A Special Announcement from the NTDA

A Special Announcement from the NTDA

The National Trailer Dealer Association (NTDA) offers resources to their members across North America. Established in 1990, NTDA has strengthened the voice of independent semi-trailer dealers within the trailer industry. This week, they have shared a special announcement on their website:

NTDA Announces Partnership with Learning Without Scars to Provide Online Parts, Service, Sales Training

The National Trailer Dealers Association (NTDA) Board of Directors voted at its April 11, 2022 meeting to partner with Learning Without Scars (LWS) to provide online parts, service, sales and marketing training for members. LWS is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training.


The NTDA will work with LWS  to  develop  trailer-specific  content for members in the future. The site, learningwithoutscars.org, provides comprehensive online learning programs for dealer employees starting with individualized skills assessments. The assessments allow the Learning Without Scars staff to create a personalized employee development program.

Based on assessed skills, the employee is  asked  to  select  from  classes designed for their  skill  level,  allowing  them  to  address  gaps in their knowledge level. This allows  employees  to  move  through  four progressive categories of learning: Developing, Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced.

Classes are designed to offer both employees and employers something that matters: continuous improvement to the benefit of each. Too often, we hear employees talk about wanting to have a career path, but not being sure where they fit in their profession. Learning on-demand classes build and develop the professional skills an individual needs to continue to grow and make progress with your company and your industry.

Managers/supervisors have access to employee skills assessments and employee training scores. There are 108 online classes available in 12 languages. Online assessments and courses are available for $125 per each.


Courses can be taken on a PC, a Mac, a tablet, or a smartphone. A student requires an Internet connection to access all course materials. Supplemental reading for each class is available as a .pdf, so a .pdf reader such as Acrobat is recommended any device on which students are taking courses. Students will need access to speakers for video clips and audio tracks (these are optional).

Classes are categorized by department,  job  function,  and  skill  level to ensure employees are able to target the right skills. Learning on- demand programs cover Parts, Service, as well as Selling and Marketing of Product Support.

NTDA Members can sign up for LWS’ free e-newsletter at https:// learningwithoutscars.org/signup, or take advantage of free blogs, podcasts, and audio learning opportunities.

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Parts Campaigns and Promotions

Parts Campaigns and Promotions

This week, owner and managing director Ron Slee talks to readers about the importance of campaigns and promotions in your parts department.

Have you ever considered the counter or telephone sales job functions at an equipment dealership? High stress, work comes in tsunamis, or there is a lull in the action and it gets tedious. I have bad memories of how much the parts counter and telephone sales job functions can become an endurance test to get to the end of the day. The phone is ringing constantly, customers and others are walking in for service, and they seem to comes in hard and fast nearly all day long. It is almost impossible at times during the day to keep up.

One of the many challenges that I faced was how to make the job exciting. How to put some sizzle into it.

I wrote last week about the fact that we didn’t have enough people to regularly contact all of our customers, and yes that is very true. BUT I want to add to the problem. I want to create some excitement in the department. To make it a “cool” place to work.

In one of our subject-specific classes “What’s Your Why” I ask the question of “What Do You Do? If you are at a party or a church social or a pub and someone asks you what you do, what is your answer? Think about that. Then in the class, I ask them to tell me how they do it. Some can tell me, however, many will struggle with the explanation. But I really stop the room when I ask them “Why Do You Do It?” And I tell them they can’t say it is to make money.

Oh, I sell parts to owners of construction equipment. I sit at a desk and make telephone calls to sell parts and I answer calls from customers wanting to purchase parts. Sounds really exciting, doesn’t it?

So, I asked everyone involved how can I help you with this job? How can I help make this exciting for you? Nobody came up with anything very good. We all agreed on that. So, we talked about it and argued about it and we finally agreed to do something beneficial for the customer and rewarding for the employees. And campaigns and promotions were born. We had fun, which was what I was trying to do and yes, we sold a lot of parts. The group of us, there were eight people on the counter and I started exploring different ideas and we had as much fun designing these things as well as executing them. Then we put together a plan. We called it a Promotion Planning Tree. I have put these campaigns and promotions into many dealers since. I would estimate over one hundred different dealerships around the world.

