Online learning meets our organisation’s needs


The name Maxeda may not mean very much to you, but the company Brico obviously needs no further introduction. Together, Brico and BricoPlanit are the leaders in the DIY market in Belgium. The umbrella company Maxeda, which also operates the Praxis brand name in the Netherlands, is the largest DIY group in the Benelux and has over 7,000 employees. Together, Praxis, Brico and BricoPlanit receive over one and a half million visitors every week.

Maxeda offers learning programmes and learning activities to support people as much as possible in the performance of their jobs and in their personal development. ‘These programmes are based on three pillars: leadership, customer focus and DIY knowledge,’ explains Sophie Hendrix, Manager Learning & Development at Maxeda. ‘We want people to get to know their talents and develop them further.’

The Academy

Maxeda has its own Academy for that training and education. It is a central platform that is accessible to every employee and where you can find everything you need about learning and development, online training courses, on which you can register for classroom courses, etc. Sophie Hendrix has noticed that the switch from classroom training to online training has been happening very rapidly lately. And it’s is not only due to corona. ‘The trend of going digital more quickly was already well established anyway. But online learning also meets our organisation’s needs better, as it gives people quick and efficient access to the right information. We sometimes have waiting times for the classroom courses. But you can just follow a digital training course whenever you find it necessary and it is easily accessible via our Academy.’

Maxeda has been working with FLOWSPARKS for a year now, and together with the FLOWSPARKS team it has developed a number of training courses, including for the employees in the stores. ‘In these training courses, we give our sales consultants information about our range: what it consists of, why we offer it, what extra products you need to get started with it, and so on. When we were developing our first e-Learning modules, the people of FLOWSPARKS were a great help. They think along with us constructively, are happy to help and react really quickly.’

Triggering people

Before the arrival of FLOWSPARKS, Maxeda was already working with a Learning Management System of its own. FLOWSPARKS was integrated into that system and the two systems appear to communicate with each other perfectly. The only challenge that Gwen Imbert, Manager Learning & Development at Brico, still sees is getting people enthusiastic about the training courses themselves. ‘This is a challenge for every L&D department: you still have to do the marketing of your training courses. We have to trigger people to come to our Academy. And that’s not always easy.’

‘While there are a few PCs in the stores, the store managers have to make sure that their people have sufficient opportunities to follow training courses. For example, a well-designed learning station and fitting digital learning into the work schedule. And then you always have to find a solution to assist people who are struggling. That is why we also organise physical training courses in our stores, where we arrive with ten laptops, for example, so that our employees learn how to use the learning tools step by step.’

A template for each learning objective

Maxeda also wants to use FLOWSPARKS as a tool for onboarding new employees. ‘With FLOWSPARKS, we want to give a picture of who we are,’ says Sophie Hendrix. ‘For example, we now use the SMARTPAGE template to fill in the INFOGUIDE: we use it as a toolbox to provide information about procedures. For example, how to log in to the VPN. These procedures can also be downloaded as a PDF file. So people can always refer back to them when they want to.’

‘That’s also what’s so great about FLOWSPARKS: depending on the type of information you provide and the objective you want to achieve with it, you choose a template. In addition, FLOWSPARKS doesn’t stand still. Ever more templates and learning objectives are being added, which means that you can keep varying things and optimising the participants’ experience.’

Then there’s SMARTMAGAZINE, which appears to be the ideal template for introducing a product or product group. ‘It’s a fun template for combining text and images,’ says Sophie Hendrix. ‘With FLOWSPARKS, we can also test the expertise of our sales consultants. We do this with situation scenarios and statements that users have to judge true or false. With STORYWISE, we describe scenarios and then ask the Sales Consultants what advice they would give to the customer. They can choose one of three answers. After they have given their answer, they get to see if their choice was good, better or best. So the participant gets immediate feedback on the answer given and a word of explanation, with the result that he or she gains a little more understanding. We use this method very often to put theory into practice, so that the Sales Consultants see how you can apply the theory immediately.’

‘When COVID broke out, we were also able to create a magazine quickly about working from home thanks to FLOWSPARKS. In it, above all, we explained to the people at our head offices in Amsterdam and Brussels what they should pay attention to when working from home, we gave them some tips and information, etc. As soon as you have collected information and some images, you can develop a digital learning solution really quite quickly with FLOWSPARKS.’

Quote icon

Easy language-layers and extremely user-friendly

The language aspect was very important to us, but FLOWSPARKS appears to be very user-friendly in this area too. You can add a new ‘language layer’ to your module, as it were.

Selecting the right formats

In their enthusiasm, Anne and her team immediately wanted to start using all the formats and templates FLOWSPARKS has to offer at once, which turned out not to be such a good idea. ‘It’s better to start working with five to seven templates first until you get to know them more thoroughly. In the beginning, it’s a bit of a search to track down the right format and the perfect template, but the FLOWSPARKS team gave us some great assistance in this regard. Sometimes you also just have to delve deeper and try out the various formats to see what fits best,’ says Anne.

For example, AMC uses the Learning Format FLASHCARDS for product training. ‘This format is ideal for displaying a visual and asking a multiple-choice question. We give immediate feedback and it looks great on a mobile device. All our consultants love this playful way of learning new things. Another format, STORYWISE, is a fitting exercise for sales training, allowing us to use different scenarios to train a consultant, for example, to deal with customer objections.’