Trade Thoughts: Should suppliers sell their products to retailers who haven’t had product training?
Should suppliers sell their products to retailers who haven’t had product training? THIIS asked some industry insiders to discuss their thoughts on the issue…
All thoughts were submitted to THIIS in November 2021…
Graham Collyer, Executive Chairman of Sumed International (UK)
“When selling assistive technology and healthcare products, it is vital that the end user is provided with sufficient information to be able to use the item safely whilst deriving the intended benefit from it. Manufacturers/Suppliers should ensure that retailers have had sufficient product training to be able to help customers to not only select a suitable product but also to use it appropriately. Not only is this ethically pertinent, but it also makes sound commercial sense!
“Most healthcare products are covered by Medical Device legislation, which is in a state of transition following BREXIT. European Legislation now incorporates a specific requirement in the instructions for use that the device user and/or other persons will be guided to special training or “particular” qualifications (The MDR Medical Devices Regulations, EU2017/745 Annex I Chapter III Clause 23.4(j)). Many products have no such requirements, but where they do, it is imperative that retailers have been appropriately trained by the Manufacturer/Supplier.
“Most manufacturers/suppliers of assistive technology and healthcare products and many retailers are members of British Healthcare Trades Association and are therefore bound by its Code of Practice which is a Trading Standards Institute-approved code. The BHTA Code of Practice states in Clause 7.1, Representation at Point of Sale states: “Staff must have the appropriate product knowledge to advise and assist purchasers.”
“In conclusion, for commercial, ethical and legal reasons, manufacturers/suppliers should ensure that retailers have had appropriate product training, and by implication, should not sell to retailers who have not.”
Paul Stockdill, UK Sales and Marketing Director of Handicare
“Product training comes down to safety. Keeping stairlift users safe is absolutely paramount, as is maintaining industry standards across the sector. As a manufacturer, Handicare sees it as our responsibility to uphold these standards by providing rigorous and ongoing product training for our approved partners.
“The Handicare Academy is made available for free under our highly regarded Partner Programme, covering all aspects of Handicare products. Our dedicated facility in Kingswinford has eight training stations so that dealers can gain hands-on experience of installing each type of stairlift. During the pandemic we continued to provide virtual training through our Handicare Live online sessions, because it’s vital that engineers are always trained to the highest possible standards.
“We require our partners to commit to this training before allowing them to install any of our products. We are aware that there are dealers around who are willing to install accessibility products without training or specialist knowledge, and we see it as our ethical responsibility to take steps to prevent these dangerous practices within the industry. It also makes good business sense – dealers need to instil trust in their customers, and certified training programmes go a long way towards achieving that.
“Along with offering our own training, as a member of the BHTA we contribute to the meetings to improve standards across the sector. It’s only by working together and taking a joined-up approach that we can ensure safety standards are met and exceeded across the board.
“We also offer a technical support service to our dealers, as well as innovative online troubleshooting tools, to offer the best possible product knowledge to our dealers, and ultimately, a safe and reliable solution for Handicare stairlift customers.”
Darren Legg, Managing Director, DIETZ Rehab
“At DIETZ Rehab we certainly believe that all of our approved dealers have to have training as part of their experience and journey with us and have systems in place to ensure this is beneficial for anyone selling, servicing and using our products.
“Why wouldn’t we want to train and develop our approved dealers? By training our approved dealers we see that they engage much more with our business and products, are certainly less frustrated and that leads to consistent repeat business. We help them to become more knowledgeable and that means our products become more and more valuable to them.
“It also means they are empowered with the knowledge to ensure that they are offering the correct options for how the user of the product needs it to perform.
“However, our training isn’t just limited to their sales teams. We very much also have a focus on their service teams as well to ensure that users of our chairs are taken care of completely from an ongoing service and maintenance point of view for the lifetime of the product and that our approved dealers have the knowledge to repair and maintain as well as know where to access all the information they need.
“In short, we see training as the platform for ensuring as positive an experience as possible for both our approved dealers and the users of our products. When we make more of our approved dealers and customers feel important, safe and happy we see more and more returning customers and the growth that comes with it.”
Rick Bennett, Regional Sales Manager – Northern Europe of Access BDD
“At Access BDD we pride ourselves in providing high-quality product training to our partners. We believe in long-term partnerships, and we offer product, survey, installation and maintenance training free of charge, including refresher training whenever our partners need it; it’s part of the service.
“There are a number of reasons why we advocate comprehensive training on the installation and maintenance of our products, and there are clear advantages for our partners too. A fully-trained surveyor or installer is much less likely to have to return to site to rectify faults, so avoiding extra costs in man-hours, travel time and parts.
“A lift perfectly suited to the home or building can be a lead-generator in itself; we know of many cases where our partners have gained further sales based on customer recommendations. The products sold by our partners all over the world not only reflect on the company that installs them, but they are ambassadors for us as a manufacturer.
“That said, the primary motivation for our policy of working together with trained partners relates directly to the safety of the people who ultimately use our products in their day-to-day lives. To put it simply, a stairlift or platform lift installed and serviced correctly should be completely safe for the user, and as a manufacturer we feel duty bound to do everything in our power to ensure that our partners are fully on board with this.
“Health and safety is a core principle that runs through Access BDD in every team, every department and at every level of the business; it’s more important to us than anything else and it’s something we’re immensely proud of.
“We want to work with partners who have that same mindset and put the safety of the customer first.”
Lee French, Managing Director of Rehasense UK
“I think it is vital that dealers receive product training from manufacturers prior to engaging with customers, especially when selling products that require an assessment of the customer to ensure it is the correct solution.
“Many of the customers our dealers work with are vulnerable so it is imperative that the member of staff talking to the customer has a detailed understanding of their requirements and what equipment may or may not be suitable depending on their condition and level of mobility.
“To support our dealers, we offer product training courses either at their premises or at our headquarters to ensure they have a comprehensive knowledge of our product range and how to asses a customer to ensure the product they select will meet their needs.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to our UK dealer network, we have recently launched the Rehasense Academy with the aim of providing our dealers with training and instructional videos covering the full range of Rehasense products, from rollators and manual wheelchairs to power assisted add-ons.
“The videos will cover all aspects from unpacking and assembling a product through to setting it up for the user along with servicing advice and all the content will be available on a dedicated Rehasense YouTube channel.
“Our dealers are integral to our business and we believe in supporting them as much as possible. With the launch of the Rehasense Academy, we hope dealers will have a central source of information for any questions they or their customers might have and they will also be able to share this content with the customer which can only enhance the relationship.”https://thiis.co.uk/trade-thoughts-should-suppliers-sell-their-products-to-retailers-who-havent-had-product-training/https://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Handicare-Academy-Large-0475.jpghttps://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Handicare-Academy-Large-0475-150x150.jpgAnalysis & InsightsNewsroomTrade Thoughtsaccess,Access BDD,Handicare,Mobility,product,Rehasense,Sumed,trainingShould suppliers sell their products to retailers who haven't had product training? THIIS asked some industry insiders to discuss their thoughts on the issue… All thoughts were submitted to THIIS in November 2021… Graham Collyer, Executive Chairman of Sumed International (UK) 'When selling assistive technology and healthcare products, it is vital...Liane McIvorLiane McIvorliane@thiis.co.ukAdministratorTHIIS Magazine