At Learning Without Scars, we have a Campaigns and Promotions class that goes through all of the ins and outs of putting these programs together. It is a three-hour program with reading materials, pretests, a video of power points with audio tracks and embedded film clips with some ten or quizzes inserted into the class before a final assessment and a customer experience survey leads the students who achieve an 80% score obtaining a certificate of accomplishment.

A little later we started naming these programs – “January Jumps” “February Frenzy” “March Madness” “April Angst” – I am sure you get the idea. Then we started having a Parts Managers Special of the week, month, or quarter depending on what the objective was for that particular program. We had GOALS for all of them. Of course, we paid commissions for these programs but we also built in individual and store competitions. The highest number of Sales, by person and store; the most improved sales performance, by a person and by a store. And we added a “booby prize.” The last place also won an award. This we did only by store. We had a trophy made. Use your imagination for what that trophy should be and go get one made. It doesn’t cost much. Have an award ceremony, and with what we have learned with Teams Meetings and Zoom you can get everyone on the line at the same time. Make a BIG deal out of this. NOTE: We do the same thing for the service department and the product support sales team. Have some fun. Enjoy yourself. It is not unprofessional to have fun, especially when you can get everyone excited about their jobs and create some friendly competition. It is also great to see your high performers get the public recognition that they deserve. We would put our results in the company newsletter. Get pictures taken and frame them (especially for the low-performance store – I never saw a store repeat as a low-performance store – people truly are competitive).

Who said that we couldn’t have fun doing our work, our jobs? Not me. Try it. I am sure you will like it, and yes you will sell more parts.

The time is now.


Parts Market Capture and HeadCount

Parts Market Capture and HeadCount

In his blog post this week, Learning Without Scars Founder and Managing Member Ron Slee talks to readers about parts market capture and the headcount.

Parts Market Capture and HeadCount

One of the deep memories that I have is how much the parts counter and telephone sales job functions can become an endurance test to get to the end of the day. The phone is ringing constantly, customers and others are walking in for service, and they seem to come in Tsunamis: high hard and fast tidal waves. It is almost impossible at times during the day to keep up. This has been especially true since the early 1980s when the Heavy Equipment Dealer business model was changed.

In the late 70s inflation was out of control reaching levels we had never before experienced. Then Paul Volker, when Ronald Reagan was President, decided to fix it once and for all. At some points, interest rates went into levels in the low 20% range. It was catastrophic for many dealers who went out of business due to impossibly high levels of debt. The solution for most dealers was to cut down on people. The personnel expense was and still is, the highest “variable” cost in the business. So, they reduced the number of people on the counter, in many cases eliminated the Product Support Sales function, and cut back on people throughout the dealership.

It should be noted that the parts market capture rates also peaked in the late 1970s and have been in decline ever since. We just have not delivered the levels of customer service that were required by equipment owners and operators. Given our failure to deliver the level of service they had come to expect, they started to look around at the suppliers in their markets.  Our customers found very willing competitors who wanted to sell them parts. Today we are somewhere in the range of market capture rates that are about half of what they were in the 1970s. From the 1970s to the 2010s we lost half of the available parts market to our competition. Rather unbelievable to consider, isn’t it?  For the traditional parts market share leader, they went from the low 80% range to the high 30% range.

To some degree, the problem is that as an industry we don’t have a standard measure of market potential or market share. The equipment sales teams all have market share calculations to three decimal places. The AEM (Association of Equipment Manufacturers) produces statistics regularly for machines, but nothing for parts and service. By not having a measure available the parts department is given a pass on market share performance. We don’t know what the market share is so we don’t worry about it. I strenuously object.

