Words of Wisdom from Henry Ford
What’s the Top Benefit You Can Offer?
I am a Chevy fan. My current car is a Ford Escape, but my seven previous cars were all Chevrolets. I changed because of a deal too good to pass up, but I might go back to Chevy in a couple of years. I disagreed with some of Henry Ford’s politics, and let that color my past purchasing decisions. But Old Henry sure did a lot right, from Model A to Model T and beyond. So, my wife gave me this quote attributed to Henry, “The only thing worse than training staff and having them leave is not training and having them stay.”
Wow. Think about it. So true.
Help Them Learn
Do you train the employees in your company? Or do you hire them and expect them to have knowledge already? I recall a conversation with a glass shop owner; I mentioned to him that his new employee really did not know how to order tempered glass. He replied that he gave up hiring smart people, as they all left him and went into business on their own, becoming competitors. And yes, he went out of business a couple of years later.
You, as the business leader, have to train your employees to do their jobs the way you want them done—and to continuously improve. You need to set aside specific training time and enforce the participation. Every nurse, real estate agent, postal carrier and elementary school teacher is required to continue his/her education. While there is no national guideline for our industry, you can set your own for your company.
I recommend four half-days per year as training days, with three speakers at each day. One presentation should be on glass and/or metal, learning from your prime fabricator or float glass supplier. The second speaker should be from an ancillary supplier, such as a hardware supplier on new shower products, your framed mirror supplier or a vendor working with decorative glass. The third speaker should be more business-based, showing how to use a new tablet computer or smart phone, or explain ways to fully utilize your benefits programs. Ask a local architect to visit and talk about new designs and products within our industry.
You never need to pay for these speakers. Your vendors should be glad to work with you. (If not, look for a new vendor!) Your insurance broker or benefits advisor should jump at the opportunity.
Keep each session to no more than 45 minutes with 15 minutes for questions and answers (Q&A) from your crew. Have a short break between each speaker. Every quarterly training session should end with a Q&A session among employees and management.
Even more important is the field training. Periodically, ask the technical rep from a glass fabricator or metal supplier to go with your field crew for a day. They will have plenty of tips to pass on to your crew.
Have your salesperson practice his sales pitch to you. Do you have an estimator? Is he current with the latest computer-aided drawing tools? Don’t be afraid to send him to a course on this. Do you use the tools that the bigger companies offer for computer-assisted design? If you feel it is too complicated for your use, visit their websites and learn.
Expect your employees to learn and improve themselves. Make this a prime criterion in your annual job review. Some employees will not know how to learn, or where they should turn. Help them. See what basic business courses are available at local community colleges, and help pay for them. When an employee wants to learn, and you don’t have the tools available, giving him a $700 computer and printer is by far cheaper than hiring a new person.
Every owner and manager should spend at least four percent of their time learning. This one day per month is the best investment you will ever make in your company’s future.
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