Employee training can make a difference


Most company budgets are backward.

Look at your own business and ask yourself this question: How much did your company spend on advertising in 1997? What will it spend in 1998? You probably have a good handle on this number. Some companies spend a fortune and some spend a little. But every company in the world has an ad budget. Your phone listing and a sign on the door may constitute an ad, or you may have a Yellow Pages listing or even nonstop radio/TV or print ads.

How about this question - how much will you spend this year or next on training? To make your company’s most important asset better, training is vital. It includes everyone - even yourself.

Want to get really scared? Think about this. The average U.S. new-car dealership spends approximately $250,000 per year on advertising. Too bad more isn’t spent on training, so we could all have better experiences when buying a car.

This information may be familiar to you, but the question remains, “What can I do about it?” Believe it or not, the answers are easy, and the implementation can be fun.

First, read the book “Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard. In my opinion, it is the best of the best when it comes to books on customer service, and it takes only about an hour to read. Also get copies for all your employees and use it during meetings.

Decide now how much you will spend on training this year and for 1999, for all of your employees, including yourself. Even if you are the boss, you are not exempt.

Bring in outside experts. You might know your business best, but these experts know how to improve each area of it.

Forget the mission statement and start focusing on empowerment - not just the concept, but letting your employees take charge. They can only do this with sufficient training. For example, Ritz-Carlton Hotels have a rule: “Any employee who receives a guest complaint owns the complaint.”

The chain doesn’t stop there. First-line employees such as housekeeping, busboys, etc., have the authority to spend up to $2,000, and managers can spend up to $5,000. Now that’s empowerment.

Ritz-Carlton officials know this will create a win-win-win situation. The employee feels good about himself, the guest is happy, and the company will keep the business.

Have fun at work. If everybody at the company is enjoying him- or herself and smiling and laughing, imagine how much fun it will be for your customers. Pat Riley, one of the greatest coaches in professional basketball, said it best: “Your teammates are not your opponents.”

Stay current with technology. The Internet will change everything, not next year or the year after, but seven to 10 years from now. Customers are becoming more educated thanks to all the information that is readily available.

This year alone, out of 15 million cars and trucks sold in the United States, 2 million will be bought via the Internet. The business climate is becoming more and more global, and everything is becoming a commodity. Nothing is unique any longer. If you have a jump on your competitors now, they will catch up to you quickly. All we have left is service.

The best companies in the world spend the most on training, so their people are top-notch. You can talk all you want about great customer service or wishing more sales would come in, but until you decide how much you are willing to spend (the easiest way is to take a percentage from sales) and spend it continually and consistently, you will never be a world-class organization.

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