August 20/27, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 5
By K.J. Quinn
This special FCNews Retail Education series, sponsored by 3M, is designed to help specialty retailers build their business through proven merchandising and marketing strategies` as well as general best practices.
When seeking out training opportunities for their sales and installation teams, dealers need to look no further than the leading trade organizations and professional training providers. Several groups continue to offer workshops aimed at helping dealers and their staff hone their skills and help them become more proficient at their craft. The curriculum runs the gamut from store management and floor inspection to sales, installation training and even manufacturing 101.
Following is an overview of some those training programs.
WFCA University offers a variety of training programs for retail sales and management taught by personnel with extensive experience in the flooring industry. WFCA has introduced two immersive programs in sales management for professionals: Effective Customer Engagement Strategies and Counting Traffic and Calculating Close Rates. The Strategies topics discuss the importance of a first impression, buyer behavior overview, customer engagement techniques and customer satisfaction. In Counting Traffic and Calculating Close Rates, store operators will learn, among other things, how to qualify leads, gauge the adoption process and enhance their overall sales performance.
“Through WFCA University, subscribers will have access to dozens of training platforms tailored to professionals at all levels of their career and for every discipline within a company,” Frieda Staten, vice president of sales and marketing, explained. “Our sales management training program consists of 15 modules that deal with every element of sales and are taught by industry leaders from across the country.”
For more information, contact Tom Jennings, vice president, professional development, WFCA, at 816.231.4646, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The International Certified Installers Association (CFI), now part of the WFCA, offers accelerated training and professional certification to individuals seeking to learn how to install all types of floor covering. Together with the WFCA and several support partners, the group works continuously to address an issue that poses challenges to various parties across the supply chain.
The Flooring Consultants and Inspection Training Services (FCITS), which
celebrates its 30th year in business, offers educational programs designed to familiarize participants with the entire inspection process. “We review the industry, cover the most common issues they'll encounter, and then spend a great deal of time on the reporting process,” said Beth Brown, president and CEO.
Classes cover soft and hard surfaces, and inspectors are graded on the quality of their reports. Introductory classes cover many of the basic issues, while advanced classes drill down further in the specific nuances of specific products. The classes are held for five days at FCITS’ facility and inspectors take a test online when they return home. “Upon successful completion of the test, they receive their diploma,” Brown said. “As an added benefit, we provide contact information for the claims managers at all the major manufacturers.”
A three-day Masters Series class, introduced last year, provides education on field repairs and services. Each class is $1,395, which includes the FCITS manual and testing. Mill tours are also available.
Visit fcits.org for more details.
The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) provides online training courses that teach salespeople and installers the basics of tile and stone. The classes, which take about five to eight hours to complete, provide technical information but also emphasize how to work with clients and teach professional salesmanship. Students have 24/7 access for 14 days, enabling them to take the course on their own time.
“The UofCTS courses use the latest technology and learning methodology to effectively teach the students and have them retain what they learn,” said UofCTS founder Donato Pompo, CTC, CMR, CSI, CDT, MBA. “All UofCTS online courses are interactive, professionally narrated and have lots of photos, video clips and animations to reinforce what the student should learn.”
Courses examples include: “Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile” and “Understanding the Basics of Natural Stone.” The Tile Installer Thin-set Standards (ITS) Verification class teaches installers and do it yourselfers, among other things, about industry installation standards; how to inspect and prepare substrates; tools of the trade; and how to avoid problems.
Upon successful completion of each course, students receive a certificate and reference guide containing key information from the class. Each class costs $150 and discounts are available from various trade organizations.
For information, visit uofcts.org.
The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) offers a comprehensive library of continuing education courses. “We have several ways to access these valuable resources, so you can choose the one that works for you,” noted Paul Tucker, communications manager. “Many of CRI’s courses are certified by the Interior Design Continuing Education Council, the American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Green Building Council.”
