I know that when I pass to the great beyond, you will say, Oh yeah, he was the guy who pushed hardscape contractors about education and training. Here I go again…
As in most businesses, one needs to know about materials, bidding, tools, equipment, and vehicle options. In our industry add-on businesses that you may want to consider are lighting, artificial turf installation, outdoor kitchens, water features, firepits, etc. The question then becomes, do you know how to install these products correctly? And is there training needed to also perform these installations efficiently, safely, and profitably?
I became an ICPI and NCMA instructor about 20 years ago because I saw the need for education in the hardscape industry that was just starting to really take off. Prior to then it was the Wild West and you had to figure it out on your own.
My son Tom, who owns an excavation business, just finished 3 days of training in Portsmouth on a new software program that he is implementing in his company that will help him bid more accurately. Pretty important stuff to get right when you are bidding $500,000 jobs or $50,000 jobs or $5000 jobs or $500 jobs. You won’t stay in business long if you don’t bid correctly. Ask Tom and he will tell you taking the time during the week out of a very busy spring schedule to learn and implement this new “tool” in his business was well worth the sacrifices made.
So, one of the important questions for NHLA is, when is it best to offer contractor training? Fall, winter, spring, weekday, weekend? It was my recommendation that we do not do workshops during the week in the spring. My sentiment is to hold the training for hardscapers on a Saturday. As you may suspect, we got pushback when it was announced that the NHLA Paver & Block Wall Installation Workshop held on May 6 would be on a Saturday. “We will be working” was the cry.
The question for you becomes, is four hours in the classroom on a Saturday worth the possible savings of hundreds of hours a year by your employees? Is taking a Saturday for training in the spring worth it in the long run? Eleven of your peers thought so.
So I ask you…. when IS a good time? Email me, call me, send a message by Pony Express if you want.
— Bill Gardocki is a past president of NHLA (1994). He is now a Hardscape Educator.