In the Field: Why Education Is Always Timely

When I speak to dealers one of the most common refrains is: “I can’t send anyone to training now – don’t you realize how tough it is out there?”

I agree that the current economic times are forcing dealers to make tough business decisions.

But I also know that many of these same dealers when questioned several years ago, during the good times would tell me, “I can’t send anyone to training now, don’t you know how busy we are?”

For training to truly benefit a business it must be viewed as a tool, a resource and an investment.

Training is an investment, like any other business expense that must be planned for through good and bad times. For installers and service technicians, they need to know that their employer will be there supporting their need for training on the new and updated technologies, as well as the basics.

Our industry is going through changes in technologies at speeds never previously experienced and with that comes the need for updated training.

But what I find particularly interesting is the fact that when you survey different portions of the industry, you get dramatically different responses to what the “average” installing dealer needs to know.

Speak with a manufacturer or distributor and the answer is all about IP-based technologies. And while they are absolutely correct that most new product releases are incorporating various IP components into the current version, it should also be noted that when surveying the installing dealers – nearly 3 in 4 CCTV systems being installed today are still using conventional analog technologies.

So what does this mean? It means that while new technologies may be introduced at breakneck speed the installing dealer base is slower to jump into the mainstream. Possibly because they are waiting for the newer technologies to approach their existing comfort zone.

When you ask the manufacturer’s technical service department the answer is dramatically different.

Most technical service personnel reply with stories of calling dealers not being familiar with the basic technical knowledge necessary to install and service today’s systems.

Common deficiencies of these callers are their lack of knowledge on how to operate a multi-meter, lack of familiarity with basic electronic fundamentals such as Ohms law, circuit characteristics, proper power supply selection and the basic steps necessary for troubleshooting these systems.

These deficiencies display themselves in the numbers of returned products that ultimately show no signs of fault or failure once tested by the tech services department.

So what should the typical installing dealer do to address both of these divergent replies?

Dealers need to establish a “Roadmap of Knowledge,” for their company – identifying the core, intermediate and advanced knowledge each position in the company requires to perform their assigned tasks and yes, that means from the entry level technician, to the sales staff, all the way up to the company management and owner.

Once the company adopts this roadmap, training becomes part of the daily process, not a “special event” which has to be pushed and prodded into the daily business activities.

Companies large and small that have adopted their version of this training roadmap establish various benchmarks that the employees know and can plan for. Several companies that I am familiar with use the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) NTS Level One Certified Alarm Technician Course as their first line of establishing core performance competencies, followed by advanced courses and certifications.

The benefits to the company are in the fact that employees know what is expected of them and what it takes to aspire to the challenge. Employees work more efficiently making the company potentially more profitable or productive, or both.

Owners, managers, sales staff, technicians, installers, etc. need to remember that they need not develop this roadmap alone, there are numerous industry groups like NBFAA, manufacturers and distributors who can aid them in establishing a program that best suits their individual needs and circumstances.

Dale R. Eller serves the NBFAA as their Director of Education and Standards. A 25+ year industry veteran, Eller’s firm ITZ Solutions! provides consulting, training and management services to the NBFAA, PBFAA, PaFED, NYBFAA, Installation Quality Certification Program and WISE.


Roadmap to Success

Examples of some of the topics to be covered in knowledge roadmap courses for Technicians, Sales Staff, and Management are listed below:


• Basic Electronics

• Installation Practices

• Codes & Standards

• Security Technologies (based on company services)

• Fire Alarm Technologies (based on company services)

• Access Control Technologies (based on company services)

• Video System Technologies (based on company services)

• Customer Service Skills

• Workplace Safety

• Tools – Use / Selection / Application

Sales Staff:

• Codes & Standards

• Security Technologies (based on company services)

• Fire Alarm Technologies (based on company services)

• Access Control Technologies (based on company services)

• Video System Technologies (based on company services)

• Customer Service Skills

• Sales Skills (Prospecting, Closing, etc.)


• Codes & Standards

• Management (financial, personnel, etc.)

• Project Management

• Customer Service Skills

• Sales Management Skills