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Custom Training vs Off-the-Shelf: 5 Reasons Custom Training Is Your Best Bet

Do you remember the “Have It Your Way” Burger King slogan? The fast-food chain encouraged customers to customize their burger however they liked it (“Hold the pickles and lettuce!”). Over the years the chain also expanded its menu to include non-hamburger items, such as chicken and fish.

Contrast that approach with In-N-Out Burger, whose menu offers only three hamburgers. It’s simple, convenient and fast. Employees cook the same orders all day, so they’re speedy in the kitchen. You, the customer, are in and out in no time.

One size doesn’t necessarily fit all.

Both fast-food approaches have their merits, proving that success comes in many flavors. The same is true of training. Custom training and non-customized, off-the-shelf (OTS) training can each fill a business need. But how do you know which is the right choice for your need?

Differences between Off-the-Shelf Training and Custom Training

OTS training is quick and easy to get and effectively teaches generic workplace skills: leadership, time management, collaboration. It’s also great for teaching programs and apps, such as Microsoft Word. But one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. OTS training is not always useful for the specific needs of your business and employees.

For example, your business may require employees to perform a complicated procedure specific to your business. OTS training may cover elements of that procedure, but there are gaps you’ll have to fill in. Or maybe your employees are intermediates at a certain skill, and they need to become advanced. Problem is they don’t have the time for a broad OTS course that covers the basics as well as the advanced aspects of that skill. Unfortunately, there’s no way to trim the fat off that training.

Major Cons of Off-the-Shelf Training:

  • Content may not cater to all your needs
  • Superfluous, irrelevant topics
  • Poor completion rates, because the content isn’t tailored to your business goals, so employees don’t quite grasp the relevance

OTS training has its place, but it’s limited.

So why choose custom training? Because your business and learners are unique and only custom training will be able to get that perfect fit. With customized courseware, you get exactly what you want.

Pros of Custom Corporate Training:

  • Better results
  • Supports your company brand
  • Better fit-to-need
  • Emphasis on major initiatives
  • Perfect match to company-specific processes or culture

Better results
A major goal of training is to change learner behaviors that matter most to business, not simply checking off a box with OTS courseware. Custom training makes the learning real by tying objectives to real-life job scenarios, inspiring employees to apply the learning. New behaviors feed your business’s bottom line.

Ability to brand
Your brand is one of a kind, and your training should reflect it. A customized learning solution embodies the elements of your brand, reinforcing its tenets, voice and message to your employees. Contrast that with an OTS course written in a stale, generic voice that feels alien to your employees. They may tune out.

Better fit-to-need
With custom training, the learning objectives are aligned with your business goals. It’s a 100% fit with the goal being a meaningful learning experience that generates real business results.

OTS training has its place, but it’s limited.

Performance consultants undertake a detailed analysis of your needs and audience. They create performance maps that analyze what motivates learners, what they need to do and what they need to know in order to change their behaviors. Performance mapping informs which learning strategies and activities they select. Plus, as the needs of your organization changes, those learning objectives can be easily updated.

Major initiatives
Your business challenge may be substantial, even time-sensitive – new product training, compliance, sales process, etc. Custom training targets the unique particulars of your initiative.

For example, suppose your corporation has acquired a company with more than 2000 employees. To onboard them, you consider having them complete the same one-week orientation that new hires take. The problem is that training is designed for people who don’t have experience in the industry. The two audiences are vastly different, even though your onboarding goals for both are mostly similar. A custom course for those 2,000 employees would cover your company’s culture and procedures, as well as the new roles those employees can expect to adopt.

Company-specific processes or culture
Your workplace likely has processes that are unique to your company. Only custom training can cover the ins and outs of your organization and workflow. This is especially true for highly technical work that involves standard operating procedures.

When it comes to business goals, it can be tough to figure out whether something off-the-shelf will work for a project or if you need to go custom. Look over the five major pros of custom training and decide if these are critical to meet your goals. If they are, custom training is the perfect fit for your needs and is your ticket to real business results.