The Mid-states Content Network
The average ranch and home store stocks thousands of products – from Wrangler jeans to hay balers – which means keeping retail employees trained and knowledgeable on every product is an almost impossible task.
D&B Supply, the Idaho-based farm and ranch store, is keenly aware of this challenge. Its training program has always done an excellent job of keeping employees knowledgeable about the products sold in its stores. However, It was looking for a way to bolster that training even more to provide team members with the best in class product knowledge they could get. So, Derek Ream, Training Coordinator for D&B Supply, turned to the Mid-States content network to make that happen.
The Mid-States Content Network
After years of working together, Mid-States and Wisetail have formed a close partnership of collaboration and product development. When Mid-States identified the need to help their partners connect with training which was already available through its vendors, Wisetail began engineering a solution.
The Mid-States content network emerged as the solution. The content network is a library of nearly 1,000 pieces of training material from over 250 vendors which is available to all of Wisetail’s Mid-States partners. Within the network, trainers can quickly select and import vendor created training into their Wisetail LMS without producing product-specific training content themselves.
Mid-States helps to curate the vendor content available in the network so trainers like Ream don’t have to worry about quality control. They also take ownership of contacting vendors, helping create content, and uploading it to the network. All Ream needs to do is select content from vendors available at his store, and import it into their LMS. Team members have access to high-quality training from brands like Nutrena, Bayer, and Milwaukee Tools. Imagine having top notch training available to your employees without having to create it yourself?
When Ream and the D&B team launched their LMS, which they branded “The Barn,” in January of 2016, their 500+ employees had access to a fantastic library of learning material which D&B created. The staff eagerly consumed the training, and Ream soon began to tackle the idea of creating more high-quality content to train their employees on products available in their stores – not an easy task. So, when Ream and D&B heard about the content network, they were eager to be one of the first Mid-States’ partners to help roll it out.
Suddenly they had access to high-quality training from hundreds of vendors right at their fingertips.
“The content network allows us to pull training material we find useful for our team members and simply import it into our LMS,” Ream said. “It allows me to spend more of my time working on creating content that’s related to our company, such as culture and job skills, while still being able to maintain the consistent flow of new product knowledge content to our team members.”
In addition to freeing up more time for the training team to create their own learning material, the content network has also allowed D&B to strengthen its already comprehensive library of product training.
“We now have a team at Mid-States with our same views on what is quality engaging training material which will be working to create and gather content for us to utilize. Together with Mid-States, we have been able to build a more comprehensive and complete Learning Management System for our team members.”
Training Coordinator for D&B Supply
Driving employee engagement with the content network
D&B was one of the earlier adopters of the content network – early indications show the additional training material is creating more engagement within their LMS and better-trained employees throughout their stores.
Along with importing new content, Ream and his team made their site more user-friendly by reorganizing their home page to more easily display vendor specific training and help employees see what new content was available. With the site improvements and new content rolled out, D&B saw a 50% increase to the number of logins to their LMS and the number of course completions nearly tripled from just a few months earlier.
The first module made available to employees from the content network, Nutrena Proforce, received an enormous amount of positive feedback from employees and had been completed nearly 300 times within the first few days, all without D&B having to create any original content.
Prior to the launch of the content network, Ream was spending a good portion of his time creating product training videos. Since starting to import learning material, he is able to spend more time creating cultural videos, onboarding, and job skills content specific to D&B.
This increased training helps employees become more independent and confident in their positions and ultimately creates happier customers and more sales.
D&B’s Winning Solution
1. Utilize the content network to help deliver strategic product knowledge training.
“Each team member across the company has a different set of responsibilities along with a unique knowledge base. If a certain training module can help them advance their understanding of a product or subject which will in return help aid in their ability to provide excellent customer service, they will find a great sense of value in it.”
2. Import fresh content weekly and make it easy to find.
“We are currently utilizing two techniques to make sure our team members know what is new within our LMS. The first technique implemented was through the Announcements widget, we created a simple announcement which highlights what has been recently added. We have further improved this process by utilizing the Community Page attribute. We have added a page which is dedicated to new content. This layout allows users to access the 50 most recent modules quickly. Our overall goal is to try and provide the best user experience we can.”
3. Leverage relationships within the Wisetail/Mid-States Community to learn best practices.
“With Mid-States having a team dedicated to creating and obtaining training content for our team members it would be truly a missed opportunity not to take advantage of this resource. Being in the unique community we have with the Mid-States group gives us the ability to be able to share best practices with each other. Any new Mid-State members who join will have the advantage to get feedback from some of the companies who have had it in place to learn from our mistakes and successes to help give them a jumpstart.”