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Home  /  Podcast   /  Increase Performance with Blended Learning with Bill Gauthier – Episode #26

Evan speaks with Bill Gauthier, Director of Training and Consulting at CCA Global Partners, a retail floor covering company, about ways to increase performance by utilizing a blended learning approach in training efforts. Bill has successfully created and executed training programs that exceed business goals for over a decade. Learn more about Bill’s expertise and connect with him on LinkedIn here.





Announcer: Welcome to “Training Unleashed.” The show that will help you design and deliver training that’s off the chain, and will make a difference. Now, here’s your host, Evan Hackel.

Evan: Welcome everyone to another edition of Training Unleashed. I am your host, Evan Hackel. And I have the true pleasure of having Bill Gauther here as my guest. And why is it a pleasure for me? Well, I had the privilege of working with Bill for seven or eight years, although it’s now that I think about nine years since we worked together, but we’ve stayed friends over the years, and I’ve watched him blossom and grow as a training professional. And he truly is a committed, dedicated training professional, who works for one of the companies that I consider to be one of the best training companies in the world, the company that thinks about training first and foremost when they think about initiatives or launching projects.Training’s not an afterthought at this company. So, I know that’s a fair amount but, Bill, why don’t you just quickly give everyone a little update on yourself and your role at CCA Global Partners?

Bill: Oh, thank you. And I appreciate being on “Training Unleashed.” It’s great to listen all the podcast, and I’m so happy to be one of the people that you’re interviewing, and I’ve enjoyed working with you for so many years. And my role at CCA is, I do the… I’m the director of training, so I oversee all the different trainings. I participate in the trainings. We do trainings at convention and it is just… We have a lot of fun with it, and you’re right. We think about training first here because, we are having so many impact on the people that we work with every day. And I look forward to talking about that as we get on with the interview.

Evan: So you, I know that this is an older story because it was a long time ago, but when I was there you were very instrumental in launching a new carpet line called Relax, It’s Lees. And I just thought it would be good for people to understand, you know, one, why did this line matter, why did the company care people sold it or not sold it, and what training all the different things training did to make sure that it would be successful?

Bill: Great. And I remember that Lees was a big deal for us here. And it’s a big deal because it leaves as our brand for our stores, so it can’t be shocked. Okay? You can’t go to somewhere else and get it. So, for us we were… It was our way of putting our mark in the marketplace and saying, “This is the best product. This is what people should be buying.” We were convinced of it, but we had to convince our store owners of the same thing. Then we had to convince the salespeople to let the customers know that it was the best brand out there and the best product for what they were looking to do in their homes.

And when we rolled out the training, we first started with the product people and what they were developing, and understanding it. We worked with our Advisory Council, so our Advisory Council oversees all the stores and businesses to kind of gives us direction on what to do, so we got their feedback. Then we worked with the senior management team, at that time, to put together a good training. And what that good training for us meant was to get the owner committed to selling that product, and knowing that it was the best for their store and their customers. Getting the salespeople on board, getting them trained, not just on the knowledge but on the sales process, how to get the customers engaged and then believing that was the best product for them.

Evan: Now, let me just stop you here for a second. I want you continue, but I wanna highlight this point because I believe that in training, the why you’re learning is such an important step and one that is skipped, that people just assume, or management wants to do this training, or in the training department we’re building training, everyone should just get it. And what’s different about CCA Global Partners is that the stores that you talk about are actually members of a car lock. And they have a lot of latitude, so they don’t have to do everything and thus you need to get buying and get selling, and that’s just a good best practice for anybody regardless of whether or not their employees or nonemployees, people who know why are much more interested in learning than people that are just told to learn that. And you might reflect on that and then keep talking about the program because it was an amazing and very successful process.

Bill: Yeah. It’s a great point. And getting the customer, or member, or business owner buying, it does two things. It gets them to say, “Okay. You know, I can own this now.” It’s not just us telling them what to do, but it’s them giving us feedback. It’s a two-way street. And once we have their buying, and we know that we’re on the right path, so we go to create the training. It makes much easier because we know we’ve got the buying. And so then, we created this training. It was fun to do because we did it in many different ways. The way we delivered it was online, so we had a whole online component that people, our sales professionals could get on and take the online training.

We had a field training components, so we went to 48 different cities, and trained salespeople on how to sell the product. And we had in store component, where we sent every store or over a thousand stores a training package. And that training package was very, really kind of into the training, hit the objectives, but it was also meant to be fun. So, we did this whole pancake breakfast, banana pancake breakfast. So, we said, “Hey, make these pancakes, talk about the product, talk about…” So, it was a whole event based on what we wanted them to learn on the product. And we had so many stores that did this event in the store and gave us feedback, is great.

