by Brenda Brown
Over the years, I have spoken to hundreds of audio practitioners and business owners during our 3-day seminars. Following are a few observations regarding education. Most of these are common sense. Sometimes a reminder is needed, especially for that person who is considering more education for themselves or those within their company.
We are “electronic systems integrators” and ours is a diverse and complex industry. We design, install and maintain professional audio and video systems, digital signage systems, audio and video teleconferencing systems, fire alarm and security systems, school intercom and nurse call, mass notification and other electronic systems used in facilities ranging from sports stadiums to residential housing. We integrate these sometimes very different systems with custom touch-panel controls and we configure them to communicate and cooperate over IP networks.
It takes smart and capable people to design, install and use these systems. Training/education is not only important but it’s a necessity.
Here are a few benefits of education followed with a question to ask yourself.
1. Education saves time and money on the job site.
Whether it’s simple tasks like watching polarity on ceiling loudspeakers or more complex tasks like a pre-commissioning checkup, education helps integrators save time and money on the job site by doing things right the first time.
Q. Are we loosing profits to inefficiency and call-backs?
2. Education boosts the company’s image and competitive position.
Having a good understanding of the principles, often puts your designs and installs in a class of their own.
This story was told by a business owner and it sums this up well. “My big break came when bidding on a large project. I was the lower bid because I found a creative engineering solution to the rigging that saved thousands of dollars.” He got the job and that business owner is now one of the largest integrators in the US.
Q. Do our company’s designs and installs stand out in comparison to the competition? Just as important, does our company understand the principles well enough to have a creative edge to value engineer if needed?
3. Education brings repeat business and referrals.
Getting a new customer takes a lot of time, money and effort. A repeat customer requires much less. Your customers need to know that your company has a well-trained team with the insight and drive to stay on the leading edge. This confidence will often bring in recurring revenue from service contracts, commissioning checkups and user training. Their referrals will bring in new clients.
Verify your company’s competence by displaying their employees’ certifications and educational achievements in local and regional advertising, on the company website and in correspondence.
Q. Is the larger part of our business from recurring satisfied customers and referrals? Do we need to beef up the technical team and so we can reduce the sales team?
4. An education program helps recruit and keep great employees.
Employers are continually searching for motivated, hard-working, self-disciplined and enthusiastic people. Add a good skill set and education credentials on top of that, and your future is bright. If you took it upon yourself to pay for and get these certificates on your own, that really gets their attention.
Retaining great employees is not easy. In this study, the number one reason for leaving a company is a poor relationship with the boss. The #2 reason for leaving is boredom, and I think this is especially true for engineering-types. Keep them intrigued by sending them to training and giving them new challenges. The goal is to make sure that each employee is engaged, excited, and challenged to contribute, create, and perform.
Q. Are we keeping our best employees?
5. Education pays off for all kinds of job titles.
Designers, installers, operators and service technicians will obviously benefit from education. What about the sales team, management, and the IT staff?
In our seminars, I often hear this comment, spoken with disgust. “Our sales people sell the systems. I have to find ways to fulfill their promises”. Sales people benefit because it helps them understand customer needs, know what is possible and practical, and answer customer questions. It can also help them sell add-on products and services.
Another frequent comment is “I am having a hard time getting my boss to understand why I need this.” Bosses tend to be driven by financial and scheduling concerns. In the long run, training saves both money and time.
IT is now a big part of our business, and it is going to get bigger. The IT staff needs to understand some audio/video basics, and the audio techs need to understand the basics of IT.
Q. Is our staff at a level that enables efficiency and growth?
There are many other benefits, but in my opinion, these are the big five. I would like to urge you to increase your education and training, and watch the doors of opportunity open. bb