last year, I got my bucket list Italian vacation and this year, he gets his smoker. Marriage is all about compromise, am I right? Anyways, back to the purchase. The employee who came over to help us out couldn’t answer any of our questions about the product, nor could he tell us if the store carried any of the accessories we were interested in purchasing. The second employee was able to answer our accessory question, but not any about the product itself. They had to call over a manager. Following our discussion, not one of the three knew how to schedule the free home delivery and set up promotion the store was running.

Now, could you imagine if this was a plumbing contracting company? Perhaps I was asking the employee who came out to my house about water treatment solutions and that person couldn’t answer any of my questions? It would result in a lost sale, because I certainly wouldn’t buy my water filtration system from someone who couldn’t answer my questions about it. I would call another company, one who was knowledgeable about the product and confident that it would solve my problems.

So this brings me to my next question: Are your employees up-to-date on the latest and greatest products and technologies your company offers? Are they current on the latest industry standards, codes and regulations? How about experienced with the latest on-board diagnostics? 

This industry is constantly changing, so staying a step ahead is a constant struggle. Thankfully, there are many resources available to help plumbing contractors do just that. Trade publications are valuable sources for technical articles, new product information, and industry news. Plumbing & Mechanical also offers webinars, podcasts and eBooks on subjects ranging from industry outlooks to technical topics. For example, PM has recently released two volumes in a five-part eBook series called, “Modern Hydronics Done Right.” The series is a collection of articles from John Siegenthaler, well-respected hydronics expert and longtime PM columnist. (Volume 3 will be released in June). 

There are many, many other resources available to help keep you on the forefront of industry changes. Plumbing contractors don’t need to reinvent the wheel — simply look around. Supply house and distributor partners often hold product and technical training seminars. Manufacturers also hold training on OEM equipment, both in-person and online. And don’t stop with just product and technical training. Your employees need to know how to interact with the customer – how to address concerns and explain technical concepts so the customer understands. Just about every contracting member group offers some type of customer service training, including PHCC, MCAA, Nexstar Network, Service Roundtable and plenty more. Many of these organizations also offer online learning and webinars on the topic, so you don’t have to break the bank spending tons of money by sending your employees to conferences and seminars.

So, take a minute and think about your employee training program. Are employees getting what they need out of your training program or can it be improved upon? Ask your employees what kind of training they would like. Ask them for suggestions on how to improve your training program. The success of your business may depend on it.