We can determine our market potential and we can calculate our market share but it requires work. It is fundamental work. We have to know the working machine population in our territory. I believe the most significant question to ask today is why don’t I know my machine population? I have long written about, talked about at conventions, taught in classrooms and in webinars and in internet-based classes, the fact that if you don’t know your machine population you don’t know your business. I am very serious about that statement.

Today, less than half of the machine owners in any dealer territory have been contacted by an employee of the dealership. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. Take a list of your parts sales by customer and sort it in descending purchases. The bottom 50% of those customers have not been contacted by an employee of your dealership in the last year.

I know, you will tell me that they didn’t buy enough to warrant the expense of a call. Wonderful. You will tell me they are so small that they don’t matter to you or your business. I disagree. If you are honest with yourself you will agree with me. Every single customer matters. One day they might replace a machine and who will they contact? You? I doubt it. You left them they didn’t leave you and I don’t believe that you deserve to be considered for that reason alone.

The other problem to consider is that you don’t have enough people to do that work. I agree with you. You have cut back on the number of people to the degree that you don’t have enough people left to do the necessary work. At the counter and telephone selling job function, we have become order processors: the men and women working their work with “their hair going straight back.” They never pick up a phone without someone on the other side of the call. Check it out.

In the 1980s I wrote a lot about the dealer models and again I brought it back in the period following 2008. We had a model, we had business metrics and measures, and we had standards. In the 1980s the standard parts sales per parts employee were $600,000 per year. This needs to get adjusted with variables of gross profit and average unit value of the part and the economics of the region. We had a standard of personnel expense in the parts set at 7% of parts sales. Putting that together, we had $600,000 sales per employee at 7% of parts sales which meant compensation equal to $42,000/year. By today’s standards and skill requirements that is low. Assuming a compensation of $60,000 then sales per employee go up to around $850,000.

Make the adjustment and then you have the proper number of people for doing the job the way the job was done in the 1980s. That means that we need additional staff if we want to contact “ALL” of your customers regularly. With new changes in market and customer coverage, you will continue to lose market capture and make yourself more vulnerable to competitors. Is that what you intend to have happen? I didn’t think so.

The time is now.

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Are Bricks and Mortar Going to Survive the Internet Era?

Are Bricks and Mortar going to Survive the Internet Era?


During the past fifty years, most of my work life in this Industry, one of the most significant

‘barriers to entry” in the equipment industry, and in fact, capital goods industries has been the ownership and control of proprietary information. For instance, where to buy a part. A specific part, a bearing, for example, was purchased from an authorized dealer typically because the consumer did not know of any other source. Repairs and Maintenance were the exclusive domain of the authorized dealer for a similar reason. There was no availability for the independent mechanic to service manuals and technical literature. There clearly has been a radical change here hasn’t there? Just ask Google or another search engine whatever you want and they will typically have an answer. Even Alexa or Siri or Bixby will give you an answer on your cellular telephone.

Let’s start with some facts. In the US the standard in the retail sales Industry used to be 10 square feet of store space for every person in the country. In 1998, after a substantial increase in the square foot assigned to retail sales, the retail sales per square foot had dropped from $200.00/ft2 to $150.00/ft2. In 1999 the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management reported that consumers’ shopping time was down 31% and monthly mall visits were down 47% with stores visited per mall visit down 57%. Clearly something was going on here.

While this was going on Amazon came onto the scene. They started business on July 5, 1994. From that launch date the impact that Amazon has had on retail sales has been nothing short of amazing. In 2019 Amazon had a market share of e-commerce in the USA of 52.4%, Non-US was 5.7% for a worldwide market share of 13.7%. In that same year, 2019, e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 22 percent in 2023.

I first used the internet in 1973 through a Service Bureau in Canada via a business called I.P. Sharp Associates. Ian had direct real time access, on line, to all financial data worldwide through the stock markets. He also provided international associations, such as the World Bank, direct access to financial information. He later sold his business to Reuters who kept the news piece and sold the financial piece to what is now provided by Bloomberg. At that time there was no AOL. The general public was not on line yet. That is only forty-five years ago.

