Ever consider what separates one person from another person or one company from another? The answer is knowledge. Knowledge and the desire for learning do not stop when an individual receives a diploma from college or high school. Learning continues each day.

Throughout the industry are many educational opportunities to enhance your knowledge of business or products. Try some of the following learning opportunities, offered at little or no cost. These are only a selection of the many courses offered to industry professionals, but we hope it serves as a starting point to getting and staying trained.

FIANA (Floor Installation Association of North America) offers the FIANA Training Center, an online resource for flooring distributors and manufacturers. The Training Center (go.bluevolt.com/?Brand=FIANA) delivers product training to frontline salespeople including inside, outside and counter sales teams. To register for training, go to www.fiana.org and click on the training link.

Wools of New Zealand has launched an interactive, online training college designed to enhance the wool skills of retailer salespersons and mill representatives. The Wool College is free and accessible via Wools of New Zealand’s website at www.woolsnz.com.

Mohawk University offers a complete range of sales and installation courses. The available courses include: Seven Habits of Highly Successful People; Carpet Sales College; Ceramic Tiles Sales College; Wood and Laminate Sales College; Systematic Business; Basic Carpet Installation/CFI; Basic Wood Installation; Design Sales College; Employee Performance; Basic Ceramic Installation; Basic Comprehensive Sales; and Techniques of Professional Selling, an online course. Visit Mohawk University at learningcenter.mohawkuniversity.com for course schedules.

The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD) offers an online education program for its members and employees. Course topics cover business fundamentals, productivity, project management, computer software training and other business topics. The courses are short in duration (most under one hour) and include quizzes and certificates of completion where appropriate. The program consists of thousands of topics.

Course libraries range from $86 to $874 annually. Courses can be accessed 24/7, and as often as needed. For more information, contact NAFCD at (312) 321-6836 or email: info@nafcd.org

Shaw Learning Academy offers an array of instructor-led courses, online learning and training resource materials to help retailers succeed in their business. Some core training solutions include: Floor Tech, a three-day comprehensive seminar on all aspects of the flooring industry and Floor Tech on the Road (with instructors travel to the participants); Retail SALT (Shaw Academy for Leadership Training), a three-day course for retail owners/managers designed to assist in developing a road map for business and life. The Performance & Profitability Kits is designed to help owners and managers offer training to employees in-house, through self-study, one-on-one, or instructor-led sessions. Go to www.shawlearningacademy.com for more details.

The National Wood Flooring Association offers a complete educational program of technical schools, management & sales schools and training videos. Pricing of educational programs for non-members differs from members.

The World Floor Covering Association offers an online certification program in the following areas: CFE, Certified Flooring Executive; CFS, Certified Flooring Sales Consultant; and CFP, Certified Flooring Professional. Attaining and marketing your certification can really help to grow your business when consumers are beginning to make redecorating and home improvement projects a reality, instead of a wish or dream. Learn more at www.wfca-pro.org.

Continuing to update your knowledge will keep your company in the top spot for flooring in your community and help keep you ahead of your competition. Time and dollars spent wisely now will pay dividends down the road.