Case Studies

Dodge’s Southern Style Provides Dynamic Employee Training with a Streamlined Totara Learn Platform Designed by eThink Education

By September 10, 2020 No Comments
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About Dodge’s Southern Style 

Dodge’s is a privately held chain of gas station convenience stores that are peppered across the Southern United States, with more than 47 locations across 9 states. Besides offering quality gasoline and low-priced convenience store items, Dodge’s prepares delicious southern-style food fresh throughout each day, with their most popular item being their famous fried chicken. 

Challenge 

Prior to working with eThink, Dodge’s had been using a combination of content built and hosted on Articulate Online, which sent completion information back to a homegrown database, and spreadsheets and manual reporting to manage their on-the-job training. Their previous setup using Articulate Online lacked the ability to target audiences and push notifications when recertifications or other training was needed. Additionally, there wasn’t much consistency or transparency around how training was being done across Dodge’s various locations. Faced with these limitations and time-consuming data management, Dodge’s decided they were ready to move their training courses and content capabilities beyond SCORM only. 

“Articulate Online wasn’t meant to be a full LMS – it was a Band-Aid and we knew it was a Band-Aid,” said Amy Adair-Gregory, Director of Training and Development at Dodge’s Southern Style. “Recertifications that needed to occur every 90 days or every 6 months weren’t easy to manage. You’d have to delete and reassign courses to allow them to be taken again, but completion data would also be deleted. We had to build a back-end system to store that completion data. That was a huge pain point. Overall, the trackability of training completions and reporting capabilities were not great. Video was also a problem as it became garbled, which was frustrating for end users.” 

Dodge’s Southern Style began looking for an LMS that would support a new venture within their organization: the creation of a completely digital internal training program. They reached out to eThink Education, an open-source LMS solutions provider and Platinum Totara Partner, and quickly realized that open-source technology would allow them to leverage the best technology while also demanding the best service. With eThink’s help, they determined that the Totara Learn LMS, a leading open enterprise learning platform, would provide them with the flexibility to meet their unique training needs. 

Dodge’s goal was to implement Totara Learn to: 

  • Create a professional, well-built site to utilize as part of a program that promotes self-discovery of resources and a deeper understanding of the processes and systems used within the company.  
  • Build a program that allows the scaling of learning experiences across geographic spread 
  • Promote better trained, confident employees.  
  • Build a program that encourages internal company growth.  

Solution 

Dodge’s partnered with eThink Education to create a streamlined, customizable learning platform to store, track, and report on the digital training across their multiple locations. With eThink’s fully-managed LMS solutions and high-touch support, Dodge’s was able to implement and customize the Totara LMS to provide solutions to meet their listed goals. 

“eThink really helped with everything. During implementation, we had weekly calls to work through how we could meet our goals,” said Adair-Gregory. “For example, one issue we identified is that we had one training that was supposed to be spread out over multiple days, but employees were going through it all in one day. eThink helped us build a custom, multi-hour bridge to ensure employees were taking breaks between training sessions so they did not get overloaded by content and would retain it better.” 

Dynamic Learning 

Using the Audience feature in Totara, dynamic audience-based membership allows focused messaging and training assignments to be targeted to specific team members based on their physical store location or role. 

Unique site design features, like strategically placed course tiles on the Totara homepage, make it easy for learners to find and engage with both required and suggested courses. This includes Dodge’s multi-level leadership training courses that are placed front and center, so employees know they are able move towards their career advancement goals at any time.   

HR Import 

Integrating with their existing account creation workflow, eThink engineered a solution using the HR Import tool that allows new employees to be added to the learning platform immediately so that they can begin their training programs as soon as they are hired. Once a new employee is marked as hired in the applicant portal, an employee account is created, and that triggers them to be added for upload into Totara via HR Import. 

“HR Import is pretty amazing,” said Adair-Gregory. “Our Totara site pings Paylocity (our HR and payroll system) once a minute and any time there is a change in status or a new hire, it automatically creates an account in Totara and crafts an email with all of the employee’s information, which is sent to the location with the new employee’s time clocking info and more.” 

Custom APIs 

By building custom API calls, activity and course completion is sent back to Dodge’s existing tracking system to allow for continued reporting, while also enabling them to leverage the full functionality of Totara to expand their training offerings to include more than just SCORM content. They have incorporated basic supporting documents such as Excel, PDF, and Word files into their courses, as well as quizzes.  

Dedicated eLearning Partner 

The Dodge’s team was in their first attempt at building an all-encompassing LMS and they were unsure of the best practices and tools that they could use to meet their goals. However, with eThink’s partnership, Dodge’s has a knowledgeable staff of eLearning experts that they can reach out to at any time to discuss new goals or ways processes could be streamlined.  

