Uruguay is training hundreds of Sika Experts
One of Sika Uruguay's key characteristics is the technical advice service we provide to our customers before, during and after purchase of our products. Of the many channels we use to provide information to our customers, one of the most high-profile and highly valued is the "charlas técnicas," or "tech talks" initiative, a technical seminar offering traditionally geared to professionals from the construction industry and students at universities or technical colleges.
As a result of Sika's strong presence in the market, for some time now there has been a need to deliver this sort of training to the end user, as well as to construction workers and small construction firms. This is due to the fact that the technology, which was originally used almost exclusively for major projects, is now accessible to all for use in repair and maintenance jobs on medium- and small-scale projects.
We decided to use our extensive nationwide chain of distributors to deliver this information to our customers, this being the link between the end user and the target product as well as the right place for advice to be given to customers at the time of purchase.
The right advice for customers
With a view to meeting this need, it was in 2001 that we first introduced the "Sika Expert" concept, based on a round of training aimed at sales associates working at Sika distributors (lumber yards, hardware stores, paint shops, etc.). The intention here was to provide every distributor with its own Sika Expert, specially trained to provide customers with advice and recommendations on the use, application, advantages and benefits of the products and to be the undisputed "go-to" person for all things Sika at that distributor.
This offers not just security and confidence to the customer purchasing a Sika product, but also an advantage over the competition, as the salesperson will recommend the product they know and about which they can offer advice, thus potentially increasing their sales.
Response to the answers
This first incarnation of the initiative covered a limited range of products, participants and course durations. Among other materials, all participants were provided with a manual containing 100 responses to 100 frequently asked questions on the products presented in the lectures. The manual was written in a much more practical and less technical language than the general product catalogue and covered only those Sika products with which the recently qualified Sika Expert was fully familiar.
It was in a second phase, in 2006, that the previous experience and the increase in products supplied to distributors brought about a second incarnation of the Sika Expert initiative.
This time around, the scope of the initiative was broadened to include more participants and a wider variety of products.
The training was provided at the premises of Sika Uruguay to those employees designated by the relevant distributors, or those considered the most suitable by reason of their training, experience or development prospects.
Experts provide new technologies
The course was split into two sections, a theoretical section based on an improved manual with "400 responses to 400 frequently asked questions," providing participants with the tools required to answer the most common questions likely to be put to Sika Experts.
The other section of the course was practical, and focused not only on ability to recognize products by looking at them, but also on handling them, thus getting to know them both inside and out.
The 2006 training round was a great success, with the almost 500 participants receiving not only training but also an opportunity to tour Sika's premises and become familiar with the manufacture and packaging of the products they would later be selling.
In the last few years, Sika Uruguay has strengthened these qualifications by way of "Road Shows," updating the information provided and bringing new technologies to any business with at least one "Sika Expert."
Information and practical knowledge
Sika Uruguay is now looking to repeat this experience in 2014 and to further extend its reach by training almost 700 new "Sika Experts." This year we are aiming not only to once again increase the number of participants, but also to cover more products in more depth, offering more and better information of interest as well as practical knowledge.
Undoubtedly we will be coming back to this topic once the training round has been completed to look at how well we have met the expectations raised along the way and to share the opinions of the customers participating in this new and improved incarnation of the "Sika Expert" initiative.