A friend of mine is a pilot for a major U.S. airline.
Several years ago, he told me the first time he landed a 747, it was full of passengers. This surprised me — the airline allowed him to fly a 747 for the first time with passengers on board? I asked how that could be.
According to my friend, the flight simulators the airline uses in training are so realistic that they behave exactly like the real 747. He had spent a lot of hours in the simulator training to fly the real thing, not to mention the thousands of hours of training and experience he had under his belt flying other types of aircraft. So, when the time came to fly the real 747 he was prepared, despite the fact that he had never actually flown one before.
Another friend of mine is an orthopedic surgeon. In fact, he’s a very accomplished surgeon who frequently lectures to his colleagues on surgical procedures he has developed. As he was explaining how he had recently performed a particularly difficult hip replacement, one question came to mind. Forget about the really complex stuff he’s currently doing; how did he have the nerve to perform his very first solo surgery? The answer was training; years and years of training.
Tens of thousands of hours and dollars have gone into training both the pilot and the surgeon. Why? Because what they do is incredibly important. People’s lives are in their hands every time they go to work. If you think about it, what we do in the restoration industry isn’t nearly as complicated as flying a 747 or replacing a hip joint, but it is still much more involved than most people know. And, when people’s homes or businesses are damaged, their lives are in turmoil, to say the least. What we do is extremely important to our customers. Keeping in mind environmental concerns such as asbestos, lead, and mold, ever-changing building codes, increased scrutiny by insurance carriers, safety requirements, and a host of other concerns, training of restoration technicians should be given much more respect and attention than most restorers currently give.
Industry-sponsored training courses are a great foundation designed to support, not replace, comprehensive training programs within our companies. But, how many of our companies actually have organized, formal training programs of their own? And, let’s be honest, how many of us think we can afford to create, operate, and maintain such programs? I would suggest that we can’t afford not to.
What does a poorly trained staff cost your company? While it most certainly costs you money in huge labor inefficiencies on each job, there are additional repercussions that we seldom consider. If we spend too long on one job, we fall behind on the next. At the end of twelve months, how many more jobs could a well-trained labor force have completed? Think of the ripple effect that has on our bottom line at the end of every year. Additionally, we have all experienced the cost of paying to fix a poorly completed job — something that the right training probably could have avoided — and that doesn’t even address the cost to our reputation.
The biggest complaint I hear day in and day out is that it’s impossible to find good people. But here’s a thought — take a look at the really successful restorers. Not the average, moderately successful restorers, but the really successful ones. Do they find it difficult to hire the right people? Of course they do! But, there’s a big difference. They actually have a plan that includes having the best employees in the industry. They attract better candidates than most because everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Then, they take those better candidates and train them to be great employees.
You see, really successful companies don’t just get lucky and fall into employing great people. They create a plan, they consistently work the plan, and then they get to reap the benefits of planning for and training great employees. Obviously, there is much, much more involved in being really successful. But creating a professional culture within your organization that encompasses thorough training at all levels, from the newest hire to the CEO, creates better employees who complete more jobs with more profit. More profit then allows you to train more.
It’s true that your employees may never be called upon to land a 747 or perform a hip surgery, but like the airline pilot and the surgeon, your company simply can’t achieve all that it’s capable of without training, and lots of it.
Bill Prosch, CR, is a Business Development Adviser for Violand Management Associates (VMA), the largest consulting company in the restoration and cleaning industries. Prosch is a leading expert in operations and a Certified Restorer. He has a deep understanding of entrepreneurial challenges having owned and operated a successful restoration company for more than 30 years. Through Violand, he works with companies to develop their people and their profits. To reach him, visit violand.com or call (800)360-3513.