How eLearning can Benefit Co-ops

Written by Kim Oates on October 2011


This week, businesses across the world are celebrating co-op week.

Co-ops are founded on seven principles, and the fifth emphasizes education, training and information. Cooperatives provide education and training for their members so they can effectively develop the organization.

We’ve worked with co-ops in the manufacturing, construction, trade and other industries for the past 10 years—including BLUE HAWK, a purchasing cooperatives of 233 HVACR distributors in 49 states, IMARK Group, a member-owned marketing group comprised of more than 1,100 electrical distributors nationwide and IDC-USA, a cooperative representing over 260 independent distributors of bearing, power transmission, hose, rubber and hydraulics products.

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Elearning and online universities are ideal training solutions for co-ops--they’re a “win-win” for all involved parties:

  • Co-ops are able to provide world-class learning and training opportunities for little or no cost. Online training tends to cost less than doing it in person, and often (in the case of purchasing cooperatives) funding will come from a co-op’s supplier.
  • Members receive training that enables them to increase sales and enhance customer satisfaction because of a more thorough product or service understanding. When $BlueBucks are added to courses, members receive dollar-for-dollar rewards that can be put towards future courses, donated to charity or redeemed for gift cards to hundreds of retailers.
  • Suppliers no longer have to send training reps to every distributor or sales organization they work with, they can communicate directly with the people who support and sell their products. By using a centralized hub, like an online university for training needs, suppliers can cut costs.

BLUE HAWK created their online university to help maximize the strength and skills of its members. In order to ensure its members’ sales teams are well-educated in the latest products, trends and techniques, BLUE HAWK University, powered by BlueVolt, launched last summer. It has since garnered almost 3,700 users and 29,569 enrollments in online courses that take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete.

IMARK Group has also created their own online university to provide basic training and understanding of products and selling techniques. The online university also serves to enhance classroom and one-on-one training offered to each employee of the co-op’s member companies.

IDC-USA recently launched their online university to provide their distributors’ owners and staff training on products from their suppliers.  These courses provide the sales staff with in-depth product knowledge that supports their ability to sell.

Continuing education and training are crucial in any job and many co-op employees and volunteers have already experienced the positive effects of it at some point in their co-op career. Many may have also already experienced the convenience and effectiveness of online learning. But we challenge those who have not yet tapped into online education to start exploring their options today.

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