out of 10 learner feedback
of courses relevant, according to learners
subject-matter experts creating courses
Supportworks is a home services industry company currently comprising three main brands.
• Foundation Supportworks provides industry-leading products, training, and more to an international network of foundation and concrete repair dealers.
• Hello Garage is a leading national garage renovation franchise that offers garage flooring and storage solutions.
• SolutionView develops next-generation software that improves the contractor-homeowner experience.
Today, Supportworks provides comprehensive training and consulting to a network of home-service contractors, including strategies on how to run their businesses more effectively. This includes marketing the business, recruiting and hiring employees, and providing exceptional customer service. Training covers sales and installation processes, how to drive profits and create growth, and more.
Like many organizations, Supportworks is facing game-changing evolutions in the corporate world, many of which impact learning and development teams. For L&D professionals, the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era and established new rules for work culture, including the introduction of new tools and technology, and the need to juggle a hybrid workforce.
As Supportworks continues to grow, the L&D team understood that, to keep up with today’s rapidly changing world, they needed to innovate the way training happens.
• An LMS all dealers and franchisees have access to without having to purchase it on their own; dealers should be able to assign content • created by Suppoworks as well as create their own content.
• Onboard and train new and existing franchisees and their employees; ability to track user metrics; ability to assign content in a sequential order based on role.
• Roll out a leadership development program to start growing the next generation of leaders.
The L&D team at Supportworks recognized that, in a dispersed environment, there is greater reliance on all employees to step up. With that in mind, they set out to create a leadership program, ManagementU, that would teach the skills, strategies, and self-development needed to be an exceptional coach, manager, and leader.
• Engaging learners in a franchise environment who are not direct employees and getting them to connect with employees at other companies
• Creating a leadership development program that is relevant to learners
• Teaching leadership skills and concepts that learners will retain after the program ends
The L&D team recognized that becoming a leader does not happen overnight. Instead, it requires establishing new habits, as well as practice and reinforcement over a period of time, to take hold.
The team designed a curriculum that immersed attendees in topics like recruiting and onboarding, communication, creating an ideal workplace culture, improving training techniques, honing presentation skills, understanding what drives the financial performance of a business, and more.
Over a period of 10 months, participants took a deep dive into the blended program that consisted of online training, self-guided learning, as well as in-person and coaching opportunities to deepen the learned concepts.
For the L&D team:
• The team was able to develop their own content in-house with the 360Learning authoring tool. The fact that it was not generic off-the-shelf content made the program more relevant and personal to the participants.
• Leadership, internal experts, and the L&D team collaborated on course content creation. The executive team and consultants from the dealer network provided the broad strokes of what effective leadership training would look like, while subject-matter experts created course outlines covering the different areas. Finally, the L&D team developed the content into courses with specific activities to make learning engaging and to increase knowledge retention.
• The collaborative authoring tool made it easy for project members without prior experience in instructional design to review and edit courses directly in the platform.
For program participants:
• Participants learned on the platform at their own pace and were better prepared for the in-person sessions. Tammy Olson, Director of Instructional Design at Supportworks remarked that, “learners were coming to training events with a baseline knowledge they have never had before.”
• Participants, whose leadership skill sets often differed, incrementally built a foundation of leadership concepts, ensuring everyone had the same baseline for the in-person and virtual sessions.
• Leadership concepts were consumed in short bursts that could be easily woven into busy schedules.
• The blended approach allowed for individual empowerment and collaborative development through spaced learning, experiential learning, ongoing organizational support, and peer accountability.
• The collaborative nature of the platform provided participants with a space to comment and reflect on input from other learners, regardless of location and company.
“The vast majority have completed all assigned courses prior to our in-person training. This has allowed us to extend the learning process past a single training event, which based on research should lead to enhanced retention of the material.” - Tammy Olson, L&D, Supportworks
The Supportworks L&D team was surprised by how much uptake there was for all the collaborative features on the platform: learners just started interacting with each other without nudging or specific encouragement. “Our learners really engaged with each other on the platform, commenting and sharing with one another. Some of them got really competitive with ratings, so they could be at the top of the leaderboard, something which happened naturally, on its own.”
The team saw an overwhelmingly positive engagement on the platform. Program participants who didn’t know each opened up about their struggles with other participants they hadn't met.
