How’s the view in your rearview mirror?

2017 is now over and in your rearview mirror. How was your year (Pic 1)? Looking forward to 2018, have you looked back to see what you did right, what went wrong, and what you need to do to make this year better than the last?

One way to improve is through making an investment in yourself with education. There is so much available for installers and business owners, if you’re not taking advantage of all the educational opportunities you’re not taking care of your business the way you ought to be. We’ve all heard the old adage, knowledge is power, but are you as a business owner and installer really applying the saying to yourself? It’s easy staying in your comfort zone and thinking that you know more than you do, but trust me, there is always room for improvement. There are so many times as a trainer you hear, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years plus and you can’t teach me anything. In fact, I could teach this class.” It’s amazing to see the difference in these individuals after they attend a training event and admit that they didn’t know as much as they thought they did, and even admitting that they learned something.

Many installers and business owners only see training as a cost. Yes, there are monetary costs, but the payoff down the road more than makes up for it and, besides, it’s a tax write-off.

The associations also certify in their respective fields, so why not take advantage of that also? Installers who think certification is a waste of time are those that are afraid to step outside their comfort zone, so they put up a barrier when asked about getting certified. Those who take the step will tell you it can be a challenge and sometimes humbling experience, but when you’re all done and have achieved certification it’s a proud moment. To those of you who have been certified, I hope you don’t stop there. Keep on learning, apply the knowledge and skills you learned, and pay it forward; the industry needs good trades people.

Kicking off the year, January 30 to February 1, The International Surface Event (TISE) in Las Vegas, is a great way to start investing. There are educational seminars that cover installation, business, design and sales—just to cover a few topics. On the show floor, you can speak with all the associations involved in flooring, see live demonstrations and see the latest in products for flooring and installation related tools (Pic 2). No matter what type of flooring you install, inspect, or sell, this show has it all. If you attend, don’t forget to network with others who will be attending. For carpet, there is the Certified Floor Covering Installers Association (CFI), and Natural Fibers Installers Certification (NFIC) (Pic 3). For hardwood, there is the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) (Pic 4, 5). Tile, Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) (Pic 6) and National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). And for stone, Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA). Both the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), and United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) also exhibit. If you’re in sales, you’ll find the majority of manufacturers in the industry exhibiting as well.

Look at the training offered by the associations in our field, take the time to see where you could improve and then look at the schedule of training events. Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous year!