The Return on Investment

The Return on Investment

This week brings our fourth blog post from Don Shilling.

Don Shilling

As we continue the discussion on “Growing Your Own” employees probably one of the most asked questions I get is if our company invests in a tuition reimbursement program for a sponsored future employee or in an Apprenticeship or Mentorship Program what is my return on investment (ROI)?

Business logic tells us that there is a defined cost in everything we do and the better we are at recovering those costs the better the chances are we can show a profit in what we do. Everyone’s formula for this calculation might be different so I would like to answer this a little more generically

ROI In this situation is hard to measure because every situation is different. But I usually answer the question with a question. What does turnover cost you? For every position that is measurable. When you lose an experienced employee, the costs associated with that ranges today from 1/2 of that position annual salary or more. Today filling a skilled position can take 3 months or more. Then after recruitment costs, placement fees and On Boarding and Training expense it can really cost you much more than that 1/2 years annual salary projection.

For our companies skilled positions we fill with either an apprenticeship or tuition reimbursed positions we see direct costs of the entry level salary, the cost of the pay back on the tuition reimbursement or the apprenticeship mentoring. These costs are significant there is no doubt, so typically we amortized these costs over a 3 to 5-year period.

Because these positions start as “entry level” we see an initial lower salary cost but it is important to continue wage reviews and increases with these individuals as their skill levels increase. Typically, by the end of the three to five year pay back on the tuition or apprenticeship periods this employee is at a salary level equal to market value for their skill level. This is important, keeping this employee is critical, also showing this employee he has value by doing wage reviews as they progression of their education adds to that since of pride or accomplishment for each individual.

On revenue side we of course cannot charge customers full charge rates on apprentice or school to work employees but we can recover some of their costs. Typically, that is 10 to 20% initially and steadily increasing as the employee’s skill levels increases. If you graph this out the lines between the salary cost and recovery probably intersect about 1.5 to 2.0 years into the process and usually by the third or fourth year the revenue and profit generated by that employee has normalized. That of course is good news.

Better news is the fact you have taken a potential employee and turned them into a skilled employee who has been integrated into your system, bought into your company culture, is a loyal employee, has spent three to five years becoming part of the “family” and understands that he or she has chosen a career that is meaningful and rewarding. Bottom line the turnover we have experienced with these “Grow Your Own” employees has been very low. Thus, we enjoy savings for many years of not have to fill and re-fill those positions. It adds stability to the employee base plus with less turnover being able to grow your business because of this stability is critical and well worth the effort.

Bottom line is the ROI is gradual but worth the time and efforts. Again, sighting our company, where we engage a lot in promoting from within, we really know these individuals we understand their strengths and their loyalty is undiminished. We are engaged in Filling Careers not just Filling Positions.

I grew up in a construction family and worked for my Dad several summers during and after high school. Then while working on my degree at North Dakota State University I was hired by a construction equipment dealership. I started in their service department part time until I finished college. Then full-time service employment for a couple of years then transitioned into sales management. During the recession of the early 1980’s myself and three other managers started General Equipment & Supplies, Inc.

First as Sales Manager and eventually as President we grew our business from one location and 20 employees to 10 locations in four states and two Canadian Provinces and over 250 employees. Along the way we developed relationships with area Technical Colleges and created a College Tuition Reimbursement Program where today we Recruit a handful of new technicians annually into that program. Our company has also developed two Department of Labor Certified Apprenticeship Programs to fill hard to find skilled positions. I am currently semi-retired as Chairman of the Board.

For more information on how we can help with your employee development, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.



A New Value Proposition for Leaders

A New Value Proposition for Leaders

How Do We Measure Success?

Tonight’s blog is courtesy of Ed Wallace, in a continuation of his last blog post: How Do We Measure Success?

Most executives and managers will tell you that strong human relationships are critical to their success. They say they also need their team members and employees to be great at developing and maintaining relationships, collaborating, innovating, advocating for company goals and keeping the organization functioning effectively.  Whether it’s external or internal business relationships, we need to understand how people think and act, what it takes for someone to want to listen to you, help you, work for you, work with you, and even buy from you.