The CEUs cover everything from carpet manufacturing and interior design to sustainability of carpet and dye methods. CRI’s CEU courses also provide vital information about carpet and the industry for a number of different stakeholder groups, including installers, retailers, designers, architects, building professionals, and many others.
What’s more, there is no cost to enroll in the programs. Most CRI member companies provide instructors that will lead a session at your location. “Even if you don’t need certification, the CEU courses are readily available to the public,” Tucker explained. “Each CEU is updated biennially to present the most current information.”
Visit carpet-rug.org for more information.
The International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) offers an evolving curriculum designed to teach foundational basics and keep flooring installers up to date with cutting-edge trends, technologies and techniques. Participants are taught core skills for proper floor preparation, installation and finishing procedures for carpet, resilient, resinous flooring, hardwood, substrate prep, concrete polishing, artificial turf and more.
The program covers a variety of skills. Courses range from “Standard Skills Training” to “Safety Skills Training” classes. “The extensive INSTALL training program prepares installers for anything they will encounter in the field,” said John McGrath, Jr., executive director. “With INSTALL certification, it demonstrates an unmatched level of proven skill and training.”
INSTALL reports its curriculum is endorsed by more than 100 mills, manufacturers, flooring consultants and associations. “Our Alliance Partners have a vested interest in participating in the INSTALL training program and contributing to its curriculum,” McGrath said. “Together, we ensure installers train with the exact products they will use in the field and receive the knowledge and training that is specific to those products.”
INSTALL also offers a four-year apprenticeship program followed by career-long continuing education. Training is financed by trust funds created by labor/management hourly contributions; there are no additional costs to installers or their employers.
The National Wood Flooring Association’s NWFA University offers training for wood flooring retailers both in-person and online. Online training enables large sales crews to be trained simultaneously, or individual participants can complete the training at their own pace. “It also allows us to provide timely, accurate education in a way that is extremely convenient and affordable,” said Anita Howard, COO, NWFA.
Online education is set up in different areas of expertise, one of which is sales. Within the sales curriculum, there are 38 online and hands-on courses for members interested in increasing their knowledge on various aspects of the business. Each course is 10 to 20 minutes in length and includes a testing component, following each course, to verify understanding.
“Courses can be taken on a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone; this way they can be completed where and when the user wants it,” Howard noted. The annual $100 enrollment cost per member company provides each employee with unlimited access to the online training courses.
Individual courses are organized into nine different learning paths, each of which earns users a digital badge upon successful completion. Subject matter for sales “badges” covers topics such as wood flooring types, sales fundamentals, renewability, health and safety, moisture mitigation and job-site evaluation, to name a few. (Badges serve as prerequisites to hands-on training, which allow participants more time to develop their skills.) “They are graphic images that represent a learned skill, but in NWFA’s case, they also contain metadata verifying the recipient’s proficiency with that skill,” Howard explained. “This metadata includes the date the badge was earned, information about NWFA as the issuer of the badge, and the specific skill that was learned and confirmed through testing.”
In-person training can be conducted at NWFA headquarters or the retailer’s location. The cost is $1,000/day, plus instructor travel expenses.
The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) offers both in-person workshops and regional training programs at more than 140 venues nationwide. NTCA Workshops, hosted by distributors and manufacturers, emphasize installation failures and how to prevent them. Hands-on demonstrations and video training are featured as well as Q&A periods and networking opportunities. The workshops consist of a three-hour overview and is free to industry members seeking to improve their knowledge in installation.
“We have three full-time trainers who provide these programs,” noted Bart Bettiga, executive director. “NTCA trainers and technical support employees are also available to help retailers provide accurate information to their customers.”
In addition to these workshops, the NTCA now offers day-long regional installation training programs (currently is a member benefit). NTCA also offers its members online courses focusing on tile installation education, ceramic tile and stone knowledge, as well as general business courses, at its NTCA University Learning Management System.