Today many business systems offer online “portals” for the public to search through for a part or information on a repair or maintenance for equipment. Today there are a multitude of businesses from whom you can purchase just about any part you need from an alternate source to the authorized dealer. In automotive Genuine parts through their NAPA stores is a direct competitor to the authorized car dealers. In many cases, as Forbes once called it “at a price that will make you weep.” In maintenance and repairs we have seen Mr. Muffler and Midas Muffler forcing the dealers into providing their off brand technical services like Mr. Goodwrench. In the construction equipment world in North America surveys are conducted nearly every five years and that data tells us that maintenance has been completely moved away from the authorized dealers. In fact, labor market share, depending on market area ranges from 8% to 15% of the total labor available. Of course, there are outliers in both directions. The parts market share is not more than 40% any more when in the late seventies it was in the range of 80%.

In 1980 one of the first internet-based buying options was brought out to the market. That parts ordering portal never achieved a portion of the dealer parts business in excess of 10%. Notice the difference between the Amazon model and our model. Amazon started with books and sold their books at a lower price than the local book stores. Even Borders, a major book store retailer was a victim of Amazon. They are no longer in business. What did Amazon do that the authorized equipment parts suppliers didn’t do. They lowered the prices. Their logic was when the customer is the coproducer of the work, they deserve to get a better deal. No one has as yet tried that approach as an authorized dealer. The aftermarket suppliers have already lower prices at their disposal.

So, there is the dilemma. I hope you can see it coming. It is that light in the tunnel of the train roaring down the track. Are you going to sit back and let the internet-based businesses penetrate even more into your parts and labor business or are you going to do something about it?

The Time is Now. If not now, when?

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Return It Now!

Return It Now!

Return It Now!

Steve received a degree in Electrical Engineering and then served in the US Navy. He started with Komatsu America 1978. For the next twelve years Steve worked through various equipment sales positions before becoming the Vice President of Parts, Vice President of Service. During this period Steve sat on the board of a major distributor in the North east US as well as Hensley Industries. After twenty-five years Steve moved from the OEM side of the business to the Distribution side by joining Tractor and Equipment Company in 2003 as Vice President of Product Support.

Throughout his career Steve has learned the Industry from the ground up. This allowed him to have a very clear view of what was needed to support customers, employees and owners in their pursuit of excellence. Working at high levels in both the Manufacturing and the Distribution side of the business gave Steve some great learning opportunities and chances to develop insights.  Steve retired in January of 2020.  After spending 40 plus years in an industry we are very pleased to be able to share some of Steve’s insights with you and honored to consider Steve a friend.

Most manufacturers have several categories of parts in relation to their return classification.  It usually goes something like returnable, non-returnable and order-on-demand.  For our purposes we are only worried about non-returnable parts.  We can return the returnable parts and suppliers won’t take back order-on-demand parts if you threaten them with a gun.  Non-returnable parts usually have a loophole.  You can usually return them on an ordered-in-error claim with most manufacturers if you do it within their specified time window.  This is completely legitimate.  There might be a restock charge but you can return them.  Manufacturers want parts returned quickly so they have them for resale.

This is where I am going to suggest you need a hard, never to be broken rule.  You are going to return those parts every time and do it in the window.  No exceptions.  You will get lots of excuses and I am going to suggest you accept none of them. 

Your problem of non-compliance usually happens because of a lack of cooperation with the service department or poor management from the parts department.  Having reports will let you stay on top of this.

Service managers are usually only worried about getting parts when they need them.  They are not too concerned about getting them back within a specific window.  This is actually understandable.  They fight fires everyday and returning parts falls pretty low on their emergency scale.  They like to tell a parts manager that they are going to need this part anyway in a few weeks so go ahead and put it into stock.  That has actually probably been true at least three times in the history of the business.  The rest of the time you got stuck with a part that will never move.  Your money is not sitting idle.  It is gone and you have just not acknowledged the fact yet.

We need to track the parts, warn the parties about an approaching deadline (let the report provide the warning) and if the service department fails to return it, we charge it to them.  There is an account that lets us track that issue.  We talk about that account.