The challenge we face during the pandemic is that proximate relationships are difficult to foster let alone to launch new ones. A recent McKinsey survey indicated that most companies are going to behave like they are as of this writing for another 12 months after the pandemic is over. This leads to what I call the need to become a hybrid relational leader. However, very few leaders take any kind of structural, systematic approach to doing this.


I find it paradoxical that if relationships are so important, then why are leaders unable to display ‘intentionality’ toward them?  The answer is due to the fluid, unpredictable nature of business relationships that makes companies struggle with just how to capitalize on their potential. In fact, many business leaders view developing business relationships as an instinctive mind-set rather than as an approach based on beliefs, new skills, and a repeatable process.  I’ve heard the phrase, “We focus on hiring and growing people with the most magic,” hoping that magic will rub off on everyone else. The common result is a haphazard, almost accidental process of relationship development. How risky is that now that we can’t meet with people in person as often?

What’s Missing?

So, why are leaders missing the relational mark? My experience, through many years of research into business relationships and working with over 28,000 business professionals and 300 companies, has shown me that there are five identifiable principles that lead to intentional relationship development whether it be proximate or digital and, not surprisingly, superior performance.  They are at the very heart of the practice of the most successful leaders at all levels in organizations and life. The Five Principles of the Relational Leader are:

  1. Display Worthy Intent
  2. Care About People’s Goals, Passions, and Struggles
  3. Make Every Interaction Matter
  4. Value People Before Processes
  5. Connect Performance to a Purpose


The Five Principles of the Relational Leader

Relational Agility: A New Competency

These principles form a system of beliefs for high performers that Relational Leaders follow and apply intentionally. I define this intentionality as the way Relational Leaders coordinate a principled, purposeful and practical relational approach. This results in a competency that I call relational agility that allows them to bridge the generational, cultural, and yes, the pandemic gaps, that exist today. Through my experiences and research, I know they can be learned, practiced and improved bringing a surprising level of precision to relationships in organizations.

This begins with the first principle, known as Display Worthy Intent- putting the other person’s goals and values at the forefront of each business relationship, creating an exceptional experience for others. Relational Leaders then apply the remaining principles to create relationships that immunize them against all competitors both within and outside their organizations.

We all create plans and strategies for many aspects of life – education, careers, building a home, retirement, and even playing games with our children. So why leave the development of important business relationships largely to improvisation or magic when even magicians have a disciplined process to accomplish their illusions. Relational Leaders deliver on the new value proposition for leadership through a strategic, intentional focus on their business relationships using the five principles and process that I shared in this article. Companies that ‘invest in relational capital’ will be the long-term winners in today’s complex business environment.

The margin for error in business today is razor thin, so why takes chances on your relationships!

Ed Wallace, President, AchieveNEXT Human Capital.

Ed consults with and speaks for corporations and associations across the globe with a client list that is a Who’s Who of Fortune 500 companies. He is the author of Fares to FriendsCreating Relational Capital, Business Relationships That Last, and his most recent the #1 best seller, The Relationship Engine.  In addition, Ed is currently on the Executive Education faculty of Drexel’s LeBow College of Business and Villanova University’s Human Resources Master’s program.


Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing

Mets Kramer

Digital Marketing: Billboard vs Engagement

“At the moment, our research shows buyers making 90% of their purchase decision before contacting the dealer.” And there it was. I had been having thoughts like these swirling around in my head for a few months now. But when Charles Bowles at Trader Interactive spoke with me, I had no idea how much our industry had shifted.

I have a theory about Digital Marketing in our construction equipment industry and I believe it can be considered in two ways.

  • First, is what I’d like to call Billboard Marketing, which refers to digital strategies geared towards establishing and maintaining digital visibility. These approaches are often additional marketing strategies, while continuing the existing methods of communication.
  • The second approach is called Engagement Marketing and includes digital activities to connect and develop engagement opportunities with your target audience. Dealers who implement Engagement Marketing consider their digital marketing presence as transformative and suggest these methods could replace most, if not all, past marketing approaches.

There are three aspects of Digital Marketing that I would like to look at and compare Billboard and Engagement strategies. They include Websites, Email Marketing and Advertising campaigns.

