We’ve got you covered – an equipment replacement plan that works

You’re not aware of Tel-Tron’s Warranty Plus program?  For $3 per month per apartment, all of your Tel-Tron equipment is covered.  If you take a lightning hit and every last piece of equipment is fried, you get all new equipment at no additional cost.  A staff member dropped a pager in the toilet?  Covered.  A resident ran over a pendant with a car?  Covered.  A technician from a different company dropped a pipe on your console?  Covered.  Your electrical closet flooded and your power supply exploded?  Covered.

It’s my busiest time of year in technical support.  The storms are rolling in, and so are the calls to my after-hours support phone.  Every week, another community falls victim to a lightning strike.  Some get off easy with only a call station or two affected.  Others aren’t so fortunate and require thousands of dollars to repair.  Most of these customers had turned down the opportunity to sign up for Tel-Tron’s Warranty Plus program, which could have saved them thousands in repairs.

I’m also getting a lot of calls from other customers who are having to replace pendants simply because their emergency call system is aging.  Pendants are hypersonically welded shut to make them water resistant, which means that the batteries cannot be replaced.  After a certain amount of time, the pendants will need to be replaced altogether, which can amount to thousands of dollars in replacements.  Again, most of these customers passed on the opportunity to sign up for the Warranty Plus program.

Of course, we don’t leave these customers without options.  We work with them and allow them sign up for the Warranty Plus program, but there is a signup fee.  However, if they had opted to sign up for the Warranty Plus program before their first year of warranty had expired, they would not have had to pay for the signup fee.

Bear with me as we do some math.  Let’s assume you have 60 apartments and 100 pendants:

  • $60/apartment  x  $3/month = $180/month x 12 months  =  $2,160/year
  • 3 years (the estimated life of a pendant)  x  $2,160/year  =  $6,480
  • New pendant cost  =  $100  x  100 pendants  =  $10,000
  • $10,000  –  $4,320  =  $3,520 in savings

This scenario doesn’t include the pagers, batteries for pull cord stations, forces of nature, etc, that might increase these

savings.  Oh, as an added bonus, you get 30% off of Tel-Tron’s list price for new purchases.  And you get a free spares kit to get you back up and running as soon as possible in the event of equipment failure (see image).  And you are allowed free end-user training for up to two of your staff members.  And we automatically send you replacement batteries for your fixed wireless transmitters at three-year intervals.  And we automatically send you back-up batteries for your main Tel-Tron life safety equipment every five years.  Do I need to keep going?

I’m an employee of Tel-Tron and I’m biased.  Don’t simply take my word for it.  We’ve had many customers sign up for the program since its inception.  One hundred percent (yes, that’s 100%) of those customers are still enrolled in the program.

If you want the full skinny of the program, including how to sign up, click here for a link to a brochure.  If you just want to sign up, click here to email Brooke Moffett, who will contact you and write up a contract.

Troubleshooting 101: Solving Tel-Tron Problems Pragmatically

Tel-Tron Troubleshooting 101

There’s really not a special, magical process for troubleshooting your Tel-Tron system. In fact, the same troubleshooting steps used to do so can be applied to solve a variety of day-to-day problems. This month, I’m going to show you how to apply the same steps to troubleshoot two entirely unrelated problems.

Step #1: Verify the problem

dinner party

Problems have a tendency to initially appear worse than they really are. Should one arise, it’s up to you to determine the scope. Once you know what that is, it will make solving the problem much easier.

How this relates to real life:

Let’s say you’ve just held a wonderful dinner party for you and six other friends. Everything has gone just swimmingly. You drank, told tales, and were, by and large, merry. The evening concludes, everyone goes home, and you praise yourself with a mental tip-of-the-hat to your excellently hosted feast. Job well done! But the next day, the rumors begin to circulate. Someone at your party suffered some pretty severe indigestion. You could just ignore these rumors, but that’s probably not a good idea. Your inquisitive nature and your reputation force you to investigate.

Where to start?man with belly ache

Find the source of these rumors, trace them to the alleged inflicted person, and talk to that person directly. Keep the questions simple. “Hey, were you feeling sick after dinner yesterday?” If so, make sure it’s not because of something obvious and unrelated, like getting mild food poisoning from a fast food restaurant they stopped at on the way home because they found your dinner to be “insufficient.”

