Top Rep Firms Must Offer Hands-On Training

Jan 14

Written by: Todd Anthony Puma
1/14/2013 9:28 AM  RssIcon


I’m one of those guys who learns much better by doing. I do my homework, view videos, read manuals, and talk to others who have used something. But there’s nothing like getting hands-on with new products I haven’t used before.

Last month I went to see one of my primary rep firms. I say they are a “primary” firm because they have the complete package: a full array of products that integrate together, great service with quick replies and follow-up, great communication on new products and opportunities, and training facilities.

A complete package of products, service, and communication are the cost of entry for any rep firm. Without that combination, it will be difficult for any firm to acquire and retain integrators. What really sets a company apart, however, is a proper training facility. Top firms have a large set-up with equipment racks ready for hands-on experience and a room where they can host 25-plus integrators for a training session on new products or product features. Having all of their manufacturer partner products installed and ready for use is invaluable. I never want the first time I use something to be when I’m prepping for a customer install or, worse yet, on site at a customer’s home. This rarely happens, but sometimes there just isn’t an opportunity to get hands-on at home.

Going to a rep firm that has a beta version of a product or can run through a classroom training session can frequently alleviate those concerns. For instance, my favorite rep, Atlantic Integrated, offers a full Savant system, KEF speakers, and all of the interconnects, racks, power products, and controllers/amps needed for a full system design.

Recently, Atlantic Integrated provided me with the opportunity to test out Q-Motion’s shading products in person to get a feel for how they work and integrate with the rest of a system. They had these shades installed throughout their offices and had a sample kit to check out set up. As a result of this positive experience I signed up to become a Q-Motion dealer, and am already working on my first install.

A great partnership with a rep firm is more than prices and returned phone calls. It is truly a partnership where the growth of either partner is considered equally.
 
 
 
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.
 

1 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Top Rep Firms Must Offer Hands-On Training

Thanks for putting my #1 complaint in print, though you were way too nice. I just forwarded your article to every rep firm we do business with and included my comments. We've attended training sessions for " learn to program XYZ control systems!" only to have some moron who thinks he's on stage at the Comedy Club spend half the day allowing us to gain an insight into how incredibly funny and clever he is. The actual training was nothing more than an overview of the product line, photos of the company's HQ, and a review of new products coming down the pike. Total BS and a total waste of our time.

I've asked the branch manager of a very large rep/distributor firm in the Chicago area with their great facility to host a control system programming class for beginners taking us from how to program the RF remote for a basic home theater they would have set up, through lighting control, and eventually whole house control, and even suggested that we would be willing to pay a fee for a 2 or 3 day in depth session. All I got were excuses why not and a ridiculous song and dance routine, but a promise to speak to the manufacturer rep. I never heard a word back. I have yet to find a firm who is willing to make the investment to train hands on. If they did, we'd all make more money...and profit.

By Larry Rosenberger on   1/18/2013 1:12 PM

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