There is really no good excuse for a parts manager not getting a part in their will- call bin legitimately billed to a customer and delivered.  One of my really great branch parts managers would call customers after a week to make sure they still needed it.  If the customer said yes, they asked when they could expect them to get it.  He gave the customer a date he had to return the part.  Nobody got mad.  It worked.  If you have a branch parts manager that can’t get this right then you need to look for somebody that can manage the branch inventory investment properly.  Once again, have an account that these parts are charged to for branch parts generated issues.

Parts managers usually were trained to avoid restocking charges at all costs.  At least that is my experience.  This can be a hard habit to break.  I put it on a white board for them.  I have a $100 non-returnable part that I return and it has a 25% restock fee.  I get a $75 credit which I reinvest in my good inventory that turns 8 times a year and has a 30% gross margin.  I get that fee back the second time I turn the money.

If I leave it in stock, I will lose the return opportunity.   In 3 or 4 years I will scrap it and get nothing and write off the total value of the part.  I will also have a lost opportunity cost of not turning the money over its time in inventory.  Today interest rates are very low but who know what the future holds.

Always send the part back when you can.  Track non-returnable parts every week and figure out how they got into your inventory.  Close off all the possible ways this can happen.  Controlling the cancer of a growing non-moving inventory will help your operations in all kinds of positive ways.  Make this a top priority.  Put up signs, get tattoos, talk about it every time you meet a branch parts manager.

Goals and Targets

Goals and Targets

Goals and Targets

Today marks another guest post from Steve Day. Steve received a degree in Electrical Engineering and then served in the US Navy. He started with Komatsu America 1978. For the next twelve years Steve worked through various equipment sales positions before becoming the Vice President of Parts, Vice President of Service. During this period Steve sat on the board of a major distributor in the North east US as well as Hensley Industries. After twenty-five years Steve moved from the OEM side of the business to the Distribution side by joining Tractor and Equipment Company in 2003 as Vice President of Product Support. In this piece he is walking us through goals and targets.

Throughout his career Steve has learned the Industry from the ground up. This allowed him to have a very clear view of what was needed to support customers, employees and owners in their pursuit of excellence. Working at high levels in both the Manufacturing and the Distribution side of the business gave Steve some great learning opportunities and chances to develop insights.  Steve retired in January of 2020.  After spending 40 plus years in an industry we are very pleased to be able to share some of Steve’s insights with you and honored to consider Steve a friend.

Here are the areas that I think a manager should focus on and continually question his inventory management about.

“Goals and Targets”

I like to have Companywide and branch targets for the following:

  • Over the Counter fill rate for each branch and for the company for stocking parts by manufacturer.
  • You want to see your fill rate on parts you stock and your total fill.
  • You are going to want to see this monthly.
  • Turns by manufacturer. You can measure this by annual turns or weeks on hand.
  • This is how you will know how your money is working. This is a big issue with me.
  • If you have a smaller manufacturer with low turns and low parts margins then you better be making lots of money when you sell the machine. Otherwise I would rethink the relationship.  Time is money and I don’t like spending time unproductively when I can allocate time and money to more productive areas.  That sounds cold doesn’t it.
  • Monthly
  • Emergency and Critical order charges by part number.
  • Weekly (otherwise it is too hard to get your arms around). This is helpful in deciding if you need to add some parts to stock and also gives you an idea of some problems your manufacturer might be having with availability.  It lets you act early.
  • Parts being expedited.
  • You want this daily. Set a target for you inventory group to be expediting parts that you don’t have an acceptable delivery date on each day.  Split it between customer orders and service department orders.  If you get this right, it will change your company.
  • Your goal (this is a “Ron Sleeism’s”) is to have an answer on every part being expedited every day. Like many goals it is probably impossible to achieve most days but it will drive far better customer support.
  • Stock order parts being expedited.
  • If you lose track of how your stock orders, special marketing orders and other specialty categories are being fulfilled you set yourself up for some trouble down the road.
  • Don’t ever assume that suppliers are going to hit their lead times. If you don’t track stock order fulfillment you can easily run out of fast movers and kill your availability. Run this report at least weekly and you will save lots of heartburn.
  • Reports on specific manufacturer marketing programs.
  • There are real opportunities to make money if you manage your inventory and utilize manufacturers marketing programs. Take advantage of discounts.  You won’t know what you are missing unless you track it.
  • Additionally, manufacturers look at how well you utilize programs.
  • If the program doesn’t work for you, talk to them about it. Often, they will modify it to fit your needs.  If you ignore them, they will think you don’t care.
  • Non-stocking parts by part number.
  • I will talk about this in detail later but you should have a list of every non-stocking part in your inventory and another report showing every non-stocking part that has been on a non-invoiced customer ticket for more than a week and on a work order for more than two weeks. This is a critical report.  You want to constantly question these parts.  Call the branch service manager or parts manager and ask them why the part has not been invoiced.  Keep the pressure on with these parts.

