Volume 49, Issue 6 - June 2014

ShopSavvy

Knowledge is Power
Continuing Education Can Help You

by Paul Bieber




I asked a handful of architects about their continuing education requirements. Four of the six said they are required to attend 24 hours of education every two years. One had to do 16 hours and one didn’t have any requirement. The reason for the disparity is they all are licensed in different states. Thirty-six states require 24 hours of continuing education every two years; six states don’t require anything, and there are varying requirements in between. Most interesting was the general comment from each architect that they need to learn a lot more than this minimum to keep up with trends, regulations and codes, and, most importantly, desires of the marketplace.

Keep Learning What about us in the glass business? As the architects are learning more about glass, among other subjects, we need to learn as well. The business climate is getting better, finally; but no one can afford to turn away a potential customer by saying, “We don’t know that product, but why don’t you try this one from Brand X?” It’s now your turn to wave good-bye as the customer walks out the door, or hangs up the phone, or hits the delete key on his email screen.

You, your salespeople, estimators and customer service people have to stay on top of glass knowledge. Since you are reading USGlass, this is a good start. Share this issue with everyone in your company. Ask questions about the articles in a day or two, and if your people are not clear about a new product, help them find the answers. Most ads have a website mentioned. Go to these websites and study the products. On one of the back pages of USGlass every advertiser is listed along with the company’s phone number and web address. This page is your entrance key to the best education you can get.

The primary glass float manufacturers are the key to the glass knowledge. Check them out:
• AGC Glass: www.us.agc.com
• Cardinal-Glass: www.cardinalcorp.com
• Guardian Glass: www.guardian.com
• NSG Glass: www.nsg.com
• PPG Industries: www.ppg.com

Have your fabricator give educational lessons at least once a year. Your metal supplier and your other key vendors should teach your team also. If they don’t, search for another vendor.

Do you use lami? Of course you do. Interlayer suppliers can also provide education. The largest fabricators also have great websites they use to educate architects, customers, and even competitors.

Field Trips
Ask your vendors if you can go along with them on their architectural teaching seminars. Set it so that you visit the type of firm with which you are comfortable. Does the architect specialize in residential, strip centers, schools or office buildings? Do you do this type of work? See what questions the architects have and how you could answer them in the future. You shouldn’t sell anything during this visit, but just leaving a business card has great value.

Many times a client will go to an architect asking for something special in glass. If the architect does not know the answer off hand, he needs to call someone. Get your name known as a good resource for architects and business can flow your way. How? Every month you should plan a visit with one local architect. Ask questions about what is coming in their pipeline. Offer to help with information or samples. Your salesperson and estimator should do this as well. So you may have three architect visits per month; this will pay more dividends than leaving your scratch pads at an insurance agency every Tuesday.

You don’t have to be fancy on these visits. Your knowledge of glass is the ticket in. And if they ask you something you don’t know about, learn it and follow-up with the information. This will earn you being specified for the job. It doesn’t get better than that.

Paul Bieber has 37 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at paulbaseball@msn.com. Read his blog on Tuesdays at http://usgpaul.usglassmag.com.

 


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