Beyond providing one-stop shopping for your cleaning products and supplies, distributors just may be the best way to tap into collections of technical and product training for your technicians.
Recently I had the privilege of spending some quality time with a distributor who showed me how he was providing added value to his customers, especially the building service contractor (BSC). This distributor gets it. He understands that anyone can sell price, but not everyone can provide real training and education to their customers. Let me rephrase that. Not everyone wants or cares to provide the education and training that makes them a true value-added vendor for the BSC. 

So what is he doing? One thing is that he purchased some quality video equipment and then created an entire library of 3-4 minute training videos on just about any technical subject needed. Following that he created educational information that the BSC can access as needed. 

A Tablet on Steroids
He then made available to his customers what I would call a “tablet on steroids.” Companies can obtain as many or as few as they desire depending on how extensively they want to utilize the benefit. Most companies provide one of these distributor-provided tablets for each area manager and for stand-alone project managers. Great concept, isn’t it? Sure, there is a small monthly user fee associated with the tablet-based service, but think of the savings in training costs if you can just connect to the subject matter you need and conduct an instant short training class wherever and whenever it is needed. 

When I mentioned this concept to another distributor (who doesn’t compete with the former), I learned that this concept is now very prevalent in the industry and this service is provided by many distributors. I asked him if his company utilized the idea and the answer was no. His reasoning was that they want to provide the personal touch to their customers, in person and up close. Seems to me it would be a great-time saver to the distributor representative if they didn’t have to go out so much at night to help train. So let me ask you readers:

 – How many of you have this or a similar service available from your distributor? 
 – If it is available, do you take advantage of it? 
 – Why or why not? 

Producing Podcasts
While I’m on the subject of communication and training, are any of you producing podcasts for your employees to listen to? This is a great way to communicate new procedures, remind employees of project work that needs to be done, or just to recognize a crew on great work or an employee’s birthday or anniversary. It’s not hard to do and can be so effective. Not long ago very few of our employees owned or had access to a computer or carried a mobile phone, but that has changed and will continue to change. I strongly recommend you consider using podcasts as a method of communicating regularly with your staff, especially if you do not have mandatory meetings or in-services with your staff.

I have long been an advocate of having a strong relationship with one or maybe two distributors to help you grow and build your company. These are just additional ways they can help. My distributors were an integral part of my business, and we developed some very strong and mutually profitable relationships.

Dick Ollek is the owner of Consultants in Cleaning, providing consulting to companies that want to realize profitable sales growth and improve staffing and administrative procedures.