Dodge’s Southern Style Provides Dynamic Employee Training With a Streamlined Totara Learn Platform Designed by Open LMS

Read all about how Dodge’s Southern Style revolutionized its training and learning programs with the support of Open LMS and its new, customized Totara platform. From an increase in employee retention and a rise in profits, to decreasing employee attrition, here’s its story.

About Dodge’s Southern Style

Dodge's is a privately held chain of gas station convenience stores that are peppered across the Southern United States, with more than 47 locations across nine states. Besides offering quality gasoline and low-priced convenience store items, Dodge’s prepares delicious southern-style food fresh throughout each day, with their most popular item being their famous fried chicken.

The Challenge

Prior to working with eThink (now part of Open LMS), Dodge’s had been using a combination of content built and hosted on Articulate Online, which sent completion information back to a homegrown database, and spreadsheets and manual reporting to manage its on-the-job training. Its previous setup using Articulate Online lacked the ability to target audiences and push notifications when recertifications or other training was needed. Additionally, there wasn’t much consistency or transparency around how training was being done across Dodge’s various locations.

Faced with these limitations and time-consuming data management, Dodge’s decided that it was ready to move its training courses and content capabilities beyond SCORM only. “Articulate Online wasn’t meant to be a full LMS—it was a Band-Aid and we knew it was a Band-Aid,” said Amy Adair-Gregory, Director of Training and Development at Dodge’s Southern Style. “Recertifications that needed to occur every 90 days or every six months weren’t easy to manage. You’d have to delete and reassign courses to allow them to be taken again, but completion data would also be deleted. We had to build a back-end system to store that completion data. That was a huge pain point. Overall, the trackability of training completions and reporting capabilities were not great. Video was also a problem as it became garbled, which was frustrating for end-users.”

Dodge’s Southern Style began looking for an LMS that would support a new venture within the organization: the creation of a completely digital internal training program. It reached out to Open LMS, an open-source LMS solutions provider, and quickly realized that open-source technology would allow it to leverage the best technology while also demanding the best service. With Open LMS’s help, Dodge’s determined that the Totara Learn LMS, a leading open enterprise learning platform, would provide the company with the flexibility to meet its unique training needs.

Dodge’s goal was to implement Totara Learn to:

  • Create a professional, well-built site to utilize as part of a program that promotes self-discovery of resources and a deeper understanding of the processes and systems used within the company
  • Build a program that allows the scaling of learning experiences across geographic spread
  • Promote better-trained, confident employees
  • Build a program that encourages internal company growth

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The Solution

Dodge’s partnered with Open LMS to create a streamlined, customizable corporate learning platform to store, track, and report on digital training across their multiple locations. With Open LMS’s fully-managed LMS solutions and high-touch support, Dodge’s was able to implement and customize the Totara LMS to provide solutions to meet its listed goals. “Open LMS really helped with everything. During implementation, we had weekly calls to work through how we could meet our goals,” said Adair-Gregory. “For example, one issue we identified is that we had one training that was supposed to be spread out over multiple days, but employees were going through it all in one day. Open LMS helped us build a custom, multi-hour bridge to ensure employees were taking breaks between training sessions so they didn’t not get overloaded by content and would retain it better.”

Dynamic Learning

Using the Audience feature in Totara, dynamic audience-based membership allows focused messaging and training assignments to be targeted to specific team members based on their physical store location or role.

Open LMS Dodge's case study

Unique site design features, like strategically placed course tiles on the Totara homepage, make it easy for learners to find and engage with both required and suggested courses. This includes Dodge’s multi-level leadership training courses that are placed front and center, so employees know they’re able move towards their career advancement goals at any time.

HR Import

Integrating with its existing account creation workflow, Open LMS engineered a solution using the HR Import tool that allows new employees to be added to the learning platform immediately so that they can begin their training programs as soon as they’re hired. Once a new employee is marked as hired in the applicant portal, an employee account is created, and that triggers them to be added for upload into Totara via HR Import. “HR Import is pretty amazing,” said Adair-Gregory. “Our Totara site pings Paylocity (our HR and payroll system) once a minute and any time there is a change in status or a new hire, it automatically creates an account in Totara and crafts an email with all of the employee’s information, which is sent to the location with the new employee’s time clocking info and more.”

Custom APIs

By building custom API calls, activity and course completion is sent back to the company’s existing tracking system to allow for continued reporting, while also enabling it to leverage the full functionality of Totara to expand its training offerings to include more than just SCORM content. Dodge’s has incorporated basic supporting documents such as Excel, PDF, and Word files into its courses, as well as quizzes.

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Dedicated eLearning Partner

The Dodge’s team was in its first attempt at building an all-encompassing LMS and it wasn’t sure of the best practices and tools that it could use to meet its goals. However, with Open LMS’s partnership, Dodge’s has a knowledgeable staff of eLearning experts that it can reach out to at any time to discuss new goals or ways processes could be streamlined.

