The Art of Measuring Training Results

EvanHackel.jpegWhy it is critical to focus on key performance indicators and the right metrics

Is your franchise doing very well, pretty well . . . or not too well?

That is a question that everyone in any franchise operation asks all the time - from the executives in headquarters to the franchise owner who is greeting customers right now. But although it is a common question, it cannot provide the specific, measurable answers you need to identify and understand the specific processes that need to be improved to make your franchise perform better.

What are those processes? One way to pinpoint and improve them is to develop a set of Key Performance Indicators that you can measure over time and use as yardsticks for positive change.

Here are some performance indicators that you might decide to monitor:

  • The number of sales per employee
  • Average sale size
  • The number of customers who return and buy again
  • The number and cost of product defects and employee errors
  • Customer satisfaction rates or Net Promoter Score
  • Sales made during the holiday selling period in each of the last five years
  • Days from order to delivery
  • The closing rates of sales
  • The cost of goods sold vs. profits
  • The number of new sales leads that you are generating
  • Data about sales you are making online - the number of sales you are making, average ticket size
  • Data about the most and least profitable hours at your locations

There is so much power in the simple process of identifying and monitoring performance indicators. When you do that, you become involved in what your employees focus on and what they need to achieve. And when they do achieve the levels of improvement in them that you have set as goals, your people also can congratulate themselves on success.

Ultimately, when you do those things, the bottom line that you care about − your net profits − will improve as a result. And remember, profit is not a Key Performance Indicator, it is a result. Key Performance Indicators are measures of the activities that will improve your profitability if you handle them well.

Learning to Measure Both Hard and Soft Metrics

Because the first aim of training is to improve the way people do things, all training programs should be evaluated by measuring “hard” metrics - which are almost always measurements that can be translated into numbers and evaluated. They could include data on:

  • Are our salespeople making more sales calls, closing more sales, or increasing the size of the average order?
  • Have our product assemblers increased their output and reduced the number of quality defects?
  • Are our phone reps now resolving more customer issues on the first call?
  • How many more positive reviews are we getting online?
  • Six months after training ends, are more customers placing repeat orders?

Without hard metrics like those, how will you know whether your training has achieved its goals or repaid your investment?

But it is important to measure soft metrics too. Often misunderstood, they have to do less with observable performance, and more to do with attitudes. They too can be measured before and after training as a way to evaluate results. Some examples:

  • Do members of your hotel’s front desk staff feel calmer and more confident about resolving customer complaints?
  • Do your new hires now feel more enthusiastic about working for your company than they did before training began?
  • Do employees now expect to remain at your company for longer periods of time?
  • Has training improved employees’ attitudes?

The Art of Measuring Soft Metrics

There is an incorrect assumption that it is difficult to collect data on soft metrics. In fact, soft metrics can be measured by having trainees complete surveys or by having them interview with members of your training or HR team.

Another way to gauge soft metrics is to measure behaviors. After training your call center staffers, for example, do they arrive more punctually and call in sick less often? That could indicate improved motivation and morale. Or after training your retail salespeople, has the rate of their retention improved after six months or a year? That could indicate that your training made their jobs less stressful and more satisfying.

Another reason to measure soft metrics is that they help you identify any “extra” benefits your training achieved. If the primary purpose of your training was to teach your restaurant workers to deliver better customer service, for example, but they also became bigger believers in your brand.

Evan Hackel, the creator of the Ingaged Leadership concept, is a recognized franchise expert and consultant. Evan is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm in Woburn, Massachusetts. To learn more about Ingage Consulting and Evan’s book Ingaging Leadership, visit Ingage.net. Follow @ehackel.