Learn how Nekter Juice Bar cut their turnover rate by two thirds after a renewed focus on training.

Employee turnover ebbs and flows at Nekter Juice Bar. New employees are typically hired early in the year, some leave in the summer months before things settle down again in the fall and winter.

Even as regular and predictable as that pattern is, Nekter’s annualized turnover rate in 2016 cost the business money. Jeff Barney, Director of Training & Development at Nekter, saw this as a big opportunity to bolster employee retention and increase their ROI through improved training and development.

Part of the company’s plan to seize this opportunity was to seek out a partner who could support Nekter’s training renovation. After a rigorous search, Jeff and Nekter chose Wisetail. We worked together to launch a learning management system (LMS), called Nekter Nation.

ROI Wisetail LMS client Nekter Juice Bar products.

A Renewed Focus

In 2017, Jeff leapt at the opportunity to bring his passion for numbers and data further into his work. He started tracking content completion rates. He pulled store-specific data. He grouped those locations under district managers and had each manager send weekly updates of their district’s performance, layering in a bit of accountability.

Just as predictable as the ebb and flow of hourly employees, Jeff says, is the correlation between training, store performance, and turnover. Previously, he used to calculate those figures through manual audits.

“Any time a store underperforms with training, team member turnover spikes,” Jeff says. “It always happens.”

After a year of weekly updates and a renewed focus on training, Jeff checked the annualized turnover rate. It had dropped by more than 40% — not an insubstantial amount. And he says the figures weren’t all that surprising. The results had already started to show up in the overall store performance and customer reviews.

“When people stay they get better, they get more comfortable,” Jeff says. “Then they’re not only thinking about what they’re preparing. They’re thinking about who they’re serving, and about that interaction and relationship.”

Click here to learn how Jamba Juice increased ROI by dropping time to productivity by 40%.

“Annualized turnover rate dropped by more than 40%. Results showed up in overall store performance and customer reviews.”

Reach & Consistency

Two major reasons for the huge turnover drop are reach and consistency. In the last nine years Nekter has started franchising and expanded well past its early size of 15 stores. All that growth made it harder to deliver a specific message to the employees.

Previously, training depended on the quality of each individual trainer’s delivery, Jeff says. Nekter’s new size also made it hard to ensure that everyone had access to the most recent roll-out or branding updates.

Before the LMS, Jeff’s team could email updates out but depended on the recipient to print out hard copies, which made team member engagement rare, Jeff says.

A litany of problems beyond engagement surrounds paper-based training. Phone calls are disruptive and inefficient. Something could get accidentally switched out—say, someone might keep an old manual and then have someone new grab it thinking the old one was the most recent, any number of things outside any one person’s control.

Now, with Nekter Nation, there’s more consistency in core training, Jeff says. It’s easier to store, organize, and update information. It’s easier to introduce new products, as the learning platform allows for multimedia training and tracking to ensure all team members are up-to-date before launching the product.

“I can look on Nekter Nation and see exactly what people are getting introduced to. We can update something with a couple of keystrokes or mouse clicks and make sure they’re getting the latest, most accurate information,” Jeff says.

Not only does the platform offer a branded source of regularly updated information — but rather than just informing employees about company culture, the LMS’ social features and sharing capabilities allow team members across the country to actually participate in that culture.

Executive Buy-in

Since Nekter Nation had such an impact on employee retention, Jeff’s team decided to take it beyond the usual training and use the LMS for new store openings.

In fall 2018 every new store — corporate and franchise — used the learning platform as a guide through opening. The simple tweak kept Nekter’s regional team focused on growth and development, Jeff says, rather than teaching core information somehow previously missed or glossed over.

The change has carved almost a full day’s work off the opening schedule. And it’s not that Nekter shortened the process, Jeff says. They’ve added more marketing and simulator revenue days to fill the unexpected extra time.

“Openings have been more successful. It’s not a stretch of the imagination. The team feels more comfortable, the sales have been higher,” Jeff says.

In addition to streamlining new store openings, Jeff says overall job knowledge and cultural awareness has increased because of Nekter Nation, shown by the growing number of internal promotions and advancement since the LMS launched.

Early success didn’t fully satisfy Jeff’s desire to improve Nekter’s training and development. His team is constantly looking for new ways to make effective, valuable training. And because the LMS has been demonstrably effective, Nekter’s leadership team has supported the efforts.

For instance, this success has garnered executive support to purchase equipment and explore leading edge training technologies, such as virtual reality. This tech can open the door to immersive content such as virtual store tours and trainer shadowing, Jeff says, allowing new team members and franchise partners to experience “a day in the life” without impeding the team or the guest experience.

“The success of our LMS and partnership with Wisetail enables us to explore the future rather than trying to catch up to the present.” 

Jeff Barney, Director of Training and Development at Nekter

Wisetail LMS content creator, Jason Bacaj.


Jason is a content creator with Wisetail. Through research and interviews, he works to help L&D pros grow the breadth of their knowledge. He’s a recovering journalist fascinated with learning.