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Why You Should Close Your Training Department

Evan Hackel

The president of a franchise brand was reviewing his financial statements recently, looking at all the money he was spending. The figures were right in front of him. When he looked at all the costs of the training his company was providing, he paused. He realized, with no small degree of pain, that although he was spending a lot of money on training, he couldn’t name a single benefit he was getting in return. How many people were taking the training? Was it changing what they did? Did it increase profits? He had no idea.

“Let’s just shut down our training department . . .”

After reviewing his financial statements, he asked, “Why don’t we just close our training department and redirect the money we are spending there to marketing, advertising, merchandising and other activities that we know will produce a quantifiable ROI?”

Why bother with training? That might be a logical question to ask. The issue is, it might not be the right question to ask. Granted, training takes employees and managers away from selling and other key profit-generating activities they “should be doing.” It requires lots of thought and planning. And in many companies, employees don’t even bother to take the training that the company has developed for them at considerable expense.

If his training is being poorly executed, that executive may be correct to think about closing his training department. This happens a lot in companies that don’t have the right training team or a big enough budget to create effective training.

Yet in my opinion, that executive was failing to consider all the benefits his company could receive if they were utilizing their training department properly.

It has been proven time and again that training, if done well, can cause an incredibly positive effect on a company’s sales, profits and operations. If done well, it can . . .

  • Dramatically increase the volume of repeat and referral business.
  • Bring more traffic into a business.
  • Improve closing rates.
  • Reduce the likelihood of lawsuits.
  • Decrease the number of product returns and customer complaints.
  • Boost the size of the average ticket.
  • Help a company achieve a better Net Promoter Score.
  • Improve employee satisfaction and retention.
  • Differentiate a brand and give a company a strong competitive advantage in the marketplace.

If training can be designed to achieve those goals, the effect can very predictably be an increase of 10%, 20% or more in annual sales. And if you are running a $1 million business, you know those percentages mean that your training can increase your bottom line by $100,000, $200,000 or more. And with the right kind of training, results like those are very achievable.

All those benefits can be achieved through training. In fact, few business expenditures can equal the ROI a business can realize from quality training.

But the operative word is quality training.

Part of the problem is that companies often pay little more than lip service to training. When asked if they have training programs, they say “Yes, we do have training.” But is their training a major and integral part of what they do, or just an afterthought, something that employees are required to do?

Quick Questions to Gauge Your Genuine Commitment to Training

  • Do you have onboarding training?
  • Are you tracking who is taking your training? (Note that this can be monitored easily by using a Learning Management System, or LMS.)
  • Are you training the right things?
  • Are you following up on your training to be sure employees are using what they learned?
  • Have you developed metrics to evaluate the success of your training?

If you answer no to those questions, maybe you really should shut your training department down and spend your money elsewhere.

But here is another suggestion. Perhaps you should do it right. That could mean hiring someone who has training expertise to run your training department. It could mean making sure that the excellent training programs you have developed are actually being used by employees. And it definitely means putting systems in place to track your training and measure results.

So, Should You Shut Your Training Department?

My answer to that question is that you should either invest the time to do training right, or you should stop doing it.

But isn’t doing it right the best answer? In my experience, it almost always is. Companies that train well are exponentially more likely to succeed.

The 10 Cent Decision with Laurie Guest

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