John Rotche: Keep your training wheels on Featured

8:01pm EDT August 31, 2011
John Rotche John Rotche

Start by asking yourself this: Are your employees excited to come to work? Passionate about your company? Do they believe in your leadership team and buy in to your philosophies?

If not, perhaps the reason goes beyond the day to day. Think back to their training.

Training is more than a beginning. It is a foundation. It is a time to teach skills, establish parameters and share company culture. This is your first opportunity to completely control the environment — take the time to truly make your training facility an extension of your company.

Design it from scratch

If you have the opportunity to do this, please capitalize on it. If at all possible, build your training facility on-site at your headquarters, and keep the following in mind: Understand typical class size and plan accordingly. A room too small can be uncomfortable, while a room too big can lose energy. Make the space versatile by utilizing room dividers and multifunctional furniture to reconfigure space for numerous uses. Implement turnkey functionality by installing a plug-and-play AV system that enables anyone to step in and assist with setup — even when the IT person is out. Change it up by creating more than one room for different areas of training — and change the theme, so long as each space uniquely represents your company culture.

At our franchise headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., we built a full-size house to recreate real-life situations in duct cleaning for Ductz. For Hoodz, we built a commercial kitchen to offer the most accurate simulation. Keep in mind, fancy is not a necessity — functionality is.

Focus on environment

If you do not have the luxury of designing from scratch, there are still many things you can do to enhance the training environment. Keep the thermostat steady. Think about the last time you were in a stuffy room with 25 or so other people — it’s hard to focus on much else. Up the tempo by playing appropriate, up-tempo music from the minute trainees walk in the room until the time they leave. Music does wonders to set the tone and keep the energy going. Mind maintenance — little signs of neglect like burnt-out light bulbs and a general lack of cleanliness can leave a negative impression.

Curriculum is core

Assuming you’ve taken steps to create an environment that is conducive to learning, make sure what’s being taught is worthwhile.

It starts with the trainer or instructor – it’s not enough for them to be knowledgeable. You need someone who is thoroughly prepared. If you value your trainees, value their time by not wasting it.

When you do the things above, it shows people that you care enough to go the extra mile. It communicates that you are vested in their success. In my opinion, if you don’t capitalize on this crucial time to make a proper and lasting first impression, you’ve already missed the boat.

Continued training

Although initial training is critical, by no means should it end there. As a leader, you should take every opportunity for a continued training moment. Take, for example, weekly staff meetings. Are you just gathering everyone to share your accomplishments from the past week? You can also work a deliberate message into the agenda — one that enables your staff to walk away with something useful, even if it’s just a reinforcement of your company culture.

Furthermore, make a point to send your employees and franchisees to continued training sessions. Within our organization, those franchisees who invest in their people by sending them to receive advanced training are the same offices with the both the highest success and the highest employee retention rates. So build that solid training foundation and continue to improve upon it every chance you get.

John Rotche is the president of Ann Arbor-based Belfor Franchise Group Inc., a multiconcept franchise system. The company’s two franchise concepts, Ductz and Hoodz, center on the compliance and proper maintenance of commercial kitchen hoods and residential and commercial air duct, carpet and upholstery cleaning services. For more information, visit