5 Tips for Adopting Digital Skilled Trades Training

A 3D simulation of hvac unit for digital skilled trades training

Building a highly trained team that gets jobs done quickly and efficiently is vital to improving customer satisfaction and your bottom line. The problem is high-quality skilled trades workers are difficult to find, and it can take years for a green tech to become a master of the trade.

That’s where a digital training program comes in. Using hands-on simulations, you can get green techs job-ready within months, not years, and you can do it without having to pull seasoned techs away from their jobs. This saves you time and money. Not only that, but you can also expose new techs to a variety of unique situations they may not encounter in the field, which means you can send them on more jobs feeling confident they can handle it.

Tip #1: Get Started With Easy Wins

Your digital training program is an investment, not an expense.

Get the quickest return on your investment by first identifying your biggest pain point as a company. Is it too many callbacks? Employee recruiting? On-ramp time? Begin with training that directly addresses those challenges in your business. Let’s take callbacks, for example. Is there a specific type of job that your techs are routinely getting called back to fix? Assign coursework that shows them how to fix the problem correctly on the first try. Then, identify data points you’re already tracking in that area so you can easily measure your program’s effectiveness without adding additional work to your plate.

If you’re hiring green techs with no experience, consider assigning a beginner learning path covering the basics and foundations like Jump Start: HVAC Fundamentals or HVAC Mini Camp. Doing this will start them off on the right track, accelerating their time to truck and avoiding critical gaps in knowledge as they build on their skills and experience. To determine how much faster your techs are becoming profitable, measure how long it takes to get new techs up-to-speed compared to those who did not complete the training.

Getting these quick wins will get your training program off to a successful start and build momentum for the future.

Tip #2: Clearly Communicate Your Training Expectations

The quickest way for your new training program to fail is to have uncommunicated expectations.  It’s important to let your team know that you are investing in them and their career success, not just dictating training.

When upskilling seasoned techs who have been around for a while, you should clearly articulate the benefits of continuous training/upskilling and how often you expect them to consume training content. The expectations don’t need to be the same for every tech. Vary your expectations based on the busyness of the season and the skill level of each of your techs.

Here are some examples of expectations you can set:

#1. Annual Course Goals with Quarterly Check-Ins: 10 courses per year, 2-3 per quarter.

#2. Monthly Goals with Monthly Check-Ins: 1 course per month with monthly check-ins.

#3: Daily Time Goals: 30 minutes per day for new green techs with weekly check-ins.

Make it easy for your workers to complete the training. You can assign courses with completion deadlines and set aside specific times during the day for training. You can also enter time for training into your work order system weekly to help workers achieve their training goals.

Identifying your expectations, communicating them clearly, and holding your team accountable will ensure your digital training program and your employees are successful.

Tip #3: Create Training Incentives that Build Momentum

Leveraging incentives is one of the best ways to build momentum and ingrain digital training as part of your company’s culture.

Customize your incentives to what matters most to your team, and be sure to utilize a combination of short-term and long-term incentives. Use prizes, gift cards, or other rewards to motivate your team in the short term. Keep your team focused on their long-term career development by designing your bonus or promotion schedule around their training progress.

For example, let’s say you run an HVAC business. For each technician, you can keep track of the number of courses they’ve completed, the average amount of time spent on training each week, and whether or not they’re completing assignments on time. Then, you can use that information in their quarterly or annual reviews to determine bonuses, raises, and promotions. This will keep them motivated to continue learning and growing toward mastery.

You can also use leaderboards and point scores to encourage healthy team competitions and reward winners with fun prizes such as gift cards, a team trophy, time off, or a free lunch.

Be sure to align your incentives with your company’s goals. Going back to Tip #1, what are the biggest pain points in your business? What are your goals for this quarter and this year? Design incentives that motivate your team to complete training and uplevel their skills in those specific areas. This way, you successfully alleviate your pain points, achieve your goals, and get the highest possible return on your training program.

Tip #4: Equip Your Team With the Right Technology

There’s no use in creating a digital training program if your techs don’t have the tools they need to make learning accessible, engaging, and effective.

With SkillMill, your techs can turn their trucks into a training lab between jobs. All they need is a laptop, tablet, or mobile device to access their training courses. Since video lessons typically last 3-5 minutes, even a few minutes is a useful amount of time to continue working towards achieving one of the incentives you’ve set for them.

However, equipping your team with the right technology goes far beyond accessibility.

The right equipment can help your techs accelerate mastery. Interplay’s training enables techs to train hands-on using 3D and Virtual Reality (VR) simulations, which means they can get unlimited practice in a wide variety of real-life scenarios, without waiting to encounter them on the job. Not only that, if they come across a problem they don’t know how to solve, they can quickly access the appropriate training while on the job site, so they can safely learn how to get the job done on the spot, without having to call in back up.

Whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or VR headset, make sure you equip your techs with the technology they need to accelerate their mastery of the trade.

Tip #5: Optimize Your Training Program by Tracking Results

Guarantee your training program’s success by tracking your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and adjusting your approach over time to achieve your targets.

What are the KPIs in your business that you want to improve through your training program? Do you want to accelerate ramp-up time, reduce callbacks, increase average billing per tech, or improve customer satisfaction? Be sure to note where they are now and track improvement as you roll out your training. This way, you can diagnose your program’s effectiveness and make strategic adjustments in both your training content and incentives until you consistently achieve your targets.

Interplay’s SkillMill platform makes it easy to track team members’ usage. Use the reporting dashboard to monitor each team member’s progress and hold them accountable to the expectations you’ve set. Use the team leaderboard to see who is making the most progress on their training content and who is falling behind. Leverage skills assessments to identify skill gaps on your team and which courses to recommend next.

Don’t guess whether or not your program is effective.

Track the results and make adjustments until it’s clear your program is contributing to your bottom line.

Bonus Tip: Avoid Common Pitfalls by Leveraging Best-in-Class Support

Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel with your digital training program.

Work with best-in-class customer support teams to get help with implementation, incentives, reporting, and anything else you might need. Interplay’s customer support team has the knowledge and expertise to get your training program set up right the first time, so you don’t have to waste time and resources figuring it out on your own.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re ready to start training your techs quickly and efficiently with Interplay, learn more about the Interplay Learning SkillMill online training platform, or request a personal demo today.