“The neatest thing we saw was participants talking to each other on the platform, interacting with the platform. We didn’t know what to expect because this was the first time our dealer network was introduced to the platform. Out of the gate, and without encouragement, participants were off introducing themselves, talking about what they were hoping to get out of the program, how excited they were.” - Tammy Olson, L&D, Supportworks
The 360Learning platform makes it possible to design interactive learning experiences by incorporating engaging formats (videos, Genially) and knowledge checks through different question types. Beyond a slick and intuitive UX, learners are supported by the community and their coach directly from the platform. Learners can ask questions any time and benefit from the shared knowledge of their cohort in the forum. Tammy Olson remarked, “We have been able to answer questions and foster a learning atmosphere between us and our learners through the collaborative features of the platform.”
With the 360Learning platform, Supportworks now has a leadership development program that can be deployed quickly across their dealer network, and serves as a true learning path.
Leadership development consisted of 1 or 2 in-person trainings. It was difficult for the L&D team to keep the participants engaged between sessions, with no means to measure progress or comprehension.
The challenge for participants was retention and application of learned concepts. It was too much content in too little time, with no easy way to go back to get a refresh on the training material.
Leadership training today is through a blended curriculum co-created by the L&D team, SMEs, dealer consultants and the exec team. Online courses, virtual classes, coaching and practical sessions are effectively building on each other.
ManagementU today integrates with participants’ day-to-day job, and is relevant to the challenges they are currently facing. The program allows for spaced repetition, deeper engagement with the learning content and the cohort through assignments they complete on the job between sessions. Combined with the collaborative aspect of the platform and learning from peers, this prepares participants better for the in-person sessions, and results in them getting more value out of the program.
Overall, any program is only as good as the impact it produces. What was the impact of this program? For the L&D team, it’s “faster alignment and decision-making due to participants speaking the same language, and better managers and stronger leaders, contributing to a healthier workplace.” The bottom line: Better leaders make for better workplaces and more business impact.
“The inaugural ManagementU was a rousing success, with owners and managers (and managers-to-be) growing their leadership skills and using their new-found expertise to demonstrate that more is truly possible.” - Tiffany Seevers, VP of Human Resources
Incredibly, ManagementU has positively impacted learners’ lives beyond their careers. Learners commented that this program challenged them to grow as a human being and positively impacted their personal lives. They were excited to tell us how they’ve incorporated coaching methods into their personal relationships, whether it be with their spouse, family, or friends.
• “I’m a better manager, coach, leader, and human being. The concepts we learned transcend more than just your day-to-day job.”
• “I was winging a lot of things and found myself stressed because of that. My biggest takeaway from ManagementU is that I need to be more intentional with my team, and need to constantly develop myself, so I can be the best for my employees.”
• “ManagementU has been a game-changer for both me and TerraFirma as a whole. It’s really brought together our leadership team so we’re all speaking the same language.”
• “I think I have become more aware of my faults and shortcomings as a manager, in a healthy way, which will allow me to work on them directly in order to become a stronger leader and a better person overall — something I truly believe is the secret to a healthy workplace.”
Creating, delivering, and measuring effective learning programs is not an easy task, but when your learning audience consists of disparate groups of non-employees, it can become extremely challenging. The L&D team at Supportworks looks primarily at learner feedback, and to a lesser degree, at completion rates.
• Learner feedback was 9.4 out of 10
• > 80% of ManagementU grads strongly agreed that they will be able to apply learned concepts to their work immediately
• ManagementU courses received a Relevance score of 100%
• Avg completion rate at 87%
• 25 subject-matter experts creating courses
• 98% of courses created on the platform are relevant according to learners (2600 courses created in June 2022 alone)
• Around 800 learners are trained on the platform, and the number continues to grow
After the success of the first ManagementU program, Supportworks L&D team kicked off the program for a new cohort of aspiring leaders earlier this year.
The team has also launched “Wildly Profitable,” a training program on the financial aspects of the business to help dealers become more profitable. The program follows the same blended approach of tailored courses on the platform and in-person webinars.
In the future, the team is planning to make more use of the mobile app for its dispersed learners and get more creative with the platform’s gamification features.