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

Let’s say you use pagers. Ah Pagers… This mobile notification device gets passed around from person to person more than any other device except, perhaps, staff reset pendants. Lots of different people use them, and the devices see use pretty much from dusk ‘til dawn, then all through the night. Given this high amount of usage, there’s a much better chance of an individual pager failure than there is of system-wide pager system problem. If you begin to hear rumors that your paging isn’t working, my recommendation is not to leap to the conclusion that your paging system is down. Instead, start simple. Track down the person with said non-functioning pager, and verify the problem. Is that pager really not getting pages? Maybe we have a training opportunity here. If it’s really not though, determine if the solution isn’t something simple, such as replacing a low battery–the most common reason for a pager not getting a page.

Step #2: Start gathering more data

A single sample doesn’t tell you a whole lot. What’s one poisoned friend or one bad pager? Certainly not an epidemic! Let’s make sure though. It’s time to investigate further.

How this relates to real life:

Alright, the rumors appear to be true. Your friend has just confirmed that shortly after leaving your party, he came down with a debilitating sickness that has shaken the very fabric of your friendship—and no it wasn’t from a drive-by Taco Bell visit on the way home. Don’t panic. As already noted, it’s just one friend. There’s a good chance your other friends are fine, and that would still leave you with five, which is a pretty good ratio of healthy friends. Still, best make sure this isn’t a widespread problem. Start calling around. Find out who else may be affected, and if so, what he ate. Make some lists. This guy ate this. Did he feel OK? This guy ate that. How’s he feeling? And so on.

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve found one pager that’s not working, but that doesn’t mean your “paging system is down.” Don’t panic. It’s just one pager. There’s a good chance your other pagers are fine, and that would leave you several other good pagers. (Unless you only have one pager, then don’t panic, but contact us to get you a rush-order on some new pagers.) Still, if that pager isn’t working, gather it from the staff member using it – it’s not doing any good with her anyway if it’s not getting any pages – and start hunting around for another. Find out: are all my pagers affected? If so, which ones?

Step #3: Form a hypothesis

Troubleshooting’s close cousin is the Scientific Method. So yes, you may call yourself “a scientist.” At this step in the troubleshooting process, you hypothesize, based on collected data, a reason for the problem at hand.

How this relates to real life:

You’ve called everyone at the party and discerned that two others had similar indigestion. Not too shabby. You know, for example, that you didn’t poison everyone, so at least one of your dishes was edible. Nicely done! Now to figure out which dish was the culprit. You had a lot of options, but all of your collected data seems to point to the chicken salad. You didn’t have any of it yourself because there was just so much food, and your buddy brought a nacho platter. You just couldn’t resist nachos so you filled up on that and, well, long story short: you didn’t have any chicken salad, and you’re not sick. In fact, the only three people who got sick are also the only three people who ate the chicken salad. Hypothesis: It was the chicken salad, in the dining room, with the salmonella.

biohazard chicken salad

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve searched around and discovered that two other pagers are also not receiving pages. This is important, because if any one pager gets a page, you know that the “paging system” is not down. The pager transmitter—often called a pager base—has a fire-and-forget mentality. It’s told to send a page, it sends the page, and it doesn’t keep track of which pagers got the page. If, while testing your pagers, even one pager worked, you can be confident that the pager transmitter has done what it was supposed to do. It transmitted. Hypothesis: The “paging system” is fine. You’ve just got three misbehaving pagers.

Step #4: Test and verify your hypothesis

You’ve formed a hypothesis, now it’s time to put it through the wringer.

How this relates to real life:

You’re gripped with this notion that your age-old family recipe for chicken salad has somehow led to a disastrous after party for several of your friends. You have to know for sure. Was it indeed the chicken salad? The only way to find out, obviously, is to have a sample tested. Go home, collect it in a bag and send it off to the crime lab. You know, that crime lab everyone has access to that’s just readily waiting to vindicate poor hosts from harsh accusations of food poisoning? That’s what THIS troubleshooter is recommending. Expect results in six to eight weeks. However, for the sake of fully disclosing ALL of the troubleshooting options, there might be a simpler way. Not that I’m recommending it. You know that annoying guy, the one always sniffing around at lunch looking for freebies? Ask him if he’d like some chicken salad. Homemade. Very fresh. Made just last night.

