Principia for After-sales

Principia for After-sales

In this week’s guest post, blogger Ryszard Chciuk offers us his Principia for after-sales, and brings us more ways to improve this valuable part of our business.

In Principia for Business I presented my personal view on the foundations of every organization. It was not a summary of the pile of publications on that subject I have read. In fact, I did not find there too many useful tips on how to build a durable and efficient organization.

In this and a few next posts, I am going to describe my own way of defining and implementing the idea of the main principles (values).

One of the main tasks of the founder of a new organization is to define the set of the most important principles binding its members. They should also know the long-term goals (have a look at the post about our vision). After that, they are able to find the proper ways to get closer to the goals. You will help your people in that process by telling them HOW you want to run your business to be different from the competition.

Another two important questions are: WHY you are starting up (Ron Slee explained his WHY in Why do we do what we do) and WHAT you are going to do for the wellbeing of your customers, employees, suppliers, environment, and yourself. Without a clear and public answer for those three questions a new entity is mined and the time bomb is ticking. It is my belief this is the main cause of going bankrupt by so many companies.

When I began to build the best after-sales organization in my country, Simon Sinek was not ready with his great TEDx presentation How Great Leaders Inspire Actions (54 million views since 2009). Just common sense told me that I should establish the main principles for my new team (apart from the long-term goals and mission). Some consultants say it should be done by a group of people. I dare to doubt. Only slaves must obey the rules established by their owners but free people always have a choice to work or not, for a given company. Its founder is entitled to set the main values. However, it is a must to discuss the meaning of values with all employees when somebody breaks any of the main principles. It is also helpful to celebrate when an employee finds a new way of better fulfilling any value.

The main values are important for employees when they have to take immediate action without the support of their superior. Very often they are not even aware that a required ­– in a given situation – behavior is described in detail in one of the dozens of special procedures. The older the organization, the more not understandable procedures, often written in a lawyers’ language.

Big companies define their values on a corporate level. In our case, they were: Quality, Safety, and Environmental Care. They seemed to me too general for the after-sales team I had the honor to create around twenty years ago. I defined the main principles as follows:

  1. Integrity
  2. Care of people and environment
  3. Profitability
  4. Excellence

It is not very common that the after-sales department has its own main principles (values) and purpose (mission) but I believed what I was doing was right. A few years later I found confirmation in Built to Last. Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras: There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t articulate a core ideology for your own workgroup, department, or division. If your company has a strong overall corporate ideology, then your group-level ideology will naturally be constrained by that ideology – particularly the core values. But you can still have your own flavor of ideology, and certainly, you can articulate a purpose for your own sub-organization. What is its reason for being? What would be lost if it ceased to exist? The concept of the core ideology embraces both mission and values.

It can happen the top management of the dealership does not know how they are going to run their business and does not bother about any values. Then CFO, Sales Director, and After-sales Manager lead their teams in accordance with completely different, opposite values. For example, CFO cares mainly about profit, Sales want to increase the number of sold machines, and After-sales are focused on customer satisfaction. The most dangerous is when they do not know each other preferences. Daily conflicts between managers are stepping down to the lowest level of the hierarchy. Employees do not collaborate with their friends working for another department. It is possible to avoid that problem. The managers have to look each other in the eye and tell each other the meaning of their main principles. Of course, their values have to be aligned with those the company founder believed in. Otherwise, it is a great waste of time to work for that kind of organization.

Next time I am going to share my point of view on the potential conflict between private and company values, how to write value definitions, the importance of constant reminding of the main principles…

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Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization 2

Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization – Part 2

Tonight, Don Buttrey brings us Part 2 of his two-part series on Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization.

2) Sell ‘the house’

We don’t just sell product anymore.  Product and brand will not sell itself. We have to ‘sell the house’.  That is one thing the competition does not have-your differentiator!

Why should customers choose you and do business with you?  Every person in your organization should know that answer.  This awareness should season everything you do and be on the tip of every tongue. If you do not know that answer…who does?

