Organizations are spending millions of dollars on training, but most are not making huge strides in achieving bottom-line results. Pep Boys is an exception. The full-service automotive aftermarket retail chain is seeing significant reductions in safety incidents and shrink rates thanks to a breakthrough training initiative.

The challenge: loss prevention and safety awareness

Three years ago, Pep Boys implemented interval reinforcement training as part of an overhaul to its loss prevention (LP) and safety awareness programs. Like most companies, Pep Boys had always delivered LP and safety messages to associates via a comprehensive awareness program that included posters, manager talks, and team huddles. The company found that although it was committed and consistent in delivering these messages in a variety of forms, it wasn’t seeing the results it wanted.

Back injuries, internal theft, receiving errors, and other common LP and safety issues continued to be problems despite the company’s efforts. When Pep Boys did see a reduction in accidents and shrink, it could not pinpoint the cause. However, after it saw an improvement, rates quickly rose again for no obvious reason.

The missing piece: performance support

The company speculated that its lack of success was largely due to the fact its employees were not remembering the training or putting it into practice. Associates would get the message, but quickly revert back to working the way they always had—the company was not seeing the shift in culture it was working hard to create.

While Pep Boys was consistent and hard-hitting in its messaging, it was missing one key component in its training: performance support. Many companies face the same problem. If messages are not reinforced, they won’t stick. It has nothing to do with an associate’s age, education, or background—it’s all about the way in which humans learn.

Interval-based training provides what is missing

Researchers have found that interval-based training—learning that’s delivered in bite-sized chunks and reinforced on a daily basis—improves retention and increases performance support. Associates not only remember LP and safety messages, they are more likely to put them into practice at a store or supply chain level. When this happens, participation is likely to improve, and shrink rates and accidents are likely to decrease. Profits tend to increase as well due to money saved on OSHA claims, paperwork errors, and reduced internal and external theft. Pep Boys saw all of these results. It still does today.

After implementing the interval reinforcement learning, which including daily training bursts, quizzes, gaming, and cash prizes, Pep Boys saw an overwhelming voluntary participation rate—over 95 percent—and a high acceptance of the training. “The most surprising benefit of [this form of training] was how well it was received and continues to be received by our employees,” says Bryan Hoppe, VP of store operations for Pep Boys.

Results: fewer safety incidents and claims, decreased shrink rates

Due to the training and high associate engagement, Pep Boys created the culture shift it was trying to achieve—significant improvements in safety and loss prevention. Safety incidents and claim counts were reduced by more than 45 percent. Shoplifting, organized crime, administrative errors, and employee theft have significantly dropped as well. Inventory shrink rates alone have decreased by 55 percent. Plus, every time the company delivers training bursts based on employee theft, it sees at least a 60 percent increase in calls to its Integrity Pays Hotline.

These results are continuing to take place even as the number of Pep Boys stores and employees increase. “With [this form of training], we have peace of mind. We know that our messages are being pushed down to the associate level and being internalized,” says David Mitchell, VP of risk management for Pep Boys.

This form of interval-based training continues to improve employee satisfaction, retention, and implementation, which in turn has greatly increased a vital aspect of Pep Boys business—its bottom line.