“The implementation process was awesome. My main contact was bright and articulate. She was able to speak both programming and laymen’s language so that everyone on the call knew what was happening,” said Adair-Gregory. “The whole eThink team for that matter is organized, timely, and consistent. What I was most impressed with was that I felt heard, and it’s a small thing but it’s a huge human thing. The eThink team members I worked with would remember what I mentioned on previous calls, do research, and come back with ideas on how they could accomplish things. I feel like I have a partner in this that is dedicated to helping us be successful, not just someone I’m paying to support me.” 

Results & Future Goals 

Engaged Employees 

The introduction of the Totara LMS was a huge step forward for Dodge’s internal training solution. The ability to target training to specific audiences through dynamic learning makes their training more valuable and relevant to their employees. By customizing not only the content but the delivery methods and timing of trainings, Dodge’s is able to make sure employees are receiving training that is relevant to their specific locations and roles while also preventing information overload.  

Increased Employee Retention 

Dodge’s was also able to address employee turnover, a challenge that is prevalent in the retail sector, with their investment in their employee training program. By using their LMS to better prepare employees for their roles and provide them with more company resources and a clear vision of how they could advance within the company, Dodge’s has been able to reduce employee turnover, identify qualified employees for leadership positions, and increase their rate of successful internal promotions.  

“Statistics show that employees that have been promoted internally are incredibly valuable assets to a company as they are often the most loyal, tend to be better leaders, and they inspire others. What I wanted to do was create a program that would help to foster internal growth and development.Our company is set firm in our mission to make things better for all those we interact with, whether our employees are with us for two months or for years.One of the questions that almost everyone asks in interviews is:is there room for growth. Instead of just saying yes, I wanted to build a structured system that was a pathway to that growth that did not put all the responsibility on the shoulders of our managers. With our new Totara site, if you want to be up for a promotion, you can go in proactively and work through the Bronze, Silver, and Gold resources in our LMS. At the end of each of the courses, you are eligible for raises, to put your hat in the ring for promotions, etc. It gives our team members a clear path for how they can grow and develop that is consistent across our entire company. With the courses on our LMS, when we say, ‘this person is ready for a promotion’ we have confirmation that they have done the work and we can feel comfortable that we are all speaking the same language.” 

– Amy Adair-Gregory, Director of Training and Development at Dodge’s Southern Style 

Since implementing the new platform, Dodge’s has seen a 32% reduction in turnover, which their team largely attributes to more consistency in the training and an overall less frustrating onboarding and training process with the new platform. Working with eThink on their Totara site has given Dodge’s a more streamlined onboarding and training program that supports employees and their company-wide goals.  

Improved Data Management 

The Totara integration with Dodge’s existing tracking system makes it a seamless solution, ensuring they can continue to aggregate data centrally while taking advantage of time-saving integrations that avoid the need for duplicate data entry that they saw with their previous platform.  

Flexibility for Unknowns: Adapting in the Wake of COVID-19 

When Dodge’s set out to build their new LMS, one thing they did not anticipate was a global pandemic. As the United States was hit with COVID-19 beginning in the early months of 2020, Dodge’s was able to use their Totara LMS to disseminate important information to their employees across the company in a timely and efficient manner.  

“We wanted to make sure our people in the field were very clear on our response to COVID-19,” said Adair-Gregory. “It is difficult when you are dealing with the fear surrounding a pandemic and our founder wanted to make sure there was a presence and voice from leadership. On the Totara dashboard, eThink helped me imbed video updates from our founder to give employees a direct message from leadership. eThink helped me redesign the display, so it reflected our vision of how we wanted the information to appear.”  

Dodge’s was also able to quickly roll out new COVID-19 safety and procedure courses to their team. As an essential business, over 900 of Dodge’s in-the-field employees continued to go into work throughout virus-related closures and lockdowns. The training team at Dodge’s was able to use the Rise program from Articulate to quickly build new COVID-related health and safety courses, which were then distributed and assigned to employees seamlessly in Totara.  

With eThink, Dodge’s was confidently able to adapt their learning platform to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, while continuing to provide their team with essential information and training.  

Conclusion & Future Goals  

Dodge’s Southern Style has revolutionized their training and learning programs with the help of eThink. With their new, customized Totara platform and the effective courses designed by their training team, Dodge’s has seen a dramatic increase in employee retention and a notable increase in profits. The new platform empowers Dodge’s employees to take their career advancement into their own hands and ensures employees across all locations stay up-to-date on important information and training. Dodge’s has seen the platform successfully support their team through the COVID-19 pandemic and has confidence that Totara by eThink will continue to support their goals however they might evolve in the future. 

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By September 10, 2020
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