Like a lot of landscape business owners, Andrew Pelkey knows the importance of having good-quality training.
It’s why the co-owner of North Point Outdoors in Derry, New Hampshire says the company has launched “North Point Outdoor University,” a formal training program that the team calls NPOU for short. According to Pelkey, by formalizing the process, they’re better able to ensure certain standards are being met.
The program consists of up to 20 hours of courses with pop quizzes and exams. Once the coursework is complete, employees are then tested in the field to demonstrate they have learned the skills taught in class.
“By sending team members through North Point Outdoor University, we’re able to ensure that everyone receives the same level of training,” he explains. “Now that there are systems and processes in place, it’s helping to maintain consistency.”
Raising the bar
The company’s partnership with Greenius, an online training system, has been instrumental in the launch and success of this program. Pelkey says that it allows employees to go through a course curriculum and complete modules. New team members are now immediately set up with a Greenius account to get the process started.
“We’re trying to take things to the next level by not just having team members memorize steps but actually understand what they’re doing,” Pelkey says.
When employees forget how to use equipment from one season to the next, it’s usually because they just memorized the steps they were supposed to take and didn’t really understand what they were doing. Pelkey says that they hope their more in-depth training program will prevent this.
Addressing different learning styles
While training often involves spoken directions, Pelkey says he has made sure a large portion of this program includes videos. He understands that a large majority of people are visual learners.
“The videos also provide an opportunity for team members to re-watch something if they need to be refreshed on the skill,” Pelkey continues. “The beginning of a new season is always a great time to refresh skills.”
Pelkey says that they are making the videos in-house. It has also been an opportunity to showcase “best practices” and to show the ways in which North Point Outdoors might do things differently than other companies. Even if employees were trained somewhere else, Pelkey says they want to make sure they learn the North Point way.
He sums up: “It’s all a matter of continuing to raise the bar and set ourselves apart.”