At Warrendale, PA-based Guardian Protection Services, success starts with training and education.
The security integration and monitoring company has a dedicated training department, featuring specialists focused on ensuring that any employee or product the company invests in is fully prepared to go into the field.
Dana Sowa, Director of Corporate Training & Development, leads the nine person team, which includes product experts, sales trainers and corporate trainers. The training team handles 99% of the company's training, Sowa says, from new employee onboarding to product expertise to ongoing sales and technician training.
A new employee at the company goes through Guardian's onboarding process, where they'll spend a month learning about the industry and principles of security integration and monitoring. After that month, they'll do a five-day Boot Camp, where they learn how to apply what they've learned and how to handle specific situations with customers.
When the Boot Camp is complete, the new employee will go out into the field with their manager for the first time. Each new employee has an action plan developed for the next 30 days, and after that month, they meet with the training team in a webinar to see how things are going and make sure everything they've been trained on has been captured.
"We really dedicate our time to make sure the technician is set up for success," says Sowa. "We provide them guides to follow so it becomes easier for them to talk to the customer as we want them to."
Sales staff tend to focus more on onboarding, while operations staff engage in more ongoing training. Trevor Block, Vice President of Field Operations, leads the charge for that ongoing training. "He really invests in that ongoing development so the technicians are touching [the product], breaking it, installing it, etc." says Sowa.
When the company is evaluating a new product to use, vendors will often come in and do that product overview, but the training team will build the training around it. "We're large enough that when we introduce something new, it moves from test boards to analyzing certain products in the field to developing training," with handouts, webinars and PowerPoints, says Block.
"We take a product and use 65% of the capabilities - or we're marketing it slightly differently than everybody else. We customize our training," he adds.
The company focuses on ensuring that any initiative or product is done the Guardian way, and that all staff understand why it's being used, how it's being sold, and where it fits into the company's offerings. "We try to dive into what the product is -- and how we implement that product into our processes," says Sowa.
That includes what they're telling their customers, says Adam Rohan, Manager, Corporate Training & Development. "We always have to make sure we can communicate it to the customer effectively. We want to make sure we get the message in there."
"We want everybody to be on the same page," says Block, adding that the sales, operations and customer service departments all need to know what's going on.
For example, the company has invested in interactive services, and they're now supporting devices like thermostats that they'd never worked with before. When you're doing something new like that, every group needs to know about it, from customer service to billing to tech support.
As they've started working with Z-Wave, Guardian has done a rollout to get techs to understand the concepts. "It's helped us put together our progressive plan and how to stay in front of the new technology," says Block.
The shift to interactive services couldn't have happened as smoothly as it has without the already established training team.
"Our training department laid the groundwork for effectively communicating to the base a couple of years ago," says Block. "It was a lot of trial and error, but we quickly realized it was more effective for us to train. As we started migrating to this new technology, we didn't have to develop the training department first and then do the training. We had a good core of training professionals already in place, so as we started to add in these new products and services, we could hit the ground running.
"If we hadn't invested in training, this would have been a huge endeavor with a thousand employees to train on interactive services at the drop of the hat," he adds.