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How NHPA Can Help You Create an Effective Training Program

Friendly, competent, fast; that’s what customers want from their shopping experience. According to a 2020 poll by J.D. Power, home improvement retailers who rank highest in customer satisfaction are those who deliver knowledgeable customer service within two minutes or less. Satisfaction scores tumble when customers have to wait more than five minutes for help.

Simply put, if your frontline workers keep asking shoppers to wait until they can find someone who can help them, then you’re killing your customer service. Every employee should be equipped to help. That’s why training is so important.

With more than 40 on-demand training courses, the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA) can get your employees the knowledge they need to help every customer. And even though you’re busy managing every other part of your operation, setting up a training program may be easier than you think. NHPA has done a lot of the work for you.

On the following pages, take a tour of the training resources NHPA offers, including the breadth of content offered in the courses and tools that can help you design and maintain a training plan for your operation.

Charting Your Course

Whatever your training goals may be, NHPA has resources to help you get there. All of these tools work in conjunction with each other for a more complete training program.

PREMIER – Onboarding Handbook
An employee’s first few days on the job are critical, as they set the tone for the remainder of their time with your company. NHPA’s Onboarding Handbook contains best practices and checklists for introducing an employee to their role in your company. The Handbook can help you formalize your onboarding program so you have a firm foundation to build on as your new employees move up through the organization.

Train the Trainer
During the onboarding process, the new employee should begin their formal retail skills training. The Train the Trainer guide walks you through the nine components of setting up a training program, along with best practices for on-the-job mentorship and ongoing education for veteran employees.

PREMIER – Online Training
NHPA’s learning management system (LMS) is an online platform that makes it easy to manage course assignments for all of your employees. Getting your store set up on the LMS is easy. You’ll get email notifications when employees complete a course, allowing you to monitor staff’s progress.

Path to Success
When you’re ready to begin training, you might wonder, “Where do I start?” NHPA’s Path to Success gives you a bird’s-eye view of NHPA’s courses, showing the progression of basic to advanced content. It can be your guide to creating a customized training path for your operation.

PREMIER- Points and Badges
Once you have a training program set up and have given each employee their assignments, a gamification feature on the LMS can keep them motivated. Employees earn points and badges as they complete courses. Badges are shown on a leaderboard that can inspire friendly competition among the staff.

PREMIER – Certified to Help
Publicly recognize your employees’ training achievements with NHPA’s Certified to Help designation. Qualifying retailers will receive a set of marketing materials from NHPA with the message, “Certified to Help” and “Help is on the way.” The marketing reinforces the high-quality service message you want to send your customers.

Trainer’s Toolbox
Even after employees have completed a regimen of training, it’s important to offer regular refreshers. The Trainer’s Toolbox provides everything you need to lead a short training session during an employee meeting. Each lesson takes about 5 minutes. The series covers a variety of topics, including merchandising, selling skills, product knowledge and operations.

NHPA Membership Options

Training Topics

NHPA’s training covers the fundamentals of what an employee needs to know to succeed in a home improvement retail business. Course content covers five major areas, each intended
to develop a well-rounded employee who can be an asset to your organization.

Selling Skills
Putting product knowledge to use requires an understanding of the proper way to interact with customers and deal with potential problems. Help your employees create a better customer service experience while also looking for ways to increase transaction size.

Understanding the importance of merchandising will make employees more aware of the role they play in keeping a well-maintained store. This program explains the different types of merchandising and how they all work together to make a productive salesfloor.

Product Knowledge
Home improvement retail employees need basic knowledge of hundreds of products to sell projects to customers. NHPA offers training in eight core home improvement categories, eight building materials categories and advanced training in paint.

For employees who want to advance in their company, NHPA offers courses in leadership, management and business best practices. As part of these courses, students interact with their peers and instructors to enhance their learning. There are virtual and live options.

All employees can benefit from some understanding of the operational side of the business. Courses offer an introduction to major operational areas, including the basics of profit and loss, inventory management, pricing and accounting.

Your Path to Retail Education

As the industry leader for education and training, NHPA offers programs, courses and tools to help you create an effective training program, boost employee confidence and build your leadership bench.

Level 100
Basic Employee Training
Cost: Included with Premier Membership
NHPA offers 38 online courses across eight key topics to help new and seasoned employees gain a better understanding of basic retail practices.

Level 200
Advanced Employee Training
Cost: Included with Premier Membership
These online courses can give employees, managers or owners a better understanding of some of the core operational and sales fundamentals that are key to running a successful business.

Level 300
Leadership & Management Training
Cost: Course fees and materials
NHPA offers several courses in its Foundations of Leadership Program to help new managers understand key concepts of leadership and personal development. Each course offers industry-specific training for effective communication, problem-solving and building and leading teams. These nine-week courses are online and built with flexibility for busy schedules.

Level 400
Comprehensive Retail Training
Cost: Tuition, course materials and travel
NHPA’s Retail Management Certification Program is a college-level course designed to teach key employees, future owners and retailers effective business practices for owning and operating a home improvement operation. Sessions are taught by successful retailers, university professors and industry experts.

Level 500
Executive Education
Cost: Participation fee and travel
NHPA provides independent retailers from all wholesale affiliations with opportunities to connect with one another at networking roundtable events. With agendas set by the retailers in attendance, topics cover best practices and common challenges.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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