HVACR Business

JUL 2017

Help hvacr contractors master the critical components of business management.

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15 HVACR BUSINESS JULY 2017 www. hvacrbusiness .com SET UP YOUR OWN IN-HOUSE TRAINING PROGRAM BY ROB GREENBLATT, CMA P rofessional development and training is part of the founda- tion of any employer-employ- ee relationship. Many surveys show companies that invest in training benefit from reduced turnover, increased skill set and increased productivity. At CroppMetcalfe, we firmly believe in developing our employees and we cre- ated the CroppMetcalfe Academy — an in-house training program as part of our long-term strategic plan. A dynamic and oen-changing ini- tiative with multiple challenges, it's been a rewarding experience for all involved. Here are the steps we took to create this initiative. Step 1: Assess Your Needs Determine the value of training. • Why do we need training ? • What options are available outside of the organization: local vocational schools, community colleges and on- the-job training. Each has positive and negative attributes (student-teacher ratio, ability to do hands-on work in labs, expertise of the teachers, learning environment). • How many students are involved? A one-time class for five people is differ- ent than a multi-year, apprenticeship program with multiple classes. • Is this a short- or long-term need? How will the training align with the long-term goals of the business? • What is the best way for students to learn? Is a classroom setting or is on- the-job training better? • What level of training is needed? Is the need to provide entry-level training for technicians to run tune-ups? Or is the need to provide additional training for experienced technicians on specific topics (i.e. replacing a TXV)? During a review of our business plan, we wanted to ensure a reliable pipeline of qualified, trained and educated workers. We explored alternatives and chose to de- velop an in-house training program. e CroppMetcalfe Academy is a four- year apprenticeship program with a curric- ulum approved by Virginia. Our graduates are prepared to take the exam for their Virginia Journeyman License. We chose this program because we could control the learning environment and provide the resources to our students better than the alternatives. Step 2: Commit the Resources, Develop the Structure As with any new effort, you must build the structure before deciding on the fin- ishing touches (i.e. enroll students). e structure includes many actions that were critical to ensuring success. Hiring an instructor, developing the curriculum, setting up classrooms and labs and establishing the attendance and grad- ing policies are all necessary steps in build- ing a foundation. Identify an administrator to oversee the budget and overall effort, someone who is not a teacher. By having an outside perspective, you ensure checks and balanc- es. e administrator may be the owner, service manager or someone in human re- sources — but not an instructor. All institutions have a written set of procedures stating the ground rules regarding attendance, grading procedure and standards for advancement. e expectations of students should also be clearly identified, including days/hours of classes and what constitutes an excused versus unexcused absence. A student handbook is standard, and helps ensure the training program is separate from operations. Identifying an instructor is critical since that person will be the face of the program. His or her level of expertise and ability to teach adults is critical. at last point is important, since teaching adults is much different than teaching children. Adults learn differently and have different distractions than children. Oen, classes will be held aer a long day in the field and students will be tired. e instructor will need tremendous en- erg y, and the ability to connect and build rapport with students. Creating an environment in which students thrive is important. If possible, set up a defined classroom with access to a projector for videos, a whiteboard or chalkboard. Setting up a lab will help with the hands-on training. ere needs to be a mix of used and new equipment in the training lab. One of the best sources of equipment is from operations. Have technicians and install- ers bring in used equipment to use in the training program. If you have any scratch Hiring an instructor, developing the curriculum, setting up classrooms and labs and establishing the attendance and grading policies are all necessary steps in building a foundation. Five steps to creating a long-term, strategic plan for employee education and development continued on page 16

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