When you consider the question “what do we sell?” you can help define that answer by documenting Company Factors and Value-Added Services of your company.  Company Factors are advantages, minute distinctions and attractive characteristics that you offer.  Don’t get hung up on the word, unique.  Some competitors may claim the same or similar factors.  Company factors are simply what you look like as a company.  How many branches you have, expertise in certain markets, years in business, key people, inventory, size, location, stability, certified mechanics, customer base, and lines represented are all examples of company factors.  Value-Added Services are what you do for your customers before, during and after the sale.  These services support your offerings and enhance the perceived value.  Examples might be inventory management, part usage reports, financing services, safety training seminars, etc.  I suggest you workshop these two lists as a team and publish the results internally.  Make sure everyone knows and believes in ‘who you are’ and ‘what you do’.  You may even want to prioritize this list and document the top things that clearly set you apart from the rest of the pack of competitors.

3) Standardize your selling process

So how do we take this corporate, ‘selling mindset’ to the street?  This has to be more than a “value” campaign or hype.  We must make sure that all contacts and experiences that our customers have with us result in a perceived value for which they are willing to pay a premium price.  This will not happen by accident.  Banners, literature and websites will only create visual consistency in your marketing and image.  Each and every person, in every customer interaction, must sell that value and communicate it effectively.

The best way to facilitate this is with a standardized selling process.  This is a framework to help each person who interacts with the customer to prepare and execute effective selling of your value.  We recommend a standard tool that we call the SELL process.  The dynamic interaction with a customer is not step-by-step.  However, having a structure for how to prepare and execute the interaction is powerful.



The SELL Process:  Start        Evaluate        Leverage         Lock

Outside sales professionals can use this outline to pre-call plan for each call – SELL offense!  Sales support can use this same outline to react better in spontaneous selling situations and opportunities that occur everyday.  The same SELL process can also be used a framework to prepare for objections and respond to them properly – SELL defense!

When we train sales professionals and sales support, we use this simple, yet profound process to prepare, practice and perfect selling skill.  Each step is studied, understood and practiced.  For example, every person who deals with complaints or objections from customers can benefit from intense learning on how to answer objections.  The team can even document proven answers and practice delivery and methodology of responding.  By standardizing the tool and terminology used for selling your value everyday, you can fulfill the first challenge we discussed—teach everyone to sell.


Becoming a selling organization is not really complicated.  It is decisive, however.  The pieces are all there; your people, your products, your operations.  It is really a matter if reconnecting those pieces to transform into a selling machine.  Teach everyone to sell.  Sell the house.  Standardize your selling process.  Remember the line of children’s toys called Transformers?  A robot, with its existing parts could, by a few decisive moves, become a racecar or some other machine.  Make the three decisive moves we just discussed and turn from just a dealer into a SELLING MACHINE!

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Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization 1

Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization – Part 1

Don Buttrey introduces us to the transformation involved in becoming a selling organization in Part 1 of his blog on this topic.


“Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”  With that simple statement, Red Motley made clear the importance of the sales function to any organization.  As a distributor in the supply channel, the importance is even more acute.  Selling is your lifeblood.  The selling function is a significant part of your activities.  Oh yes, operations, service and technical support are essential, but today’s Construction Equipment Distributor or manufacturer must be a “selling machine” where everyone who serves the customer directly or indirectly delivers and communicates (sells) value.  When this thinking permeates your culture, it assures growth and profitability.  What I have just described is a true “selling organization.”


Leaders; transforming into a team where everyone sells and has a selling mindset will not happen by accident.  You must do it on purpose.  If you tell people to do the right things and your system tells them otherwise…the system will win every time.  This article will highlight three things you can start immediately to indoctrinate this culture into your system:  1) Teach everyone to sell; 2) Sell the house; 3) Standardize your selling process.


1) Teach everyone to sell


This part of the transformation starts at the top, as you might have expected.  First and foremost, the dealer principle and top management must be selling experts.  Not that they are out on the field closing deals (although they may have key involvement in some accounts.)  Yet they must possess sharpened selling skills in order to sell ideas, expectations, tools, systems etc. to the entire team.  Sell, not tell!  They must also have a clear understanding of value and benefit selling in order to present, market and perpetuate the required factors that differentiate you from the rest of the competition.  Only leaders that understand the strategic and tactical requirements of successful selling can direct, inspire, coach and motivate a true selling organization.  Visible, enthusiastic support of any selling skills training is a must.


Sales managers must also sell.  They must become brilliant in their contribution to joint calls–not to “take over” but to be a model of professional selling skill.  As a coach they reinforce the disciplines of professional selling and raise the bar of expectations.  It is strongly suggested that sales managers participate in any selling skills training.  The purpose of this is not to just monitor and observe, but to be an active part as each salesperson practices and refines their execution.


