How to Make Your Business a ‘Learning Organization’

How to Make Your Business a ‘Learning Organization’

Why it’s important to invest in continual training

Is your business a “learning organization”? Continual improvement is essential to growth. If you’re not continually training your people, your business will not survive.

Money invested in training is not a “soft dollar” investment. Effective training should have measurable results. In fact, employee training is one of the highest return-on-investment (ROI) strategies that a company can implement. It can generate an ROI as high as 10-to-1, translating into real dollars saved or earned. If this reality were part of the consciousness of more corporate executives, every business would become a learning organization.

However, not all training is equal. For training to be effective, it must be purposefully structured, industry- and company-specific, and delivered by capable instructors. When considering how to structure an effective training program, think of the acronym PRODUCT: Purpose, Resources, Overview, Demonstration, Usage, Coaching, and Training (on the line).

Step 1 – Purpose

The trainee must understand the purpose of training. This includes understanding the overall objective, clarifying the standard to be achieved, and, most importantly, explaining the significance of the task. An example of explaining purpose for vehicle vacuuming, for instance, could go something like this: “Our purpose in vacuuming a vehicle is to thoroughly clean the floors, seats, and backs in the vehicle within 1.5 minutes with a two-person team. This work is so important to the customer that the No. 2 complaint from full-service car wash customers is insufficient vacuuming.” In 30 seconds, you have clarified the task, set the standard, and provided motivation by explaining the importance of the job.

Step 2 – Resources

After relating the purpose of training, review all the tools, equipment, and resources used to successfully perform the task. For training someone to properly vacuum, they would need to be shown how the vacuum cleaner operates, how the vacuum claw is to be used, how the mat machine works, and what tools are to be used for cleanup and maintenance.

Step 3 – Overview

After familiarizing the trainee with the tools for the job, the trainer should walk through the task while talking through the most important areas. For the vacuuming example, the most important area of focus would be the driver’s floor, seat, and back. This is because it is the first area the customer sees. A good instructor must walk through the procedure in a thorough, unhurried manner.

Step 4 – Demonstration

Now it’s time to demonstrate the procedure in real time. All of the steps that need to be completed will be done within the time allotted for the job (i.e., complete vacuuming in 1.5 minutes). After the demonstration, the instructor should ask questions to confirm the trainee’s understanding and then answer any questions the trainee may have.

Step 5 – Usage

The trainee is now ready to perform the demonstrated procedure. The instructor should observe carefully without speaking, making notes of areas to review for improvement. Only after the trainee is able to properly complete the task should the instructor take out the stopwatch.

Step 6 – Coaching

After each practice run, the trainer should coach the learner, starting with positive feedback to reinforce what’s being done properly. Then, correct any areas that were not done properly. Make sure trainees know mistakes are expected while learning. Always address incorrect behaviors, but never make it personal. Keep coaching until the procedure has been mastered.

Step 7 – Training on the Line

The trainee is ready to go “on line” after completing the procedure correctly three times in a row. But the training is not over! Once the trainee is placed on the line, working in real time with real customers, they will likely make some mistakes. The instructor must continue to observe and correct those mistakes. The idea that what was trained on is what is expected to be done in real life situations must be conveyed. If someone is not following procedures, they must be pulled off the line and retrained. Training is not complete until the trainee is consistently following the procedures exactly as trained.

“A good beginning is half done” is an old, wise saying in management. Exceptional managers know that if someone gets started correctly, they will need much less corrective feedback later. And the manager’s risk of potential problems will be significantly reduced. Training people correctly the first time is a powerful strategy for creating high-performing teams.

Could your organization use some help in developing a training program?
Contact Brink Results by calling (239) 334-1050, or email: for a free consultation. We provide car wash training and consulting solutions that help organizations solve problems in the areas of growth, productivity, and profitability.