Kathy Woodard Episode 9

Maintenance Training – Connecting Text Book to Real World

Episode 9- JuvoHub Podcast

Our Special Guest: Kathy Woodard

Kathy Woodard has over 25 years of experience in the property management industry and currently serves as the Multifamily Director at 6 & Fix Heating & Cooling and is an NAAEI facilitator. She has served in numerous leadership roles and her colleagues see her as a ‘Gamechanger’. In fact, she is Mrs. Gamechanger!

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Show Highlights

Notes from the host:

Apartment maintenance training takes a unique skill set. You need to combine processes with applications. The trick is to make it real and to make it fun. For some topics that is a tall order. Kathy brings the house down with her gift of making education fun. She is certainly a game-changer in the field of maintenance training. Enjoy! ~~ Jonathan Saar Market Me Social.

Apartment Maintenance Education – Fun, Effective, and Retainable

Some questions we discussed:

  • You have an extensive background in teaching maintenance classes. How would you say your teaching style has changed over the years? Anything you did, in particular, to help improve your teaching skillset?
  • You recently had a career change from the management side to the industry partner side. What was the learning curve like for you as an educator?
  • Maintenance training is not really one of those subjects that most would say is “fun” but more rudimentary. What have you done as a trainer to make your classes “fun”, impactful, and even more important – retention driven?

What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator?

Continue your education by surrounding yourself with people with like passions.

Kathy Woodard – Mrs Gamechanger

If you enjoyed this episode be sure to check out:

Jonathan Saar: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the JuvoHub podcast.

Jonathan Saar: Just before we get into our show today, I want to tell you a little bit about our sponsor, REAL HR, a Higginbotham company. I have known their leadership team for many years now. I'm telling you that you will be impressed with the level of dedication that they have towards their clients. It is phenomenal.

Jonathan Saar: They work a lot with human resource departments in the property management space. If you have questions or needs involving employee benefits, payroll administration, employee screening and more, they are the ones to talk to. They are under the umbrella of their parent company, Higginbotham, which has a whole other level of services related to insurance needs and benefits.

Jonathan Saar: Definitely check them out, real-hr.com, and see it for yourself. A link to their site will be in the show notes. So a big, big, huge Juvo thank you for being our sponsor. Without further ado, let's get into today's episode.

Jonathan Saar: Welcome, everyone, to episode number nine of the JuvoHub podcast. Today with me is Kathy Woodard from 6&Fix Heating & Cooling. I'm really, really happy to have her with us today, and to be able to share her experience.

Jonathan Saar: She is the multifamily director at 6&Fix Heating & Cooling, but her career spans over 25 years in the property management space. She's been in the training end, the development, marketing, managing site teams, managing performance, and so, so, so much more.

Jonathan Saar: I had the privilege of being a co-student with her at the advanced facilitators training. That's where we actually met, but we go back, I think, on social media, for way way before that, I'm pretty sure, Kathy. Welcome to the show. Nice to have you with us today.

Kathy Woodard: Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. Yes, we have gone back a ways, Jon.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah, yeah. It's awesome. You got to love our industry, and especially with social media, how eventually we wind up connecting in person. Look. Here we are today, a couple of years after AFT, and now we're doing a podcast together. That's awesome. Both of us having a bit of a career change in the last few years, but it's all fun. It's all awesome.

Kathy Woodard: Yes, sir. Yeah. It's all good, though.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. At AFT, and just in conversations you and I have had, a lot of your education, training that you've done, whether it's been for property management people that you've worked for, or on the apartment association level, has really surrounded some of the core classes that NAA provides, but also maintenance classes.

Kathy Woodard: Yes.

Jonathan Saar: Being in the industry for so long, from the perspective of those who are listening to the show today, what would you say are some of the things that you've seen change in yourself as an educator? Have you seen, like you've had to make some adjustments in how you teach? Just tell us a little bit about that.

Kathy Woodard: Absolutely. I'm less worried about pleasing the audience, and watching body language and facial expressions. I'm more in tune with getting the message across that I'm trying to do. I throw a lot of comedy and personality and especially authenticity, any class I teach. I go out of my way to make it fun. I always want to strive to be not a boring speaker, but to really make it interesting and fun.

Jonathan Saar: That's awesome. What a key element to that. Sometimes we get so nervous and wrapped up in, "Okay. I'm about to be a trainer in front of people," and those nerves can really take off.

Kathy Woodard: It's true.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. They take over.

Kathy Woodard: All eyes on you.

Jonathan Saar: Right, right.

Kathy Woodard: Yeah, exactly.

