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Educating Yourself

Manufacturers teach distributors.

In an industry that never stops moving, keeping up is a constant struggle. Having good training programs is of the utmost importance when it comes to keeping up with the times. This month, MHEDA Edge brings you two different perspectives on training. One is from a distributor about educating customers and one from a manufacturer about educating yourselves. Both offer valuable advice for keeping your company and your customers current.

In the material handling industry, product knowledge is king. Both salespeople and service technicians have to be constantly learning in order to do their jobs effectively. Unfortunately, with an industry like ours, books and manuals can’t always keep up. There is a breadth of knowledge out there that never makes it into print, and that is why manufacturer training courses are so important.

Training for Salespeople
This type of manufacturer-run training is an invaluable resource for salespeople. Salespeople already know how to sell, so the focus of these classes lies elsewhere. Product knowledge is the biggest focus; a salesperson can never know enough about what they are selling.

Manufacturer training will also help a salesperson become more familiar with the resources at their disposal. For example, at Hytrol we teach salespeople the intricacies of HEROES—our electronic order system. That way, next time they are in the field, they will be able to quickly call up accurate quotes. Salespeople leave the training program with more knowledge and the ability to do their jobs with increased efficiency.

Training for Technicians
Service technicians are perhaps the group who benefit the most from manufacturer training programs. No matter how experienced a technician might be, chances are that there are still countless scenarios that they have yet to encounter. As manufacturers we have seen, or at the very least heard, almost every scenario, so we have the ability to prepare you for them.

Even the simplest tips have the potential to save a technician hours in the field. For instance, we had an attendee who had a problem with bolts falling into the conveyor when he removed the nut. This meant that he had to spend a couple hours disassembling the conveyor just to get the bolt out. Our staff suggested a novel solution: Put a paper clip around the base of the bolt and it won’t fall out when you remove the nut. This 5-cent solution can prevent countless hours of unnecessary labor, and you certainly won’t read about it in any manual.

Manufacturer training affords technicians with another valuable opportunity. As manufacturers our goal is to make products that distributors and customers like to use. If a service technician tells us that some aspect of servicing a particular conveyor is more difficult than it should be, we take that to heart. At Hytrol, there have been times where we have literally changed the design on a conveyor because of comments received during these courses.

Strengthening the Bond
Perhaps the most beneficial part of manufacturer training for both salespeople and service technicians comes simply from getting to know your manufacturers. Let’s face it, most business is based on relationships. Companies want to do business with people they know. These training sessions help strengthen the relationship you have with your manufacturers, and ultimately that will help both of you serve the customer better.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Mack Palmer Meet the Author
Mack Palmer is the training coordinator for Hytrol Conveyor Co. located in Jonesboro, AR. He is a 32-year veteran of the industry and is responsible for establishing the agenda and the instructors for Hytrol maintenance seminars. Visit Hytrol on the Web at www.hytrol.com.

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