Installation Training Program
A Day-By-Day Breakdown Of Our (In)Famous
Installation Training Program
70% Of New Hires Fail Our Weeks-Long Training Gauntlet.
The Other 30% Become Bathroom Remodeling Rockstars.
Before Grayson Hacker became a Focal Point bathroom installer, he worked at a clothing store and a brewery.
At 22 years old, Grayson had no bathroom remodeling experience. He had no working knowledge of how to install a bathtub or shower. He had no construction background at all.
So you’re probably wondering why on earth we’d interview him for a bathroom installer position.
Well, it’s because of what Grayson did have: intelligence, drive… and a contagiously upbeat attitude.
That was more than enough.
Because at Focal Point Remodeling, our (in)famous Installation Program can turn the greenest novice into a rockstar bathroom remodeler… if they’ve got what it takes.
Birth Of The Bathroom Installation Program
Before I started Focal Point Remodeling, I worked for a well-known bathroom manufacturer for 10 years. I trained hundreds of bathroom installers for the company. Over time, this experience allowed me to develop a comprehensive training regimen that accomplished two things:
- Turn the RIGHT people into top-notch bathroom installation experts.
- Weed out the individuals who couldn’t meet my sky-high standards.
I eventually left that bathroom manufacturer and started Focal Point Remodeling. One of the first things I did with the Focal Point team was flesh out and fine-tune this training program. This included the following:
- Building a training facility in our warehouse, complete with hands-on installation workstations.
- Systematizing the training regimen, breaking it down by days, weeks, and months.
- Taking absolutely everything I knew about bathroom remodeling and creating a 300-page best-practices installation manual.
And that was how the Installation Program was born.
I’d like to show you a day-by-day breakdown of the program. About 70% of new hires fail this weeks-long training gauntlet. The remaining 30% go on to be the bathroom remodeling rockstars you can get to know here. By gaining insight into our training process, you’ll know—without a shadow of a doubt—that the installers who work on your project are veritable installation experts.
Let’s get started…
Day 1: The InterviewBack To Table Of Contents
Like other remodeling companies, our hiring process starts with an interview.
Unlike other remodeling companies, we don’t require previous installation experience.
When one of our Production Managers—either Tim Bodnar (Harrisburg) or Evan White (Pottstown)— conducts an interview, here’s what they look for:
- Presentable appearance
- A positive attitude
- General mechanical aptitude
And naturally, a candidate must pass comprehensive background and drug tests. Zero exceptions.
Is previous install experience a plus? Sure. Is not having it a dealbreaker? Not if you tick the boxes above.
If we like what we see and hear during the interview, we gear up the candidate for our Installation Boot Camp. Then the real fun begins…
Week 1: Learning The RopesBack To Table Of Contents
Focal Point Corporate Trainer Josh Brossman is our official Installation Boot Camp “drill instructor.” On the first day of training, Josh reviews the ground rules and expectations for customer interactions. Some of the things the trainee learns include…
- Where to park their vehicle at a customer’s property
- How to introduce themselves when a customer answers the door
- How to review a work order with a customer
- The ins and outs of interacting with a customer throughout the job
Josh also introduces the trainee to our 300-page installation manual. Throughout the entire Boot Camp, the trainee must fill out worksheets and take written tests based on information in the manual.
The second day is split into two parts: role-playing and hands-on learning.
The trainee must prove that they retained the customer-service training from day one. Josh (Corporate Trainer) plays the role of the homeowner, and the trainee plays the installer. Over the next few hours, the two simulate the initial interaction an installer has with a customer: The greeting at the door, reviewing the work order, and so on.
Many new hires pass the role-playing test on the first day. For those who don’t, they get one extra day to study the material. If they can’t pass the role-playing test on Day 3, we let them go.
Yep—proper customer interaction is THAT important to us.
After the role-playing session, the trainee gets their first taste of the Installation Lab Center. The Installation Lab Center contains several workstations so the trainee can get actual hands-on learning experience. That first Lab Center day, Josh starts teaching the trainee how to tear out shower/tub walls, check water mains, and solder copper for faucets.
Something to note: For the first few months after Boot Camp, our installers work only on wet areas (i.e., bathtubs and showers). Once they’ve perfected wet-area installation, only then do we train them to install vanities, flooring, toilets, and so on.
Days 3 and 4 are dedicated to soldering, installing drain lines, cutting shower skirts and pans, and installing the base of the wet area.
How quickly this part goes typically depends on an installer’s background. If they have plumbing experience, an installer can usually ace the soldering/plumbing sections by the end of Day 3. If they’re new to this line of work—but they’ve got the skills and talent—they’ll likely pass this section by the end of Day 4. If they’re still struggling by Day 5, we’ll either let them go or consider them for a different role in our company.
