Preparing the Pack

Kriser's takes employee training to new levels with programs tailored for Millennials.




​While education should be a major part of pet product retailing, no matter where you go, Kriser’s is taking its employee training program to new levels. Introduced at the beginning of April, during the company’s annual Pack Leader’s Training Retreat—a time to discuss new initiatives and sales driving efforts, as well as host management and leadership trainings—the new educational initiative combines professional-quality video with storytelling to create a unique learning experience.


After analyzing the current demographics of Kriser’s employees—known internally as “Pack Members”—the company found that 73 percent were Millennials. With this in mind, and given that research shows that Millennials capture information better through videos and information presented in shorter bursts, the training team sought to create a better education program for this vital demographic.


“We went searching for a program that could host videos—that could host bite-sized videos—and that could also introduce a social media connectivity component,” says Matthew Miller, director of people.


Miller adds that the elements that were most important during the creation of this education program were including “Millennial-based training specifications,” as well as making sure the system was “something that was mobile-friendly and something that was really fun, that people would have fun with.”


To make the lessons even more interesting and engaging to Pack Members, Miller and senior training manager Jen Lozano included elements of storytelling in each video.


“Whenever we train on something, we also try to introduce a component of storytelling to it,” said Miller. “This way, people feel connected to the message, so they emotionally respond to some of the training we’re talking about.”


For example, the training team interviewed one Pack Member about her dog, which had a brain disorder but was able to live a more normal life because it was taking CBD oil. Combining information along with personal stories such as this in each training video creates a more engaging platform to learn from. Whether it’s about the benefits of CBD oil or raw foods, employees are learning how each element changes the lives of pets and pet parents.


“That emotional response is making them more interested, more engaged,” says Lozano. “They want to touch the lives of pet owners.”


Kriser’s employees have latched onto the new program with such enthusiasm that they are often completing what was meant to be a three-month training within a month’s time.


“One of our district managers called the program ‘binge-worthy,’” said Miller.


“I thought it was pretty cool that they would equate this with Netflix, or something like that.”


Lozano adds that employees are entered into the training program at the same time they are loaded into Kriser’s main employment system, so trainees can implement what they are learning immediately on the sales floor.


“This system is still new to us, but I feel like we’re seeing employees ramped up quicker, as far as their understanding and their passion to help pets,” says Lozano.


Miller added that Lozano has received thousands of questions from employees across the country since the release of the new system, demonstrating that the Pack Members are engaged in the learning process and looking to expand their knowledge about pets. The system also allows employees from various stores to communicate with each other and ask questions across the country, acting as an internal social media tool.


“We encourage them to learn nonstop in stores, from each other, from customers, from brands. I feel like because we’ve instilled education into them from the beginning, it’s part of their DNA. They’re hungry for it,” said Lozano. “They want to educate our customers. We’re not just selling to them, but we’re knowledgeable about the things we’re recommending.” PB


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