It’s on my heart: training

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by Jim Hinshaw


Just finished up a consulting project.  A client I have worked for in the past, just been a couple of years.  Just a quick Skype call, had whole company in the room. We discussed what the consumer was looking for today (hint, not the lowest price), what they are concerned about, what they are buying.  Our answers to those three items: value, health/safety/economy, and peace of mind.  Just our little survey results.

We talked about how to find out what is important to the consumer, that would be asking questions.  Not just any questions (who did you vote for?), but questions that reveal concerns, views on where they think utility costs are headed, the sort of stuff we can affect in the home. When we got done, we asked if everyone had gotten something they could use today to improve sales and profits immediately.  Went around the room, most said that they had not considered asking multi-level questions, “why is that so important?” that sort of thing. In closing, one manager said that the material was not new; most of them had heard it in the past.  Sort of a long, awkward silence filled the room.  Then he followed up with: but we’re not doing it!

It is not enough to know what to do or say, you actually have to do and say it. Think football.  The Broncos are a re-energized team, we have a new quarterback!  And a mighty fine one he is.  Manning has probably thrown thousands of passes, yet he still suits up, hits the field with the team, throws pass after pass.  Same with the rest of the team, they practice/practice/practice.  Till it becomes muscle memory, where they don’t need to consider what to do, it is automatic.  Call it spring training, practice, drills, the true professionals run the games mentally as well as on the field many times before game day.

I travel the country, the better dealers, the ones improving sales and profits (in some cases by double digits) are the ones who are investing in training.  Just did a quick meeting in Vegas for an association.  30 minutes.  After lunch I told them I would hang around, do an informal Q & A, stay as long as they wanted.  7 contractors and 2 vendors stayed out of 46 attendees.

You can probably guess the demographics of the ones who stayed: one was in business for over 40 years, second generation taking over the helm, having the best year ever.  Another was a large dealer who had just launched a whole house performance division, where they were finding 1 out of 10 homes working well, almost none were performing as per the specs.  Another was the principle of a company who had purchased several other companies in the last 5 years, he could have given the talk, but he stayed to listen and participate.  Everyone who stayed was a successful company, just wanted to move the needle measuring profitability farther up.

Back in the day, I did work for Danny Ainge, coach of the Phoenix Suns.  I asked him what he looked for in terms of a prospect for the team. He said he wanted a guy who could make free throws, most games were lost by just a few points, and free throws could make the difference.  He also said he first day of practice he showed them how to tie their shoes, so they wouldn’t come undone in a game.  The basics.

So now is the time to make sure your team has the basics covered.  What to say, not to say to a homeowner.  What you do on each and every service call.  What a maintenance should be, what the expected results are.  How to answer the phone, what to say when someone asks what you charge, how to handle the difficult customer, everything.  Get them ready, the customers are waiting for you to amaze them.  Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later.



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