Parts Inventory Management

Parts Inventory Management

Today we continue with another guest blog from Steve Day.

Parts Inventory Management

In the next several blogs we are going to be discussing inventory management.  Please try to stay awake.  There are thousands of books on this topic and I am not going to write another one.  I am not going to go into excruciating detail since most of those books do a pretty good job of causing pain.  Instead I am going to focus on a few areas that a Product Support GM or a Distributor Principal should focus on to drive customer support and profit.

I have managed Parts Operations at both a manufacturer and a distributor.  I am going to be focused on distribution for purposes of this blog.

Manufacturers and Distributors have similar goals for their parts operations.  We both want to take great care of our customers, provide real value, sell lots of parts and make lots of money.  We also have very different areas we need to focus our efforts on.

I will start with a personal anecdote.  When I moved from a manufacturer to a distributor, I decided to take a very aggressive inventory position to provide the best level of support I could.  If we sold a part in the company twice a year, we were going to stock it.  My over the counter fill immediately moved up a couple of points. Then it just sat there barely moving a tenth of a point year after year.  What was going on?

I decided to run reports to see how parts that met the two sales in a year criterion fared in the years following them being put into the system.  I didn’t see what I wanted to see so I went back another year and then another year and I kept seeing the same thing.  Almost ninety percent of the time a part that sold twice (and only twice) in a year did not sell at all in the following year.  I looked at parts that sold three times next.  More then seventy five percent of the time it did not sell at all the following year.  To make matters worse, when the parts did sell the customer was often the manufacturer or another dealer who couldn’t find it at the manufacturer.  I was trying to take on the role of the manufacturer.  I was also stocking a whole bunch of inventories I didn’t need, couldn’t sell and didn’t help either my distributorship or my customer.

We changed our focus on stocking criteria, expediting, weeks on hand, branch levels, logistics and targets.  We changed management in the department and our focus.  We went from a bit over two turns a year to eight turns a year and our branch over the counter fill rates and company fill rates improved.  It happened in less than 6 months.  I didn’t feel proud.  I felt very foolish.

For more information about Parts Inventory Management, please visit us at Learning Without Scars.

Balancing Skills in the Workplace

Balancing Skills in the Workplace

Imagine if you will, it is the middle 1980’s and I am working with a John Deere dealer and we are looking at their Service Department. We were reviewing processes and systems and methods and work flows. We also determined that there was a need to review the skills of the technicians and all support functions in the department.

In those days we didn’t have much in the way of personnel management practices in the Industry. We didn’t have a way of balancing skills in the workplace. We had to build the complete structure and reporting criteria. We created three data files; current employee personnel and payroll information, the skills required to each of the job functions, and the determination of the actual skills of each of the employees. To determine the skills of each employee we created what I called a “Skill Set Inventory.” This inventory consisted of questions with multiple choice answers that the employees they completed and submitted the forms to me.

