Over the last several years, the sales and marketing organization of a major automotive brand has seen their new vehicle sales volume and parts and accessories revenue grow significantly with exciting new vehicles being introduced – all while their employee population has increased only slightly. To support this growth, they recognized the critical need to better equip and prepare their employees to be efficient and effective, and to onboard new employees faster.
The company’s learning academy is charged with providing a wide range of learning, coaching, and training solutions for dealership employees as well as brand training for its own corporate employees. The academy’s vision is to reflect the company brand and quality in each learning and performance support offering.
Provide the resources new employees need to onboard quickly and seamlessly in order to start contributing to the company’s mission and success.
Approximately three years ago, the academy launched an initiative to address gaps between the organization’s vision for learning and the reality of the current state of corporate training. They recognized that the company faced major challenges in bringing new employees up to speed on job-related skills and knowledge. Although Human Resources handled standard onboarding to the company, employees were challenged in learning the specific skills needed to be successful in their job assignments. While some departments and regions had developed their own job-related training solutions and resources, there were few standardized resources and tools.
Both new and current employees noted that performance support was needed to assist them in becoming skilled in individual roles. The learning curve was perceived as being too steep, and learners complained that it took too much time for an individual to get up to speed. Employees also asked for support to work more effectively and smarter rather than harder. Information on processes, systems, resources, etc. was either not available, not well documented, or not in an easily accessible format for every employee in the organization. Also, many employees working in the corporate office and making decisions on programs or policies impacting their dealers lacked a full understanding of the retail automotive environment and what goes on in a dealership.
The academy elected to partner with GP Strategies to design, develop, and launch learning elements. Recognizing that a wide range of content was needed, GP Strategies first identified gaps in content in key areas to meet the needs of critical populations. The focus was on Onboarding content for brand orientation, culture, and values and on Employee Development to Proficiency content on role-specific skills and competencies.
The organization worked with GP Strategies to bring innovative approaches for these learning and development elements. Together, we decided on a blended learning strategy, including web-based training, instructional videos, job aids, and interactive documents. The following content was part of the initial rollout:
- Interactive dealership training
- eLearning on company Culture and History
- Dashboard eLearning
- Video micro-learning
In addition to the learning elements described above, 35 quick-start learning guides were developed to shepherd employees through the process of learning about a new job assignment. The interactive documents provide employees with step-by-step instructions and checklists so they can learn the details of their new roles. Checklists include weekly development activities, providing the learner with instruction on what items are most important and when they should complete each activity or task. Links in the document take the learner to online learning content they must complete, and learners can check off each element as they complete it. These quick-start learning guides also contain a Success Profile, documenting the competencies, skills, and knowledge that need to be mastered to be successful.
The interactive dealership training, developed in collaboration with the National Automobile Dealers Association, is one of the most engaging aspects of the learning solution. In this self-directed experience, learners watch a short video on dealership design. They then land on a three-dimensional map of a dealership where, based on their needs and interests, they can drill down to different areas of the dealership to learn more about business processes, roles, and responsibilities. Originally designed for use with Corporate employees, the learning is also being used to educate new hires within dealerships.
A blended learning strategy was developed, including web-based training, instructional videos, job aids, and interactive documents.
The overall objective of the solution was to speed up the employee onboarding process and provide a more consistent experience. Thus far, response to the content has been very positive. Initial findings indicate that the quickstart learning guides have cut the amount of time managers and other colleagues spend to bring a new employee on board by up to 40%. Feedback from learners and their managers thus far includes the following:
“This is really nice training…the process videos do a great job of explaining what goes on inside the departments.”Learner
“This is going to make me look good with my new hires.”Product Planning Manager
“I don’t know much about dealership retail operations, so I felt this training was very informative.”Learner
“A much-needed resource for both new and existing team members.”Heard from many SMEs, managers, and business owners throughout the development process
“Being new to the team myself, I’ve personally used this guide to learn about the systems and resources for the team.”Manager, Dealer Franchising