Thousands of new building products are introduced each year, and remodelers often first hear about them from clients. Whether a new product speaks to a client’s wishes or your construction needs, it can introduce more problems than it solves unless your installers have been adequately trained. Knowledge is key, not innate ability or craftsmanship. Every new product comes with a learning curve. Read up on the product — and avail yourself and your crews of training opportunities — and you’ll be able to install it more rapidly and more precisely.

Control the process. Introduce a new product under controlled circumstances, not on a client’s whim. Learn as much as you can about a product before you agree to use it. Read magazines, talk to suppliers, go online (REMODELING’s sister publication The Journal of Light Construction is an excellent source), and talk with other contractors to identify trouble spots and workable solutions.

Train. Assuming that a “range is a range” is a huge mistake. For any new or unfamiliar product, supply field staff with product literature and useful articles, and ask your lumberyard about training events. Many suppliers host manufacturers’ workshops (often with free lunches), and they’re generally happy to help you learn how to properly handle and install products. Some classes even qualify for continuing education certifications.

—Tim Faller is president of Field Training Services, which helps construction companies develop production systems and training programs for field staff.