Training as a Key to Success

One of the most important factors in the success of a copier dealership is the commitment to training. In my time working with dealers, one common factor in each of the most successful dealers is their investment in training. The successful dealers make sure that each technician is trained on the products they service.

Benefits of Training

Training will benefit both the employee and the employer. In many cases, a dealer will say that it costs too much to send all the technicians to training. Dealers may decide to only send one technician to the factory school, and hope he can train the other technicians.

This ignores the fact that an individual may only retain 30% of what they learned in class. If the technician comes back and remembers even 50% of what he learned, the technicians that he teaches will be down to 25% of what they need.

Training benefits both the employer and the employee and we will discuss these benefits.

Benefits to the Employee

While we often focus more on the impact of training on the employer, the employee benefits as well. To start with, when an employee is sent to training, the employee feels more connected to the company and feels like his manager and the company see value in him.

Additionally, after receiving factory training, the technician will feel more equipped to deal with equipment issues they will encounter. This confidence is often made manifest in their dealings with the customers they service.

Benefits to the Employer

The employer gains as well from this training. First and foremost trained technicians are more likely to fix the problem on the initial call. They are also going to use fewer unnecessary parts for troubleshooting. The combined effect of these savings will cover the expense associated with training many times over.

Secondly, the fact that the employee feels more connected to the company will increase their loyalty and reduce the risk that they will look for different employment. Considering the investment that a technician represents by the time he is fully qualified, anything that can be done to retain them is vital.

We will look at several types of training and the value of each.

Vendor Training

Vendor training will typically fall into two categories, schools that are conducted in training facilities and online training.

Vendor Schools

These model-specific schools give students the hands on practice with assembly and disassembly of the equipment. This is critical to a technician’s confidence and success with the equipment. It is also where a technician learns to calibrate and adjust the equipment.

In these classes, the technician will also develop his familiarity with the technical manuals and learn how to use them to troubleshoot the equipment. In addition to the information acquired in class, the technicians pick up valuable information when discussing issues they encounter with other technicians.

Online Training

Vendors also offer a variety of online courses. Many vendors will offer a variety of basic classes to cover the theory of operation, basic copy process, and usually fax basics as well. These are a great place to start out new technicians. The vendor may also offer online classes that will certify technicians on the smaller machines they offer. Many will also offer online classes when a product is updated with only minor changes.

Since this training is usually offered with no or minimal cost, and can be completed on a self-paced basis there is no reason to not utilize it. When the workload is light, utilize this time to accomplish online training.


Most vendors offer the option to have an in-house training program. There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of training. If a dealer is training multiple students in each class, this type of training usually costs significantly less than sending them to the vendor. An in-house trainer also has the advantage of knowing the technicians and being able to tailor the training to their needs.

For smaller classes, the cost of having the trainer out of the field to teach one or two technicians may cost more than sending the technicians to a vendor training center. Additionally, students taught in-house lose the interaction with technicians from other dealers and the knowledge that gets shared.

Internal Training

This is one area where almost every dealer can improve. If a dealer can develop a productive internal training program, they can fill in the gaps in vendor training.

Identifying Needs

The first step is to look at the overall needs of the service department. Do technicians understand the basics of the copy process and how to apply it to resolving the problems they encounter? What are the areas that the technicians seem to have problems with? How well do the technicians keep up the technical bulletins provided by the vendors?

Developing Material

This is the most difficult part of internal training. I would recommend starting by asking your technical representatives for any seminars or other material that they may have available. In many cases, they may be willing to present the information, and if not, they may have information you can present.

If the vendor doesn’t have material that meets your need, then development falls on your staff. If the issue seems to be model specific, you can look at which technicians excel on the products, and find out what they are doing that makes them successful and then develop a seminar around that.

If troubleshooting is an issue, and it commonly is, there are usually several factors. One may be a challenge with applying theory of operation to troubleshooting, another may be lack of practice in reading schematics and using a meter to trace signals. For both of these, a combination of classroom and hands on training may be beneficial.

Conducting the Training

One option for conducting training is at tech meetings. These meetings provide an opportunity to conduct short training sessions on what may be needed. It is a great opportunity to review recently released technical bulletins.

For more in-depth training smaller groups are easier to manage and to schedule. In many cases, the dealership will have periods that are slower than usual; this provides an opportunity to accomplish training without impacting the customers.

Third Party

In addition to the previous training opportunities, there are a variety of third party training options. In the Managed Print Services arena, many of the parts and toner suppliers offer technical training on printers from a variety of vendors. Additionally, some of the trade organizations such as BTA offer training and there are a variety of organizations that offer computer training to improve the department’s connectivity skill set.

Invest and Reap the Rewards

While training is an investment, the rewards far outweigh the costs. A well-trained staff works efficiently, reduces parts usage, and drives customer satisfaction. In addition, employees feel valued and will be more loyal to the company, reducing turnover.

Ken Edmonds
About the Author
KEN EDMONDS is the owner and founder of 22nd Century Management, which helps managers in the service industries learn the skills they need to successfully lead their teams, exceed expectations and provide outstanding customer service. An Air Force veteran whose background includes owning a copier dealership and working as a service manager for other companies, Edmonds also spent 18 years working for manufacturers as a district service manager. He’s helped dozens of service managers incorporate cornerstone methods to enhance their success.