EDITOR’S NOTE: Because extended enterprise learning involves multiple disciplines and perspectives, we sometimes invite experts from learning technology companies to share their insights. Today, NetExam Founder and President Brett Strauss shares strategies for educating dealer franchises online.
Every industry is constantly changing — it’s a fact of business life. And if you’re a manufacturer with a network of dealer franchises, it’s a reality you can’t afford to ignore. To remain competitive, dealer teams must keep pace with the latest products, technologies and service methods, as well as industry trends, standards and regulations.
One way your brand can help dealers accomplish this is through digital learning programs. But online learning brings its own set of challenges. So, as a manufacturer, how can you help dealer franchises make the most of online education? Here are 10 considerations to keep in mind:
10 Online Learning Strategies for Dealer Franchises
1. Tailor Content to Dealer Needs
Effective online learning begins with content that focuses on the audience’s particular interests and goals. Employees at dealer franchises have very specific work issues and objectives, so asking these partners to prioritize their needs is a worthwhile exercise.
For example, if their sales teams are interested in developing deeper product knowledge, expanding sales techniques and completing compliance training, you’ll want to start with content that addresses these needs.
2. Focus on Creating Engaging Content
Engagement is the key to successful online learning outcomes — especially among busy dealer staff. That’s why it’s important to transform static content into dynamic experiences.
What kind of techniques elevate instructional content this way? Interactive elements can attract learners, maintain their interest and motivate them to continue. For example, short videos, quizzes, simulations and interactive modules make learning experiences more compelling and enjoyable.
Also, think about context. Where could you incorporate multimedia elements that will draw people in and guide them through a process of discovery? Well-placed interactive enhancements can deliver the right kind of challenge or reinforcement when individuals need it most.
3. Invest in a User-Friendly Learning System
Dealer salespeople and service technicians don’t have time to learn how to use a complex learning platform just to find and complete training. That’s why it’s important to provide the fastest possible access to relevant content.
Take time to choose a user-friendly learning management system designed to support dealer franchise employees. For example, the platform should deliver a seamless learning experience, including mobile capabilities, so busy sales and service staff can access and engage with content whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them.
Also, think about co-branding the learning environment for every dealer, so each organization’s learning experience feels more relevant and personalized for their team.
Learn more about how to support franchise partner education. Check the NetExam profile, review, case studies and more in our Learning Systems Directory…
4. Build Flexibility Into Learning Paths
Different franchise dealers require different kinds of training. This is why it helps to structure content in modules focused on job roles and skill levels. By combining these building blocks in various ways, you can develop custom learning paths that align with each organization’s needs.
Flexible learning paths also help you customize training to fit an individual’s knowledge and experience level. Dealer employees should be able to advance at their own pace while their progress is captured in the LMS. This makes it easy to track compliance status. It also helps you analyze the impact of learning on individual and team performance.
5. Incorporate Assessments and Feedback Tools
Feedback is crucial for multiple reasons. By including assessments and quizzes in your online courses, you can gather data-based intelligence that helps gauge how well dealer employees understand and retain various aspects of your instructional material. This also makes it possible to benchmark learning outcomes and correlate data with performance metrics at individual dealer franchises and across your partner network.
In addition, by adding feedback mechanisms, you can ask learners to share input and suggestions for improvement. Direct feedback is essential to uncover unanticipated issues and help you determine how to refine and improve programs over time.
6. Update and Refresh Content Consistently
Franchisor offerings are always evolving, with new models, features, and technologies that can directly affect dealer sales, service and support teams. To ensure that franchise dealers are on board with these changes, it’s imperative to update and refresh training content on a regular basis.
This means you’ll want to adopt processes and tools that support agile content management. You’ll also need mechanisms to share timely alerts and notifications that point franchise dealers to new and updated content.
7. Drive Compliance and Certification
In most industries, franchise dealer operations must comply with industry regulations. This means you’ll need to ensure that online learning programs incorporate compliance training modules and provide certification upon successful completion.
Your learning system should include advanced compliance reporting capabilities. For example, look for the ability to send dealers reminders automatically when their organization hasn’t met its targeted learning goals or is at risk of falling out of compliance. This helps everyone in your network meet ongoing legal requirements.
8. Facilitate Continuous Improvement
Unless you have appropriate data and analytics tools, it’s impossible to monitor learner progress, course effectiveness and specific business outcomes. By leveraging advanced reporting tools, you can establish, monitor and evaluate metrics such as completion rates, assessment scores, and learner feedback.
This ongoing data-driven process provides the insights you need to be confident about how to adjust and refine online learning programs. For example, by comparing employee exam results and subsequent job performance metrics with performance among untrained employees, you can easily determine how educational programs are moving the meter.
Need guidance to find the right learning system for your business? Learn about our services and request a free consultation with our Lead Analyst, John Leh…
9. Provide Sufficient Support and Assistance
You may offer the most effective online learning program in the world, but no program is perfect. In other words, dealer franchises may encounter technical issues or have questions about the content. When that happens, you’ll want to respond quickly.
In other words, you’ll want to provide a support system that includes easy access to customer service, technical assistance, and access to subject matter experts. With a support structure in place that ensures a smooth learning experience, you can expect more satisfied and engaged learners, and better program outcomes overall.
10. Measure ROI Early and Often
Last but not least, it’s vital to measure the return on investment of your online learning initiatives. At a minimum, you’ll want to determine how educational experiences impact dealer sales, service, customer satisfaction and overall franchise performance. You should also be able to tie course completions back to increased revenue — not only for each dealer, but also for individuals within each organization.
Ultimately, demonstrating a positive ROI can justify continued investment in online learning for your company, as well as for franchise dealers across your network.
Final Thoughts on Educating Dealer Franchises
Providing online learning to dealership staff can significantly improve their sales and service performance. As a result, they’ll be better prepared to represent your brand, and they’ll perform more competitively in the marketplace.
In addition, dealer education programs can be an excellent brand recruiting tool when you want to expand your franchise footprint.
By paying serious attention to these 10 key factors, you can develop and deliver effective online training programs that build stronger relationships with your dealer franchises and empower them to thrive, even in a fluid, uncertain market.
To dig deeper into partner education systems and strategies, check these resources: