Wal-Mart opens training academy in Dulles, its 1st

WASHINGTON — Wal-Mart has just opened a training academy for supervisors and department managers next to its Walmart Superstore at 24625 Dulles Landing Drive, the first of 200 such academies it plans to open nationwide.

Training at the facilities is partially done in a classroom setting, but most of it is aimed at recreating real life in-store experiences.

“We spend about 75 percent of our time in the training classes on the sales floor. So while we have a classroom and we spend a little time in there, we prioritize the sales floor so they can learn to do their job well,” Wal-Mart’s Kristen Wilkinson told WTOP.

“We role-play customer service — for example, what does it mean when you say ‘How can I help you?’ and how do you practice different ways to approach a customer. Another example is how to set up an aisle so the customer has a presentation that lets them find what they’re looking for and know the prices, and they spend time in that aisle looking at it from a customer’s standpoint,” she said.

The training is mandatory for department managers and hourly supervisors, and can last from two to six weeks, which requires travel for many of them.  Building a network of dedicated training academies will ease that burden.

“That’s the goal. We want them to be able to go home every night, so once we’re up and running [with all of the academies] we will get about 75 percent of associates home every night,” Wilkinson said.

Typically, each academy will train associates from about 25 nearby stores. Each academy is run by associates with retail operating experience.

Wal-Mart says it trains more than 140,000 associates through its academy a year.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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