Case Study: Generac
High-level description of Generac: Generac manufactures the widest range of power products in the marketplace including portable, residential, commercial, industrial generators and power washers.
Number of employees and other relevant organizational information: Founded in 1959, Generac has earned a reputation as the company that home and business owners turn to when the power goes out. The first to engineer affordable home standby generators, along with the first engine developed specifically for the rigors of generator use, Generac now sells more automatic home standby generators than all of their competitors combined. Generac revolutionized the commercial market with the first standard product line meeting the needs of small and mid-sized businesses, and is a dominant player in the industrial market segment as well.
Learner population: 2,000 employees and 6,000-8,000 external dealership staff, distributors, and guests.
Training Challenges and Solutions:
Challenge 1: Reaching a Worldwide Dealer Network
The initial challenge that Generac had was to reach an already large and dispersed distribution network with new product information and training. The training included discussions on new product features and benefits, installation, and compliance. Generac needed to be quick to market with training and did not have the bandwidth to do it via the classroom. While Web meetings could help, that format lacked the testing and tracking component necessary to ensure knowledge transfer.
Online training provided the necessary reach in the short timeframe available. It also allowed Generac to achieve greater cost efficiency as classroom-based training would have been conducted regionally for convenience purposes, but at a significantly greater cost.
Later, when Generac created new sales-oriented classroom sessions, the training team wanted to be sure that dealers who came to the class were properly prepared with all the prerequisite knowledge to obtain optimal benefit from the classroom experience. Online training provided a logical vehicle to deliver this pre-requisite training and because it was delivered through an LMS, it could include testing and assessments which ensured the prerequisite knowledge was mastered.
In all cases Generac needed to eliminate manual tracking and record keeping which the LMS provided inherently.
Challenge 2: Employee Training
For employees, Generac had as desire to create a more formalized approach and process to employee training and development. The Corporate Training Department used the LMS to implement and manage certain on-boarding, professional development, safety training, and annual compliance requirements (Generac became a public company in 2010).
It was determined that an LMS would assist with:
- Managing forced-enrollment and self-enrollment options
- Managing classroom session selection by the student
- Student record keeping
- Blended learning approaches
- Standardized automatic tracking of safety and corporate policy training
To allow Generac to improve internal employee and dealer training, they decided to move to an eLearning approach with an LMS. With respect to employees, it was felt that some of the current classroom training was basic knowledge that could be better taught using online courses. This allowed the group to direct classroom efforts toward more in-depth, specialized training with a greater return on investment. For the dealer groups, online training provided the dealers with immediate access to the knowledge they would need to continue to work and grow in the generator category.
To accomplish the above strategy, Generac used the following implementation process:
The first step in developing a solution was to produce a document (specification) of Generac’s training system requirements, functionalities, and outcomes. This was an important step as LMS vendor must be able to meet their specifications.
The next step involved Generac searching for an LMS to meet their needs. They conducted extensive and exhaustive due diligence of a variety of LMS vendors (presented specification document to vendors and conducted multiple conference calls and web meetings).
Set up trial LMS accounts with selected vendors for testing. This allowed them to upload and test course delivery, check records, generate reports, print certificates, etc., to confirm the system met all requirements.
After all evaluation was complete, Generac selected ICS Learning Group’s Inquisiq R3 LMS. They opted for the SaaS based LMS solution and commissioned ICS for a customization that would provide validation against a dealer account number before allowing access to the curriculum and allowed Generac to export course completion data directly to an external dealer web portal to allow distribution partners to view and manage their own employees and to track progress in meeting requirements.
To accomplish their goals, Generac used the following Inquisiq R3 LMS functions:
- Used the external registration process with customization to sign dealers, contractors, and service techs up for training
- Upload SCORM compliant training and assessments to make up the on-line dealer training program
- Automated the enrollment of the dealers into the correct groups and training
- Used the Certificate functionality to document successful completion of the training program
- Used the tracking and reporting capability for Generac Training Department to accurately understand the status and progress of all dealers training
- Used the external training import capability to import external training events to track dealer training that happened at the dealerships
- Used the LMS to schedule and manage live training events
- Branded LMS
- Product and marketing tactics training now available 24/7 to all dealers anywhere
- Online pre-requisite training now available (prep for live classroom sales training)
- Reduced travel and associated costs involved
- Courses can be reviewed at anytime
- Corporate can monitor dealer metrics through LMS generated reports
- Dealer Service Technician prerequisite training now available 24/7 ensuring students are prepared for classroom training which allows for more hands-on training during the classroom session
- Classroom sessions delivered by Generac’s industrial dealer group to the electrical engineering community are still conducted via classroom, but final assessments (tests) are completed online through LMS. This allows for proper recording keeping of CEUs and PDHs, plus students can download and print own certificate. LMS also allows for online surveys to capture student feedback (course, instructor and other commercial related data)
- Online professional development, compliance and product training now available 24/7 for all employees
- Online pre and post testing (average increase of 30% for all population segments)
- Generac provides specialized manufacturing training (Lean) offered by third party (made virtual connection between Inquisiq LMS and Third party LMS to deliver training)
- Live classroom course schedules are now listed online. Employees can enroll using their PC. LMS manages enrollments, class size and waitlists
- Email notifications automatically sent (Account registration, course confirmation, course completion, reminders)
- LMS generated reports available for business metrics
- Training manuals and job aids now available via LMS download
- Online training catalog
– Private Groups
– Courses with LMS prerequisites
– Lessons with LMS controlled prerequisites
– LMS controlled recurring courses (compliance training)