A Pathway to Learning

A Pathway to Learning

Learning Without Scars Classes

Since we started a business to provide classroom training for parts and service operations and product support sales and marketing, we have been constantly creating and redesigning what I have always called “Learning Paths.” A pathway to learning is what we try to provide to all employees to help them realize their potential.

With the classroom training we established the first pathway to learning with management and supervision. For this, we designed two-day classes consisting of eight specific subjects. We then developed the three-year program that had twenty-four subjects covered and taught. We offered this and conducted these classes worldwide for major construction equipment manufacturers. We did the same thing for dealership associations. In the mid 1990s we created a series of videos for dealer associations, that continue to be used in certification programs for parts managers and service managers. Clearly the methods, systems, processes and requirements in the past twenty-five years have changed. The modern pathway to learning is reflected in the creation of our skill assessments and in the evolution of our subject specific classes. Much has changed.

As I mentioned yesterday we offered Planned Learning Programs, which we referred to as PLPs. These were the three-year programs built for leaders in the Parts and Service and Product Support Sales groups. During the twenty-five years these were offered we have had over ten thousand people attend the PLPs – Executives, Managers, Supervisors and Foremen from all around the world.

Next, we created Planned Specific Programs, or PSPs in our shorthand here. These programs were designed for the people doing the work. The people that I call “Heroes.” They take the orders, pick the parts, pull the wrenches, inspect the machines, manage the assets, and drive the trucks. These are the people who serve your customers. These are the people that keep your customers coming back.

With this most recent change to our website we are introducing the next evolution of our Learning Paths. This has been designed to allow the individual employee to create their own individualized Learning Paths. As you will have read over the past ten days, if you follow our blog, we start everything with a job function skills assessment. We then match the results of that assessment to the four levels of skills: Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. When the individual employee selects our classes tabs, and the department in which they are interested they are asked for their skill level. Then, they will be presented the classes that our years of teaching and thousands of students, have indicated that should be covered to provide the employee the ability to improve their Skill Level.

As you can imagine this has taken some time to develop and put together. It provides each employee the opportunity to personalize their own learning, to select the classes they believe will address the “gaps” in their skills and knowledge. Of course, the Dealership and the Leadership can also be involved in selecting the classes that should be taken. That will never change.

Now we are adding additional tools that will allow us to have “Virtual” meetings with students to discuss the classes and, in effect, simulate the Real Classroom after they have completed one of our Subject Specific Classes. This is what educators are doing now across Grade School, Middle School and High School across the country. This is also now being used at Junior Colleges and Universities.

Education and Learning has changed a lot over the past twenty-five years. The changes coming in the next five years will be even more dramatic. No business, whether in manufacturing, distribution, wholesale or retail or business associations can rest on their laurels. There has been too much change.

The equipment has changed, exotic materials, telematics, computerization. The systems have changed now using electronic catalogues and shopping carts, finance and payment methods have changed with “Square” and Touchless Credit Cards. The arrival of Artificial Intelligence and Drones for Job Management and Control. The world has changed.

The younger generation is much better prepared for these changes than the older generations. Their time is here and coming. We either adapt our systems, methods and everything else as of now or face trouble. We, at Learning Without Scars, have chosen to adapt and it has been extremely exciting and energizing. Is this also an opportunity for each and every business across the world? I believe it is.

The choice is yours.

The time is now.

For more information on finding your own pathway to learning, please visit our website at learningwithoutscars.com

Building the Foundation of Learning

Building the Foundation of Learning

Building the Foundation of Learning

Our initial training business was called Quest, Learning Centers. We incorporated Quest in 1992. This is where we first deliberately began building the foundation of learning. Originally our classes spanned fifteen hours, over two days, and was designed to cover four subjects; operations, selling, management and standards of performance. In each four-hour time block we covered two specific learning subjects. That provided a learning platform of four classes. Then we created additional learning levels to end up with three different levels of classes. That developed a total of 24 classes for each of parts, service and selling. In the middle we created a marketing class and a customer service class. That gave us a total of 88 classes.

In the early 2000’s we moved to webinars. Each webinar was around forty-five minutes. I was not happy with webinars as I could not see my students. We adjusted our delivery and used a HD camera connected to our computer. We alternated power point slides with live talks using the camera. It was better but didn’t make me very happy as a teacher. Still, it was another step in building the foundation of learning.