Evan: Don’t forget the DVD. The one that the… [crosstalk 00:06:25]

Bill: Oh, no, no. The job it did. Yeah. But, you know, that was just perfect because the DVD made it easier for the business owner to present what was going on, so they didn’t have to take on, they had the… You know, they had instruction on how to run the event, but the DVD really, kind of, helped with the training portion of it.

Evan: So, why don’t you just… [crosstalk 00:06:41]

Bill: So, they didn’t have to worry about doing that.

Evan: Why don’t you tell people what was on the DVD? Because it was kind of fun.

Bill: Well, the DVD is, I recall, had the least training, had videos, it taught them how to make the pancakes…

Evan: It was…

Bill: So, it was a fun to burn some…

Evan: So, it was like a TV show. It was like the “Today Show,” or “Good morning America?”

Bill: Now, you remember it, too. Yeah. It was like a broadcast. It was a fun. It was memorable. I think making that memorable made it easier for the stores to, kind of, show and have fun. Actually, we came of… And I think you maybe remember some of the feedback, but the event type just made it so much fun for everyone, to know everyone learning but I’m having fun, and I’m with my teammates. It’s something that stories don’t always do.

Announcer: We’re so glad you’re listening to this episode of “Training Unleashed,” brought to you by Tortal Training. The difference between Tortal Training and other online training companies is, we’re primarily a training company with technology rather than a technology company that does training. Wanna find out more? Just go to That’s T-O-R-T-A-L,

Evan: You really created a tremendously comprehensive training program, and when I talk about Training Unleashed, the whole point of this is, it’s so many people forget training or under-invest in training, so they make a launch and it doesn’t succeed, and it’s a failure. In fact, I was just at a C-Suite conference in New York, and there was a person talking about change, and they did a statistical review of corporations and change initiatives, and 88% of change initiatives fail. So, think about that, 88% fail. So, here’s a major change initiative, but you did it right and had a huge success.

And, you know, I remember this, but the sales of the product were off the charts, the margins that people could earn on the product because it was exclusive or much higher and because it was a better product, it had a much higher average sale. So, it increase the average ticket and increase the margins, and because it was exclusive and increase the close rate which had a huge profit benefit to all of the stores. So, it was massively successful. And now, it’s been, I wanna say, 10 or 12 years. Is the product still on the stores? Is it still selling?

Bill: The product is still much sourced. Still selling. And now we’re looking to do another relaunch of it because we know that when we rekick the product and redo the training, to be reinforced and people get excited about it again. And, you know, I think we’re gonna have some similar results.

Evan: And correct me if I’m wrong, this isn’t your first relaunch, you’ve relaunched it before, right? But… [crosstalk 00:09:42]

Bill: We have. Yeah.

Evan: Reenergize it.

Bill: Yeah. We know when we’ve reenergized it, we retalk about the story, we get on the same page. It’s such a unique product, but the training, reinforcing it gets everyone moving the same direction. And again, we see these bumps and margins, average sales. And members love it. They’re used to… Now, they expect the training because it’s been successful. They expect the training to be that good every single time. So, we’ve created this expectation, but they’re also willing to participate because they know the results.

Evan: You know, Ron Popeil has that Rotisserie Oven, he goes “Set it and forget it.” But nothing could be further from the truth in the world of training. Right? You can’t just sell it and…

Bill: No.

Evan: …forget it. Once isn’t enough, and you have turnover of people and you need to keep reminding people, and reenergizing things because it’s critical.

Bill: And it’s just interesting to think back at that project, and the…but the total money that we spent versus the money that was gained overall, it’s through the sales. You know, that the least expensive… That whole product launch was the training.

Evan: Yeah.

Bill: But yeah, it made such a big impact.

Evan: You still spend a lot of money on training?

Bill: Yes.

Evan: You know, while in excess of a million dollars all in, but the amount of sales, the amount of profits made that look like it was nothing.

Bill: It did.

Evan: And, you know, what I love about the story is you did everything right. You made it fun, you sold the why, you made it entertaining, you had blended learning, and so you had the 48 people around the country, you had for the time and incredibly amazing e-learning course launch… [crosstalk 00:11:43]. You’re active, roods games, fun, so you gamified it. So, that was really, really well done. So, why don’t we shift gears because we’ve talked about that now, and maybe just share with us, so what are the new things you’re seeing in training that are working for you guys?

Bill: Oh, great that. Then, it seems to be that the online training is becoming so much better in the sense that, I don’t know probably your experience with this, that now it’s becoming more gamification, more feedback based. So, I can take something and get media feedback. Really taking this brain science, how do people learn, how people retain, and what is the cognitive mode, and taking those theory-type things, understanding the practicality, and putting them into training and seeing kind of a bump on what we’re trying to accomplish. That type of research-based and putting into the training is really, really helping us, knowing what’s working.

