Train to gain

In today’s ever-changing heating controls industry, it can be hard to keep track of the latest product innovations, government legislation and new initiatives. So, in order for installers to ensure a competitive edge and future proof their business, is regular training the answer?
Installer interviewed four members of the Honeywell Installer Network who recently attended an Installer Network Training day to get the lowdown on training, legislation, customers and life in the industry.
What is the importance to you of attending training days and courses?
ID: “The best thing about training days is that they are practical and hands-on, which is the way I like to learn about new products. Training also allows me to keep up with changes that affect my day-to-day work and opens up opportunities in new markets – I get to brush up on my plumbing knowledge and learn more about water valves, for example.”
JC: “I came to this session today because I wanted to gain more knowledge on wireless heating controls as I know there is a growing demand in this area. I will gain a lot of business in the future through installing efficient wireless controls, so training is about the new technologies available on the market.”
NS: “Working in a family business, my father is more comfortable installing the older, wired controls, so attending training allows me to learn about the latest wireless technologies and make sure we remain ahead of the market. I can then pass my knowledge and expertise onto him.”
Do you find that without training it’s hard to keep up with legislation and regulations? NS: “Yes, it can be difficult – I try to find out about updates from the internet mostly, as it’s a simple way to source information. However, I personally find it hard to keep up-to-date with the changes as they happen because sometimes accurate information is not readily available, and you can read conflicting information in different articles. I prefer training days as it’s less confusing and more straightforward to understand what legislative changes actually mean for us in terms of our day-to-day work.”
SL: “Definitely – training allows you to hear about it first-hand and means I can dazzle my fellow installers with what I know!”
Do you find it helps you add value for a customer and stay ahead in the current market?
SL: “While training is crucial, I think it’s important that those working in the heating arena have excellent customer service skills too. Training and learning about the solutions available is part of it – customers will not only require experience and expertise but also a great deal of trustworthiness from an installer. Training allows us to be confident in fitting or upgrading a home’s heating controls and to know what type of heating control to fit when and where – which is part of the equation to add value.”
Have you become more interested in training since the recession started?
JC: “Every installer in the industry can do the basic jobs, but since the recession I have actively increased my knowledge base in the electrical arena in order to stay competitive and ahead of the competition. I think it’s more important now to be a ‘one-stop-shop installer’ who can multi-task, identify faults straight away and replace what is needed immediately, instead of waiting for an electrician.”
ID: “Yes definitely, training has always been important because as an installer we are constantly learning, but the benefit of attending such training days now is that I can talk to the homeowner on what I know and build a trusting relationship with them – being able to add value is now more important than ever.”
Do you find practical training or e-learning more useful?
NS: “I think e-learning works best as a refresher – to brush up on regulations and legislation. However, practical training is definitely better as it’s straight from the manufacturer. Our job is very hands-on so it follows that the training should be also.”
JC: “Practical training is definitely best as, along with product information, I can pick up further knowledge from the internet, which I can pass on to the customer to really add value.”
Do you use online and app resources to continue to refresh your training and knowledge?
ID: “I always use apps on the job. Numerous apps are available from different companies for gas rates, ventilation, etc. to help with day-to-day work – I can have a quick look through if I get stuck and it’s better than going through a manual.”