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 Sometimes floor care training programs get stuck in a rut: Distributors continue to teach outdated practices rather than respond to customers’ evolving needs and embrace the latest technology.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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Training For Basic Floor Cleaning Tasks Still Important