HOLD YOUR LMS ACCOUNTABLE
Our goal is power great places to work. Whether you choose Wisetail for your learning management system or not, we aim to provide solid information to help you create your team’s own path to becoming a great place to work while holding to the highest standard of customer care. The following advice is from a learning and development professional who cares deeply about her company, doesn’t hold punches and isn’t afraid to speak up while demanding excellence. If you know Camille Chavez of Farmer Boy’s, you’ll know that this is no puff piece.
When Chavez took the helm of employee training at Farmer Boys in 2008 she knew right away that modernizing employee training and distance learning would be critical as the award-winning leader in fresh, farm-to-table fare embarked upon aggressive growth. At the time, the company was using what she called, “an outdated intranet” to share training materials with 88 restaurants and more than 2,000 team members across the country. “It was really a top down form of communication. Not everyone had the right passwords or access. And, we had absolutely no way of tracking whether our learning materials were actually being absorbed.”
At the same time, she recognized transitioning employee training away from a completely paper-based approach, to a blended learning program would require a careful hand.
“I have worked in the restaurant industry since I was 17 years old. I came up through the ranks using paper-based manuals, so I know the appeal at some level. But, it was also very apparent to me that paper training manuals are just not engaging and not being used by a new generation of team members,” recalls Chavez. With her wealth of experience in navigating both the vetting of a new LMS, transitioning her team from a completely paper-based training system to a combined paper, digital and in-person employee training program, Chavez is an expert in holding her team’s LMS, Wisetail, accountable. Here are three top ways you, too, can be like Camille:
#1 DO YOUR HOMEWORK
In 2009, Chavez says she embarked on what she called her “secret research” project devoting nights and weekends into learning as much as she could about the world of Learning Management System (LMS). After researching dozens of LMS companies and going through more than 40 LMS demos over the course of a full year, she received a call from Peter (PK) Kirwan, now Director of Marketing at Wisetail.
“Immediately, there was a completely different feel to the Wisetail approach. With every other company I had researched, I didn’t feel a strong connection to the people offering the software. That bothered me because I was so new to the field while also bringing our entire team into a new place – taking the leap alone with a vendor that wouldn’t be available was an unsettling proposition,” recalls Chavez. “Instead, PK understood what a leap this was for us going from a paper-based and intranet system to something new and unproven. He offered to fly out and help me walk my executive team through the learning management system. The relationship Wisetail was willing to offer was something that I simply had not seen in the LMS world at all,” said Chavez.
#2 DEMAND PROACTIVE SOLUTIONS AND SERVICE FOR YOUR EMPLOYEE TRAINING
While the relationship has deepened over the years, Chavez has never shied away from demanding excellence from Farmer Boy’s LMS and the people who provide it. She takes advantage of monthly calls with Wisetail’s Cece Harris who has made it her mission to provide Chavez with the latest
“Camille is a real professional who demands the very best for her team. We’ve gotten to know each other well – each other’s families and professional goals – but at the end of the day, Camille is a true professional who demands the very best for her team at Farmer Boy’s,” says Harris. “She’s a huge advocate in making Farmer Boy’s a great place to work and it’s exciting to help power that mission.”
Chavez has traveled to Wisetail headquarters in Bozeman, Montana multiple times and was recently among a group of some of the most effective and respected learning and development professionals in the restaurant industry to join Wisetail on the Road in California. In fact, Wisetail on the Road was developed out of a recommendation from Chavez and others who wanted to see more in-person work sessions to support clients. “When you have an LMS that caters to your industry, they are more equipped to facilitate best practices,” says Chavez.
Wisetail is able to facilitate sharing best practices from other training managers at great restaurants. That’s one piece of advice I have for others who are vetting LMS’s: it pays to choose a system that truly understands your employee training and business goals.”
#3 CHOOSE A LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM THAT UNDERSTANDS YOUR BUSINESS
When Chavez originally embarked on her “secret research project” to find the right LMS, she looked at systems of all shapes and sizes. Some were affordable but weren’t much more exciting than the clunky old intranet that no one used. Some were expensive but offered training geared toward employees who work in offices – not restaurants where desk and computer space for training is limited and not responsive to the workflow of service. “I knew that if we wanted our people to actually use our LMS and keep coming back for training, we needed to have a system that was mobile and engaging to a younger generation of team members.”
MEASURE SUCCESS WITH REAL WORLD RESULTS
Chavez estimates that Farmer Boys went from a 10 percent rate of uploaded employee training materials to upwards of 60 percent usage today. Additionally, at stores that are fully engaged in using the Wisetail platform for training and communications, it has been reported to take 20 percent less time to train new front-of-the-house employees. Chavez explains, “The savings is substantial as we’re more efficiently bringing team members on board. Additionally, our communications across our 88 locations are so much more balanced between peer-to-peer communication, bottom up, top down and throughout our restaurants.”
This balance between developing human connections while delivering on measurable results is something Chavez sees as a strategic advantage. While completely unexpected from a software company, Chavez says it’s refreshing to know that her questions aren’t going to a call center detached from the core values that brought her to Wisetail from the beginning.
“Wisetail speaks the restaurant language and they are able to facilitate sharing best practices from other training managers at great restaurants. That’s one piece of advice I have for others who are vetting LMS’s: it pays to choose a learning management system that truly understands your training and business goals.”
Farmer Boys Restaurants
Director of Training