Evan: Sounds super cool. But I don’t think everyone listening knows exactly what you’re talking about. So, can you maybe give examples of what you’re doing and how you’re actually doing it?

Bill: Yeah. Now, good point, Evan. So, when we launch a video, so one example, launching a video and what we’d expect to learn or to do is watch the video typically, but we now we want them to watch it and respond to it. And now, once they respond, we’re giving immediate feedback. So, what we’re doing that just basically, just by recognizing their response and putting feedback on that. We’re looking for key, you know, so if it’s a type response, we’re looking for keywords, and how do we respond to those keywords, or…

Evan: So, do you have people on your team that read these responses and then respond back? Is there a technology that you’re using that allows you to do this?

Bill: Yes. Some of it is technology-based, which is it’s really…they’re gonna…technology’s made it very simple. Some of the offering tools have made this a lot more easier…it’s easier to do. We’re also doing a lot more coaching work around there, so if someone does take a video on their way off, we will have people on staff to go and give feedback if feedback’s wanted. I’m working with managers, so that’s really neat to see and to have fun.

We’re also…some of the other stuff that we’re doing is looking at, if they answer, let’s say it’s a click answer, we’re giving them feedback. We’re also starting to give people choices. Not just, “Hey, is this right or wrong?” But we wanna give them the choice of, “Hey, if you’re not quite sure, take this hint.” So, they can look at a hint, and based on that hint, they can say, “Oh, you know what? I do recall.” So, what we’re trying to get that recall active by giving hints, we’re doing it. And then not just saying, “Well, now we gonna give you the answer,” but I wanted to know how confident you are in your answer. So, being extremely confident, lets me know that you do know the material because I couldn’t get just guess, and guessing is not good enough, we want them to know, and be confident, and be able to move forward to the material.

Announcer: We’re so glad you’re listening to this episode of “Training Unleashed,” brought to you by Tortal Training. The difference between Tortal Training and other online training companies is, we’re primarily a training company with technology rather than a technology company that does training. Wanna find out more? Just go to That’s T-O-R-T-A-L,

Evan: A lot of questions that people have, have to do, how do you get management to buy in to investing in training? And, you know, a lot of people look at training as a cost center. I don’t. I look at training as an investment and a money-making center, you know, not differently and people look at a marketing budget, you know, they don’t look at it as, I’m sure some people look at it as cost but, you know, you invest in marketing because you’re gonna bring people in to buy product, whether it’s online and stores. You invest in training because it’s gonna make you more effective. In our case, we’ve been talking a lot about sales, I know you guys also do a lot of training around installation skills, being more efficient, reducing stakes, but the question I really have is, how do you get management to buy in? How do you get management to make the investment that’s necessary in training?

Bill: Good. Training is great. Right? I can say that. But when I’m talking to a business owner about training, we talk about investments, say, make in their business. Typically, second biggest investment is people. So, how are we getting those people moving forward doing what we want? So, let’s talk about that new person that comes onboard. So, how do you get them onboard? Because the whole game is to get them to be competent as quick as possible. So, if I have store A, that brings a new person, doesn’t have a plan, doesn’t know how to bring them on, says, “Hey, sit with this person, maybe you should do this.” And then, three months later, I’m wondering why they’re not doing the job. That’s a big loss to the company. If they invest just a little bit of money and say, “We offer onboarding plans on our online university.” So, they can go through this onboarding plan, and it’s not just I’m gonna click and go through classes.

It’s also, I expect the person to go out and do this. I expect them to do… So, what we’re doing is, we’ve taken all the competencies that we expect sales professional to be able to do, and put it into a 90-day program, and it’s coast all the way through by a training specialist like us and the managers. The manager knows what’s going on. So, at 90 days, now I know that this person’s had all these experiences, all these competencies, I know they’re not gonna be 100% on all of them, but I know that I can get that person working and making money, not just for the business but also for themselves.

Evan: So, I’m gonna tell you what I just heard, and I’m doing this for the listeners, and you may not actually realize this, but I love what you just said, and I love it because you’re painting a picture of an outcome, and a lot of times we talk factually, when we can, we’d love to talk ROI, you know, numbers, dollars, and I know for fact that you guys have statistics and show the improvement in sales by people doing this.

But you’re also creating digital visualization in the mind that you’re helping people see that end result by just listening to what you said. And I wanna commend you for doing that because that’s a great skill, and I think that’s something that we can all take back and say, “You know what, when we’re trying to get support within the system, you know, create the picture.” Create the outcome in a way that people can really see. And I could just visualize the coaches talking to the people, and having that program and, you know, you did a great job, really, really doing it. Another benefit that I’m catching from this is, if you go get a trainee to go through that program, they’re probably going to be much more receptive to training down the road because they know how much it helped them from the start. Do you find that to be true?

