Technician training is a great way for your store or warehouse group to connect with your customer base as well as show off profitable tool and equipment lines. Hosting a successful training event comes down to participation. That doesn’t just mean handing out invitations and ordering a stack of pizzas. Here are a few key points to keep in mind while planning your next training event.
Plan ahead. Technicians are busy men and women, with actual lives outside the shop. When selecting a date and time, be conscious of popular extra-curricular activities. You wouldn’t plan your wedding for Super Bowl Sunday, so don’t let your training conflict with other local events, either. Think high school football, your local race track, even seasonal distractions like holidays, hunting and fishing, or summer vacations. Plan around these sorts of attractions, to maximize attendance. Midweek is an ideal time to offer training, while Mondays and Fridays are usually attendance-killers.
By default, training is an after-hours proposition. Your store personnel and your customers all have important jobs to do during your shared business hours, so it’s not always practical to offer training during the afternoon hours. If you are simply hosting a tool show, with several vendors offering tools and equipment, you may invite your customers to come and go as they please over the span of several hours. In-depth or highly technical training should begin a bit later in the evening, so everyone has a chance to close up, clean up, and show up.
If your event includes multiple short workshops or seminars, consider offering each of them more than once during the evening. That way, you are able to accommodate different work schedules, as well as giving your customers a choice of trainings that hold their interest, without forcing them to choose between topics they might find valuable.
Serving your guests a meal is not just an expectation, its another opportunity to show them that you actually appreciate their attendance. Many of them have spent eight to 12 hours on their feet, and are skipping a home-cooked meal with their families to attend your event. Make it worth their sacrifice! Pizza and wings are a wonderful option when you want to treat a single shop to lunch, but something more substantial is in order for satisfying a (hopefully) large crowd of hungry and tired technicians. Local restaurants and catering services, and even some larger grocery chains offer many options for feeding groups a great meal on a reasonable budget.
Of course, budget is a consideration when planning a training event. Don’t be afraid to charge a nominal attendance fee. It benefits your organization in two important ways. Obviously, it helps defray some of the expense of hosting an event for a large group. Second, it conveys the impression that this event will be something worth investing in, as well as attending. Selling tickets allows you to keep an accurate count of expected attendance, making it easier to plan for food, training materials and seating. It also gives techs an extra incentive to attend, since they have now made a monetary commitment. They are less likely to blow off an event that they have already paid for. Partnering with your tool and equipment supplier and/or individual tool manufacturers can also be a great source of funding, as can contacting your program group for available co-op funds. Just remember to focus on the training, rather than the sales pitch!