Screen capture from OpenSesame's website
Screen capture from LS Training's website
Online training, often referred to as e-learning, is becoming a commonly used tool by companies today. Several training providers are out there—including some that are specific to the landscaping industry, such as LS Training.
LS Training provides training modules for grounds maintenance, landscape construction and snow removal, among others. The training consists of videos, exams and checklists. Topics cover everything from equipment operation to accident prevention to engine basics. LS Training says they have had more than 45,000 landscaping professionals go through their training programs.
OpenSesame is another good example of where you can go for online training. The company offers roughly 20,000 courses across a wide variety of subject areas. Several relate directly to the landscaping field, including:
- Landscaping Maintenance
- Regenerative Landscape Design (an entire training track of courses)
- Chainsaw Safety (English and Spanish)
- Swimming Pools (an entire training track of courses)
- Tree Trimming Safety
- Poisonous Plant Safety
- Commercial Mower Safety
There are even training courses on how to deal with venomous snakes, and potentially dangerous wasps and spiders. An extensive library of compliance training courses is also available, which includes a lesson on sexual harassment training for managers. Other notable courses which make sense for landscape companies are general workplace safety, health and wellness, and online reputation management.
Developing managers, sales and admin staff
As pointed out in the article “How to out-train your competition,” training expert Craig Goodwin says most landscape companies do not provide training in the area of business development. In other words, training on safety, equipment operation and landscaping procedures is often provided. What’s lacking, though, is training on things like customer service, sales, the use of technology, management and teambuilding. This is where a company like OpenSesame can really come in handy.
OpenSesame’s vast training library includes courses on marketing, sales, customer service, leadership, managing teams, conflict resolution, understanding financial statements, business ethics and strategic planning, among plenty of others. There are also courses on how to use different types of computer software such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.
How to access the training
Companies have three ways to access training courses from OpenSesame:
- Pay a monthly subscription fee to gain access to more than 2,500 courses. The fee starts at $19.99 for a single employee, but gets substantially less expensive per employee as you add employees. This is a good option for companies looking to consistently train several employees month after month.
- Pay per use. Select courses that fit your needs and pay when you use them. This is a good option for budget-conscious companies that are not delivering a significant amount of training on a consistent basis.
- Volume purchase. This is a good option for large companies that are providing a lot of training for a lot of employees.
Generally speaking, the pay-per-use option would probably make the sense for most landscape companies. To stretch your dollar, a sensible approach might be to pull your employees into your training room to view a given training video on a projector screen. That way you’re paying a one-time, one-employee fee, but are providing the training to several employees. This becomes less feasible, however, as the number of employees grows quite large—especially if those employees are scattered around at different branches. It might make more sense to pay for the training for each employee, allowing them to view the video(s) on their own in the privacy of their office or home. With prices ranging from $5 to several hundred per course, you may still find this type of training to be very cost-effective on a per-employee basis.
OpenSesame says it strives to make buying e-learning courses as easy as downloading a song from iTunes. “Our goal is to be easy to access and easy to use,” adds Erin McCune, OpenSesame’s sales manager. When it comes to training your employees, easy is something I’m sure you can appreciate.