Bill: We do. Most people that go through the onboarding program, we feel like we can communicate to them, and tell them about the benefits of a training that’s gonna happen six months later, and their likelihood to enroll is much higher than someone who hasn’t been through an onboarding program. So, now all of a sudden, you know, the owners still paying for that training six months later, but the owner knows the value because they see it, they see the performance of the person, and the person understands it because they wouldn’t be performing without that onboarding training.

Evan: Yeah. So, the other thing that I love, and because I used to work with Bill, I know this, you know, back before the internet, the fact before, you know, all the avenues that we have today, the way which this training was done, were people were sent to these boot camps, and these boot camps were, I’d sometimes there were three days, I think we moved to four days, I don’t really remember, the boot camps were hugely popular, hugely successful, but they don’t have the elements you have now.

So, you know, you send someone to a boot camp, they got into the jobs when they come back, but there’s no coaching that’s following up. It’s a single modality. It’s live training. So, you’re taking blended learning, you’re taking coaching, you’re taking a period of time for real reinforcement, so you’re not just training someone who are leaving though. And you describe to me the quintessential training program, which is really comprehensive, utilizing all the different modalities of training, incorporating the people at the store level into the process, not just the training department, getting the buy-in. So, I’m getting a big compliment here, Bill.

Bill: Now, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Evan: You know, and as I’ve always said, you know, CCA is a company that is an exemplary example of a company that understands the importance of training. And, you know, I’ll ask you, you know, we’re coming close. I have two questions last. So, this is my second to last question. How popular is your training with the people in the field, with the people taking the training, and do the people like it, hate it, you have to force them. How popular?

Bill: So, good. So, out of all of our members, we have about 80% of them participate in training, 65% of them willingly look…due to the training. So, they look out for training messages, new modules that are coming out, new training. They’re actively asking us to develop training and deliver training. Fifteen percent say, “Hey, you know what? I really like it. It’s good.” When we pull the members each year or every other year, we ask them, “Are our members drug store owners, why are they in our co-op? Training is consistently in the top three, actually, in the top two. Why they’re in the co-op?”

Evan: That’s fantastic. So, one of the things that’s important for people to understand, and this is why I think training is so successful, is because they run a co-op. Their members are not forced to do anything, everyone chooses to do it. So, imagine that you get 80% of your people to choose training, that is a huge accomplishment, and I can tell you because I work with a lot of clients in the course at the Tortal Training, we have a lot of clients and there are some that are in the franchise business where they can force training that have far lower compliancy rights than you have when it’s unforced.

And the question is, why is that? And I think the why is what we talked about earlier, is it you spend a lot of time explaining the why. And I think the people that know that people have to take the training, they skipped that step. So, people do everything they can to avoid it, and the fact that you have to get buy-in, requires you to do this next step that makes you very, very successful. So, I just wanna point that out because I think for people listening this, you know, the big epiphany, you know, you’ve had a lot of great epiphany is the importance of the why.

So, my last question is, if you could share one tip to help people that are trained professionals in any way, how they could be better, how they could improve training, any tip that you have at all, what tip would you like to share?

Bill: Good. There are so many of them, but I’ll share one, because here there’s a lot of owners and managers, I call it the Three-whats. If I have someone that’s reporting to me or that I’m working with, and I see something that I do like or don’t like, to shape their behavior I use the three-whats. First I ask, what happened, so what’s just happened? Was it something negative or something positive? Then I ask, “Well, so what?” What was the result of you taking that action? And then I say, “Now what? What are you gonna do in the future? Are you gonna continue doing that because it’s something good, or how are you gonna change to make it a good?” So, it’s a three whats. What happened? So, what? Now what?

Evan: Those are fantastic.

Bill: Quick, simple, easy way to get feedback.

Evan: Yeah. A good way, and it’s a nice way of not having really blame…

Bill: That’s correct.

Evan: …and bringing them in the solution. So, great advice. Bill, I knew this was gonna be a great interview, and you have not let me down, I wanna thank you for being a guest. I want to thank our audience for listening. I wanna thank the C-Suite Radio Network for being one of our partners. And Bill, I mean, you wanna say goodbye?

Bill: Yes. Thank you, Evans, so much for having me as a guest, and I look forward to listening to this and other interviews on Training Unleashed.

Announcer: This has been Training Unleashed, but it doesn’t stop here. Just go to to subscribe to the show. That way you’ll never miss an episode, and you’ll be well on your way to delivering training programs that are off the chain. We’ll talk to you next time on Training Unleashed.

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