Jonathan Saar: Tell us about that. Both of us, being in the speaking field, we both deal with nerves. Any tips that you can share, again over the years, even today, being as experienced as you are, what do you do to get over the jitters or the nerves before you start teaching a class to someone?

Kathy Woodard: Even after all this time, as soon as I start speaking, I can feel my voice changing, because it doesn't matter. Doesn't matter to me if I'm in a room with 300 people or 500, if you're standing in front of that big of a crowd, or that small of a crowd, I always get nervous.

Kathy Woodard: But I have learned, I learned in our class, AFT, that if I am super nervous, I focus on one person. I usually have them bought in with me. I'm like, "Look, if I get nervous, Jon, I'm going to look at you. I just want to see you smiling at me. I just want to see you smile." That gets me through it. That gets me through the nerves.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. That's beautiful. Yeah. I've tried that too. Sometimes, it's always been helpful to go up and meet some of the people, especially if I'm in an audience that I've never been to before, like traveling to some of the apartment associations and speaking for them. I don't ... Around here in the Atlanta area, like you in North Carolina, you've got your people. You know your people. You see them often.

Kathy Woodard: Yeah.

Jonathan Saar: So you get comfortable with them. So I resonate with that, because I do the same thing. It's like, "Okay, Hey, my name is Jonathan. It's good to meet you," and have that connection. That makes it a lot easier. How much-

Kathy Woodard: Yes, sir.

Jonathan Saar: I think back to AFT and preparation. Do you feel like that's a key in order to be a successful speaker overall? What would you say is your level of time that you put into making sure that you're well prepared?

Kathy Woodard: Thorough preparation is everything. No matter how much you prepare, something can go wrong. So yeah. Preparation is absolutely everything. For this podcast, I'm making sure my dogs are in the back, and that everything's all quiet and well. In the background, I can hear somebody is mowing their lawn. There's nothing I can do about that, except maybe pick this up, walk away somewhere. But they're probably mow the lawn on the other side of the house too.

Jonathan Saar: Right. That's good. Yeah. The more ... Again, another thing I resonate with, because at least if you know your material well, things will happen, technical things can happen, and especially now since we're doing a lot more training via a virtual conference versus in person, it's amazing how many more distractions that we have. Both of us have dogs. I know mine's jumped in on my meetings a few times. It's awesome. It's awesome.

Jonathan Saar: All right. Let's pivot for a minute. You recently had a career change. You were on the management side for many, many years. Now, you're on the partner side as an educator and the multifamily director at 6&Fix Heating & Cooling.

Kathy Woodard: Yes.

Jonathan Saar: Was there anything that changed? Would you say there was a learning curve? Any comments on what that transition was like, being on the owner management side, and now on the partner side as an educator?

Kathy Woodard: Oh my. Yes. It's been wonderful. It was a wonderful transition. I had my CFC certification that I did with several maintenance guys from back when I was on the operation sides for property management. So that helped me, that I had a great knowledge for HVAC.

Kathy Woodard: Working with 6&Fix & Cooling has given me a freedom to make a living and give excellent customer service to our multifamily clients, but it's also permitted me to continue my education goals and career goals within the multifamily industry. I credit a lot of that to time management being the key.

Kathy Woodard: I love my local association. Our board of directors is absolutely fabulous. They're amazing to work with. This is a small family-owned company. That has its benefits and privileges in itself. I've really enjoyed the transition.

Kathy Woodard: It was a little bit of a curve as an educator trying to balance, because everything comes down to balance, and like you said earlier, preparation, and making sure you're covering everything you're supposed to cover. But what I really enjoy the most is that I've been permitted to [attend Advocate 00:09:03], and continue with my committees, and assist within the associations, and AANC and NAA.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah, no, that's fantastic. That's amazing. It's a good testimony for everyone who's listening on the podcast today. It's like, don't let career changes influence what your overall big picture goals are. They can actually serve you. I know they've served me well, and it sounds like they've served you well.

Jonathan Saar: No matter where we go, when we have that vision of where we want to be as educators, it really is that light, so to speak, I guess, right in front of us that, okay, this is going to just teach me a little bit different maybe how I do this or do-

Kathy Woodard: Yeah. I got to blend them, Jonathan. I got to blend them. Like I said, I got my CFC along with my husband and a bunch of other industry maintenance gurus in 2013. It just seemed a very natural transition over into becoming the multifamily director for 6&Fix Heating & Cooling.

Kathy Woodard: I feel very blessed. I feel very blessed that I can do something that I love to do, and I still get to socialize with all these same wonderful people that I've worked with for 25 years in the same area.