  1. Websites

Most dealers have a website today, which is a great start, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Listing your equipment, providing contact information and location falls under the Billboard approach: you present your information to visitors and hope they contact you. However, for Engagement Marketing, your website should provide a virtual visit to your dealership; images and videos of your inventory, and related documents showing the quality of the equipment and records of its health and maintenance. The icing on the cake would lead the visitor to a button they can click on to take them onto the next step. (Replace “Contact for more information” with “I’m interested in Buying”) But let’s be real, this call to action isn’t the icing, it’s the entire cake! How do you measure whether you are leading your visitor into an engaging relationship? Make sure you provide ample information about the machine so they can decide on the spot. If there’s not enough detail, Bowles says 90% of visitors will go to check out another listing to find what they need. Hop onto Google Analytics to help you assess whether you’re Engaging or Billboarding.

  1. Email Campaigning

The next common aspect of Digital Marketing is email campaigning.  Email campaigns are a great way to stay connected to customers and present new products. To use email campaigns effectively, it is important to consider your audience and develop strategies in order to create a continuing conversation. Mail programs such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp provide the tools to send information to tens of thousands of people.  A Billboard approach sends the same message to everyone who drives by it – no matter who they are or what they are looking for. We don’t want to use email campaigns the same way. Instead, consider a more strategic approach, engaging different segments of your audience based off their interests. Provide a mixture of Equipment For Sale messages and industry, fleet focused education. Use the tools provided by the email platforms to understand who is interacting with your campaigns and change the messaging and frequency for each segment to further engage your audience. While email campaigns can feel like a one-way communication, change your mindset and remember, email is most effective as a conversation tool. So, create campaigns that encourage your audience to talk back!

  1. Digital Advertising

Finally, Digital Advertising, whether Google, Facebook or others, are designed to bring visitors to your digital dealership: your website.  The Billboard approach will stop at bidding on generic words (ex. Caterpillar excavator, Komatsu bulldozer, Case backhoe, etc.)  which will hopefully bring visitors to your website to see what your dealership has to offer. But let’s keep in mind that digital advertising can be expensive, so the set up and focus of your advertisements should be focused for an Engagement approach. Let’s milk every opportunity! How about bidding on specific machines that are in your inventory? Specific combinations like Komatsu D65EX, for example, will have less bidders, making them cheaper and bringing visitors exactly to what they are looking for, the machine on your website.

The digital marketplace is real and becoming the source of future sales.  All leading industries are showing signs of transformation into the Engagement model of digital marketing.  Automotive sales, Commercial trucks are some but do not forget about Amazon and similar services. We are all proof that Engagement Marketing and Sales keeps us coming back for another slice.

We will continue this discussion soon.

To continue to develop your expertise in Marketing, please visit our website at Learning Without Scars.

High Demand Jobs

High Demand Jobs

This week brings our second guest post from Don Shilling. He talks about the not-so-glamorous world of high demand jobs. Don was born to this industry. In his own words:

Don Shilling

I grew up in a construction family and worked for my Dad several summers during and after high school. Then while working on my degree at North Dakota State University I was hired by a construction equipment dealership. I started in their service department part time until I finished college. Then full-time service employment for a couple of years then transitioned into sales management. During the recession of the early 1980’s myself and three other managers started General Equipment & Supplies, Inc.

First as Sales Manager and eventually as President we grew our business from one location and 20 employees to 10 locations in four states and two Canadian Provinces and over 250 employees. Along the way we developed relationships with area Technical Colleges and created a College Tuition Reimbursement Program where today we Recruit a handful of new technicians annually into that program. Our company has also developed two Department of Labor Certified Apprenticeship Programs to fill hard to find skilled positions. I am currently semi-retired as Chairman of the Board.

High Demand Jobs

In my initial blog I discussed the fact that we need to be able to find good people and then train them. This seems simple enough, except what the Workforce Development Council defines as “High Demand Jobs” typically are not considered glamorous. High Demand Jobs don’t get a lot of attention when our youth are exploring their future careers.