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve done some excellent trouble shooting and data collection to this point. As a practicing scientist, you’ve narrowed the problem down to three pagers that seem to be acting up. You’ve also prevented a wide-spread panic by proving that the “paging system” isn’t “down,” but in fact, you’ve just got some bum pagers.
Call tech support!Still, there are a few more things to test. A lot of communities use what’s called “mapping,” so it’s a good idea to double check settings. I’m not going to go into all that here. You’ve done quite a bit of heavy lifting already. Let us help you with this last step. If you’re not sure how to check a pager’s settings, give Technical Support a call. Best case scenario, we’ll get these pagers working! Worst case, we’ll simply re-verify the work you’ve done and come to the same conclusion you have: three bad pagers. While perhaps inconvenient that you’ve got some broken pagers, you should still feel good that you’ve got a handle on things. You figured it out! And you did this all while carrying the soul-crushing guilt of poisoning your friends with bad chicken salad. Well done!

Training the Trainer – It’s As Easy as Staying at a Holiday Inn Express

All of the latest and greatest technology, coolest software and state of the art reporting capabilities are nothing more than really expensive paper weights without proper training.  I’m always amazed at how many people think that just because they use something they are somehow now an expert on how to teach other people how to use the product.  The fact that I watch the Daytona 500 every year, drive a car to work, have seven speeding tickets to my name and look great in a fire suit and helmet doesn’t make me a race car driver and it certainly doesn’t make me capable of teaching someone how to drive a race car.  We often get familiar with the products that we use daily, even comfortable.  Our understanding of those products grows the more we use them.  That’s great; we all need to learn more about the tools we use.  The problems start when our confidence exceeds our knowledge.  Knowing how to use a product in a limited scope is far different than understanding a product well enough to teach any user how to use it in any application.  Remember, just because you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night doesn’t make you a trainer.

One of the traps that non-professional trainers fall into is that they assume everyone uses the product just like they do.  The person that trained them probably felt the same way.  The conclusion of this informal passing down of knowledge is that things get distorted through perceived experience rather than fact.  Observation can be a great tool in understanding something but often a misinterpretation of some coincidental event gets wrapped up into the “myth of operation” that is passed down from person to person until what new employees are learning barely resembles the information that was originally introduced with the new product.  Things get lost in translation, people hear what they want to hear, short cuts are taken and people without a passion or interest in training treat the endeavor accordingly diminishing the product delivered to the people that need it most, the newest members of your team.

How do we combat this?  How can we ensure integrity of the information being disseminated and confirm that the people that need it most not only comprehended what we taught them but also can implement it now?  How can we continue to reinforce these lessons?  How do we keep that base of knowledge growing?  All relative questions that operators deal with everyday, turnover isn’t going away.  Tel-Tron Technologies has a training program called “Train the Trainer” that addresses all of these problems and more.  It’s free to you and our involvement with your team NEVER ends.  We are always there to help you grow and continue to support your onsite trainer provide the best professional training practices to your staff the day they start and reinforce those lessons throughout their careers.  Let’s get down to the details and see how it’s done.

We help identify a trainer at your community if you haven’t already.  Trainers are a special breed and not everyone is right for the job, we can make sure you get the right person in the right spot.  Once we have identified the right person we make sure they have the right material and ensure they use the right process.  We start out by ensuring that five basic concepts are put into practice:

  1. There is a difference between listening and learning!  I see people paying attention almost every time I teach a technical class.  If I’m not on my game, continuously involving the learners then it is almost a guarantee that many won’t be able to retain or use the information I provided in as short a time as an hour later.
  2. Not everybody learns the same way.  Unless you have years of experience and a lot of familiarity with your students your probably won’t be able to figure out how your students learn in enough time to be effective.  Do your students learn better through visual examples, auditory examples or tactile examples?  We teach you to provide examples in all formats and ensure that you have the material, produced and provided by us, the manufacturer, to meet your employees’ needs.
  3. Asking good questions is more important than providing all of the answers.  We help your employees use the Socratic method of critical thinking to ensure that these are lessons truly learned not just taught.  Using a dialectical method that involves discussion and logic rather than a recitation of facts is always more effective for long term retention.
  4. Keep the lectures to an absolute minimum.  Slides too.  We provide you talking points and PowerPoint presentations but more importantly we teach you why you should use them sparingly and how to teach your employees using other medium that are more effective.  Interactive learning, games, role playing and other techniques are at your fingertips and provide a much richer experience for the learner.
  5. It isn’t about what you know but what your students learn.  Proving how smart you are to your audience is not conductive to a great learning environment.  You don’t have to be a college professor with a PhD in a given subject to be a great teacher.  In fact many “teachers” with those credentials are awful.  Focusing on the needs of your students, understanding how they learn and keeping them engaged are far more relevant than your technical base of knowledge.  We help you develop those skills throughout our partnership.