Of course, front-line salespeople must be masters of selling.  Selling is their profession.  Each one should strive to become a Sales Professional!  Product knowledge, application expertise, people skills, benefit selling, communication skill, strategic account planning, and pre-call planning are just a few of the many skills and tools they must execute skillfully to get consistent results.  Intensive selling skill training for these professionals is a given.  These are the “highly trained field agents” of a successful selling organization that take proactive action and start the engine.


And please don’t forget that service technicians, customer service, installation, and all sales support must also be trained in selling skills.  Granted, selling is not their primary job duty.  Yet they are interacting daily with customers and dealing with the tough issues. They encounter an astounding number of opportunities to reinforce value, secure jeopardized business, penetrate and expand accounts, discover hidden opportunities, pass leads, add-on sell and build relationships.  Great selling organizations provide these key players with more than just technical know-how or specific job skills.  They leverage their integral involvement with customers by adding core selling skills to their regimen of training.  With proper sales training they can learn to sell spontaneously and appropriately.

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Pre-Call Planning Is an Absolute Must!

Pre-call Planning is an Absolute Must!

Pre-Call Planning is an Absolute Must

Don Buttrey is the president of Sales Professional Training Inc., a company that offers in-depth skill development for sales professionals and sales support. He has trained thousands of salespeople over 25 years and clearly understands the selling environment of equipment dealers. His curriculum is comprehensive and proven. All courses are now available as web-based Elearning. E-learning is ideal for training individuals and smaller sales teams! Don can be reached at (937) 427-1717or email Check out this website link  for more information – or to purchase online sales training. This week he is sharing all of the reasons why pre-call planning is an absolute must for our salespeople.

What preparation should I expect my salespeople to do before picking up the phone or meeting with a customer?

Most of the time salespeople do the ‘typical’ prep such as considering the situation, doing some research, or reviewing notes on the customer such as past sales, problems, internal politics, personal facts, previous calls etc. That is important – but it is not enough. Often, at that point they just charge in or pick up the phone and “see how it goes”. I call this, “showing up and throwing up”. There is another part of pre-call planning that is an absolute must!

One of the most important disciplines and skills I teach is, tactical pre-call planning. This involves consideration of the customer contact person, situation, competitors, etc. and then designing and perfecting the expected interaction. I love that word – “interaction”. The last part of that word is action. And if you want to get action – you must be a master of the interaction! When salespeople make proactive calls, they are on the “offense” and they should prepare their offense!

First, what is the objective for the call? If a salesperson does not know why they are there – the customer doesn’t know why they are there! Sales Professionals must have a purpose or defined reason for every call. If our veterans get in the habit of calling on buddies and just stopping in to say; “got anything for me” or “I just happened to be in the area and thought I would stop by” you will end up with a team of professional visitors. We need professional salespeople!

What will salespeople say to start? What questions will they ask and how will they word them for maximum effectiveness? What benefits of product or distributor value will they leverage? What is their action-oriented objective and how will they ask for commitment or action?

The SELL Process Tool

For the last two decades my mission has been to help salespeople pre-call plan using the SELL Process tool. SELL stands for Start, Evaluate, Leverage, Lock: and each of these steps should be prepared in order to maximize every precious customer interaction. My training curriculum teaches this powerful process in great detail and provides a simple, but profound tool as a framework for effective pre-call tactical planning. It’s like learning a proven offense, that with time, empowers sales professionals to execute each uniquely different call brilliantly! Preparation and ongoing practice are essential. You play like you practice—and salespeople just don’t practice enough. I am a firm believer that we should even be doing dry runs and scrimmages before critical calls!

Using the SELL Process framework, my training teaches sales professionals to write out their tactical plan. Yes, write it. Writing makes the message exact. If you don’t write it, you can’t fix it. Tooling out what you will say to Start will keep you from getting “diarrhea of the mouth” and overwhelming the customer with jabber. Writing out the questions you need to ask and perfecting the wording of those open-ended questions helps you be a consultant and increases the chance that you will find out the real needs and situation –and listen! Plus, writing provides some notes for you to follow and indicates to the customer that you cared enough to get ready for this important investment of their time. Writing helps you remember, helps you prioritize, and keeps the meeting on track and in control. Your confidence and improved non-verbals will show!