Why is that? We find it easy to blame our educational system and all the College promotional materials out there that tout the excitement of degrees in computing or high tech. But, as they say, maybe it is time to look in the mirror if you want to lay blame. The “High Demand Jobs” are typically tied to industries who have allowed this to happen. Owners and managers within these industries have not taken the time to engage the educational system and demand equal time with our youth as they select their career options.

How Do Young People Discover Us If We Don’t Tell Them We Are Here?!

However, thanks to the Pandemic . . . maybe, just maybe, we have reached a time where we can turn that corner. What we have found in our local Workforce Development Council is the jobs that were lost during the Pandemic were tied to people who are perhaps under-skilled. In some cases, these were people who made employment choices early in their careers that were not focused on these high demand employment positions. In fact, most of the jobs that were considered “essential” during the Pandemic are also  on the “High Demand Jobs” lists. Perhaps with only a little additional skills training we can help the now under-employed find a stable career that is also considered “essential”.

Industry needs to react to this immediately! As Ron Slee says at the end of each blog, “the time is now,” especially for all of us who employ people in these “high demand jobs.” It is time for us to pull together to support the Career and Technical Education sector as it begins the process of re-tooling our unemployed or under-employed.

By support, I mean something very simple: you need to get involved. Perhaps you can start an apprenticeship program, or connect with your local Career and Technical Education system and see what they might need to start a program that would benefit your labor shortage areas. You can work at recruiting our youth and consider helping the right candidates with educational expenses. Bring them into your businesses and show them opportunities they might have never imagined. Let’s get started! You are going to like what you see in the mirror when you do.

For further information on re-tooling your skills, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Continuous Improvement and Employee Retention

Continuous Improvement and Employee Retention

Today’s Guest Blogger has a great deal of wisdom to offer us. Here’s a bit more about Don Shilling, in his own words.

Don Shilling


My background is what has helped make me so passionate about continuous improvement and employee retention. I grew up in a construction family and worked for my Dad several summers during and after high school. Then while working on my degree at North Dakota State University I was hired by a construction equipment dealership. I started in their service department part time until I finished college. Then full-time service employment for a couple of years then transitioned into sales management. During the recession of the early 1980’s myself and three other managers started General Equipment & Supplies, Inc.

First as Sales Manager and eventually as President we grew our business from one location and 20 employees to 10 locations in four states and two Canadian Provinces and over 250 employees. Along the way we developed relationships with area Technical Colleges and created a College Tuition Reimbursement Program where today we Recruit a handful of new technicians annually into that program. Our company has also developed two Department of Labor Certified Apprenticeship Programs to fill hard to find skilled positions. I am currently semi-retired as Chairman of the Board.

Training is an important element of continuous improvement and employee retention. But before we can train our employees, we must find them!

I am currently on the Workforce Development Council in our area. Congress mandates that every state have a Workforce Development Council. The Governor appoints Members and the Council should consist of at least 50% business and industry leaders.

As a Council, we first develop the list of “High Demand Jobs” in our region. After that, we advise the Governor on what programs we need to attract people to these jobs. The High Demand Jobs we all know; some vary from state to state but certainly 75% of them are skilled jobs. These careers require two years of college or trade school or less. Many are apprentice learned skill sets. Certainly all of these skilled positions require additional training annually.

What Comes Next?

We, as business leaders, must explore the information and recommendations from our local Workforce Development Council. All of us need to do our homework by engaging in a deep dive into all the programs available in our area to attract people to these High Demand Jobs. We have to support the recruitment, education and continued training of the employees we attract.

Every State has programs that support us as we fill these High Demand Jobs. These programs can include tuition reimbursement, as well as grants for On the Job Training and Job Shadows. There might be incentives for continuous improvement.

It costs money to educate and train our current employees or these future employees but finding monetary relief through available State Sponsored programs can help you to get engaged and ease that burden. The successful businesses of the future will be the ones who utilize these programs. These businesses will aggressively explore options for finding and training people.

More detail in future blogs.