Jonathan Saar: Right. I can only imagine just the perspective. It's like, as educators, every time we step into a different perspective ... Don't you agree? It just adds to your ... I'm trying to think of the word. It just adds to your understanding of your audience in just a unique, maybe a different way. Would you agree with that?

Kathy Woodard: Oh my gosh. Yes. I've always had a natural comfort working with maintenance guys. I always respected their position, and I held the service that they provide above all others. Very respectful of them. I listen to them and their struggles.

Kathy Woodard: One of my favorite power hour topics is actually called maintenance versus office. It elaborates on the differences between those two jobs, but they also have to work together within multifamily. It was a really natural progression for the maintenance side of it. But you're right. It has definitely made me better.

Jonathan Saar: Beautiful, beautiful. Let's just talk about maintenance training, monotone. Let's just focus on that as a subject for a minute. Now often, when you think of maintenance training, and some have that perspective too, it's not necessarily like many would classify it as, "Okay. It's a huge fun topic." But really maintenance training it can be clinical, it could be rudimentary, it can be procedure oriented, it can be very safety oriented. That's really the bucket sometimes maintenance training can be put in.

Jonathan Saar: What have you done? You described earlier the way that you approach things as a fun, you trying to make it exciting, and get the audience engaged. In relation to maintenance training, what have been some of your tactics or approach when you're teaching these types of classes, to really get the audience involved?

Kathy Woodard: Oh, my gosh. I have little clappers and everybody ... If I'm in a small group setting, and I'm doing, for example, that office versus maintenance, everybody gets a clapper. I give out little gifts whenever somebody answers or comes forward. Sometimes those are tough questions, or not everybody wants to comment or put themselves out there. So I give little gifts away. A lot of jokes, a lot of fun and a lot of laughter.

Kathy Woodard: But sometimes it still gets very serious. A lot of times, teaching maintenance is all technical and a lot of book learning. But some of the classes I like to do are more about how we can all get along better and appreciate each other, right?

Jonathan Saar: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Awesome. Awesome. You said something a moment, like the textbook approach. Now, I'll just share with you. I hated textbooks when I was in school. I still hate them. To have to sit down and read, especially on a subject like that, where it's just, okay ... Man, it can be mind numbing having to read through that kind of documentation, and try and retain it all.

Jonathan Saar: Anything that you've done from a retention level, I guess, would be a logical question. Yeah, making it fun and making sure everybody's involved. But when you get to some of those more, "Okay, we need to capture what the requirements are," anything that you can share that you've helped to make sure that your students retain the information?

Kathy Woodard: Well, book learning is totally different than actually doing the job. I'm an example queen. I'll use an example. I took that CFC class. It was the hardest test I've ever taken in my life. It's harder than CAM. It's harder than CAPS. It was difficult.

Kathy Woodard: But for maintenance gurus, it's not. They're doing it every day. They're used to doing it. They have great passion for what they're doing. So when I am involved in teaching something that's maintenance related, I remember that.

Kathy Woodard: If you're in a classroom setting with a bunch of office people, it's a totally different ... They're really passionate about administrative, office, legal, all of that. Maintenance guys, they're always really passionate about what they're doing, and they're usually very good at it. I think you're only really good at something, I mean, unless you really enjoy it, love it.

Jonathan Saar: Right, right. That's awesome. I like that. I like that connection. I'll tell you why that sticks with me, Kathy. It's connecting critical information with real world application. That's the two items. If they can't see that ... Even if it is something new, even if they are experienced, maybe it's a new requirement or just a new approach, whatever the case may be, it's still, if they can visualize it in the field, so to speak, then that definitely helps it stick. So that's great.

Kathy Woodard: Yeah.

Jonathan Saar: I love it.

Kathy Woodard: Some people are really good at memorizing or book learning. You can pass the test, but the word you used here is, your example, is retention. But if you don't understand it, you will not retain it. That's the bottom line. At the end of the day, everybody's got to understand what's being taught.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. Yeah. A big hat tip to our associations and other housing affiliates that really work hard to have these classes available. Even more, having instructors like you that are available to teach the next generation that's coming in.

Jonathan Saar: It's not only the experienced professionals, but we know there's a shortage of talent incoming. We need more. We need more people coming into our industry. Particularly on the maintenance level, we do need more. So your ability as an educator to help that next generation is just fantastic. Man, amazing.

Kathy Woodard: Thank you so much.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. I don't know. It's golden. It's golden, because for those listening on the show, it's not just our responsibility, but anybody who's listening today, it's all of our responsibility, as educators and as learners, to know what impact that we can have, no matter if we're a student listening to this show, or if they're like you, 20 something years in the industry as an educator, there's a lot that we can continue to do to improve and really benefit our industry.

