Elan University - Arrive Without Traveling
By Sean Downey
With new gear rolling out as quickly as manufacturers can whip up a sales sheet, knowledge has become as important as inventory to the custom dealer. Like its physical counterpart, intellectual inventory is an investment, not only for the dealer, but for the manufacturer as well. With that in mind, Elan has created an online training forum called Elan University, which it hopes will be a solid investment both for itself and for its dealers.
• According to Rick Gratz, Elan's director of technical and customer service, the goal of Elan University is to give authorized dealers across the country around the clock access the kind of seminars regularly held at the company's Lexington, Kentucky-based headquarters. The seminars, which run for a week every month, cover entry-level installation all the way through programming and advanced systems integration.
• While those seminars have been popular, there are still many Elan installers that haven't been able to attend them. "While every authorized Elan dealer has gone through our training program, we found that only 20 percent of the personnel out there have been trained," says Gratz. "A dealer with eight installers, for instance, can't afford to send them all to Lexington for the hands-on training. Between airfare, car rental, meals and, most importantly, time away from the job, the training expense can run from $800 to $2,000 per person they send to Lexington. For $100 they can have one of their employees sign up for an entire year of Elan training online." And, Gratz adds, the online training will soon be mandatory. "We are discontinuing our three-day intro-ductory level one class here in Lexington, and making the completion of level one training at Elan University a requirement of all of our installers."
The University launched in July with the entire level-one curriculum of over 40 course modules ready to go. Within the next month, the entire level two curriculum will be added and by the end of the year, Elan University should offer all four levels of coursework. Level one (professional level) gives a comprehensive overview of all the Elan system features and applications and instructs trainees in rough-in installation and trim out installation. Level two (master) covers basic programming of all the Elan systems. Level three (Ph.D.) takes that programming a step further with RS-232 systems integration. And level four (Elan expert) is for installers who want to immerse themselves in Elan to the point where the company consults with them on product development.