“The implementation process was awesome. My main contact was bright and articulate. She was able to speak both programming and laymen's language so that everyone on the call knew what was happening,” said Adair-Gregory. “The whole Open LMS team for that matter is organized, timely, and consistent. What I was most impressed with was that I felt heard, and it's a small thing but it's a huge human thing. The Open LMS team members I worked with would remember what I mentioned on previous calls, do research, and come back with ideas on how they could accomplish things. I feel like I have a partner in this that is dedicated to helping us be successful, not just someone I’m paying to support me.”

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Results & Future Goals

Engaged Employees

The introduction of the Totara LMS was a huge step forward for Dodge’s internal training solution. The ability to target training to specific audiences through dynamic learning makes their training more valuable and relevant to its employees. By customizing not only the content but the delivery methods and timing of training programs, Dodge’s is able to make sure employees are receiving training that’s relevant to their specific locations and roles while also preventing information overload.

Increased Employee Retention

Dodge’s was also able to address employee turnover, a challenge that’s prevalent in the retail sector, with its investment in the employee training program. By using its LMS to better prepare employees for their roles and provide them with more company resources and a clear vision of how they could advance within the company, Dodge’s has been able to reduce employee turnover, identify qualified employees for leadership positions, and increase the rate of successful internal promotions.

“Statistics show that employees that have been promoted internally are incredibly valuable assets to a company as they are often the most loyal, tend to be better leaders, and they inspire others. What I wanted to do was create a program that would help to foster internal growth and development. Our company is set firm in our mission to make things better for all those we interact with, whether our employees are with us for two months or for years. One of the questions that almost everyone asks in interviews is: ‘Is there room for growth?’. Instead of just saying yes, I wanted to build a structured system that was a pathway to that growth that did not put all the responsibility on the shoulders of our managers. With our new Totara site, if you want to be up for a promotion, you can go in proactively and work through the Bronze, Silver, and Gold resources in our LMS. At the end of each of the courses, you are eligible for raises, to put your hat in the ring for promotions, etc. It gives our team members a clear path for how they can grow and develop that is consistent across our entire company. With the courses on our LMS, when we say, ‘this person is ready for a promotion’ we have confirmation that they have done the work and we can feel comfortable that we are all speaking the same language.”

- Amy Adair-Gregory, Director of Training and Development at Dodge’s Southern Style

Since implementing the new platform, Dodge’s has seen a 32% reduction in turnover, which their team largely attributes to more consistency in the training and an overall less frustrating onboarding and training process with the new platform. Working with Open LMS on its Totara site has given Dodge’s a more streamlined onboarding and training program that supports employees and their company-wide goals.

Improved Data Management

The Totara integration with Dodge’s’ existing tracking system makes it a seamless solution, ensuring the company can continue to aggregate data centrally while taking advantage of time-saving integrations that avoid the need for duplicate data entry that it saw with its previous platform.

Flexibility for Unknowns: Adapting in the Wake of COVID-19

When Dodge’s set out to build the new LMS, one thing it didn’t anticipate was a global pandemic. As the United States was hit with COVID-19 in the early months of 2020, Dodge’s was able to use its Totara LMS to disseminate important information to employees across the company in a timely and efficient manner. “We wanted to make sure our people in the field were very clear on our response to COVID-19,” said Adair-Gregory. “It is difficult when you are dealing with the fear surrounding a pandemic and our founder wanted to make sure there was a presence and voice from leadership. On the Totara dashboard, Open LMS helped me embed video updates from our founder to give employees a direct message from leadership. Open LMS helped me redesign the display, so it reflected our vision of how we wanted the information to appear.”

Dodge’s was also able to quickly roll out new COVID-19 safety and procedure courses to its teams. As an essential business, over 900 of Dodge’s in-the-field employees continued to go into work throughout virus-related closures and lockdowns. The training team at Dodge’s was able to use the Rise program from Articulate to quickly build new COVID-related health and safety courses, which were then distributed and assigned to employees seamlessly in Totara. With Open LMS, Dodge’s was confidently able to adapt its learning platform to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, while continuing to provide its people with essential information and training.

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Conclusion & Future Goals

Dodge’s Southern Style has revolutionized its training and learning programs with the help of Open LMS. With its new, customized Totara platform and the effective courses designed by its training team, Dodge’s has seen a dramatic increase in employee retention and a notable increase in profits. The new platform empowers Dodge’s employees to take their career advancement into their own hands and ensures employees across all locations stay up-to-date on important information and training.

Dodge’s has seen the platform successfully support its employees through the COVID-19 pandemic and has confidence that its Totara platform, supported by Open LMS, will continue to support company goals however they might evolve in the future.

Note: A version of this case study originally appeared on the eThink Education blog. eThink is now part of Open LMS and some details of the case study have been updated accordingly.

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Jeremy Schweitzer
About the author

Jeremy Schweitzer

Product Manager at Open LMS

Senior leader in education technology with a proven track record of supporting enterprise clients. My team develops and implements learning solutions that support organizations’ strategic goals. As a former systems administrator and instructional designer, my technical knowledge and people skills drive a systems approach when I conduct needs assessments and design solutions. My focus is building sustainable options for my clients that are adaptive to evolving needs and challenges. In my current role with Open LMS, I work with three learning management systems building solutions for clients in higher ed, non-profit, government, and corporate sectors.

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