IKO provides its merchant customers with a comprehensive training package.

Train and gain

Published:  19 November, 2014

One of the most important factors for organisations to succeed in today’s competitive market is through a successful speedy launch of its new products and services.

For merchant staff to be able to sell manufacturer’s products with confidence, structured product training is essential. In a cluttered market where merchant staff are selling thousands of brands, it’s a tried and tested way of making sure a brand stands out. Despite having marketing support available to the merchants in terms of ‘how to’ guides and technical data sheets, there is no substitute for hands on product training,

An integral part of the support offered to merchants by IKO is a comprehensive training package. Training is tailored to each merchant and the IKO products they stock. So far, IKO business managers have carried out over 225 training sessions nationwide.

The sessions involve IKO business managers covering all aspects of structural waterproofing and roofing, with the aim of providing a sound product knowledge base for merchant staff. By showing the build-up of each roofing and structural waterproofing solution, branch staff can take a more holistic approach to their sales of IKO products.

EH Smith Builders Merchants prides itself on ensuring that staff are employed and trained to provide the very highest levels of customer service in the industry. An important part of customer service is the product knowledge and advice they provide in branch.

With the recent launch of its ‘Proper Builder’ campaign at its Shirley branch, IKO was invited to provide four training sessions, as Shirley is now the West Midlands hub for structural waterproofing. The branch has undergone considerable investment as part of the campaign with the customer sales area being increased from 400m2 to over 3000m2.

Calvin Lane, specialist products leader for EH Smith Builders Merchants, at the Shirley branch, said: “We requested some in-house training on the range of IKO products we carried in stock, which was organised by our local IKO area representative. She arranged for two of IKO’s technical specialists to come into the branch for half a day and give a series of brief talks to small groups of our staff. The content of these talks was ideally aimed at all experience levels that attended, from yard-based staff right up to senior sales office staff. I know that everyone who attended learned a great deal and also enjoyed the training style and enthusiasm of the IKO specialists.”

Product training is also critical for a successful speedy launch of new products, so four product sessions were organised at EH Smith on the newly launched IKOpro Acrylic Roof Coat to ensure staff were confident in what they were selling.

South Wales-based LBS Builders Merchants has recently received in branch training from IKO in order to boost its product knowledge. The one and a half hour sessions conducted by IKO’s area business manager featured structural waterproofing, followed by a reinforced bituminous membrane session.

The training included a power point presentation on how the products are used and in what situations. This was followed by tips on how to boost sales with add on products. Both sessions were very hands-on using product samples and practical advice.

Siwan Tierney, training manager for LBS, said: “Delegates reported that the training was informative and well presented. They felt much more confident

advising customers on both structural waterproofing and roofing membranes afterwards.

“The information provided will undoubtedly increase sales. Staff at our Pembroke Dock branch received the training less than a week ago and have already invited customers to a demo day at the branch with IKO.”

IKO also worked with the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) as part of its inaugural branch manager training programme, which took place at its training academy in Coventry. The event was a great success, and IKO has been invited to take part again.

Chris Harding, marketing and communications manager for the BMF, said: “Our branch managers’ forum was a new event for us. The BMF is always putting on events for senior people in our membership and we recognised the need to hold an event of this kind to bring branch managers together under one roof to get them up to speed with everything a branch manager has to deal with.”

Ms Harding continued: “Suppliers are a very important part of our industry and bringing branch managers and suppliers together is one of our main aims. We also recognise that product knowledge is a vital part of a branch manager’s responsibility and so we invited several different product suppliers to present at the two-day event.

“IKO gave a very good presentation on training the audience on flat roofing and structural waterproofing. It was in-depth and very well and clearly presented. There were some 65 branch managers in the audience and the feedback we got was that they enjoyed the whole two days with excellent speakers and content.”

Well-designed product training makes a product stand out in a sea of similar products. IKO employ strategies that make training quick and effective in order to reduce time away from the sales floor. They use each training event to demonstrate the brand and to communicate the brand values of the company.

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