Starting with this issue, a regular column from the rts consultancy, which – in a joint venture with the IMI – has set up a ‘business solutions centre’ for the motor industry. The centre is intended to focus on four key areas: change management, customer excellence, recruitment and retention, and enhanced sales performance. Top Tips begins with advice on how to select the right training and development provider. Recent research by rts shows a huge variation in the ability of training providers to deliver on their promises. This can be a real problem for smaller operations who don’t have in-house human resources support and training departments. All too often, providers display the same out-of-date thinking that characterises other aspects of motor retailing, i.e. of not being truly customer focused. Flexible providers should be catering for different needs and different sized purses, and should be able to provide very practical, regionally based activities in bite sized chunks. But how do you go about selecting a provider from all those who come knocking at your door? Start by asking some probing questions in five main areas: Expertise, delivery team, quality monitoring, flexibility, and business impact. For example:
- Expertise: How long has the business been in operation? Where does their expertise lie? What experience do they have of running programmes like the one you are proposing? Can you see exemplar materials / programme outlines? Are they able to provide you with references?
- Delivery team: Have they gained Investor in People recognition? What industry experience and qualifications do the team have? How do they select their people? How do they monitor their performance? How do they ensure the continued professional development of their people?
- Quality monitoring: Who will be responsible for ensuring that the contract runs smoothly from start to finish? How quickly can you expect this person to deal with any issues? Will you have a chance to see the draft materials and to ‘walk through’ the programme beforehand to ensure everything meets your specification? Are there quality standards in place for the process of designing programmes and materials?
- Flexibility: Are they able to tailor the programme to meet your needs? How flexible will they be if your requirements unexpectedly change? What are you expected to do (e.g. booking venues and equipment)? What happens if the trainer is ill or can’t make it on the day? What delivery options do they offer apart from traditional training, such as e-learning and coaching? Are there any options to link into the IMI’s CPD (Continuing Professional Development) scheme or into a national qualification?
- Business impact: Can you see how the objectives of the programme link in to your business objectives? Do you know how to evaluate the success of the programme (apart from the usual ‘happy sheets’ given out at the end of a session)? Are you clear about the costs and benefits? Precisely what is the relationship between this programme and your bottom line?
Everyone hopes that if they send employees on training courses, they will come back saying that they have had an enjoyable experience, but that’s not enough. Providers should be prepared to put their money where their mouth is and offer a money back guarantee unless programmes result in bottom line business benefits. Look for the same rigour in their business as you would in your own’ If you want to know more about rts, go to www.business-solutions-centre.co.uk , or contact Janet Robbins on 01249 445622, or firstname.lastname@example.org