Ziggy’s Home Improvement builds a strong education foundation for employees
Ziggy’s Home Improvement is a Spokane, Washington staple, with locations now spread out across the Pacific Northwest. They offer a plethora of products for do-it-yourselfers, as well as additional hands-on services for those who need a little extra help upgrading their houses into the homes of their dreams. Ziggy’s has long prided itself on a can-do attitude, an innate belief that its staff and customers alike can accomplish anything they want so long as they have the right resources. And Ziggy’s found the right resource they needed to accomplish their learning, onboarding, and compliance goals when they found Cornerstone. They used Cornerstone to empower their employees to learn everything they needed to succeed on the job, and they’re still getting more and more from the partnership.
Building a foundation for employee education
Ziggy’s began when Vern “Ziggy” Ziegler opened a one-stop home improvement shop in his hometown of Spokane. Since that first location opened in 1965, they now employ over 250 people at six retail locations and one manufacturing branch spread throughout both Washington and Idaho. It became apparent early on that this sort of growth required deeper integration between stores, in addition to an online LMS platform.
“One of the main challenges that needed to be addressed was to establish consistent practices for onboarding new hires across multiple locations,” said Ziggy’s Training Manager Jordan Worthington. “Second to that was to have a consistent method to deploy regular compliance training and be able to keep good records of the training.”
In addition, Ziggy’s expansion as a company meant a wider inventory than ever before. The sales team members now have continually growing lists of products to keep in mind as they help customers meet their home improvement needs.
Ziggy’s knew they needed an LMS that could scale with their growth. And they found that Cornerstone was that LMS. According to Worthington, “I had sat through numerous demos, and Cornerstone seemed to be the right fit for us. I did not know at that time how perfect a fit it would be.”
True to the home improvement company’s DIY spirit, Worthington was able to use Cornerstone to build an online compliance training program from the ground up that also had additional learning opportunities for Ziggy’s employees.
Utilizing software for hard hat projects
Despite home improvement’s sometimes rugged and earthy image, Ziggy’s knew the importance of using online resources to meet real-world needs. As they brought in new hires, they realized it was essential to use a product capable of fulfilling their needs as efficiently as possible.
“The days of ‘tie your boots and get to work’ are long gone,” observed Worthington. “Potential hires and new employees are expecting to receive a certain level of care, attention, and structure as they start their employment with businesses. Being able to introduce ourselves, express our expectations, get some compliance done, and give some quick tips on joining our team was necessary if we were going to attract and retain good employees.”
With Cornerstone’s help, Ziggy’s was able to streamline their onboarding process as well as offer constant support for further skill building. They used Cornerstone to provide intuitive and easy-to-understand compliance training courses.
Keeping staff informed and customers happy
Still, Worthington realized that onboarding was just the tip of the iceberg. He knew the steady increase of new products at Ziggy’s meant it was essential for staff to stay abreast of incoming inventory.
“After surveying some employees, there was a missing link between our purchasing department and our sales team,” he said. “That missing connection caused new products to get missed. It is hard to sell a product to customers when you are unaware of what the product is or if we stock it.”
To solve this problem, he set up new product alerts on Ziggy’s Cornerstone Learner Home banner. Now, employees can stay up to date in real time and be ready to inform customers about the latest and greatest products.
Meeting specific learning needs
Ziggy’s knew they needed an LMS capable of addressing needs specific to their industry. They were on the lookout for something with a great deal of adaptability, a vast library of preexisting content they could supplement with additional training materials. Given the nature of their business, this meant training employees for necessary certifications — often involving physical tasks or above-and-beyond safety measures — in addition to customer service and sales training.
Worthington explained, “There are various certifications that employees need to be able to work for us. Forklift training, first aid, fire extinguisher, lock-out tag-out, and hazardous chemicals are required for most employees. With Cornerstone, I was able to set assigned dates for these courses by using various groups.”
