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Gone Catfishin’

John Mesenbrink

Gone Catfishin’

When the news first broke regarding the peculiar incidents surrounding All-American linebacker Manti Te’o, I have to admit, I didn’t quite get it at first. With every passing week that goes by, and the more news I hear about it, I gotta admit, I still really don’t quite understand it. But I did learn something — the term “catfishing.” Here is what I learned: A “catfish” is someone who pretends to be someone they are not online to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances. Can you say Creepy?

Hmm. Being duped for something that isn’t what it appears to be. False pretenses. Something that you didn’t originally sign up for in the first place. Let’s take contractor training, for example. I just returned from AHR and almost every manufacturer I met with stressed the importance of training. As a contractor, the questions become, “ Do I have the time to leave the office for onsite training?” or “Do I actually have to pay for these training services that ultimately teach me how to sell their products?” or “Is it worth my time?”

Recently, we have had some good buzz on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/mechanicalhub about this topic.

Scott Handrahan started off by saying, “ I think these days we have all adapted to this economy and streamlined as much as possible. This includes cutting costs for our customers and keeping overhead down. Paying for a course is a double whammy because we pay actual cash for the course and then we lose the guy/s in the field for the day so billable hours that week are down which lowers income obviously. We try to attend as many half-day free courses as possible and save the longer costly ones for specific needs. Courses that are under $500 aren’t too bad but there are many out there costing $1,200 or more. Then send 2 guys and between course cost and lost billable hours we would be looking at $4,000.00. That’s no small matter by any means.

Ron MacKinnon, Spectrum Geothermal Heat Pumps, offers this, “Because contractors feel that they are being educated to sell a manufacturer’s product, the training benefits the manufacturer by increasing sales. So why should I pay for that right? They fail to see that it benefits them and that training is a true investment in their company’s bottom line. When their personnel are away from the company training, they are not generating revenue, so it’s a double hit, no revenue being generated and I have to pay out for training. Manufacturers often times hand off to the distributor. I have sat through many classes that left me wondering why am I here? Reading a power point happens a lot, there is no real value to that. Just make the power point available on the website. The other problem is that most training sessions are attended by management staff, and a lot of classes are sales oriented. Service techs who need the training are out on job sites generating revenue. So how do you get those Techs up to speed? Make the training available to your customers via a web portal, using video and a way for the techs to send in questions. More people will take advantage of this. Its available 24-7 and you can always go back to it for reference. The days of going and sitting in a classroom for 8 hours are on their way out.”

Robert O’Brien, Technical Heating Co., says, “Most aren’t worth the time lost much less paying for it! Manufacturers have an unrealistic view of the value/quality of their products/staff. I can read. I don’t need waste hours having someone read power point slides to me!”

One of the most respected trainers in the industry chimes in, “If a manufacturer is going to offer training, they have a responsibility to make it interesting and useful, and NOT just a sales pitch for their product. Ultimately, the goal for the manufacturer is to build the brand, provide useful solutions to everyday problem and share with the group how your product can help solve those problems,” says John Barba, training and educational manager for Taco. John shares his insightful and funny perspectives through his FloPro blogs. A blog on this topic:

http://jbblog.flopro.taco-hvac.com/train-in-vain/

or

http://jbblog.flopro.taco-hvac.com/should-i-go/

Until we can all agree that training purported by every manufacturer is indeed worth the investment of every contractor and service tech, perhaps we call this “Bullheading” for some.

What do you think about contractor training?

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