In a word, ABSOLUTELY! Whether you’re a new integrator in the industry or an old salt, attending trainings in various disciplines will not only net you greater knowledge about your business, products or services. But will also give you and your business more credibility to your clients. In today’s world of consumer electronics, your credibility and reputation can mean everything to your clients.
Attending training courses or seminars that carry industry recognized certifications will benefit you and your company by having that diploma or certificate on display in your office or showroom adding designators to your business cards or logos of the things you are certified in. Think of those logos and designators in the way that you do when you see someone in the military. You can almost immediately recognize a private from a general by just seeing all of the awards and medals on his/her uniform. Your clients see you in that same kind of light when they see or ask what your qualifications are. For example, when a potential client is interviewing potential integrators for their upcoming project, they may ask what qualifications the integrator has. If he/she has no formal training that carries valid recognized certification. But the competitor has a resume full of trainings and certifications to show from various manufacturers or other industry organizations. Which integrator do you think the client will most likely choose?
Most manufacturers such as Sencore, Pioneer, Runco to name just a few, have training programs available in various mediums today as do industry organizations such as CEDIA, CEA, ISF, HAA, THX and others. In some cases you can attend online live web cast trainings or other online types of trainings on certain products or services. You can attend education classes at almost every industry trade show each year. You can attend classes in locations all over the world covering many topics ranging from day to day business activities to in depth product training from manufacturers, installation training on various products you sell to your clients, education carrying certification such as CEDIA courses, Sencore Academy training which gives CEDIA and InfoComm credit towards additional certifications, THX and ISF video calibration certification along with audio calibration for home theater applications offered by the HAA (Home Acoustics Alliance). These are a few examples of training opportunities available to integrators today.
While it may not be best for your business to have every training or certification possibleâ€¦it may be in your best interest to have at least some degree of formal training before working with your clients. Even if you’ve been through certain courses in the past, it’s never a bad idea to attend them again as a “refresher”. We know all to well how quickly things change in our industry, training classes and certifications are no exception to these changes. So even if you’ve already been through a particular course and feel you know all you could possibly know about a subject â€“ you can still keep up with the latest changes and even get refocused in an area that you may have let slip by over the years.
Josh Kairoff â€“ Director of display engineering, Pioneer USA says training and certification are absolutely paramount, even more so for veterans of the industry. Josh goes on to say that continued education is of the utmost importance since many of the “seasoned veterans” may have forgotten more than a newcomer to the industry will ever know. On a scale of 1-10 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, Josh give training and certification a resounding 10.
John Goodyear â€“ President and owner of Goodyear Custom Audio and Video has the same opinion in many ways. John says that training is absolutely critical to be and continue to be successful in our industry. John says “if you’ve been in business for 5 years or even 25 years and are still doing business as you did in the beginning, you may not be in business for very long”. Meaning that training is crucial to our industry for integrators because technology is ever changing and we should always be looking for better or more efficient ways to do our jobs.
In speaking with David Pidgeon â€“ President of Star-Power in Dallas, TX, I learned that Star-Power has an in-house training program that is very intensive for all of their installers. This training coupled with outside industry training is the most important key to their success. David equated training to professional golfers such as Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. Stating that even pros like them didn’t get to be pros by not training and aren’t still leaders in their sport by not continuing to train each and everyday.
When I spoke to Joel Silver â€“ President of the ISF, he said that the need for training is obvious. Joel also added a quote from Deborah Smith of Para. Deborah said, from an owner or manager point of view, “What if you train them and they leave?….But what if I don’t train them and they stay?” This is a message that could hit your bottom line in a serious way.
From all of the professional industry leaders interviewed, they all have one singular clear opinion on new employee and seasoned veteran training and continued education and certification. The message is a resounding, TRAINING and CERTIFICATION is likely the single most important part of your business. You clients may or may not know what CEDIA is, they may or may not know what ISF certification is or who Sencore is or any other industry organization for that matter. But, if you are not able to tell your clients that you are well qualified to handle their project and are the best in the business, and be able to show them proof of your claim, you may very well be inviting them to seek another integrator in the area and they may indeed pay more to your competition for comfort and piece of mind.
Training is an absolute for our industry. Technology, products and best practices are ever changing in our world. To have continued success and to be able to keep up and surpass your competition, seriously consider taking the classes that you may have been “on the fence” about recently. Or look for more opportunities to learn as much as you can about our industry and your business. Find new ways to make your business generate even more profit dollars by having all of the tools you need to make your jobs easier, and more efficient for all of your employees. Find ways to offer your clients more value added services such as video and audio calibrations and purchase all of the right tools to give your clients the most professional and respectable services available today. Just being able to sell boxes and hang plasmas doesn’t necessarily make a qualified and professional business. Being properly educated and having certifications or diplomas that prove you are qualified can give you what you need to prove that you are a professional and are more than able to handle your customer’s projects. Being able to prove to your clients that you are qualified for the job will also help to generate even more business through your customers referrals to their friends, family and co-workers, which is always the best source for additional customers, however good referrals won’t come if you aren’t able to prove your qualifications and be able to demonstrate them to your customers. However, if you can do that, they will come. Much like a quote from “A Field of Dreams” â€“ “If you build it, they will come”; “if you’re trained and certified, they will come’.
Regularly seek out new and existing training programs to stay on top of your business through training and certification, it truly could lead to being the best in your area and keep the customers coming. Not keeping up on training and certification could potentially lead to lost revenue and eventually, could put you out of business.
To get started, here are a few places online to find some outstanding training opportunities:
Scott Ceretti is a 16+ year veteran of the Audio / Video industry. He is currently working at Sencore Inc. as a Technical Sales Engineer. Scott also has recently founded The Home Theater Learning Center Inc. â€“ Formed to provide consumers with the tools and education they need to make sound intelligent investment choices when purchasing home theater electronics