No Pain - Just Train!
by George Hedley

I played water polo in high school and college. After summer vacation, our two week training camp would start in early September. Twice a day we would swim laps, pass the ball, practice our skills, shoot goals, lift weights, and work on our offense and defense techniques. After our skills returned to a competent level, the coach would show us new ways to improve. The coach would constantly watch us practice and give us feedback on our progress. Throughout the season he would repeatedly teach us more strategies to make us better players and a better team. By the end of every season, we learned lots of new skills and tricks to use during the games to help us beat the competition.

Your metal construction business is exactly like competitive sports. Without on-going training and practice, people get rusty, out of shape, and don’t improve to the next level. People get used to doing the same old things, the same old way, at the same level. Training helps them grow and expand their ability to work at a faster pace with more proficiency.


Are you keeping up with your competition?

I recently surveyed more than 2,000 contractors and subcontractors. Over 98 percent said their people would do a better job if they provided more training. But, this awareness doesn’t lead to action! The following survey results show how much training per year per employee companies actually perform.

Field Employees
51% 0 - 8 hours training per year
20% 9 - 16 hours training per year
19% 17 - 40 hours training per year
10% Over 40 hours training per year

Management Employees
35% 0 - 8 hours training per year
25% 9 - 16 hours training per year
20% 17 - 40 hours training per year
20% Over 40 hours training per year

Fortune 500 Companies
80% Over 40 hours training per year

Most companies surveyed train management people more than their field personnel. This doesn’t make sense as construction companies make or lose most of their money on the jobsite, not in the office. Quality, service, productivity—it all happens in the field! When firms spend more on training in the office, field employees and their contributions to the bottom-line are not properly valued!


The two percent investment!

To improve productivity, your on-going company training program must provide a minimum 40 hours training per year for every employee – office and field. The total cost for an effective training program is only two percent of your total payroll expense. (40 hours per week / 2,000 hours per year = 2%). At a minimum, you should improve your productivity by more than 2% when you invest in an ongoing and organized training program. Studies show the return on 40 hours of training per year can be 5% to 15% improvement in bottom-line productivity which equals cash in your pocket. At only a 5% return, your training program will save 100 hours per employee per year. WOW! That’s real money straight to your bottom-line!

One of my favorite slogans is: “It’s O.K. to improve your company on company time!” Hold your training program during regular working hours. Make it mandatory for everyone. Every week (I prefer to train on Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons), spend 30 to 45 minutes training every employee on every jobsite and/or department.

Getting started is simple. Call a team meeting to select and prioritize your top 25 training topics for each company department, project team or crew you feel are the most important things you must do perfectly in order to insure success. These 25 training topics for each team will be trained twice every year. Management how-to topics can include timecards, change orders, cost reports, purchases, contracts, proposals, estimates, negotiating, customer relationships, selling, or financials. Field topics can include safety, installation methods, material handling, equipment operation, tools, blueprint reading, layout, or goal setting.

Working together to learn and improve each week fosters team spirit and enthusiasm. A training program gives your people weekly opportunities to perform, learn, and chances to teach others. The return to your company in productivity, quality workmanship, motivation, and staff loyalty will be exponential. The end result will be no pain and lots of gain!


George Hedley is the best-selling author of “Get Your Business to Work!” As a professional speaker and business coach, he helps entrepreneurs and business owners build profitable companies. E-mail: gh@hardhatpresentations.com to request your free copy of “Everything Contractors Know About Making A Profit!” or signup for his e-newsletter. To hire George to speak , attend his 'Profit-Builder Circle' academy or find out how he can help your company grow, call 800-851-8553 or visit www.hardhatpresentations.com