By providing your onsite trainer with the tools they need to be successful and self-reliant your life gets much easier.  Cost of ownership goes down.  Over 80% of all calls to our technical support center are related to operational instruction.  Over half of our onsite service is related to operational misinformation.  Imagine saving 70% of your employees time related to technical issues and 50% of your annual cost on service.  Remember, we provide this service free with every new installation or upgrade.  Consistency of delivery is no longer a problem, we provide you the training materials, hands on tools, DVDs, quick guides, testing materials and online learning services that ensure the technical materials you need to do your job are current and consistent.  We’re with you every step of the way, you’ll have a personal “Train the Trainer” mentor that guides you through the process for as long as you need and is standing right by your side the first time you’re in front of a class.  That’s what a partnership is about and that’s what you get every time you do business with Tel-Tron, your partner for life.  Don’t just take our word for it, listen to what our partners and training participants have to say.

Introducing the Tel-Tron Training Channel!

At Tel-Tron, we understand that not everyone learns the same way.  For example, I prefer regimented, strict courses with a syllabus and clear goals. Other people prefer to just get a manual and a cup of coffee, curl up in a corner, and read at their own pace. Whatever your style, we can meet it.

Recently, Technical Support received a request from a community to explain why their pagers function a certain way. While we were able to explain exactly why to this person over the phone, we decided to make a video that might illustrate the situation better. (It’s a fairly common question.) So, we whipped up a training video, posted it on our YouTube channel, and sent it along. The customer was incredibly pleased and responded:

Yes definitely that was great!  Addressed our exact issue.  Maybe send out an email notice when new videos are posted.


And there’s more where that came from. Plus, there are many more already in the works, but if you have a training question, and would like to see a video made about it, we can probably work that in. Visit our training channel on YouTube and let us know.

Training. Just Do It!

Like most of you, I wear several hats at work. The one that sits upon my brow most often is that of the Technical Support Analyst. Each day, I speak with people to help them fix whatever problems they’re having with their emergency call systems. This ranges from full-fledged, lightning-induced system outages to issues with printing daily reports. Not surprisingly, both of the aforementioned problems are held to the same level of importance — mostly because, from a user standpoint, they are both problems with “The System.”

In my experience, when people think about their Tel-Tron CompanionOne system, they generally think of a complicated and somewhat mystifying machine (“The System”) that, when all the cogs are in place, performs an automated task which thus makes their lives and jobs simpler. The System has several stages of redundancy — like our alarming console and also paging, staff phones and radios — that help keep it running, even if individual components may have failed.

Unfortunately, a user’s perception of The System often excludes a very important component: said User. As automated as our CompanionOne system may be, it still requires a human component. That’s why Tel-Tron focuses so much on training: developing new training, making videos, producing manuals and user’s guides, and more. (That’s the other hat I wear.)

Training is vital to performing any job well. Not a single one of us in born knowing how,  for example, to reset a pendant emergency call using a staff reset pendant. (Which, by the way, is done as follows: press the staff reset pendant first, then press the alarming resident’s pendant.) We have to learn, but there has to be a reason. People need to see why something is useful and relevant.

So, let me offer a couple of practical, real-world reasons why training your staff to use your CompanionOne system should be a regular investment.

  • Training builds confidence. Our training courses let you see a CompanionOne system in action and teach you how to use it more effectively. It’s your tool after all. Make it do what you want.
  • Training saves you money. Would you rather wire up a new station yourself, or pay someone else to do it? With training, there’s nothing you can’t maintain yourself. Furthermore, those individuals who attend our training seminars and become certified receive free technical support — for life.
  • Training saves lives. Learning to use The System effectively will decrease response times, creating a safer environment for your residents. Furthermore, improperly using or maintaining The System, like any powerful tool, can lead to unexpected consequences. In the life-safety industry, unexpected consequences can be devastating.

We offer many options for training. I and my colleagues fly all over the country and offer training seminars to every one of our senior living community partners. Very often, we can come right to your community. Or you can come here to sunny Daytona Beach; we’re very flexible. For those customers who have recently installed a Tel-Tron system, training is actually free for the first two attendees. Even if you can’t attend a class, all of our user’s manuals are available online in easy-to-use, illustrated PDFs. And since I make them, I also take requests. Need a guide to something and don’t see that it exists? Let me know. It’s a safe bet if you need it, so does someone else.

There’s a training option available for everyone. We can work it out to make sure you get the most from your CompanionOne system. Call me up. Get trained. Get certified. And add another feather to one of your many caps.

For more information and training material, or to sign up
for an upcoming training class, click the image to the right:

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