In 2016 we decided to transition all of our learning products to the internet. We incorporated Learning Without Scars and started to build the curriculum. Today we have thirty classes up and available in both parts and service with five classes in each still under construction. For Selling and Marketing we have twenty-four classes up and available.

These subject specific classes are each approximately three hours duration. We start with a pretest to understand the prior knowledge of each employee before they start the class. We then have power point slides with audio tracks which was developed and evolved from our classroom training. Into this learning we inserted film clips that accentuated a specific point. At the conclusion of the class we had a final assessment on which the student had to achieve a score of 80% to pass. Then a short survey upon completion of everything after which the student could get their certificate of achievement.

In recent learning research and development, it has been proven that with a quiz or break in learning every ten or so minutes that learning retention goes up by 50% so we are in the process now of updating all of our classes to reflect this truth. I am sure that our classes will be in a constant state of development as more evidence comes forward regarding how people learn. I am committed to helping each individual to be able to achieve their potential.

Each step along the way, in our quest to help each person achieve their potential, is our need to listen to our clients and their employees and respond to their needs and wants just like every other business. They suggest additional classes and learning tools. This has allowed us to develop a series of, what we are calling, Learning Paths for each Skill Level achieved in our Job Function Skills Assessments. Initially we designed our training programs and we determined the structures that the individual students were to follow. We called them Planned Learning Programs and Planned Specific Programs and Video Classrooms. Now we are providing our students with the tools to be able to design their own learning path. They, more than we, know what they need in order to become better at what they do. More on that tomorrow.

The time is now.

For more information about what classes are right for you, please visit our website at learningwithoutscars.com

Skill and Knowledge Levels

Skill and Knowledge Levels

We have been using assessments in all of our training and learning products for over thirty-five years. The primary purpose of our assessments was to help us to adapt and adjust our teaching in order that our students learn. We first had a “Pretest” to measure what the students know when they start our class. Then we had a “Final Assessment” to determine what the difference was in knowledge before and after. This allows us to change how we teach.

We also used these assessments to challenge our approach to teaching. If the same question was received with the same wrong answer, obviously how we were teaching it was the issue not the learning potential of the student.

Let’s turn to our Job Function Assessments at Learning Without Scars (LWS). By now I hope you have looked at our job function comprehensive skill assessments. We believe we have broken new ground with these assessments for the Industries we serve. There are no other common job function assessments out there. With that position of leadership, we have been cautious on how we have approached this. We have had over 3,500 of our class assessments completed in the past two years. This has allowed us to established a hierarchy based on actual employee skills and their results on the assessments.

Upon completion of a specific Job Function Skills Assessment the student will receive their score (0-100). This score will rank their skills based on the results we have seen from the thousands of assessments taken. We have established these skill categories based on our experiences with our class assessments and the skill levels of the people taking these classes. For Learning Without Scars these skill categories are Basic (0-30), Intermediate (31-50), Advanced (51-70) and Expert (71-100). This category level will identify the specific class progressions to allow them to improve their skill level. These category levels have allowed us to design individualized class structures for the student to follow to improve their individual skill level. More on this next week.

We want each individual to be able to achieve their potential. Potential is a wonderful word. It is one that I was introduced to by an Elder in our Church when I was a little boy. He spent a lot of time mentoring a young boy. He passed several messages to me to consider.

  • Always assume the other person is twice as smart as you are and work twice as hard to prove that they are not.
  • Be Happy in your Work or Work and be Happy. You have no choice you have to Work.

If someone tells you that you have a lot of potential and you are sixteen years old that is a very good thing. If someone tells you that you have a lot of potential and you are sixty-six what have you been doing for the last fifty years.

The time is now.

For more information on our assessments and classes, please visit our website at learningwithoutscars.com

How to Use Assessments

How to Use Assessments

Yesterday we addressed the Foundation of Learning. Today I want to talk about how we envisioned businesses using our Job Function Skills Assessment. Let’s quickly review what we say on the Landing Page for Assessments.