And this is not just for big calls. It is an essential daily discipline to prepare appropriately for every precious customer interaction prior to making a call. When a sales professional is prepared, it shows respect to the customer. It presents a professional, consultative image. Buyers are sick of cocky salespeople who wing-it and don’t even listen. Plus, the deal at hand may come down to this do-or-die call – and if the salesperson is not prepared, the opportunity is lost. Careful preparation assures that the message is focused on the customer and not the salesperson. It keeps the call focused, concise, and clear without veering off on useless rabbit trails!

I accept the reality that selling is very dynamic and that anything could happen in each unique call. Pre-call tactical planning with the SELL Process is not a silver bullet. However, it empowers sales professionals with skill and brilliant execution of their offense and defense to maximize every opportunity. The market for a small, independent construction equipment dealer is extremely competitive. Every call counts. The days of winging it are over. Pre-call tactical planning is a must!

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Are Bricks and Mortar Going to Survive the Internet Era?

Are Bricks and Mortar going to Survive the Internet Era?


During the past fifty years, most of my work life in this Industry, one of the most significant

‘barriers to entry” in the equipment industry, and in fact, capital goods industries has been the ownership and control of proprietary information. For instance, where to buy a part. A specific part, a bearing, for example, was purchased from an authorized dealer typically because the consumer did not know of any other source. Repairs and Maintenance were the exclusive domain of the authorized dealer for a similar reason. There was no availability for the independent mechanic to service manuals and technical literature. There clearly has been a radical change here hasn’t there? Just ask Google or another search engine whatever you want and they will typically have an answer. Even Alexa or Siri or Bixby will give you an answer on your cellular telephone.

Let’s start with some facts. In the US the standard in the retail sales Industry used to be 10 square feet of store space for every person in the country. In 1998, after a substantial increase in the square foot assigned to retail sales, the retail sales per square foot had dropped from $200.00/ft2 to $150.00/ft2. In 1999 the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management reported that consumers’ shopping time was down 31% and monthly mall visits were down 47% with stores visited per mall visit down 57%. Clearly something was going on here.

While this was going on Amazon came onto the scene. They started business on July 5, 1994. From that launch date the impact that Amazon has had on retail sales has been nothing short of amazing. In 2019 Amazon had a market share of e-commerce in the USA of 52.4%, Non-US was 5.7% for a worldwide market share of 13.7%. In that same year, 2019, e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 22 percent in 2023.

I first used the internet in 1973 through a Service Bureau in Canada via a business called I.P. Sharp Associates. Ian had direct real time access, on line, to all financial data worldwide through the stock markets. He also provided international associations, such as the World Bank, direct access to financial information. He later sold his business to Reuters who kept the news piece and sold the financial piece to what is now provided by Bloomberg. At that time there was no AOL. The general public was not on line yet. That is only forty-five years ago.

Today many business systems offer online “portals” for the public to search through for a part or information on a repair or maintenance for equipment. Today there are a multitude of businesses from whom you can purchase just about any part you need from an alternate source to the authorized dealer. In automotive Genuine parts through their NAPA stores is a direct competitor to the authorized car dealers. In many cases, as Forbes once called it “at a price that will make you weep.” In maintenance and repairs we have seen Mr. Muffler and Midas Muffler forcing the dealers into providing their off brand technical services like Mr. Goodwrench. In the construction equipment world in North America surveys are conducted nearly every five years and that data tells us that maintenance has been completely moved away from the authorized dealers. In fact, labor market share, depending on market area ranges from 8% to 15% of the total labor available. Of course, there are outliers in both directions. The parts market share is not more than 40% any more when in the late seventies it was in the range of 80%.

In 1980 one of the first internet-based buying options was brought out to the market. That parts ordering portal never achieved a portion of the dealer parts business in excess of 10%. Notice the difference between the Amazon model and our model. Amazon started with books and sold their books at a lower price than the local book stores. Even Borders, a major book store retailer was a victim of Amazon. They are no longer in business. What did Amazon do that the authorized equipment parts suppliers didn’t do. They lowered the prices. Their logic was when the customer is the coproducer of the work, they deserve to get a better deal. No one has as yet tried that approach as an authorized dealer. The aftermarket suppliers have already lower prices at their disposal.

So, there is the dilemma. I hope you can see it coming. It is that light in the tunnel of the train roaring down the track. Are you going to sit back and let the internet-based businesses penetrate even more into your parts and labor business or are you going to do something about it?

The Time is Now. If not now, when?

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Are Salespeople Born or Made?

Are salespeople born or made?

