The Value of Continuing Education

The Value of Continuing Education

Shawna HendersonSeptember 14, 2017

To be successful in residential construction, you need skilled hands on the tools. That’s the main reason people hire a contractor, a builder, or a renovator with knowledge and experience. But know-how is not the only reason a firm gets hired. To be successful, your construction firm needs the same strong skills as any other thriving business.

A good recipe for initial and continuing success is knowing where your strengths are and being aware of your weaknesses. Real success often comes after you find a way to improve on weaknesses. That does not mean becoming a ‘Jack or Jill of all trades and master of none’. In other words, if you are a hands-on builder, you don’t have to become a financial planner or a marketing guru. On the other hand, if your strength is numbers and financial management, you don’t have to become a lead carpenter or a project manager.

You do, however, need to understand enough about those areas to:  

  • Hire a competent team  

  • Have productive discussions about their areas of expertise  

  • Know when there’s a problem

When you look at builders who have one- and two-year waiting lists of clients, you’ll find that the whole team has strong skills in many complementary areas. Ask a room full of seasoned builders how they get qualified leads, and most of them will point to customer referrals.

Who’s your best brand ambassador?

Your satisfied client.

Who has most contact with your client, and the best opportunities to wow them with your team’s competence and understanding of quality home building? If it’s your site crew, they need good customer service skills to get those referrals happening. If it’s your sales team, they need to know why your clients should care about the house-as-a-system and how that knowledge plays into closing more deals.

Ask the same room full of seasoned builders what their biggest source of call-backs is, and half of them will point to human error. People make mistakes when they don’t have adequate training, when they don’t follow established procedures, and when they’re in a hurry. Call-backs cost you money, there’s no two ways about it.

Here are some ways that builders are using training to improve their bottom line:  

  • Putting whole teams through technical, sales, customer relations, and project management, with the goal of reducing warranty call-backs by 50-70 percent over two years

  • Putting site crews through customer service training, so they can act as sales ambassadors  

  • Putting their sales staff through training so that they can talk high-performance housing with clients

Continuing education opportunities are often a challenge to justify in terms of immediate return on investment. Is the training targeted to the construction industry needs? Does it justify taking people out of the office or off the tools for days or weeks?

It’s not always clear that there is a good return on investment for training. Taking time off the tools costs money, and more money if your crew and staff have to travel to the training centre. Our industry has a notoriously high turnover rate for many positions within it. Is it worth it to train someone who is going to leave in a few months?

When we designed our online training courses, and our management services, we thought about these things long and hard. We decided on-demand courses were best suited to the level of training we wanted to offer. Offering training program management and performance management services meant we could help our clients get the most out of their training budget.

Return on Investment (ROI) measures the amount of return on an investment relative to the investment’s cost. Low cost investments in online training can yield high ROI in terms of fewer callbacks and better crew and staff retention. Fewer callbacks and competent crews result in happier clients. Happier clients result in increase repeat business, referrals, and revenue growth.

That’s the value of continuing education!

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