Saving Lives with Extended Enterprise Learning

A lot of small- to medium-size business owners have a personal mission. They are selling products or delivering services in which they truly believe.

Convincing one’s customers that a product or service matters can be difficult–this is why extended enterprise learning makes a world of difference.

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When Educating Your Customers is Critical

Construction continues to stand as one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Every year, thousands of workers nationwide are injured and killed on the job due to accidents. Indeed, from falling objects to toxic inhalation, construction workers face constant risks. Sadly, most construction injuries and deaths can be prevented by taking the right precautions and adopting the necessary safety equipment. No one knows this better than Ron Taggard.

Taggard is the proud owner and operator of a workplace safety equipment distribution company. Before Taggard started his business, he watched his brother and a close friend die from injuries sustained on the job.  Rather than turn his back on the problem, he turned his grief into a mission. This is why Taggard is so passionate about safety and the products he sells, which include safety helmets, lock-in equipment, gloves and googles.

Taggard has a lot of clients but his sales have never been particularly high. When it comes to safety equipment, after all, a lot of individual workers and teams feel this is one place they can cut corners. Taggard has found that this is especially true when it comes to replacing old equipment. “It is difficult to convince someone on a budget that they should replace their safety helmet or ventilation mask or googles from time to time, because once they have invested in this thing that they don’t even want to wear, that’s it,” explains Taggard. The problem, however, is that old or ill-fitting safety equipment is often nearly as useless as not using safety equipment at all.

Taggard needed to persuade his customers that replacing equipment at regular intervals is essential. More importantly, he needed to find a way to do this in a manner that didn’t just seem like another unwelcome hard sell. This is when he turned to extended enterprise learning.

The Low Cost and High Return of Extending Learning to Your Customers

construction-2-1193844Taggard works with a small team of sales representatives, and he already knows just how effective it can be to adopt a learning management system (LMS) for one’s employees, even as a small business owner. To keep his sales team up to speed on the latest safety equipment in his catalog and up to date on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements across occupations, in 2011, he implemented an LMS. Now, when a new product comes on the line or the OSHA introduces or updates regulations related to equipment standards, his employees are immediately educated on the new product line or regulation.  Taggard realized he could use the same LMS to education his customers. But wouldn’t this be too expensive? In fact, this is precisely what he did and the expense was minimal in comparison to his return on investment.

Taggard started small–sharing just a few key resources with his customers at a few carefully selected work sites. Within just a few weeks, those sites were ordering more replacement safety equipment and new items too. His pilot, which only cost a few hundred dollars, paid back as sales quickly soared. Then, Taggard started to do more research and reach out to all his clients. As he extended learning to his customers–always being sure to pay attention to the type of work in which they are engaged and its specific risks–his customers were not only thanking him but asking more questions and coming to him for advice on how to troubleshoot common on-the-job risks.  Soon Taggard was no longer arguing with his customers about why safety mattered–he was collaborating with them to come up with solutions to a shared concern.

What changed after Taggard adopted extended enterprise eLearning? A single but important factor.

As  Taggard’s customers grew more aware, they started to better understand his product line and better understand OSHA guidelines too.

Taggard’s small investment in the extended enterprise learning management model paid back in higher profits and on another level.  Taggard got into the safety equipment business because he didn’t want to watch another tragedy happen on the job. With extended enterprise learning, he was finally truly fulfilling his mission to save lives.