Four Essential Steps to Better Convenience Store Training

When you need to create a new or revise an training program for your convenience stores, your first temptation may be to jump in and start doing things. Better to stop for a second and realize first that your program will go through four distinct phases. Once you know what those four phases are you'll have a framework for implementing your training and it will be more likely to go smoothly. The four phases are: Evaluate, Create, Deliver, Track.

Phase 1: Evaluate

Before you even begin to create new training, your first step should be to evaluate your needs. You may be inclined to skip this step. Don’t. It is perhaps the most critical. It doesn’t matter how insanely great the training you create is, if it’s not what the business or employees require, it’s a waste.

There are many ways to evaluate your training program or needs including employee surveys, interviews, observation, business policy and strategy review, baseline comparisons, and job and task descriptions.

An often overlooked benefit of completing an evaluation is that it can be used to gain executive support for training.

Evaluation is an ongoing process. It can be applied to new training and reapplied periodically to spur further improvement and to keep up with changes.

Phase 2: Create

Once you have decided what training needs to be delivered, you have to create the courses and supporting materials. This can be a very time intensive process. The degree of difficulty will depend on how you will deliver the training and the format it will take.

The easiest course to create is one delivered by an experienced trainer to an in person audience. For someone with enough experience, a simple outline could suffice. Unfortunately, people with that level of experience are scarce and expensive resources. The more often you have to repeat the training, the less attractive this option is and the more defined your course will have to be.

Moving up the scale of complexity is a course document so well defined that you could hand it to an employee to read or let a trainer who may not be a subject matter expert deliver it. The format could be a training handbook or an electronic file such as a webpage or PDF.

For courses that are often repeated or require a high degree of standardization, the best option is to create a fully self-contained delivery mechanism such as a video. Videos need not be as expensive to create as they once were. A screencast for example can be used to deliver a PowerPoint type presentation without the need for a live person to deliver it. Screencasts are easy to create, requiring only a PowerPoint or similar presentation and a recorded voiceover.

Phase 3: Deliver

Once you’ve created your training you have to get it to the employees to be trained. You can do that either live in a classroom or one on one setting, or with media such as books, handbooks, computer discs or the Internet.

The problem with delivering training for convenience store chains is that employees come on at irregular intervals often in widely dispersed locations. It’s usually not practical to have new hires wait for an upcoming class and it is expensive to have a traveling trainer.

A default option is for the store manager to deliver training. While some managers can deliver very good training, it is never a primary job focus and has to be squeezed in among day to day operational requirements. Quality and completeness suffer.

An ever more popular option is to deliver the training online over the Internet. Internet based courses are cheap and easy to deliver and don’t suffer the updating and maintenance issues with computer courses delivered on discs.

Phase 4: Track

The most overlooked part of training is tracking. It’s usually an afterthought that results in records be scattered across logbooks and easily misplaced signup sheets. It can often be impossible to find out who took what when or when training needs to be renewed.

If the only classes you were delivering were customer service courses, tracking would be nice but not critical. But all convenience stores have to give their employees training mandated by the government or business partners. You simply must be able to prove that required training was delivered.

As long as your training is separated from the tracking, meaning that it requires additional effort from a trainer or manager, there will be mistakes and lost records.

That’s another reason more training is moving towards computer delivery. Tracking of training delivered online is automatic and can be configured to offer a wide range of reports to satisfy the demands of executives and regulators.

Conclusion

If you consider and plan for these four steps when building your convenience store training program, you’ll end up with a better organized program that runs smoother and delivers better training to your employees.

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