We point out four areas in which to use our Skill Assessments

  1. Recruiting: The assessments can be used in recruiting employees. In conjunction with background checks and interviews, the assessment gives you much more information on the applicants before they are hired. Hiring the “right” someone is extremely difficult to do. The assessment provides the Company hiring the individual an objective view of the skills of the prospective employee.

 

  1. Performance Reviews: The assessments should also be used in the annual performance review with each employee. Other than the reviews I give myself I have never received a formal performance review as an employee. I believe that performance reviews are a terrific opportunity to discuss with the employee what is necessary for the employee to do to become better at what they do and open up more opportunities for them in the Company.

 

  1. Wages and Salaries: The assessments can even be used as an objective foundation related to the establishment of the wages and salaries paid to the employees. We have had several thousand people take our assessments since the beginning of 2017 and we have a high degree of confidence that our skill levels are in line with the actual performance of the employees. This provides a foundation for the proper wage and salary scales and progressions through the scales to be objectively managed.

 

  1. Employee Development: The assessments have been developed to be used to create individualized employee development programs for each employee in the parts and service business teams. A career path for each employee in the Parts, Service, Selling or Marketing groups allows talented people to be motivated to achieve their potential. With the Skill Levels from the assessments and the Learning Paths tied to them this becomes a real possibility within these teams of people.

 

Attracting, Hiring, Developing and Retaining talented, motivated employees is the MOST critical of all aspects of your business. With the right people you will prevail. Without them you will FAIL.

 

The choice is yours.

 

The time is now.

Making Sense of the Numbers

When we look at our businesses, our numbers need to add up.  But how do we calculate the potential represented within a sales territory?

It begins with the potential business we can earn from each of our customers.

Branding #MondayBlogs

In our Industry, we can identify a brand with a logo, a color, a certain type of visible air filter on a piece of equipment.

But how often do we stop to realize that we are our own brand?  Who we are and what we do, the ways in which we do our work, reflect our individual brand.

Your brand matters.  It matters to your customers, to your team, and to your store.

For this week’s Socrates Says, we are sharing some words of wisdom on your own brand in the video below.

The time is now.

 

Differentiate Your Market #MondayBlogs

There’s always some crossover between our industry, and the automotive industry, the aviation industry, trucks, trailers, and so on.

When we think about marketing, we automatically think of the end result of all of our marketing endeavors: a sale.

But in order to make a sale, we have to know our market.  This means more than having a script or having general knowledge.  Who are your customers?  What, exactly, is it that they need from you?  What relationship do you share with them currently?

Remember, people sell.  It is a relationship.

The time is now.

Welcome to Marketing Basics

Welcome to Marketing Basics

It’s all about your customers and you.

It’s a new year and a fresh start. With that, I want to start with some basics. Basic marketing is the science of choosing markets through the use of market analysis and market segmentation. Marketing has evolved in the 21st century into a series of complex functions and activities that recognize everything matters to the customer and the customer has to be the primary focus of business. That would seem to be self-evident, but the evidence provides us with a different answer. Every aspect of marketing is driven by customer needs and wants. Through the past decade products have changed dramatically. There has been an almost manic introduction to technology in products from telephones to computers to everything. But I believe it is time to go back to basics.

Start with the Customer

The Harvard Business School and others introduced the “balanced scorecard” in the 1990s. This was in response to 90% of American businesses being less than successful at achieving their strategies. The primary reason was found to be a failure of employees to understand the strategy of their businesses. Communications is critical, isn’t it? There are four basic areas of study in the balanced scorecard:

  • Customer
  • Internal
  • Innovation
  • Finance

That’s the sequence I use to teach the theory. The normal approach is to start with finance and then move around. I say everything starts and ends with the customer, which is why I start with the needs and wants of the customer.

Customer

When you know the needs and wants of your customer base, then you know what you must do to excel. If you know what it is you have to excel in, then you also know what tools, technology, and training you need to provide to your workforce. From that you will make as much money as you want. Money, or profit, is the result of being in business. It is never the reason to be in business. Marketers want to find the needs and wants of customers so they can provide the customer service delivery systems that are required to attract and retain these customers. They will design a sustainable differential advantage for your business. However, at this time of year it is also good to review the results of your previous year. This leads us to producing two critical reports. The first I describe as a stratification report. The second is customer retention.