That was just the beginning. Ziggy’s was then able to speed along this essential certification training by taking advantage of Cornerstone’s automation capabilities. When new hires come on board, they enter the system immediately and receive reminders to complete their necessary training. As they move from one level to the next, employees automatically receive new trainings with no need for manual supervision.
Shoring up safety at company locations
After implementing Cornerstone, Ziggy’s was also able to improve its routine workplace safety trainings. Given employees at their locations work with heavy machinery, hazardous chemicals, and other potentially dangerous equipment, this improved training ensured staff felt comfortable and informed while on the job. During times of increased COVID-19 safety measures, Ziggy’s employees used Cornerstone to help them and their customers stay safe, with learnings related to masking, social distancing, and other related disease prevention measures.
“A huge win for us has been our safety training,” Worthington said. “We have been doing monthly safety training for about two years now. It evolved into safety committees at each location, as well as our Cornerstone training. We have lowered our experience factor year over year and decreased workplace accidents by over half.”
Reducing workplace accidents by such a steep metric was just one benefit. Ziggy’s also used Cornerstone to accrue a digital paper trail of regular compliance training for each employee. In the event of an unfortunate accident, Ziggy’s management felt secure that they did their utmost to keep staff safe while also granting the organization increased liability protection. In one isolated circumstance, Ziggy’s received a Good Faith discount from safety regulators, reducing citations by half due to their long track record of implementing safety education with Cornerstone.
Finding help along the way
As for Worthington’s own experience working to implement Cornerstone, he couldn’t be happier. He knew he had to bring Ziggy’s into the 21st century, forgoing inefficient and analog training methods for an up-to-date digital LMS.
“I knew that we needed a method to track training. We have a small HR department. I'm it for training … And I hadn't been turned onto learning management systems at that point. I was completely new to this type of role and what's out there,” he explained.
Colleagues recommended Cornerstone to him, and he took to its simplicity and adaptability fast. “We're set up with multiple cost centers, but we're more of a horizontal [rather] than a big vertical hierarchy,” he said. “Cornerstone will work great for that huge hierarchy as well, but I needed to simplify it a little bit, and I was able to do that.”
Worthington also came into his career as a training manager without much experience in the way of Learning & Development or learning systems. He worked for Ziggy’s as a production foreman and then as an assistant manager for almost ten years prior to taking the helm as head of internal training. After initial trepidation, he quickly realized Cornerstone would also help him hit the ground running in his new role.
“Working with Amber Lambirth on implementation was great. She was kind and very patient,” he said of his Cornerstone rep. “That helped me be a confident admin with zero experience. Confidence was absolutely necessary when it came to pitching new ideas to leadership with the direction we could and would take usage.”
Looking forward to future value
Ziggy’s partnership with Cornerstone is still in its early phases, and Worthington looks forward to taking advantage of the software to grow the business in new ways. He’s already planning ways to integrate other Cornerstone products into different areas of the company as a whole.
“Many of these systems, whether [they] be LMS, HRIS, or ERPs, are built on the same things: users, user groups, permissions, and site configuration,” he said. “Having that experience with Cornerstone led to having great conceptual knowledge when it was time to work with the other various systems in our organization.”
For instance, Worthington has taken advantage of the Cornerstone Microsoft SharePoint integrations to provide a constant stream of new trainings and educational information to staff across all locations. “I'm building SharePoint newsletters [with] one, two, three, or four modules within [them] that take [staff members] straight into Cornerstone, so we can direct our learners to something that we want them to be looking at at that time. And then we incentivize them through what they're looking at and what they're getting accomplished or what they're getting finished through that platform into Cornerstone,” he said.
For Worthington and Ziggy’s, there’s always room for improvement — that’s what their business is all about. With Cornerstone, they now have a training platform as amenable to DIY tweaks and upgrades as any of their customers’ home projects.
“Cornerstone gave me confidence in my work,” Worthington said. “It gave me an outlet for my L&D creativity, and it gave me a future in organizational development and management.”
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