In my previous article, said Mr Ron Hay President of the Whyalla Chamber of Commerce, I commented on customer service and the value of the same, to a business and the consumer if applied correctly.
Following on from this, I will focus on the topic of staff training whether formal or informal, which can play a very big role in not only the success of a business, but also it brings a higher level of confidence to the individual sales person and hence the team overall.
Mr Hay said, one of the first question that is sometimes asked when a business looks at training its staff is “What will this cost us?”. In today’s world of being competitive, the most simple and direct method of measuring the cost of training can be measured by adding the invoices for the program, along with any travel and accommodation, to give the business owner a quick dollar value.
It is also fair to say that properly training staff may also lead to increased sales therefore a measurement to gauge the cost of not training could be loss of sales.
If we go back to basics said Mr Hay, there are a number of reasons why we train staff. For example, the person may be a new employee, new equipment or processes may be brought into the workplace or new products are going to be sold from the business and hence product knowledge is required.
Whatever the driver is for training, there has to be a process that the business uses to make this happen.
Mr Hay said, in my experience there are generally two components to a business. The first is the ‘soft side’, which takes care of the people issues, like required behaviours, team building and personal development. The other component is the ‘hard side’ which is generally the technical information, processes, procedures and product knowledge. A business cannot operate without both of these being taken into account and given the right amount of attention.
Imagine a sales person having great customer service skills for example and not being able to answer any questions on the products they sell, through lack of knowledge or vice-versa.
Training your staff said Mr Hay, does not always mean, you have to send them away for a period of time, so they can be filled with knowledge. It means that business owners and managers need to be able to identify the critical components of an individual’s training, by way of a formal training plan.
If a person is a new employee for example, then the business owner or manager, must have an appropriate Position Description in place and a clear understanding of what are the critical behaviours required to fulfil the position in the first instance and what behaviours are less critical and hence can be developed within an accepted time frame, said Mr Hay.
This way, when a new employee comes into a business, they will be able to deliver value back to the business immediately and also feel successful and confident.
On the job training for product knowledge can be then handled by way of a planned approach, through discussions with other staff and their experiences, distributor training programs and electronic (online) for example.
A continual training program for all staff is just as important as the one for a new employee, said Mr Hay, especially when we are in a time of fast moving technological change.
When we focus on preparing our staff for positive experiences, up-skilling and development and couple this customer service, it is my view that when a business can deliver these attributes back to the customer, it creates a very good competitive edge.
Mr Hay said, business owners and managers may ask the question “Can I afford to train my staff?”, I would put to them the alternative – “Can you afford not to?”