Stratification

This is quite simply a review of the percentage of your customers vs. the percentage of the business they provide for you. The old 80:20 rule is no longer applicable. We need to obtain a list of your customers in descending sales sequence. The largest customer will be at the head of the list and the smallest will be at the bottom. Get the total number of customers and divide the number by 20. That will give you 20 sectors of your business. Do the arithmetic and add up all the sales within each of those 20 segments and make a table out of the results. From this you will be able to see the percentage of business each 5% sector provides. Have a look at the results. The smaller the number of customers with a larger percentage of the business, the more vulnerable you are to customer defection.

Defection

At this time of year it is much easier to determine the number of customers who have defected from your business over the previous year. Depending on your business system, access the purchases by customer for each of the past two years and put the list in alphabetical order. Have the 2013 list on your left and the 2014 list on your right. Put a red felt pen in your left hand have a green felt pen in your right hand. Go through the list alphabetically. When you find a customer who purchased in 2013 and didn’t in 2014, put a red line through the name. When you find a customer who purchased in 2014 and didn’t buy in 2013, put a green line through the name in the list on the right hand side. At the end add up the reds and the greens.

Divide the reds by the total number of customers who bought in 2013 and that is the defection rate. Divide the greens by the total in the 2014 list and that is the acquisition rate. The Harvard Business School did definitive work on customer retention in the 1990s. In their book The Service Profit Chain, three Harvard professors expose the critical nature of the retention management measure. If you can increase your customer retention by 5% in the industrial distribution business, the profitability of the business will increase by 45%. Move from 80% retention to 85% retention and you will increase your business by nearly 50%! That is astonishing, isn’t it?

Retention

Let’s look at a table of customer retentions. If you start with 100 customers and your customer retention rate is 80%, that means you lose 20% each year. If you start with 100 customers and your retention rate is 85% (an improvement of 5%), you lose only 15% each year. This means over a five-year period you will retain 11 more customers for every 100 customers. The only thing missing is the lifetime value of your customers. With your knowledge of your business I hope you do this exercise and the calculation. What is the lifetime value of one of your customers? Once you have that value, then apply the table above with your details and you will see that the 45% improvement in your business profitability is extremely substantial. I don’t believe there is anything that will measure up to this improvement. So let’s welcome in 2015 making a new commitment to customer retention. You won’t regret it.

The time is now.

This article was originally published by Water Well Journal, waterwelljournal.com, January 2015.

Upcoming Events: All About Webinars

It’s that time again, here at Learning Without Scars.  It is time for a new post on our upcoming events and this week it is all about webinars.

Next week, beginning on Monday, June 8, 2015, we are continuing our Product Support Selling and Parts & Service Marketing Program.

We will be hosting webinars on Monday through Thursday, at 9:00 a.m. PST and 11:00 a.m. PST.  All Product Support Selling webinars are at 9:00 a.m. PST, while the Parts & Service Marketing are at 11:00 a.m. PST.

In Product Support, we will have a one hour webinar on each of the following: Presentation, Overcoming Objections, Customer Retention, and Territory Potential.

In Parts & Service Marketing, we will offer a one hour webinar on each of the following: Market Coverage, Customer Retention, Compensation Programs, and Territory Management.

This will wrap up the spring webinar series in its entirety.  We will return in the fall of 2015.

Don’t miss your opportunity to finish your coursework with us!

The time is now.

Parts & Service Marketing – Market Segmentation

Parts & Service Marketing – Market Segmentation

Marketing is the process of identifying and satisfying customer needs. That process becomes impossible with the thousands and thousands of customers that you have in your assigned area of responsibility (AOR). As a result of that truth, it becomes important to be able to find out what the customer needs and wants, and then to be able to find common elements of their business that will allow you to group them with other customers of common needs and wants.

That is the aim of market segmentation. Market segmentation is the process by which marketeers divide potential customers into smaller groups that are looking for similar benefits from a product or service. The goal is to isolate a group that prefers these features and benefits, and to develop a sustainable differential advantage that satisfies their needs. All of the methods and processes that are required to perform this are covered in the webinar.

We cover the industrial focus, the individual demographics, and the psychographics. We also have to assess the dealer strengths and weaknesses, as well as reviewing the same strengths and weaknesses in the competition. All of this and much more is covered in this comprehensive webinar.

The time is now.