Advanced, industry-specific leadership training sounds useful, but what all does it actually entail?
Retail professionals who attend the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NRHA) Retail Management Certification Program dedicate six months to enhancing their careers. Students of the college-level program study multiple topics related to retail operations management, strategic planning and leadership to become better managers.
To give business owners and potential students a better idea of what happens during a course visit to NRHA headquarters in Indianapolis, Hardware Retailing recaps what students and sponsors experienced during the third visit of the Fall 2017 session, which took place Jan. 16-18, 2018.
Day 1: An Evening of Networking and Entertainment
Laughter Brings the Group Together
On night one, the 15 students attended a private improv show at a local comedy club. During each visit, NRHA facilitates after-hours dinners and events to give students time to swap stories and share ideas.
“The biggest thing I got from the program is the wealth of knowledge from others in the group, and then taking information back and implementing it into our business,” says student Grant Franklin, store manager of The Hardware Company and Hull Lumber.
Day 2: Seminars, Discussions and Activities
Class Is in Session
During the first full day, students participated in five classes on budgeting, financial analysis, employee engagement, sustainable excellence and mutual accountability, led by Ball State University professors, retail leaders and industry experts. Class time included a mix of lectures, group discussions, breakout activities and role-playing scenarios.
“It’s a great learning environment, and it was very helpful to learn from professors and industry professionals,” says student Dan Kennedy, contractor sales representative at Penticton Home Hardware Building Centre. “You almost can’t put a price tag on the amount of knowledge that comes through the doors.”
Day 3: Culminating Discussions and Project Presentations
Case Study Analysis
The third and final day kicked off with students, sponsors and industry guests attending morning sessions where the entire group participated in two discussions about real-life industry case studies. Attendees had the opportunity to provide insights and share opinions about details of the cases.
Business Improvement Project Presentations
Throughout the course, students developed improvement projects to be implemented at the businesses where they work. Students split into three groups and gave 15-minute project presentations to a room of their peers, business owners and a panel of expert judges. The audience asked questions and provided feedback on each project. Three finalists were selected, who then presented their projects to the entire group. Business improvement project topics included employee training, delivery, category resets, marketing and sales strategies.
“Attending this program has developed my employee’s leadership skills, further advanced his position in the company and continues to accentuate his talent, bringing out the best in him,” says TJ Colson, director of store operations at Wilco and program sponsor. “We’ve achieved and seen positive growth.”
A Final Celebration
After two days of class and project presentations behind them, students and other attendees enjoyed a closing reception and dinner in City Hardware, NRHA’s event space. Program staff and instructors recognized the students for their hard work as the group enjoyed one last evening together before taking what they’ve learned back to their respective companies.