Next comes how to cut and prep the walls of a wet area. We practice a meticulous rip-and-replace method where we tear out the existing walls and fix moisture damage underneath before we install the new walls.
Wall prepping is an in-depth process that takes 1 to 2 full days of training. Depending on how quickly the installer learns our methods, they may be able to start accessory-installation training (shower doors, grab bars, etc.) during the first week of Boot Camp.
Week 2: Proving YourselfBack To Table Of Contents
Week 2 is when a new installer has to prove what they’ve learned. Josh (Corporate Trainer) takes a hands-off approach and observes the installer as they practice on the Lab Center workstations.
This is the time to see how well the installer listened to and internalized their training from the previous week. We don’t expect 100% perfection from them during this week of training. We do, however, judge how receptive they are to feedback and constructive criticism. Mistakes are fine—as long as the installer is willing to learn and grow from them.
Here’s how Week 2 breaks down:
How Week 2 starts depends on the installer’s progress from Week 1. If we didn’t get to accessory installation (shower doors, grab bars, etc.) during that first week, we train the installer on that first. If the installer passed accessory training in Week 1, we have them start Week 2 by performing a full, start-to-finish shower mock-up project… on their own.
Josh watches the process but doesn’t provide hands-on help. If the installer makes a mistake, Josh points it out and gives constructive criticism—but that’s all. It’s up to the installer to use Josh’s feedback to correct the mistake.
We run through this installation drill the first half of Week 2. The goal by Day 3 is for the installer to perform a flawless shower/tub installation in a single day. If the installer is still making major mistakes at the end of Day 3, we typically either A) part ways with them or B) see if there is a different role at our company that would better fit.
Once the installer aces the solo-installation drill—typically on Day 4 or 5—we train them how to stock their van properly. We show them exactly what materials they need… and exactly where to put them in the vehicle.
While this seems like a simple step, it’s VERY important for completing jobs efficiently. A properly stocked van eliminates trips to the store or our office to grab missing supplies. And by having a systematized storage layout, the installer always knows precisely where to look for a material they need.
This is the “wrap-up” portion of Lab Center training. We assess the installer on what they’ve learned the past two weeks through a combination of hands-on tests and written exams from our installation manual. If they pass the final testing, the installer moves on to Week 3: supervised on-the-job installation.
That’s when the rubber really meets the road.
Weeks 3-6: On The Job With SupervisionBack To Table Of Contents
During Weeks 3 through 6, the new installer is on actual job sites performing tub/shower installations. They’re shadowed by a Lead Installer, who observes and assists them throughout the job.
Shadowing typically lasts two to three weeks. For the 10% or so of new installers who show really exceptional skills, shadowing can be over in as little as one week. If the installer is struggling after the third week of shadowing, we either A) put them back in the Lab Center for retraining, B) find them a different role in our company, or C) part ways with them. We take it on a case-by-case basis.
The bottom line: We absolutely will not send an installer to do your job unless we’re 200% confident in their abilities.
Week 7-11: Independent Shower & Tub InstallationBack To Table Of Contents
Around Month 2, we finally start letting new installers perform tub and shower projects by themselves. To ensure they’re doing everything right, we have a Project Manager stop by the job site unannounced during the installation. We then come back after the installation to make certain the new installer nailed every detail.
Remember: At this point in their Focal Point careers, new installers are doing only wet-area (tub/shower) jobs. We make sure they know wet-area installation backwards and forwards before training them on full bathroom remodeling.
Week 12-16: Training For Non-Tub/Shower AreasBack To Table Of Contents
Once an installer has mastered shower and tub installation, we start training them for non-wet areas—vanities, flooring, toilets, sconce lighting, wainscoting, and so on. This is done back in our Installation Lab Center, just like the initial wet-area training.
On average, an installer learns to remodel a full bathroom around Month 3 or 4. For perspective, we started training Grayson—the rockstar installer mentioned at the beginning of this article—to remodel entire bathrooms after his third month at Focal Point.
Like I said… we’ll never put anyone on your job other than a TRUE trained and battle-tested master installer.
Post-Installation Boot Camp: More Training!Back To Table Of Contents
Once an installer has mastered remodeling the non-wet areas of a bathroom, they have officially graduated from our Installation Boot Camp. But that doesn’t mean the training stops.
In fact, training never stops—no matter how long someone has been a Focal Point installer.
To stay at the top of our game, continued education is key. All of our installers participate in weekly training sessions and meetings. We consistently review our processes to improve not just our installation standards, but also our customer service standards.
This is why almost all of our customer reviews mention our installers by name. Grayson, Troy, Matt, Ray, Alex, Donald, Chad… all of our rockstar installers have their “fan clubs”! Homeowners absolutely love our installation team.
Which rockstar installer will perform in YOUR bathroom remodel? Give us a call and find out.