In January 2014 Porch.com announced a strategic partnership with Lowe's home improvement that would ultimately place Porch in every Lowe's store in the country (over 1,700 all told) by May 2014.
Coming out of that announcement, we knew that we would need to hire aggressively over the course of the year in order to scale our business so we could successfully deliver on our promise to delight customers, homeowners, and professionals alike, across the country.
Over the last 12 months we added nearly 300 employees to Porch. Scaling that fast was no easy task.
In the startup world there is no playbook for speed scaling and when it comes time to grow, and getting new employees trained becomes a paramount to the business. You're in uncharted waters unique to your own business and rigid training programs and materials have a short lifespan.
That said, putting together some sort of training program in a startup is still a high priority and the key to success is consistency--keeping everyone up to date with the right information on a perpetual basis. Employees need to have a clear understanding for how all areas of the business operate together, and with that changing rapidly, the key is building a flexible training framework that thrives as the business grows.
One way we did this is by decentralizing the training program.
We designated a member of each area of the business--marketing, PR, Product, Business Development, etc.--to create and maintain a brief document that outlines how what they do effects the customer and the company as a whole.
As a new class of employees come onboard, those subject matter experts are able to explain with the most up to date information the current landscape of the business and more importantly, why it's important to them.
Something that will be consistent throughout this process is failure and learning.
One of the best things you can do for your new hires during the training process is set their expectations in a way that lets them realize that failure is OK and expected over the course of their first few weeks.
In much the same way you build products and have them hard tested by customers, your employees will surface any inadequacies or weak spots in your training program rather quickly. When hiring for customer-facing roles like sales, you can track performance metrics for each class you train and start to get an analytical feel for how well your training program is performing in certain areas.
My advice to entrepreneurs scaling their own startups: Test and iterate early and often. Build consistency in an inconsistent landscape by decentralizing the informational areas of your training program and realize that at the end of the day, no matter how well you think you have trained your employees, there will always be something you missed or a new opportunity to improve on the next class.