For more information on how we can help you with continuous improvement and employee retention, please visit our website at

Up-Skilling Is Not Just a Buzzword

Up-Skilling Is Not Just a Buzzword

I remember when most people used to think that when they left school, their learning was complete. Whether that was High School, Technical School, Junior College or University. As a teacher, I taught education, in other words I taught people how to teach. I used to tell my students at University that when they graduated and went out into the world – that is when their learning really started. I always told aspiring teachers that one of our primary goals as teachers, is to teach people how to teach themselves.

With the world we live in today that is truer than ever. The younger generations are much smarter, at their ages, than we were at comparable ages. They know a lot more about things and subjects than my generation did. (I learned how to wire Unit Record Equipment – almost an analogue computer.) One of the biggest differences that I see is that they are impatient. Today a lot of older management view that as a negative quality. I view that as a positive. If these younger employees are not learning and growing their potential, as employees, they do not want to stay around. I really admire that quality. They have a need, if not a thirst to learn. They want to continuously improve. They want up-skilling.

The moves us directly into our term for today: up-skilling is not just a buzzword. This is the term that explains that the skills of the employees are being constantly improved and enhanced, they are being up-skilled. That fits perfectly into our view of learning. First take an assessment and understand your individual strengths and weaknesses. Take classes, address your weaknesses, and fill in your skills gaps. Get Up-Skilled. And that never ends. There is always something more to learn.

We provide dealers and employees Learning Paths. They are based on Skill Levels reported in the Job Function Skills Assessment. Those Skill Levels: Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert allow us to recommend subject specific classes to allow the employee to improve their skill level. When used in conjunction with an annual performance review, dealerships are unlocking the potential of each individual employee and enhancing their company value to the workplace.

Never forget that talented people serving your customers are your heroes. Neither forget that the talent pool available to us is shrinking. The competition for these talented people is becoming fiercer that at any time I have seen. I don’t believe that this will become any easier, in fact I believe it will become more difficult. If you want to be able to attract, hire, develop and retain your workforce you must have a solid foundation, skill set inventories and career path opportunities, for each individual employee. You also need to be able to discuss with them their specific career path and what is necessary for them to be available for promotions and other opportunities in the company. Do you have these skill set inventories in place? Do you know the individual skills required for each job function? This is that solid foundation that is required. Do you have it in place? Should you?

The choice is yours. I would urge you to consider that the consequences are significant.

The time is now.

What Subject Specific Classes Can Do For You

What Subject Specific Classes Can Do For You

Moving from the role of an employee in an equipment dealership to being a consultant was an interesting transition. I started at Hewitt Equipment, the Caterpillar Dealer in Quebec, in March 1969 on a one-year contract. While with Hewitt I was given the opportunity to learn and grow my skills. I never forgot that. In 1978 I moved to Western Canada and worked for Finning Tractor and Equipment. In 1980 I moved back to Alberta where we started our consulting business. Through those twelve years I was given the opportunity to learn. I could never have done the work I did as a consultant without all of the training I received while working for those two Caterpillar dealerships. That opportunity for learning is what our subject specific classes can provide for you.

I don’t think I was very different then than the millennials and younger generation today. I needed to learn. I HAD to learn to progress in my work. I think the younger generations today are in exactly the same frame of mind as I was at their age. If I am not learning and progressing, I am wasting my time and should be looking for something else. I continue to be in awe at the knowledge of these younger generations. They have so much more knowledge than we Baby Boomers had at a similar age. I suppose that is a normal progression in society but it is one that needs to be respected. These younger generations are what we older generations have to rely on in our dotage.

In the consulting business I would be involved in identifying opportunities, negotiating solution options and implementing change. This invariably involved teaching people how to do things the “new” way. Before I started at Hewitt, I taught education at McGill University in Montreal. I absolutely love when I see the lights go on in a students’ eyes when they “Get” it. That really turns my crank. In the early 1990’s most of the OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and business associations (AED Associated Equipment Dealers) stopped doing any management training in the Parts and Service business. I thought I could fill that void.

I spent the summer of 1992 creating three “text” books for management in Parts, Service and Product Support Sales. In other words, I created the foundation from three management training classes. I set up the classes to take place over three days and split the learning into six distinct categories. Selling, Operations, Asset Management, Finance, Leadership, and Standards of Performance. This was the beginning of Quest, Learning Centers. In 2016 we incorporated Learning Without Scars and transitioned to the internet. We now offer the largest selection of internet-based employee development classes in the Industry. We have ninety-four subject specific classes available to the parts, service and selling aspects of Product Support.