Jonathan Saar: That leads me to one of my favorite questions on the show. I always love this, because it's such amazing feedback that I get from each educator I've talked to. What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator? What would you say to that?

Kathy Woodard: I know. Only one?

Jonathan Saar: Maybe two.

Kathy Woodard: Okay. Continue in education. As an educator, make sure that you are staying abreast of all the changes that are happening, so that you're giving the right information. Because if you're not, you're giving old information. No one can take knowledge away from you. Make sure that you're getting it too.

Kathy Woodard: I associate, so often, with mentors and peers like you, Jon, like Suzanne Pratt, the director of education at the Triangle Apartment Association. I'm very close to Stephanie Anderson at NAA. Terry Ragland's a huge educator. Rich George. I call him, I love [Jackie Ronstadt 00:00:18:26]. There are industry gurus that have helped me in my career and answered education questions.

Kathy Woodard: Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. Look at me keep going, Jon, look at me keep going. This is not one. [crosstalk 00:18:39] I truly acknowledge the importance of seeking out help myself when I need advice, or when I don't understand something.

Jonathan Saar: Right.

Kathy Woodard: Collaborating, collaborating with your local apartment association, with the AAFC and the NAA, and with friends like you, and [John Sons 00:18:59]. It only makes us better to share our knowledge and skills.

Kathy Woodard: Some of the courses I teach are difficult, and not everyone passes them. So I do a lot of game changer sessions. I give one-on-one assistance free of charge to anyone that needs help passing those tests, and give them a little boost.

Jonathan Saar: That's great. Yeah. That's awesome. I love ... So two things. That's what I ... In summary, continue education, surround yourself with people with like passion. It'll only help us grow.

Kathy Woodard: Yes.

Jonathan Saar: You mentioned some great names. We need to get them on the show. John Sons, I haven't talked to him since we were at AFT together. And a few other names, would be great to have their thoughts. So great, great tips. Great tips. I agree with you 100%. We never stop learning. We never stop learning from a book sense. We never stop learning from what we surround ourselves with. Fantastic tips. I appreciate that, Kathy.

Jonathan Saar: Just for our listeners, too, how can people connect with you? Any way that you prefer?

Kathy Woodard: Yes, absolutely. Well, first of all, it depends on what you're connecting with me for. If you're looking for ... If you're in North Carolina, South Carolina, and you need someone to help with disinfecting and protecting, because this COVID thing has gotten pretty bad, and my company has a solution for that. If you need help with that, you can reach out to 6&Fix. If you're local here in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, we can help you fix your air conditioner, heater. We do installation and repair.

Kathy Woodard: If you're looking for someone on an educational side, because you're struggling with those classes that we talked about earlier, you can reach me at www.mrsgamechanger.fun. Or email me or call me. My email is mrsgamechanger@outlook.com. You're welcome to have my cell phone number too, (919) 349-6355.

Jonathan Saar: Awesome. Beautiful.

Kathy Woodard: Yep.

Jonathan Saar: And on LinkedIn too. [crosstalk 00:21:09] on LinkedIn, people. Don't don't forget that.

Kathy Woodard: LinkedIn. Oh, my gosh. And Facebook. I'm huge for social media. Instagram. You can find me anywhere.

Jonathan Saar: Absolutely. Yeah, no. You're big on social. That's where I see you most of the time, over on LinkedIn and some Facebook posts and stuff. We'll definitely put all those in the show notes. That's great.

Jonathan Saar: So mrsgamechanger.fun, that's the first person I've ever come across that has a .fun. You heard that right, ladies and gentlemen, a .fun [crosstalk 00:21:40] That's great. The other ways people can connect with you with your company website and LinkedIn, I'll make sure I put those in the show notes as well.

Jonathan Saar: Great, great takeaways from a maintenance perspective, and how we can really continue to grow no matter what our genre of education is. Really, there's a lot that we can do to support our industry.

Jonathan Saar: Kathy, I want to give you a huge, huge thank you for being available, and being on our show today, episode number nine. We look forward to having you on future episodes.

Kathy Woodard: Thank you so much, Jon. I really enjoyed myself. Thank you.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. Again, everyone, thank you for being here. Take a moment and give the podcast a review, if you can. If you can subscribe to it, that would be awesome too. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and a few others. You can check us out on juvohub.com to be able to see more information about that. Again, a big thank you to our sponsors, REAL HR, a Higginbotham company.

Jonathan Saar: This brings us to the conclusion of episode number nine of the JuvoHub podcast. We'll see you on our next show.