Then we catalogued the answers and grade ranked all of the employees – we matched these results with the payroll records. The final step was to sit with the management of the department to discuss the skills of each of the employees, without the benefit of the employee’s personal thinking, and grade rank them – again we matched these results with the payroll records.

How do you think the management compared with the employee scores and the payroll records? It was very revealing. The management was embarrassed. There was some matching of the results but very little. It turns out that the management had favorites and seniority had an outsized influence on the results. They had not learned the art of balancing skills in the workplace.

This was an extremely important exercise for me. I conducted these types of reviews with several dozen dealers across many different manufacturer dealers. The results were the same. That took us to the place where we needed to develop an objective assessment tool for dealers.

There are many companies within our Industry who have created assessments, we are not alone in this arena. There are manufacturers, personnel companies, associations and others involved, which cover many aspects of the individual jobs; however, you need to be the judge of the value of the results from any job assessment. You need to do your own due diligence.

Our assessments relate to the specific jobs, for instance, the counter and telephone sales employees, or the service office employees, or the product support sales person. There are six job functions within the parts department, eight in the service department and four in the product support selling and parts and service marketing groups. Let’s review how our assessments were created for a moment. For each class we have conducted for the past thirty years, and the more than ten thousand employees we have had in our classes or webinars, we have had questions and work groups, and evaluations throughout. From our classrooms and webinars, we created our subject specific classes, and in each of these subject specific classes which we called “Learning On Demand (LOD)” products we had assessments and tests. This is the foundation of our Skills Assessments programs. We selected for each job function assessment, from the pool of over one thousand questions, the job function assessment questions. Then we have had more than thirty-five hundred people take these assessments so that we could put the job function assessments into the marketplace with confidence.

I am excited by the assessment programs. We have received more than thirty registrations today and I am expecting more than two hundred this week. The same again next week. The market seems to be rewarding us with their orders. We thank them and will continue to provide leading edge tools for dealers to improve their processes, procedures, systems and methods. We aim to assist each employee working in this Industry with products that will help them realize their potential.

We believe that is our mission and our life’s work.

The time is now.

A Pathway to Learning

A Pathway to Learning

Learning Without Scars Classes

Since we started a business to provide classroom training for parts and service operations and product support sales and marketing, we have been constantly creating and redesigning what I have always called “Learning Paths.” A pathway to learning is what we try to provide to all employees to help them realize their potential.

With the classroom training we established the first pathway to learning with management and supervision. For this, we designed two-day classes consisting of eight specific subjects. We then developed the three-year program that had twenty-four subjects covered and taught. We offered this and conducted these classes worldwide for major construction equipment manufacturers. We did the same thing for dealership associations. In the mid 1990s we created a series of videos for dealer associations, that continue to be used in certification programs for parts managers and service managers. Clearly the methods, systems, processes and requirements in the past twenty-five years have changed. The modern pathway to learning is reflected in the creation of our skill assessments and in the evolution of our subject specific classes. Much has changed.

As I mentioned yesterday we offered Planned Learning Programs, which we referred to as PLPs. These were the three-year programs built for leaders in the Parts and Service and Product Support Sales groups. During the twenty-five years these were offered we have had over ten thousand people attend the PLPs – Executives, Managers, Supervisors and Foremen from all around the world.

Next, we created Planned Specific Programs, or PSPs in our shorthand here. These programs were designed for the people doing the work. The people that I call “Heroes.” They take the orders, pick the parts, pull the wrenches, inspect the machines, manage the assets, and drive the trucks. These are the people who serve your customers. These are the people that keep your customers coming back.

With this most recent change to our website we are introducing the next evolution of our Learning Paths. This has been designed to allow the individual employee to create their own individualized Learning Paths. As you will have read over the past ten days, if you follow our blog, we start everything with a job function skills assessment. We then match the results of that assessment to the four levels of skills: Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. When the individual employee selects our classes tabs, and the department in which they are interested they are asked for their skill level. Then, they will be presented the classes that our years of teaching and thousands of students, have indicated that should be covered to provide the employee the ability to improve their Skill Level.

