City Electric Supply is a manufacturer and wholesale distributor of industrial electrical equipment and supplies for the residential, commercial, and industrial marketplace.
With over 500 stores across North America, City Electric Supply needed their own solution to effectively train their 2700 people, having previously used an electrical association’s cumbersome proprietary LMS. Their old solution, as it was supplied by their association, limited what kind of learning and development they could provide their people. It ticked some boxes for compliance, but it wasn’t engaging and it wasn’t a representation of City Electric Supply.
With those challenges in mind, City Electric Supply partnered with Kineo to implement a Totara Learn platform so they could deliver an effective solution that could evolve alongside their needs. City Electric Supply wanted a learning platform that engaged their learners with gamification elements and a great look and feel. City Electric Supply wanted to create a solution that would effectively deliver their training needs and upskill their people. So with the new site, they sought to create a platform that was easily accessible and would pull their learners deeper into the learning.
By ditching the limitations of a proprietary system and going with an open source learning platform, City Electric Supply has been able to implement a roadmap that evolves their system alongside their needs and introduce new ideas.
Their new learning solution has a great user experience and incorporates leaderboards and open badges to entice their learners. Gail Smart, Training Manager at City Electric Supply, commented:
“The gamification piece is laid out nicely for us in the platform with the ability to earn badges. We’ve also made great use of the leaderboard. We use the leaderboards to recognize the top individual and top branch within our company every month. We’ve become very competitive in the field - we have branches that try to out to outdo one another.”
Along with their homepage highlighting who is at the top of the leaderboard, the homepage also highlights a two-minute video each month of one of their own products. There are also banners on the site that showcase and link to their vendors’ training courses – which are all hosted in City Electric Supply’s learning platform. Gail explained:
“Incorporating vendor training on the platform wasn’t originally planned at all. We didn’t have the resources to do all the product training, so we needed to use what our vendors had. But we wanted to have the tracking and wanted to make it so our users didn’t need to go to various vendor sites. Each vendor asks how much will that cost to host their training and feature them – it doesn’t cost a thing. This has enabled us to build relationships with them.”
Banners are also used to highlight upcoming webinars, which are anything from systems training to product training or messages they want to share. The system makes it easy to sign up within the system and track who attended. Once a webinar is aired, it is turned into a video and repurposed to use as a piece of learning.
City Electric Supply is in the midst of their two-year strategic L&D plan. Their learning platform plays a crucial role, especially as they look to expand their learning across North America and add their factory employees to the system. There is also a regional training initiative they are halfway through rolling out, and as Gail commented: “It would have taken so much longer had we not had the learning platform and courses in place. It has played a crucial part in onboarding for regional training and onboarding in the field.” Uptake has been positive, with 1792 of their 2700 employees already accessing the system in the first six months.
Top benefits for City Electric Supply have been the ability to deliver learning 24/7 as well as track the learning and host their own training and vendor training all in one place. Gail added: “From a user perspective, they think ‘Oh wow, that’s cool’ because this is not what they are used to.” With the new solution, learning is all in one place and it’s easier to login than using their association’s LMS. Their users can now see what courses they’ve started or been assigned to, earn badges and rank on the leaderboard.
It’s definitely been worth the investment in terms of time, effort and costs, especially when looking at the various aspects of a better, more informed employee. It makes a pretty big statement to an employee when you are willing to invest in their learning – and that helps with retention. That’s because it makes a statement; it’s saying we care about you.
This is the fourth learning platform Gail has implemented in her career, and because it’s not an off-the-shelf system, she believes:
“Our learning system has become so good because of the ability to customize Totara Learn for what our organization needs. We knew what the benefits were going to be for us. Many times an LMS goes no further than elearning tracking and we are using this system for all aspects of training. Webinars, elearning, documentation – we also add activities that could potentially be a job aid. We really are using at a lot more than we would be able to with other LMS solutions.”