Last week the focus of our blogs was on the assessments. This week we are moving to our classes. The foundation question for the assessments, is what is the department that you are interested in reviewing. We start the same way with the classes. You select a department and then we take you to the class options for that department. We will take you to the next step tomorrow.

The time is now.

For more information on our programs and what we can do for you, please visit our website at

What Would Winston Say Today?

What Would Winston Say Today?

Winston Churchill was a special individual. A unique individual. He always stood on principle even at a significant cost to himself personally. He saved the United Kingdom by the force of his will during World War II. Then he got rejected after the war in the first election. It wasn’t the first time he was rejected. But he never strayed from him principles. He was born in 1874 and passed in 1965.

Let’s review some of his quotations.

  • When I was younger, I made it a rule never to take a strong drink before lunch. It is now my rule never to do so before breakfast. (Single Malt is perfect.)

For today consider the following.

  • The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
  • Democracy is the worse form of government, except for all the others.
  • Of all the small nations of this earth, perhaps only ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.
    • (Read about how the Scots viewed societal responsibilities)

Then getting closer to home.

  • You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities.
  • An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
  • If you make 10,000 regulations you destroy all respect for the law.
  • To build may have to be the slow laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
  • When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.
  • All of the empires of the future will be empires of the mind.
  • Every man should ask himself each day whether he is not too readily accepting negative solutions.
  • If we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find that we have lost the future.
  • Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.
  • The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent value of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
  • The malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous.
  • We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

The Time is Now.

The Evolution in Learning which is fast becoming a Revolution

The Evolution in Learning which is fast becoming a Revolution

From my grandmother who taught in a one room schoolhouse, to today we have seen a lot of change in education.

I want to go back a little further than that today. Socrates, our logo, and one of the fathers of teaching, distrusted learning from books. Students reading words would gain only shadows of the original authors’ insight and worse would not understand the difference. Of course, there were not many books back then.

In his book “The End of College, Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere” Kevin Carey puts forward some interesting statistics.

  • Less than 40% of students enrolling for the first time at a four-year college actually graduate in four years. Fewer than 66% within six years.
  • There are almost thirty-three million college dropouts in America over the age of twenty-five. Many with large student loans.
  • Fourteen percent of college graduates scored at the basic level of literacy. That makes them good enough to read grade school books.

Richard Arum in his book “Academically Adrift, Limited Learning on College Campuses” said, “American higher education is characterized by limited to no learning for a large proportion of students.”

The purpose of post high school learning according to educators was practical training, research, and a liberal arts education. In 1869 Harvard University hired thirty-five-year-old Charles William Eliot to lead the school. One of the many things he did was replace the mandatory curriculum with an elective system. This exploded the courses offered, increased the faculty dramatically and caused expansion of facilities to accommodate the increased student body. The rest is history.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, (NCES) part of the Department of Education, there were 4,726 degree-granting institutions at the peak in 2012. That consisted of 3,206 four-year institutions and 1,700 two-year institutions. The enrollment in these institutions peaked at just over 21,500,000 students in 2010.

The final straw was when the Federal Guaranteed Student Loans and tuitions exploded upward. The average debt is estimated to be $37,172 per student in 2016. The total outstanding student loans in the United States reached an all time high of $1.41 trillion in 2019. Amazing isn’t it?

Today as noted in previous blogs surveys indicate that nearly 75% of three hundred professionals prefer internet-based learning instead of classroom learning.

There is one other critical factor to consider. Teaching and Learning has made a radical and very dramatic shift. We have shifted from “passive” learning to “active” learning.

With passive learning the teacher is responsible for improving the skills of the student. With active learning it is the student that has the responsibility for their own learning.

