How to Better Help Your Trainee When Working with Vacuum Trucks

An employee using a vacuum truck to service a sewer

As someone who owns a business that requires the use of vacuum trucks, you want to make sure that any personnel that you hire are prepared for the task. Safety should be on the forefront of your priority list at all times. This means taking the time necessary to ensure that you are onboarding new employees and following all training protocols to get them up and running. 

However, it can be a completely different ballgame if you are trying to onboard a new employee who has little to no experience in the field. If you have a brand new trainee, our team here at Flowmark has some tips for getting them prepared to work with vacuum trucks. Keep reading to learn more!


1.) Remember that everyone learns differently.

The first thing that you should note is that if you approach training a new employee with a ‘one size fits all’ mentality, you and your employee are both sure to wind up frustrated. While some might only need to see something demonstrated once in order to pick it up, others might need that process repeated multiple times. Also, be mindful of different learning styles. There are employees who might prefer to read through instructions and others who enjoy doing things with a more hands on approach. 

To help this process stay as smooth as possible, try to make your training process include different types of instruction. A combination of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic training can really go a long way in covering all of your bases. This might seem time consuming at first glance, but it will actually save you time in the long run. Once you have your training set up, it is in place for the next person who comes along.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask your trainee how they learn best. Some may know the answer and others may not, but that’s okay! Asking in advance can help narrow down your training approach.


2.) Meet them where they are.

When you onboard a new trainee, one of the first things you should do is evaluate their past level of experience. Review their application or interview questions to determine just how much time they have spent around vacuum trucks. Are they a seasoned operator? Recently qualified? Completely brand new? Researching the answers to these questions in advance will allow you to make a better determination of where they are at as far as their skill level. From there, it is up to you to meet them where they are.

By this, we mean don’t start your training off with entry level lingo to someone who has been around vacuum trucks for the past ten years. Instead, focus on quick review and addressing any company-specific policies and procedures. If they are brand new to the field, then make sure to start off slow and keep things simple while working your way up to the more difficult tasks.


3.) Explain your reasoning.

There is nothing more frustrating to an employee than when their boss tells them to do something ‘just because’ or ‘because you were told’. Knowing how to do something is necessary but knowing the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’ is just as important. Explaining the method to your madness is essential for driving home the proper approach to any task. Also, by providing a reasoning, you are explaining your logic and therefore decreasing the risk of an employee trying something ‘their way’ without talking it over with you first. 

Two employees reviewing safety procedures together


4.) Diversify your training resources.

Just like it is vital to acknowledge different learning styles, it is very important to diversify your training resources. PowerPoints, handouts, videos, and hands-on demonstrations can all work together to create a truly impactful learning experience. If you aren’t sure where to start, try interviewing your current team. What works best for them? What approach might they take to training someone new? Working together to brainstorm these topics will lead to a more fruitful training and onboarding process.


5.) Encourage critical thinking.

During their first month or so out in the field, make sure that you are encouraging them to practice critical thinking and to use their problem solving skills. For the operators of vacuum trucks, this means testing them on different types of issues you might encounter while on the job site. Step back and give them the opportunity to prove themselves. If they are struggling and request feedback, offer clear guidance before letting them attempt it a second time. This gives them a chance to learn in real time with the reassurance that someone is there to back them up if they run into any issues.


6.) A little patience goes a long way.

At the end of the day, learning a new skill is hard. This is especially true if you are entering a new field of work altogether. When working with vacuum trucks, it is important to be patient. Remember, your trainee wasn’t born just knowing these things and neither were you. Giving a little grace, positive encouragement, and an extra pat on the back will help your employee stay motivated. Plus, this will encourage them to ask questions if they are stuck or need help at any point in the process. Developing that bond and that trust is essential for leading a successful team


Vacuum Trucks From Flowmark

Other than your employees, your next most important asset is the quality of the vacuum trucks that are on your fleet. If you are putting your trainee in an outdated or barely operable piece of equipment, you are unfortunately setting them up for failure. Remember, they still need well made tools in order to do their job correctly!

This is where Flowmark comes into play. If you have been in the market for new vacuum trucks to add to your fleet, then make sure to make your next purchase from Flowmark! Our machines are American-made and built to last. Because we are a locally owned and operated company, we understand the value that small business brings to our community and our economy. To get a quote for a new vacuum truck, contact us today!