As a building materials manufacturer, it can be easy to reduce your product to the literal items that you sell: “our company supplies smart thermostats,” or “we manufacture insulation.” The problem with this outlook is that it isn’t completely accurate to view your product as the only thing you’re selling. Unlike many consumer products ranging from handbags to smartphones, your customers can’t just use your products as-is immediately after purchase. They must be installed–expertly, accurately and correctly. Take that smart thermostat, for example. You aren’t just selling a smart thermostat; you’re selling the product with the promise that it can be installed properly with relative ease and integrated with other connected devices.
You may be thinking: once the product’s been sold, what control do I have over the installation process? The answer is, potentially, quite a bit. By enacting an effective product training program, you can impart your knowledge of your building materials products to your customers, empowering them to install and service your products effectively and with ease. This, in turn, can reap huge rewards for your building material company’s bottom line. The strongest building materials marketers are those that are with their customers on every step on the learning journey, not just at the time of sale.
Here’s how top building materials manufacturers work with customers. They say: “When you purchase a product, you’re also purchasing a relationship. Training is an integral part of our product offering. We’re here to empower builders and architects and homeowners to make the installation process effortless and ongoing use painless. It’s our job to help you effectively use our product every step of the way.
Many building materials companies maintain manuals and frequently asked questions, and they think that this counts as true product training support. Having a complete manual and set of FAQs available to your customers is a wonderful idea and can help answer questions that arise during the installation process, but they often aren’t enough to provide the full and complete product training. Keep in mind that the more complex your product is, the more likely your customers will benefit from an interactive training program where they can ask questions and see real-life examples.
There isn’t necessarily one ideal product training model. As we mentioned previously, some customers will prefer in-person training while others would benefit more from virtual learning options. However, there are some key features of all successful building materials training programs:
It can be daunting to contemplate creating a comprehensive product training program but don’t be fooled; the resources you put into your product training program will be paid in dividends via increased customer loyalty and a boost in new customers. Whatever the typical customer of your building materials company – builders, remodelers, architects, kitchen and bath designers, plumbers, roofers and many others – the chances are good that they can benefit product training tailored to their needs.
That your customers probably need more product training to utilize your products effectively is clear–but what should that training look like? As you may imagine, making your product training program as easy as possible should be one of your central concerns. For example, certain companies offer certified training programs; installers who complete such programs are listed as preferred installers, a win-win situation for everyone involved. It’s not always clear, however, what counts as an “easy” training program, and it can certainly differ from person to person.
One thing to keep in mind as you design your program is that different people learn differently. Some customers are not particularly technologically inclined; these clients are likely to prefer an in-person, traditional training style. Others prefer the added convenience that digital training programs can offer. Sometimes this breakdown between the two types of learners occurs along generational lines. The stereotype is that Millennials dislike classroom-type training, while Baby Boomers and Gen Xers prefer the more traditional approach.
Product training can come in many forms, ranging from in-person to virtual. These can include:
Here at Bolin, we understand that the thought of instituting a product training program can be overwhelming for many building materials manufacturers–but the benefits of doing so can be incredible as well. Want to learn more – contact us now. Or, let’s set up a time to meet at the IBS and KBIS Shows in February.