Jo-Ann Stores: Accelerated Time to Value

Jo-Ann Stores – America’s largest specialty fabrics retailer and one of its largest specialty crafts retailers – needed to accelerate the rollout of its Superstores, which generate four times the revenue and 30% higher sales per square foot than its traditional stores. One major obstacle stood in the way: training at least 50 new Superstore Team Leaders per year in the complex operations systems and sophisticated leadership skills required to run a high-performance Superstore.

The Plan: Quest Consulting helped Jo-Ann Stores create Superstore University, a custom leadership development program in which Jo-Ann Stores’ own high-performing leaders deliver twelve weeks of intensive training to new leaders while they work in one of Jo-Ann Stores’ best-run Superstores. The goal: to deliver the core knowledge that every Jo-Ann Superstore Team Leader needs to achieve exceptional results.

To make Superstore University happen, Quest worked closely with Jo-Ann Stores’ executive leadership, Training Manager, and subject matter experts from across the company. We collected Jo-Ann Stores’ internal management guides, forms, and procedures, and interviewed extensively to identify true “best practices” that Jo-Ann Stores could apply in all of its Superstores. As usual, this involved reconciling differences in procedures between stores, and identifying outdated procedures. In helping Jo-Ann Stores define best practices, we also drew upon our own extensive knowledge of leadership and team development.

Jo-Ann Stores’ new Superstore Leaders are an extremely diverse group, recruited both within the company and from other “big box” retailers. This diversity lends itself especially well to Quest’s patented Leader-Led Leader Development℠ (LLLD) approach. LLLD often relies on “cases” to present realistic leadership challenges in the context of the company’s unique culture, procedures, and business environment. Jo-Ann Stores went further by conducting the training in high performing Superstores and using the store operations as “on-the-job” training and as real examples of leadership issues. This real-time learning enables the new leaders to learn operations, as well as some of the crucial “implicit” knowledge of the business that’s often missed in formal training.

Along with developing and validating a comprehensive curriculum and leader’s guides, we helped Jo-Ann Stores create an effective structure for managing the learning process, including staffing, logistics, quality assurance, metrics, and other key elements.

Next, we moved on to “training the trainers.” We worked closely with the University “Dean” and Training Manager to prepare six carefully selected Jo-Ann Training Store Leaders. This included making sure each leader clearly understood the program’s goals, how to link training to students’ in-store experiences, and how to teach both operations and Jo-Ann Stores’ values and leadership philosophy.

The Results: According to Jo-Ann Stores Executive Vice President Rosalind Thompson, the ramp-up and early results were outstanding. Ninety-seven percent of the new Jo-Ann SuperStore Leaders met their first year financial and operational plans with only 5% turnover (compared to 40%).