La-Z-Boy takes its RSA training seriously and to a whole new level

La-Z-Boy takes its RSA training seriously and to a whole new level

A widely recognized name brand and available product continue to be advantages for La-Z-Boy’s Furniture Galleries.

HIGH POINT — A knowledgeable retail sales associate can make a huge difference in closing a sale. Yet an RSA’s ability to answer customer’s detailed questions is highly dependent on their product knowledge and comfort in selling. With new products, feature upgrades and business practice changes, the information overload can be challenging.

At La-Z-Boy, the company’s commitment to instruction is so considerable that it employs a director of education, Amy Salm, who oversees educational material creation and dissemination. “La-Z-Boy developed an extensive training system two-and-a-half years ago,” said Salm. “Every one of sales associate at our 170 proprietary stores are required to train on this platform.”

All associates must complete specific learning plans and go through all product knowledge categories. The LMS (learning management system) program also teaches basic interior design, successful selling (basic to advanced) and how to deal with customer-service-related issues, among other topics.

RSAs can access the online learning platform in store via desktop computers, store iPads or on their own phones. The company trains through micro-learning courses, downloadable reference guides, demonstration videos and other materials.

“Our new associates start out Day One just covering recliners,” said Salm, adding, “We give them training on the three basic mechanisms for a manual recliner. Then the course video stops, they go out on the selling floor, find it on the floor, watch the demo about how it works, then try to demo. Then a management team member or more senior seller will demo the product to the sales associate for more training/refinement.”

The stepped program then goes through power recliners, stationary upholstery and the designers choice series of recliners. In chunking out the learning, the company has found it allows RSAs to absorb a great amount of detail more easily.

The training is completed in three to four weeks, depending on whether the RSA is on a full-time or part-time schedule. Communications and sketching skills are taught as well using the La-Z-Boy comfort guide to working with customers. The emphasis is on creating a relaxing store atmosphere with no rushing at the customer to sell.

The program has been very successful according to Salm. “There’s been a 187% increase in interactions on the LMS platform during the past two years,” she said. “RSAs appreciate what they have at their fingertips-these aren’t 30-minute or one-hour videos. They appreciate the micro-tips.”

Each module follows up with knowledge checks, and the RSAs take an online quiz after each section. Salm noted that the “material is presented in a clear and precise manner. It’s very similar from course-to-course so they know what to expect.”

La-Z-Boy changes the content library every quarter or even quicker, as the need arises. For instance, if the company changes its mechanisms for upholstery, the RSAs are automatically sent an invite to go into the system and learn. When the company started implementing interactive kiosks in some of their showrooms, Salm said, “we created a course discussing what are interactive kiosks, why do we have them, how do we have them and how do we show a customer how to use it.”

RSAs are encouraged to give the company ideas about best practices via the learning system. They can share their own best practices and share positive stories, like Facebook posts or YouTube short videos in the system.

“Looking at the learning platform, I can see 339 active users on the LMS system today. People are on there all the time,” said Salm. These numbers get a boost when La-Z-Boy puts out an announcement about company products or new practices. Management and compliance training modules are on the LMS as well.

Salm said the training plays directly into the company’s professional development philosophy. “If  sales associates are interested in management, they can self-enroll and take the management course and work on their own career plan within the company.”

Given labor shortages around the country, engaging with RSAs as educated partners is a boon to employee morale and underscores a company’s commitment to their employees’ professional journey. And, by design, this helps to sell more products along the way.

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