Anonymous Distributor

I just came off a whirlwind tour of shows, factory visits, and association meetings. When I attend the association meetings, it becomes pretty clear that we have a lot of experts out there telling us what we should do differently. I like to listen to their opinion, and sometimes I even agree with them. Mostly they get me thinking about all kinds of things other than what they are talking about. This is the way A.D.’s brain works (kids, don’t try this at home, I am a trained professional): I hear something, it reminds me of something, and I write something down. A couple weeks later, I try to write an intelligent article for you to question. It’s really that simple!

With that said, I was thinking of training and the lack of industry knowledge that exists out here. We often say that our dealers are only as knowledgeable as we make them/you. But what if WE aren’t training you on the right topics? Our industry isn’t just about 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines anymore. It is about EFI; lithium power; regulations like Prop 65, CARB, EPA; and so many other things. Something as simple as selling a lawnmower in the middle of the country got much harder last year when California reinstated the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. But if you sell that lawnmower online into California, a label must be on the item that warns the product may contain one of the identified chemicals that might cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Who trained you for that new revised law? Hopefully this is old news by now.

Back to training. If you sell lithium products, it is pretty cut and dry when there is a problem. Does it need a new battery? When you put a new battery in the tool, does it solve the problem? If the answer is no, try the battery in a different tool. Did that work? It is process of elimination. However, it’s not going to always be that way with a lithium-powered product. With the new lithium-powered tractors, you’ll need to know everything you know about a tractor today but with a new power source. You’ll need to know troubleshooting electrical in addition to understanding battery. Will training be a simple webinar, or a sophisticated live class with hands-on troubleshooting?

Another product that is catching wind is EFI. The sophistication of EFI is much different than an old carbureted engine. First, there is the software involved (did you say software?). Where there is software, there are computers. So how are you on your computer skills? Talking with dealers, the most common answer I get to the question “How are you with computers?” is “I know enough to get by.” Knowing enough to get by won’t cut it these days. If you really think you need computer training, check out the local tech school. Having a good grasp of a computer will save you time and money in the very near future.

Many companies have gone to online training only. Attending a webinar means you don’t have to drive somewhere to be trained. It also means you can have your entire service shop attend without having to close the office for a day. A disadvantage is missing out on the interaction between dealers. Many dealers still like live updates for the interaction between their peers. When a question is asked in a live update, there are 30 to 40 people who get to hear the answer. In a live webinar, the question can be asked to the presenter and they can answer it. However, in a recorded one, questions cannot be asked.

I recently got a new TV stand and it came with a fireplace insert. The guy that brought it showed me how to run the fireplace remote. It took all of 20 seconds for him to say, “this is on, and this is off.” He then said, “this button is flame” and “this one is temperature, any questions?” When you sell a product to a customer, it’s the one time you have to make sure you train them on the product, the features and benefits, and to remind them of why they bought it from you instead of from a box store. 

Remember to keep your blades and mind sharp. You can contact me by e-mailing OPEMAGAD@gmail.com or tweet @OPEMAGAD. 

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