Creative thinking, collaboration and interpersonal skills show great improvement with active learning methodologies. Businesses need to pay attention. One of the main challenges in the coming decades is going to be in the area of personnel. Attracting, Recruiting, Hiring, Developing, Appraising, and Retaining talent will be a huge challenge. I believe to the core of my being that with the right people in your business you will prevail in whatever it is that you want to do. Without them you will fail.

Companies must set up a proactive learning environment to motivate their workforce.

At Learning Without Scars, we start with JOB FUNCTION SKILLS ASSESSMENTS to determine the knowledge and skill categories of individuals. From the skill category of an individual we can customize their learning experience. We can direct them to the applicable subject specific classes available for their personal progression through the skill categories; Basic, Core, Advanced and Expert.

If individuals want to take a subject specific class(es) we can tailor that as well that into five specific areas; Customer Service, Selling, Operations, Finance and Leadership. The individual can select from an array of classes choices in each of those disciplines.

This is all aimed at allowing the individual employee to design their own learning path with JOB FUNCTION SKILL ASSESSMENTS in place to monitor their progress. This is our contribution to “active” learning where the individual employee takes control of their own destiny at work. They can grow their skills and in so doing increase the likelihood of earning more money and taking on more challenging and rewarding work assignments.

As R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries, said “Our problem as people is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.” And if we want to go further with him, he says “If you’re not accountable in your life that means ultimately that your life doesn’t much count.”

You have a choice to make. To be on a path of constant exploration and learning or to do nothing. The choice is YOURS to make.

The Time is Now.

Who Is Your Customer?

In Business – Why are you here?


I had an interesting conversation with Caroline, my daughter, yesterday. Caroline is a teacher, and a very good one. Of course, I am going to say that but it is very true. She teaches in an extremely underprivileged community where a very large percentage of the student body who are English Learners. Further, as with the majority of the students in our region, they rely heavily on the food programs available through schools to be able to have a meal each day. With many agricultural jobs, we see very hard-working families who still need the extra resources. A difficult situation to say the least.

We were talking about education and how this current situation, with the country closed down, is going to affect the future of education. My granddaughter goes to University, it is closed and her classes are all being conducted virtually: even the labs, as she is in the sciences. My grandson is in High School and all his classes are done virtually. My daughter teaches High School and she teaches all day, every day, virtually. Imagine that, would you? They are all in school and no one leaves home.

This is what I have been talking about since the early 2000’s. From the Khan Academy, to every major University, to IT training, most everything that anyone wants to learn is available on line. AND for the most part it is free. At Learning Without Scars we have provided a learning platform for individuals who want to improve their skills and knowledge. Unfortunately, that is not everyone. Being optimistic I believe that more people, particularly the younger generations will change that and that they will constantly be striving to make themselves better. Of course, the world has to catch up. In order for online education to succeed, our students need to have access to a decent connection to the online world. That is still not true in many parts of our country today.

Which brings me to the customer and my conversation with Caroline. The end customer of education is society. School is the vehicle which every community uses to develop the people that will create the social and economic activity that will better society. BUT, the primary customer of the school systems, of education, is the student and their family. Too often that fact gets lost in the bureaucracies of the education community: the Federal Government, which does not have a role in education enumerated in the Constitution; the State Governments, who have primary responsibility, the School Boards with elected Administrators, many of whom have never taught in a classroom in their lives, municipal governments, who receive the taxes to pay for schools and on and on. Who is thinking about the customer here? Of course, it is the teacher. But who supports that teacher?

Now look at your business. WHO is YOUR customer? That should be a very easy question to answer. I would like you to think about that for when we come out of this economic shutdown. WHO is YOUR customer? Is it the person coming in to order parts? Is it the person who calls to schedule maintenance or a repair on a machine? WHO is it? In many of these cases it is an employee of a business who uses equipment. But one more time please – WHO is the CUSTOMER?

I am hopeful that every distributor and dealer will come to a different conclusion than what has been true the past three to four decades. I am hopeful that they will begin to operate in a radically different manner than they have recently. I am hopeful that the employees will be given more and better tools to serve the machine owners. But then again, I am an optimistic person.

Things won’t be any different coming out of this economic shutdown unless we make them different. And that means some serious thinking about WHO that CUSTOMER really is that you are serving.

The Time is Now.