Turbocharged retail training – Well Done

Turbocharged retail training – Well Done – Brief Article

Carroll Lachnit

There’s hardly a more frustrating experience than asking for a retail salesperson’s help in finding a product and discovering that he hasn’t a clue what it is or whether it’s in stock.

Now imagine the challenge for HR when it is training a part-time and full-time sales force in the product line for a chain of auto- and truck-parts stores. From spark plugs to transmissions to pine-scented air fresheners, such stores carry thousands of products, and the inventory changes continuously.

Pep Boys, a Philadelphia-based chain of automotive aftermarket retail and service stores, is addressing that challenge with an online e-learning program created for it by DScape, an e-learning design and development company in Hope, New Jersey.

Until recently, the 628 Pep Boys stores used stand-up training and self-paced, paper-based programs to familiarize employees with product lines, says Jeannette Berkley, project manager for Learning Central, as the new program is called. But teaching employees about thousands of products was a time-consuming task, and kept employees from their primary job: customer service. And as inventory changed, product-information booklets quickly went out of date.

Now, Pep Boys employees spend 20 to 30 minutes each on courses that cover the stores’ major product lines, including tires, auto and marine batteries, and engines. There are 13 courses so far, and 10 more in development. It’s easy to keep employees on top of new products now “Retail changes all the time, and this keeps employees from being inundated with waves and waves of paper.” Berk]ey says.

The courses are assigned by supervisors or managers, and both they and Pep Boys HR staff can track and evaluate each employee’s performance.

Since the program went live in February 2002, Pep Boys employees have completed more than 2,000 courses, Berkley says.

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COPYRIGHT 2002 ACC Communications Inc.

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