Time to Recharge

By Mike Moore

Today I'd like to address a topic that is important to dealers and is also a question I get asked often. How often should your employees undergo training? Don't wait until errors crop up or phone calls start coming in from unhappy customers - be proactive in keeping your team's skills in tip-top shape.

Here are four tips on training and refreshing the skills of your technicians:

  • Assess each employee's skills - There are three unique ways to do this - skills assessments, field observation, and self-evaluation. Skills assessments are great for evaluating where an employee is in their career capabilities-wise, whereas on-the-job observation gives you a first-hand look at their skills from start to finish. Another great assessment is a self–analysis, which allows you to really understand what they feel are their strengths, weaknesses, and goals.
  • Train on a regular basis - After assessing the skills of your employees, tailor a training regimen designed specifically for them. If it's possible, have them take at least one instructor-led or online training course per year. Many successful dealers require as many as 40 hours of training a year.
  • Look for signs that training is needed - Is your employee taking too long to complete a job? Consistently arriving to work late? Do you observe some difficulty in diagnosing new equipment? Even worse, does the employee often have conflicts with customers on service calls? If any or all of these are occurring, it's time to talk with your employee about a training plan.
  • Start the conversation on a positive note - The best way to manage your employees' performance is by ensuring open and honest communication between you and them. Open the conversation with mention of some of their strengths, then address the issue or weakness at hand, and close with another positive - ideally the promise of strengthening their skillset with training.
  • Take advantage of seasonal downtime - Jose De La Portilla, technical training manager at HVAC Learning Solutions, suggests utilizing training in between busy seasons to keep technicians energized and enthusiastic about the industry. "Recharging during downtimes, or as needed, shows students growth opportunity, which will lower your turnover and help your technicians become more reliable and more encouraged to address problems quickly and efficiently."

Helping your employees keep their skills fresh is not only a benefit to them but also ensures your company is offering the best possible service to your customers.

I offer daily tips on Twitter for dealers, Comfort Advisors, and technicians alike. Follow me at @HVACLearning for insight into today's trending topics.

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