This week’s blog post is a continuation of last week’s series Answers to Four Tough Sales QuestionsThe second question in the series asks us: are salespeople born or made?

Don Buttrey is the president of Sales Professional Training Inc., a company that offers in-depth skill development for sales professionals and sales support. He has trained thousands of salespeople over 25 years and clearly understands the selling environment of equipment dealers and manufacturers. His curriculum is comprehensive and proven! Don is also the author of “The SELL Process”, a foundational how-to book on effective sales interactions.

Don can be reached at (937) 427-1717

or email

Check out this website link  for more information – or to purchase online sales training.

Are salespeople born or made?

Don Buttrey: Neither. It really takes both. Granted, some individuals are born with great gifts. They have contagious personalities, persuasive ability, the gift of talking, or technical/mechanical aptitude. These are all excellent talents that can be good starting points. However, I am of the firm belief that these are not enough. For sales success in today’s tough market it will also require training and practice on fundamental selling skills. The skills and disciplines of sales professionals are what take those innate gifts and make them produce with maximum effectiveness.

On the other side of this issue it must be noted that training and practice alone will not make a great salesperson. All the training in the world will not fix a salesperson who refuses to grow or who has the wrong attitude. Plus, it is very important that we begin with and invest training into people who want to be in sales and who have some of the raw talent and aptitude for daily interactions, communication and self-management.

My conclusion is; attract and find good people with some (or a lot) of the basic talents and aptitudes needed for selling. Confirm that they have a drive to succeed and a teachable mind-set. Then direct, train and coach them. This is a formula for a winning team.

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Balancing Skills in the Workplace

Balancing Skills in the Workplace

Imagine if you will, it is the middle 1980’s and I am working with a John Deere dealer and we are looking at their Service Department. We were reviewing processes and systems and methods and work flows. We also determined that there was a need to review the skills of the technicians and all support functions in the department.

In those days we didn’t have much in the way of personnel management practices in the Industry. We didn’t have a way of balancing skills in the workplace. We had to build the complete structure and reporting criteria. We created three data files; current employee personnel and payroll information, the skills required to each of the job functions, and the determination of the actual skills of each of the employees. To determine the skills of each employee we created what I called a “Skill Set Inventory.” This inventory consisted of questions with multiple choice answers that the employees they completed and submitted the forms to me.

Then we catalogued the answers and grade ranked all of the employees – we matched these results with the payroll records. The final step was to sit with the management of the department to discuss the skills of each of the employees, without the benefit of the employee’s personal thinking, and grade rank them – again we matched these results with the payroll records.

How do you think the management compared with the employee scores and the payroll records? It was very revealing. The management was embarrassed. There was some matching of the results but very little. It turns out that the management had favorites and seniority had an outsized influence on the results. They had not learned the art of balancing skills in the workplace.

This was an extremely important exercise for me. I conducted these types of reviews with several dozen dealers across many different manufacturer dealers. The results were the same. That took us to the place where we needed to develop an objective assessment tool for dealers.

There are many companies within our Industry who have created assessments, we are not alone in this arena. There are manufacturers, personnel companies, associations and others involved, which cover many aspects of the individual jobs; however, you need to be the judge of the value of the results from any job assessment. You need to do your own due diligence.

Our assessments relate to the specific jobs, for instance, the counter and telephone sales employees, or the service office employees, or the product support sales person. There are six job functions within the parts department, eight in the service department and four in the product support selling and parts and service marketing groups. Let’s review how our assessments were created for a moment. For each class we have conducted for the past thirty years, and the more than ten thousand employees we have had in our classes or webinars, we have had questions and work groups, and evaluations throughout. From our classrooms and webinars, we created our subject specific classes, and in each of these subject specific classes which we called “Learning On Demand (LOD)” products we had assessments and tests. This is the foundation of our Skills Assessments programs. We selected for each job function assessment, from the pool of over one thousand questions, the job function assessment questions. Then we have had more than thirty-five hundred people take these assessments so that we could put the job function assessments into the marketplace with confidence.

I am excited by the assessment programs. We have received more than thirty registrations today and I am expecting more than two hundred this week. The same again next week. The market seems to be rewarding us with their orders. We thank them and will continue to provide leading edge tools for dealers to improve their processes, procedures, systems and methods. We aim to assist each employee working in this Industry with products that will help them realize their potential.

We believe that is our mission and our life’s work.

The time is now.

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.

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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.

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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