Janitor Training Should Be Flexible For Different Clients

Do adapt to clients’ needs. A successful floor care training program is not set in stone. Just as old practices need to be updated, distributors need to respond to clients’ changing needs.

“When it come to training programs we need to collect as much information as we can so we don’t go in with our agendas or what we think has worked everywhere else,” says Allen. “We can’t cut and paste this stuff. Before a training program begins, I spend time with the people that do the work. I want to know what their puzzle pieces are so I can help them put it together and see the big picture.”

Thompson responded to his clients’ needs by installing 30 square feet of luxury vinyl tile for one of his classes.

“A lot of healthcare facilities today are installing luxury vinyl tile, and people coming to class want to know how to take care of it,” he says. “So I need to look at what type of clients I have and what they’re dealing with, and I need to change my programs as their needs change.”

Do solicit feedback. If distributors want to know whether their floor care programs measure up to the competition, ask the attendees. A survey can help determine if programs are on target or missing the mark.

“Distributors need to listen to their clients and pay attention to the feedback they’re receiving,” says Jefferson. “You need to follow up with them after training, and let them know that you’re with them from the beginning to the end.”

Feedback from attendees led Thompson to introduce new courses.

“At the end of the class we do a survey and ask the clients if we accomplished their goal,” says Thompson. “The survey has 15 other items of knowledge and training, so they can identify what they would like to learn next. The survey helps me determine if I’m providing the services people are asking for, and it helps me prepare classes for the next year.”

Armed with the above recommendations, distributors can build reputable floor care training programs to differentiate their businesses — and keep customers coming back for more.

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Training For Basic Floor Cleaning Tasks Still Important

Don’t overlook the basics. While it’s important to keep up with the latest advances in floor care, Bill Allen, territory manager for Fagan Sanitary Supply, West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, warns jan/san distributors not to do so at the expense of daily maintenance.

“Sometimes the most simplistic part of maintenance, such as dust mopping or vacuuming, tends to get overlooked,” he says. “We tend to focus on high-end tasks, like carpet extraction and floor stripping, but the most critical thing is to spend time on simplistic, routine maintenance.”

Waddell’s education sessions adopt a similar approach.

“We give the customer a true understanding that the most important part of floor care is what they do on a daily basis for dry soil removal,” he says. “If you have the proper processes in place for vacuuming and dust mopping, it makes all the difference in the world — and makes it easier to perform other tasks.”

Don’t just tell, show. Telling customers how to operate a piece of equipment leaves room for error. Showing end users the equipment and demonstrating how it operates improves their understanding and helps them determine if it’s the right fit for their flooring needs.

“A lot of our competitors have equipment in a storefront that customers can look at but not necessarily demo, so they have no way of knowing if it will perform to their specific needs,” says Krysten Jefferson, business development manager, Hercules & Hercules, Detroit. “We have a showroom with equipment, and our clients are able to come in and test it or take the equipment to their site where we can work with them to see if it fits their scenario.”

Allowing customers to see products, tools and procedures in action raises the distributor’s training program to a higher level, says Allen.

“When people have hands-on opportunities they’re able to ask questions with more substance and depth,” he adds. “It also allows people to see that not everything goes perfectly, and when it doesn’t go perfectly, how best to address the problem, adjust and correct.”

Do embrace technology. Just as a physical demonstration can improve a customer’s knowledge and understanding of a product or process, using the internet can enhance learning and provide the end user with a more interactive experience.

“Start looking toward digitalization of the industry rather than relying on how things were done in the past,” says
Huizenga. “Our clients are getting younger, and they grew up with computers, so they look for information digitally.”

Last year, Nichols invested in a mobile application that walks customers through floor care fundamentals — from daily maintenance to interim cleaning and restorative care.

“Customers like the fact that they can access the application 24/7 and they can customize it to create their own internal training program,” says Huizenga.

Do help customers market their business. Service departments typically don’t know how to articulate their own worth; therefore, a good training program should focus on teaching customers how to market the value of their operation, says Thompson.

“The other day I saw a van come in here, and on the side of the van it said, ‘We wax floors,’” he says. “Well, we haven’t done that in 50 years. If you market yourself that way you’re just like everybody else out there who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. So as distributors we have to teach customers a new, progressive, healthy way of cleaning floor — and then teach them how to market the services they provide.”

In his education sessions, Thompson encourages customers to identify the types of facilities and flooring they’re going to be cleaning prior to training them on specific equipment so he can help them target and strengthen their marketing strategy accordingly.

by Kassandra Kania

Best Practices For Floor Care Training

Jan/san distributors are a vital resource for customers purchasing floor care products and equipment. Not only do they help end users identify the best products for their flooring needs, but they also educate them in best practices to achieve optimum results. Yet, despite the benefits of a floor care training program, not all distributors offer one. And for those that do, there is often room for improvement.

“As a distributor, we have two avenues we can take,” says Glen Huizenga, sales leader for Nichols, Norton Shores, Michigan. “We can tap into our manufacturers’ programs or develop our own. And the challenge is how do you develop your own program so that you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.”

First and foremost, distributors need to draw the distinction between training and education. Then distributors have to find ways to incorporate both into their programs.

“To me, training is putting into practice the knowledge that you’ve gained through education,” says David Thompson, director of education for Gem Supply Co., Orlando, Florida. “A lot of people use floor machines, but they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. So training is the ‘how to’ after they have the knowledge.”

To build a sought-after floor care program that trains and educates, distributors offer the following tips based on their own experiences.

Don’t center your program on your products. This advice harkens back to training versus educating. There is value in both education and training, but there must be a clear distinction between the two, says Brian Waddell, director, education and consulting, Bruco Inc., Billings, Montana.

“Unfortunately what happens in our industry is the focus on training often turns into a sales pitch, which then breaks down the level of trust between the two parties,” he says. “You cannot have a floor care program based around your products and equipment specifically. Education is proper processes and procedures, and when it’s done properly it shouldn’t matter whose stuff is used. It should be applicable to the customer’s set of tools and what’s available to them.”

Don’t teach the same old, same old. Sometimes floor care training programs get stuck in a rut: Distributors continue to teach outdated practices rather than respond to customers’ evolving needs and embrace the latest technology.

“Often distributors are pushing the same education that they’ve always been pushing, and that’s why no one pays attention to it,” says Thompson. “I’m not here to teach the old way; I’m here to make life better for you.”

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-by Kassandra Kania