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WNC Business

Growing businesses and improving retention with online training resources

May 18, 2023 10:04AM ● By Randee Brown

Started in 2019 as a side project, Founder and CEO of Online Training Concepts Shane Parreco had an idea to utilize online training courses to better serve students.

Formerly a paragliding instructor, Parreco said that he first created an online curriculum for his students. Before long, he saw engagement from all over the world, and saw a need for that kind of resource. Other paragliding schools began to reach out wanting to participate. Parreco said that he learned about other software programs, tracking data, certificates, and more, and then other schools wanted to invest to make these programs better. He created a business, set up commerce and course sales, and began to engage with the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and host their endorsed content.

Sara Martin, COO and Client Services Director, said that they figured out that all the things they were learning and doing for educational platforms can also be beneficial for growing businesses. She said that they made the commitment to go full time and give the idea life and room to grow.

Online Training Concepts offers business development services for organizations in an online format. “We are bringing training and onboarding content into the 21st century,” Martin said. “With the tools to make it interactive and easy, we can build programs from scratch to capture key information, presenting it in a way that speaks to adult learning principles and can reach people more easily.”

“Modernizing existing content and making it more accessible can make information easier to digest,” Parreco said. “By breaking it down into bite-sized pieces, people can have the opportunity to work through the content on their own, take frequent breaks, and celebrate their wins along the way.”

“It’s also the unwritten message that the company sends,” Martin said. “Reevaluating the delivery system of training and onboarding can set the tone with an engaging experience in a well designed program. Not only does this start the participant by immersing them into company culture, it sends a message to participants that they are valued by the company having taken the time to introduce their why, as well as highlighting why the participants are important.”

Online Training Concepts is also pushing into virtual and augmented reality training, according to Parreco. He said that they have their finger on the pulse of the data that supports immersive VR training experience, saying that they can be very successful due to the lack of distraction. 

“The same gear developed for online gaming and entertainment can be used as we enter the frontier of online training,” Parreco said. “The technology is maturing and becoming more affordable. This style of training can be truly immersive. People are learning four times faster than in the ‘real world’ with an opportunity for repetition and practice, creating familiarity and confidence with systems and processes. This can be a huge benefit in the manufacturing world as VR trainings can be much safer for people getting comfortable with expensive and potentially dangerous equipment.”

“Online education was on the rise anyway, but since Covid, many businesses and organizations realized how much of their operations that VR world really is,” Martin said.

Martin said that financial institutions are recognizing the long-term implications of how retention is affected by accessible and engaging training materials. By realizing this importance, institutions may feel more inclined to help financially support the growth of small businesses. She said that OTC can even set up tracking metrics and analytics that can be reported back to lenders showing how effective improving their programs is.

Parreco and Martin understand that improved online experiences can never replace the value of in-person interactions, but they said that the online experiences can definitely better support those in person interactions.

“By front loading information for new clients or new hires, these people can come into an understanding and empowerment by knowing what is expected of them and what they can expect from the company,” Parreco said. “These people are walking into an initial meeting with much more information and can have deeper discussions and ask informed questions, allowing these initial conversations to go much further than they would have without the online portion.”

Parreco said that small businesses can benefit from solutions provided by OTC as their team of 12 helps create everything from web development, videos, and content production to interactive training and onboarding systems, digital learning academies, and even augmented reality trainings that leads to better staff and client engagement with their company. 

“We also recognize that budgets can be a concern, and we want to make our programs accessible for any business, Parreco said. “We can institute a phased approach, creating a product with a staged timeline and a monthly payment instead of one large product and cost. We can get the business to where they need to be and can best manage resources to fit their needs.”

Martin said that a business is not required to have an outline of what its needs are. She said that with their deep discovery start, they can learn the needs and the opportunities that will work best. 

“We can discover what the pain points are and what the solutions can be for each of those,” Martin said. “By coming at this from a curiosity standpoint, we can talk it out, figure it out, and illuminate some things that may have gone unnoticed. We are discovering what can support them the best, then building the pieces of the puzzle and putting it all together.”