Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How Training and “E-learning” Can Improve ROI

With heightened market pressures and the need for increased efficiencies we know our flooring industry clients need to cut costs and increase business performance. Using the e-learning methodology for training is one way to cut expenses and increase sales while improving your training ROI.

Even though we all know training is important, when the economy is lagging and budgets are cut, training is often one of the first things put on the shelf. Training, travel and seminars can be expensive and it can be hard to justify the lost opportunity cost of taking your employees out of the field or away from their jobs. Against these costs it’s sometimes difficult to realize the return on investment (ROI) that comes from investing in training.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.

On-line education is an effective, cost-efficient way to train your sales force and reduce expenses, increase your competitive edge and improve the return on investment spent on training.

E-learning technology allows you to provide employees with timely and convenient training without taking them away from their jobs. You can leverage the investment that others have made in technology and training materials while monitoring your students' progress and results. Since the cost is less and the impact is faster the ROI is practically immediate.

• With on-line e-learning there’s no need to take your sales force out of the field and no lost productivity.

• Students have 24/7 access as long as they have a computer and a connection to the Internet.

• There are no travel expenses.

• There are no limits due to classroom size, availability of instructors or location of students.

• The return on investment is almost immediate because when students complete an online course they are more confident and credible, and this makes them more effective in the workplace the very next day.

Product knowledge and sales training are especially important if you want your sales force to “up-sell” to more profitable, quality products and avoid complaints that may come from lower performing, commodity products.

The key to the up-selling is to educate employees and customers using a consultative approach - what I refer to as Giving your Customer a Choice.  If you communicate the trade-offs between commodities and quality, your customers will often gladly pay for quality.  In fact, it’s a disservice to not offer your clients a choice!  Presenting a choice demonstrates your knowledge and reinforces your customer’s decision to use you as their resource. Of course, to do this your employees must understand the features and benefits of the products and present those choices as a true consultant to their customers.

Throughout my career in floor covering I’ve been committed to training; that is why I made training one of the main services of my company, Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (CTaSC).  In 2002 I founded an on-line campus dedicated to the floor covering industry, the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS). The first on-line course, Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile, was well received in the industry and was co-branded with the leading ceramic tile trade association.

A University Dedicated to the Flooring Industry. 

Courses can be purchased from anywhere in the world via the Internet. The self paced, interactive courses are available 24/7 for up to 14 days. Students can bookmark their place and work on the courses at their convenience. The course structure and methodology are designed to maximize adult learning and retention. Students are quizzed before, during and after each lesson to reinforce key points. A personalized diploma and course reference guide is provided upon completion. Business owners can monitor their students’ progress through system reports.

Our newest product and consultative sales course, Understanding the Basics of Natural Stone,
launched in April 2010 is targeted to salespeople, design professionals, installers, importers and distributors. The course provides product knowledge from quarry to fabrication followed by application, installation, maintenance and sales techniques. It includes important industry standards and tips on how to select the right stone.

Web conferencing capabilities for live on-line training or webinars are also available.  It’s is a full Learning Management System (LMS); all types of training from online courses to live hands-on training can be scheduled, managed and tracked.  This can be very useful, particularly in a blended learning teaching approach and for awarding certification in programs that require a combination of self-paced courses, live on-line presentations or classroom training.  Like most universities, students can download homework from teachers who, in turn, review it and  post grades on-line.

There will always be a need for hands-on training.  E-learning complements traditional training and can be an effective pre-requisite for a live course or for reinforcement after a seminar.

Improving our client’s bottom line is the primary goal of each member of the Floor Covering Institute and we talk often here about ways to improve your business; from the importance of social marketing and the digital marketing experience, how to avoid flooring complaints, creating a succession plan, branding to create profit opportunity, brand equity, managing inventory investments, avoiding cash traps, and watching flooring industry trends, to name just a few.  My area of expertise includes training and I am pleased to serve you and our industry.


Donato


Donato Pompo  is founder of two well-known flooring industry companies focused on improving everything about ceramic tile and stone flooring and the businesses that produce and sell them. They are Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (CTaSC) and the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS).

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