If necessity is the mother of invention, then the global pandemic surely created an environment for innovation at AriensCo. The Ariens Academy team worked hard to maintain the quality of its training programs during this period. Classes were traditionally held in person at the Francis Ariens Service School in Brillion, Wisconsin, but with travel greatly restricted or challenged over the last two years, Ariens Academy developed a new solution.
Ariens Academy now offers virtual training sessions online for dealers and landscapers seeking training on new equipment, maintenance, repairs and more. Classes are in both live and prerecorded formats, each of which offers distinct benefits. Live classes enable students to interact with academy instructors in real-time, while prerecorded courses let students train whenever they like.
Lynnette Farvour is a training coordinator for Ariens Academy. Her responsibilities include planning and executing the live and prerecorded training classes.
“Because of the travel restrictions associated with the pandemic, we had to quickly convert the entire in-house training apparatus to support live and virtual formats,” she explained. “We partnered with a company in Green Bay to build a studio and broadcast our shows live. It has opened up a lot of doors for us to expand and augment our training capabilities.”
Four 4K cameras are now permanent fixtures at the service school, livestreaming training sessions for web viewers and recording them to archive for future learners. Multiple instructors are involved, with some delivering training and others managing chatrooms, polls and other live interactions with students.
“People are more willing to share a thought or an opinion in the chat because they’re anonymous,” Farvour explained. “The virtual sessions create a judge-free zone to ask questions and they encourage other types of engagement we don’t always see during in-person training.”
Currently, the virtual training covers mostly equipment topics, including the new Mammoth 850 snow vehicle. A selection of sales-related courses is also available. Students who finish a course receive a certificate that recognizes their newly learned expertise.
The virtual courses have been well-received among the hundreds of trainees that have attended, and many have left feedback saying the training has been “informative” and “interactive.”
The results have been so successful that Ariens Academy plans to offer virtual training sessions as part of its permanent program. The team has plans to continually evolve and expand live sessions to provide dealers with flexible alternatives to in-person training.
“At Ariens Academy we’re committed to providing the best service and support the industry has to offer,” Farvour said. “Virtual training gives us the ability to help companies mitigate travel and cost restrictions and still receive valuable training. Our goal is to instill students with the knowledge they can use to build their own businesses.”