March flew by so fast that everything feels like a convoluted blur. As I mentioned in last month’s post, my goal this month was to knock out the entire interview portion of my project this month. Grant and I spent 3 full days on the road and visited 6 different profit centers to interview over 20 employees. At first, I was unsure how receptive people would be to having two management trainees probing them with questions about their job and work-life balance, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that everyone was extremely open and more than happy to share their thoughts and opinions with us. Between the two of us, we collected over 60 pages of answers and notes. Now we must go through our data and look for trends and correlations. Paul Weinstein (our region manager) is going to provide us with financial figures of each profit center to help us identify trends which lead to financial success. I can already speculate on several abstract issues that lead to concrete success, but I am anxiously waiting to see the real numbers.
I love to be able to spend all day working on my project, but March had many other things in store for me. The week after our “field trip”, we attended our region’s annual Counters Plus meeting. Most of the counter employees of the region gathered at the Hampton Inn at Willow Grove for a day of training and discussion. Paul Weinstein started off by reviewing last year’s results and setting goals for 2014. Then followed a presentation on heating and air conditioning by a manufacturer’s rep from Concord. I had already gained a limited but functional amount of heating knowledge from my time in the industry, but I knew next to nothing about air conditioning, so I found this lesson to be quite valuable. After a nice lunch at the hotel, we spent the afternoon with reps from Kohler who ran a class on sales techniques. Despite the fact that many of the counter people did not sell air conditioning products or that many of them probably already had a solid grasp of sales techniques, I feel that the simple act of gathering in a group and having a forum for discussion and camaraderie is what makes this meeting valuable. I definitely feel that events like this one help boost employee morale and are profitable investments in the long run.
I was scheduled to spend the whole next week in Philly, but Paul threw me an interesting (not necessarily bad!) curveball. Our Weinstein Supply location at Vineland, NJ hired a new employee for inside sales. Because I had become quite familiar and proficient with our Eclipse computer system in the past two years, Joe (Vineland’s manager) asked if I could spend a couple of days with his new employee to teach him how do use our system and perform all the various functions. I said no problem, and spent Monday and Tuesday at Vineland. Again, this was a great opportunity to help develop a new team member of the company, as well as a chance for me to witness how another profit center operates. On top of that, I got free lunch for two days!
Of course March wasn’t going to end in a boring way. On the 25th, one of our vendor reps came in to give us a lesson on hydronic heating systems and products. Again, not to sound like a broken record, but there was some really valuable information presented to us. This type of knowledge is priceless because these are the facts that I will need to become familiar with to have a successful career in this industry! Right now my brain feels fried and I can sure use some rest. However, I suspect that April is going to be an extremely strenuous month. Outside sales is right around the corner, inventory is coming up in May, so I have a lot to squeeze in next month. Let’s see how it goes!