As you can imagine this has taken some time to develop and put together. It provides each employee the opportunity to personalize their own learning, to select the classes they believe will address the “gaps” in their skills and knowledge. Of course, the Dealership and the Leadership can also be involved in selecting the classes that should be taken. That will never change.

Now we are adding additional tools that will allow us to have “Virtual” meetings with students to discuss the classes and, in effect, simulate the Real Classroom after they have completed one of our Subject Specific Classes. This is what educators are doing now across Grade School, Middle School and High School across the country. This is also now being used at Junior Colleges and Universities.

Education and Learning has changed a lot over the past twenty-five years. The changes coming in the next five years will be even more dramatic. No business, whether in manufacturing, distribution, wholesale or retail or business associations can rest on their laurels. There has been too much change.

The equipment has changed, exotic materials, telematics, computerization. The systems have changed now using electronic catalogues and shopping carts, finance and payment methods have changed with “Square” and Touchless Credit Cards. The arrival of Artificial Intelligence and Drones for Job Management and Control. The world has changed.

The younger generation is much better prepared for these changes than the older generations. Their time is here and coming. We either adapt our systems, methods and everything else as of now or face trouble. We, at Learning Without Scars, have chosen to adapt and it has been extremely exciting and energizing. Is this also an opportunity for each and every business across the world? I believe it is.

The choice is yours.

The time is now.

For more information on finding your own pathway to learning, please visit our website at learningwithoutscars.org

Building the Foundation of Learning

Building the Foundation of Learning

Building the Foundation of Learning

Our initial training business was called Quest, Learning Centers. We incorporated Quest in 1992. This is where we first deliberately began building the foundation of learning. Originally our classes spanned fifteen hours, over two days, and was designed to cover four subjects; operations, selling, management and standards of performance. In each four-hour time block we covered two specific learning subjects. That provided a learning platform of four classes. Then we created additional learning levels to end up with three different levels of classes. That developed a total of 24 classes for each of parts, service and selling. In the middle we created a marketing class and a customer service class. That gave us a total of 88 classes.

In the early 2000’s we moved to webinars. Each webinar was around forty-five minutes. I was not happy with webinars as I could not see my students. We adjusted our delivery and used a HD camera connected to our computer. We alternated power point slides with live talks using the camera. It was better but didn’t make me very happy as a teacher. Still, it was another step in building the foundation of learning.

In 2016 we decided to transition all of our learning products to the internet. We incorporated Learning Without Scars and started to build the curriculum. Today we have thirty classes up and available in both parts and service with five classes in each still under construction. For Selling and Marketing we have twenty-four classes up and available.

These subject specific classes are each approximately three hours duration. We start with a pretest to understand the prior knowledge of each employee before they start the class. We then have power point slides with audio tracks which was developed and evolved from our classroom training. Into this learning we inserted film clips that accentuated a specific point. At the conclusion of the class we had a final assessment on which the student had to achieve a score of 80% to pass. Then a short survey upon completion of everything after which the student could get their certificate of achievement.

In recent learning research and development, it has been proven that with a quiz or break in learning every ten or so minutes that learning retention goes up by 50% so we are in the process now of updating all of our classes to reflect this truth. I am sure that our classes will be in a constant state of development as more evidence comes forward regarding how people learn. I am committed to helping each individual to be able to achieve their potential.

Each step along the way, in our quest to help each person achieve their potential, is our need to listen to our clients and their employees and respond to their needs and wants just like every other business. They suggest additional classes and learning tools. This has allowed us to develop a series of, what we are calling, Learning Paths for each Skill Level achieved in our Job Function Skills Assessments. Initially we designed our training programs and we determined the structures that the individual students were to follow. We called them Planned Learning Programs and Planned Specific Programs and Video Classrooms. Now we are providing our students with the tools to be able to design their own learning path. They, more than we, know what they need in order to become better at what they do. More on that tomorrow.

The time is now.

For more information about what classes are right for you, please visit our website at learningwithoutscars.org