Mix and Match
C-tailers employ a variety of training programs to meet their goals
By Janet Pinkerton&000;&000;
every C-tailer must make its own judgment call about how to spend time and money educating employees and what certifications to carry. It's a return-on-investment issue further complicated by the fact that investments are made in individuals who could possibly leave the company.
Custom integrators we interviewed—some also retailers, some not—each select a mix of training resources, including internal efforts, manufacturer training, trade association education and certification programs.
At Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, National Director of Product Training and Resource Allocation Bob Stinehour says 20 full-time instructional designers and eight regional technical specialists run Tweeter's internal certification and training programs for approximately 1,700 salespeople and 500 installers operating out of more than 170 stores nationwide. Tweeter also runs seven facilities with replaceable walls where installers in training can "cut holes, run wires and make mistakes," Stinehour says. "They are taught hands-on with regional tech specialists."
This training structure began to take shape when Tweeter began acquiring companies in the late 1990s. This last year, the company centralized its installation training.
Tweeter cherry-picks its use of industry programs run by the likes of CEDIA and NSCA. "This is reflective of the fact that there is no standard in the industry," says Stinehour. "Once a clear standard emerges, a lot of folks will come running to that. Right now it feels premature to spend the kind of resources it would take to get 500 of our folks through a two-year program that may or may not be 'the one.'"
Stinehour notes that more government agencies want to license low-voltage companies and employees. "We're prepared to go through a lot of energy getting every one of our folks licensed and certified, once we know what we're required to do. Right now we're just hedging our bets, doing a little of NSCA, a little of CEDIA, a little of this, a little of that."