Training has always provided an effective way to stay on top of the latest industry products and trends, but with the wave of younger plumbing and HVAC technicians entering the field, it has become even more critical to success.
Contractors are constantly challenged to maintain their technical skillset, keep up with changes influenced by government and regulatory policies, and learn safety measures to protect themselves and their customers. Homeowners and facility managers have also become increasingly involved in the decision-making process, asking more questions and expecting higher service standards, which has been amplified by online reviews and recommendations.
In short, training can lead to more confident and knowledgeable employees; ensure effective recommendations, installations and repairs; and result in a more successful business and satisfied customers. It is crucial that plumbing and HVAC technicians continue to have access to online educational resources that provide the latest product information and professional tips to keep them up-to-date.
Fortunately, the online training experience has streamlined access to education, providing technicians with comprehensive interactive tools accessible from their computer or mobile device.
The demand for online training has always been high and has grown considerably since the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s digital climate has changed the way contractors consume information and accelerated the need for even more online content. Professionals continue to adapt to the online training format, and the industry must strive to meet that demand. Even audiences that traditionally favored in-person training have become more accustomed to digital learning, as it gives them more freedom to decide when and how often they want to participate.
Companies must focus on innovation by acting as true partners to their customers, providing resources beyond traditional customer service. To do this, A. O. Smith provides a variety of online training via its Technical Training Facility in Ashland City, Tennessee, including live virtual training classes, on-demand product training and online certifications. With expanded capabilities in 3D animation and 360-degree cameras, the studio can communicate concepts that previously would have been difficult or impossible even in an in-person classroom setting.
Virtual classes offered through A. O. Smith University are taught on a two-way meeting platform, and there is a 50-person cap placed on all sessions to ensure participants have a high level of engagement with instructors, as well as the opportunity to ask questions. Utilizing this approach maintains focus on techniques and skills that help grow contractors’ careers. Over the last year, A. O. Smith University has had more than 130,000 class attendees.
Earlier this year, A. O. Smith introduced a new educational offering, “In Our Element,” a live show hosted by A. O. Smith Senior Technical Advisor Jerry Winslett. The show, which features a new guest each episode, highlights news from A. O. Smith, offers service tips, discusses industry topics, answers common product questions and more. Topics so far have included marketing in the water heating industry and an installation feature of A. O. Smith’s condensing gas tankless water heaters with new X3 Scale Prevention Technology.
Tools for success
Contractors are seeking the proper preparations to talk with their customers confidently about the latest technology and techniques. Companies such as Lochinvar are investing in online and in-person training to ensure contractors have the information they need in the field. LochinvarU offers online training, troubleshooting and other resources around the clock, so contractors can access the information they need, when they need it.
In 2021, Lochinvar hosted 12 webinars, which are now done on a request basis, and saw a total attendance of 300 participants. The webinars are hosted via Zoom for anyone interested in learning about Lochinvar products, basic componentry, troubleshooting tips and industry trends. Classes are recorded and saved online, along with other training videos and online certification resources. Lochinvar also hosted in-person training at its factory and in the field. In total, there were 13 classes with more than 250 people attending.
Professionals continue to adapt to the online training format, and the industry must strive to meet that demand. Even audiences who traditionally favored in-person training have become more accustomed to digital learning, as it gives them more freedom to decide when and how often they want to participate.
The need for online educational resources continues to grow and providing platforms that give contractors and technicians the information they need to make an even bigger impact in the field is essential. In the future, Lochinvar is looking to create new video content to give professionals a more enhanced training experience with detailed product tutorials, tours of the manufacturing facility, and company meet-and-greets with members of the engineering, product development and manufacturing teams.
While there is no doubt that technical training will continue to evolve to meet the needs of water heating professionals, one thing is clear: digital resources play a key role in how contractors can equip themselves with the proper knowledge to be confident and well-informed in their field.