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Education First: California Retailer Finds Success With NHPA Training Tools

For most independent home improvement retailers, having a team of knowledgeable employees can elevate their operation and make it stand out from the competition. In a time when hiring and retaining talent is challenging, establishing a training program to get employees up to speed is vital on the path to becoming that go-to shop for customers. 

For Chris Glidden, the retail general manager of SSM Valle Vista Hardware Inc. in Hemet, California, and SSM Foothill Hardware Inc. in Fontana, California, his leadership philosophy is to train, equip and lead. That mentality spills into the operation, which helps set his team up for success.

“You have to train each employee to perform the tasks expected of them,” Glidden says. “Then you must provide the equipment needed for an employee to succeed. All that’s left after that is to set expectations, provide mentorship and then the hard part—get out of the way and let them show you what can be done.” 

A Structured Plan Leads to Results

One way Glidden’s company has been able to provide training to employees is by taking advantage of their premier membership with the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA).

Employees from both locations start with the first six basic courses. New hires need to complete these courses before they can work  the salesfloor. Current employees also train, working through the courses each week. Implementing this structured training plan has allowed employees to advance into the more challenging courses, learning new skills to assist customers, Glidden says. 

“The key to our success with training is making it a regular scheduled part of being an employee at our stores,” he says. “We have found that if training is not scheduled, it will not happen.” 

While training has become a major part of the culture at the company, Glidden says getting initial buy-in was challenging.

“We had all of our supervisors and managers complete the training first, which let the rest of the team know we were serious,” he says. “Putting training on the schedule and having our management team enforce the schedule was the only way to keep moving forward.” 

Over time, as more employees completed courses, Glidden says their employees realized it was beneficial for them.

“Our employees realized training was for their benefit, giving them more knowledge and making them more helpful to our customers,” he says. “After six months, the team was asking us to go to their scheduled training. Now they can’t get enough!” 

While some may think training is too time consuming or not worth it, Glidden disagrees. 

“Our team doesn’t just need the training, they deserve it,” Glidden says. “For us, there was no need to reinvent the wheel when NHPA provided a path to get us there. It’s simple and powerful.” 

As the team looks at the progress of the program, Glidden says they are beyond excited about the results. 

“We invested in equipment and time to get our team the training they deserve and the results have been amazing,” he says.“The team is now self-motivated to continue training and asks for it. Knowledge is power—power to help customers and each other.” 


How to Find Success with Training

If you are wanting to get your team on a similar path, Glidden has tips on what helped his team get training to where it is today. 

  1. Take advantage of NHPA’s training materials. “While every operation may have different niches or areas of focus, an NHPA premier membership gives all home improvement and paint retailers content their teams specifically need to succeed.” 
  2. Create a plan. “We use the recommended training plan provided by the NHPA. The first basic six courses are part of onboarding and the remaining courses were assigned a required timeframe for completion over the next 12 months.” 
  3. Add it to the schedule. “Each of our employees has courses assigned to them and time to train for no less than an hour per week.” 

About Renee Changnon

Renee Changnon is the retail outreach coordinator for NRHA. She meets with retailers in their stores and at industry events and introduces them to the services NRHA provides. Renee previously worked as a member of the NRHA communications team. She earned a degree in visual journalism from Illinois State University, where she served as the features editor for the school newspaper. After college, she implemented marketing and promotions initiatives at Jimmy John’s franchise locations across the country. She enjoys exploring books with her book club, Netflix marathons and hosting goat yoga at her apartment complex. Renee Changnon 317-275-9442 rchangnon@nrha.org

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