When we began to have a few window installation problems at Mark IV Builders, we asked our window manufacturer to train our crew on correct installation with the recommended flashing. We haven’t had a leak since. Due to this training, I prefer that our crew, not subcontractors, install windows — the process is slightly slower, but it’s more successful in the long term.

We started reaching out to other manufacturers and suppliers to see what training they had available. There are new building products on the market every day. We have to maintain a competitive edge with our knowledge base. Potential clients feel more confident in us if we can explain the differences between products and installation techniques, and they’re impressed that our crews have been trained by the manufacturer or supplier.

Manufacturers are happy to train your crews — especially for new products on the market. You should ask for the training because installing the products incorrectly will void their warranty. It’s especially important for long warranties backed by the manufacturer, and it’s also a great sales tool.

I’ve called on our building products supplier, our appliance dealer, manufacturer representatives, and even my own staff to set up training. Besides training us on kitchen and bath fixtures and fittings, our plumbing supplier also explained how to expedite orders for parts to better service our clients.

In some cases, the training comes with a sales pitch, but we take it as a learning opportunity to understand how that product differs from the competitors’ products. The trainers usually bring handouts, samples, and slide shows that include photos of the results of incorrect installation — a powerful visual that motivates our crew because they can see what happens a few years after an improper installation and how it can affect our reputation.

Though our building materials supplier offers training at its site, I prefer hosting training at our office because it feels more personal. Our guys are able to share direct experiences and ask detailed questions. Also, when we set up a session at our office, the crew feels like we are investing in them and in our company. —Andy Hannan is production manager of Mark IV Builders, in Bethesda, Md.

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