Utilize a virtual learning management system to amp up your onboarding process and boost employee retention
By Nora Johnson | Photography courtesy EuroTech Auto Service
Sink or swim.
It’s the two outcomes of new employees when starting a job without proper training and onboarding. Shop owners around the country are facing the challenge of finding qualified and competent employees for their business. So when an owner does find a quality new employee for his or her shop, he or she needs to do everything they can to set that team member up for success.
Seth Thorson, president of EuroTech Auto Service based out of Minnesota, admittedly used to turn new employees loose on the floor directly after hiring them. The outcome wasn’t great. Talented and potentially strong employees weren’t given a fair chance to succeed. As a way to fix this issue, Thorson and his team began to put a strong focus on their onboarding process.
"Once we got really successful with our onboarding, we began to wonder what else we could do to take it to the next level and really systemize the process for multiple locations,” Thorson says.
That’s when Thorson and his team turned to a virtual learning management system (LMS).
The virtual portion of the onboarding at EuroTech is housed through Trainual, a third-party, subscription-based online playbook for “processes, policies, and SOPs”. The program is similar to a customer management system but for the internal aspects of your shop: a learn- ing management system (LMS).
When a new EuroTech employee comes in for their first day of work, he or she is set up with a login to the LMS. Once in, the employee is able to access all of his or her assigned training modules. Each position within Thorson’s shops has its own set of training. Whether they are in the front of the shop or back, every new employee has access to his or her own specific portal. New team members must complete their modules as part of his or her onboarding procedure.
The process for setting up the LMS took Thorson and his team over two years to complete. He says they refined the modules over the years to get to the easy-to-use and thorough place they are at now. Each of Thorson’s locations utilizes the system, and it has helped to onboard the many new employees to the business ever since.
“Setting up the system and modules have all been a giant learning process,” Thorson says.
The LMS has helped Thorson and his team efficiently and effectively train, as well as reduce stress for the new employee, other shop employees, and management
Each assignment through the LMS can be uniquely created for your shop, depending on what tasks are specific to your business. Thorson’s modules are in-depth and cover every possible task an employee could face at the shop. From how to check off each step of their 22-point courtesy inspection, to how to best answer the phone, and even how to take out the shop’s trash— every task is described in detail how to accomplish, and why it’s performed the way it is.
“ All of these modules have been built out so that we are really able to train our employees,” he says.
Beyond tasks specific to roles within the shop, Seth also added all of EuroTech’s general onboarding information to the LMS. He has added tasks to welcome the employee to the company, including EuroTech’s values and missions, and how employee reviews take place. The employee handbook is also digitized, including the core values of the business and general information on employment sexual harassment, substance abuse, social media policies, and more.
“We go through this whole process in our onboarding to really make sure people understand what our company is, who we are, what we do, and why we do it,” he says.
New employees are then asked to take tests through the LMS for selected tasks to showcase their gained knowledge and understanding—they have to garner an 80 percent or higher to move on, or else the module will reset.
The Visual Aspect
What makes the training assignments on EuroTech’s LMS truly incredible are the highly visual and interactive elements. Almost every task is accompanied by a short, self-shot, instructional video. This way, employees can see exactly how a job is completed without another employee in the shop having to step away from his or her work to demonstrate. For example, in the training session on how to correctly dispose of oil in the shop, a video is added beneath a quick description. Once played, trainees see a team member demonstrate how the task is completed while this voice-over explains each step in the process:
“Start by picking up the oil caddy with the handle and make sure it is steady and won't spill. Bring the caddy up to the lip of the oil container and start tilting it like shown in the video, and do your best not to spill any out of the very top. Once empty, wipe any residual oil off any surfaces, and be sure to check every caddy in the shop before you call the job complete.”
What seems like potentially simple tasks are still described in detail to ensure that the employee is able to accomplish the job no matter if it’s something he or she has never done before or did differently at another shop.
“Trainual has really become an all-encompassing solution for our business,” Thorson explains.
Step by Step
Seth Thorson and his team have added short instructional videos to the shop’s LMS to explain how every task is completed.
All of the many videos that his team has added to the LMS are under a minute, most are around 30 seconds. The short videos allow trainees to quickly view the information while increasing comprehension and keeping their attention. But this also permits Thorson and his team to easily refilm and upload videos if and when the process changes. Even if a task requires longer than 30 seconds to showcase, the job will be broken up into multiple shorter videos— making it easy to reshoot only specific steps in a process if needed.
The videos are simply shot and edited on an iPhone, with the voiceover app and edited on the phone as well, making it simple yet professional.
The videos on EuroTech’s LMS serve a larger purpose than demonstrating the process of a task, they also add a needed multimedia element to the onboarding process.
“We chose to add videos and pictures to the modules because we believe that it makes for more of an immersive experience,” Thorson says. “We have a workforce that's highly Gen Z and Gen Y right now in my company, and they don't want to read walls of text, they want something more interactive.”
The length of the videos also adds to attracting and working with younger generations who are used to quick, attention-grabbing videos.
“If your videos aren't under 30 seconds, you’ll lose them right away,” he says. “We want videos that engage our employees, show them their job, but then have some fun aspects in the process.”
In addition to the videos, Thorson added some more fun to the revolutionary onboarding process by adding humorous pictures and GIFs along the way. That way, young employees can obtain all the knowledge they need to succeed at EuroTech, all while having some enjoyment in the otherwise tedious and overwhelming process of starting a new job.
Beyond the Virtual Space
Although virtual tasks through an LMS are efficient and useful, not all training can or should be done in front of the screen. In order to break the training days up and create an accessible environment for all employees with different learning styles, Thorson includes multiple types of training activities throughout the weeks of onboarding. Below is an example of a typical first-day schedule at EuroTech.
FIRST DAY SCHEDULE
7:15 - 7:30 — Prepare paperwork
7:30 - 8:00 — Welcome and introductions 8:00 - 8:15 — Morning huddle
8:15 - 8:45 — Administer new hire paperwork 8:45 - 9:00 — Free time/break
9:00 - 10:30 — Tekmetric Boot Camp 10:30 - 12:00 — Shadow foreman
12:00 - 1:00 — Lunch
1:00 - 2:00 — Set up accounts
2:00 - 3:00 — Trainual (LMS)
3:00 - 4:00 — Shadow foreman/cleanup 4:00 - 5:00 — Touchbase
5:00 — Clock out