Over the past two years, we’ve interviewed and profiled a number of leading security integrators from across the industry – large, national companies who deal with training hundreds of employees to smaller, regional businesses who only have a handful of employees.
Each company brings with it best practices that help them succeed, and they’ve been kind enough to share them with the entire NTS community.
Last month, we gathered five of those best practices from the companies we’ve profiled – and this month, we’re sharing another five.
Here are five more best practices from security integrators.
Require Level 1 of All Employees
Training has always been a cornerstone for Exton, PA-based The Protection Bureau, and central to their mission to serve their customers as effectively as possible is their commitment to the education and development of their staff.
All employees are required to be certified in NTS Level 1, whether they are technicians or sales or office support personnel, according to Matthew Ladd, president and CEO.
The background provided by Level 1 is invaluable in fostering the level of professionalism that the company prides itself on, he says.
Market Your Company’s Training Standards
The level of education and certification maintained by Buffalo, N.Y.-based Amherst Alarm’s personnel serves not only to ensure the high installation standards that the company prides itself on, but also serves as a cornerstone in their marketing.
"We strongly market our technicians’ level of certification to our clients,” says CEO Tim Creenan. "It helps us to both earn and prove the credibility of our company.”
That, in turn, is one of the factors that contributes to a huge amount of repeat and referral business, which exceeds anything that could be earned with advertising dollars, says Creenan.
Meet Regularly to Train on Products
At the weekly meetings for the techs at Mansfield, Ohio-based Schmidt Security Pro, employees go through product trainings, where a sample product and its install sheet will be presented to the group, with the opportunity for hands-on learning, and discussing the specific intricacies of the product.
"This industry requires very product-specific knowledge, so we spend time getting to know our products better,” says Brian Schmidt, the company’s president.
Documentation from product-specific training ends up in the master manuals that the company keeps for all of the products that they install.
A Special Plan for New Company Hires
Knoxville, TN-based Gallaher and Associates follows a very standardized training plan. "Basically we require that all new hires (unless they come to us with an industry background) start as a helper -- and that even goes for people who have technical degrees,” says founder Roy Gallaher.
Those helpers go in the field with senior techs for three months. Gallaher feels that the training that comes from working in the field is as important for the processes they use as the product knowledge.
At the same time, Gallaher seeks to teach new hires how to conduct themselves to the company’s standards when dealing with customers. After the initial training period, depending on the employee and his previous background, they start a process of NTS courses and basic training like Level 1 and Level 2 in order to be licensed in the state of Tennessee.
"Depending on that employee and their potential and what we expect to do with them, we put them in a direction that we feel with build on their abilities,” says Gallaher.
Invest in Your Employees and Pay for Their Training
At Norwalk, CT-based Advanced Electronicsm, they have two approaches to training. When the company hires a technician who is already licensed and certified, the company pays for their CEUs and other ongoing training. "If they want a higher-grade license, we support them in that for both time needed and financially,” says president Howard Friedman.
Hires who are new to the industry undergo the training necessary to certify and receive their state license. ”We have also hired a couple of apprentices and have incentivized them to get their licenses,” Friedman explains.
The company pays for certification and licensing training in full, but for employees who want to do work outside of CASIA and NTS requirements, such as technical college or engineering school, the company will fund part of it.
Advanced Electronics sets no limits on their employees’ freedom to take NTS courses. "Our techs are free to sign up for the NTS courses they like and we’ll pay for it,” Friedman states. "Good people want to get better, and if you don’t keep getting better you stop being good.”