Is your training program like Hertz car rentals? Not exactly…


I’m on vacation this week and I needed to rent a car. I rented through Hertz, and of course I began to think about training programs.

I made my reservation through their online system. When my family and I got off the plane, we went straight to the rental car area, saw our name on the giant Hertz rental car board which indicated which stall we should go to in order to pick up our car, we got in the car, and we drove away.

We did not have to go to a counter. We did not have to repeatedly answer questions about whether we wanted supplemental insurance, whether we were sure we didn’t want the insurance, whether we wanted Sirius radio, whether we were super sure we didn’t want the insurance, or whether we wanted an upgrade.

We just wanted to pick up our car and get on our way. Hertz respected those desires.

I wonder why so many presenters and trainers do not respect similar desires of their audience.

Here are three questions all trainers should ask themselves based on what I’ll call the Hertz method of instructional design:

  1. What does your audience absolutely need? Can you imagine if you went to a car rental counter and before you were allowed to rent a car, you had to sit through a session on the history of the automobile, take a quiz on the difference between a sedan and a coupe and watch a video on defensive driving? Hertz has people working at the counter in case customers need help. For those who don’t, they have a system whereby customers can go straight to the car. Either way, there’s not much in the way of superfluous information.
  2. What should your audience do prior to your presentation? By making our reservation online prior to traveling, my family didn’t have to spend time at the counter when we arrived at our destination. What kinds of information can you collect from your learners prior to¬†your session? Can you send an email asking for their expectations prior to the session (so you don’t need to chew up 30 minutes of your session asking about expectations)? Can you ask them to read something prior to your session so that you can immediately begin with a discussion? There’s no need to wait until your presentation to begin engaging with your audience.
  3. How quickly can you allow your audience to do something? I didn’t need to spend time in the Hertz rental office, I just wanted to drive away. Similarly, your audience doesn’t want to spend their whole time listening about features of your new CRM system or hearing the benefits of a new sales approach. Let them roll up their sleeves and do something with your information. Have them bring their computers and begin playing around in the new IT system even before you’ve explained anything… maybe your system is so intuitive it needs no explanation, just a few questions answered. Don’t just tell your audience about sexual harassment or safety compliance, have them role play conversations with their staff and provide an opportunity for feedback.

There’s a lot of good instructional design lessons to be drawn from the world around us. If you have a good ah-ha moment of a time you saw or experienced something and thought: “that would be a great lesson for training professionals!” I’d love to hear about it in the comment section.

4 thoughts on “Is your training program like Hertz car rentals? Not exactly…

    • Yes! It’s pretty a principle that should be applied across various topics, but it’s particularly painful in technical training. Software implementation and IT systems training could be so much less intrusive by incorporating job aids… and just letting people play around with the features for a bit before training.

  1. I love this comparison. It really just makes so much sense. Especially interesting is the concept of having people provide expectations for the session ahead of time, so that you can jump right in. I am envisioning an opening screen that highlights common AND unique expectations that the attendees can jump right into discussing. You can flip back to that throughout the session to check off/highlight/eliminate various points as the day goes on.

    • Thanks Laura!

      Yes – I love getting expectations prior to a session. In the past I’ve captured expectations via flipchart with a separate expectation written on post-it notes. Then we remove the post-its every time an expectation is met (and some expectations that aren’t going to be hit are moved to a Parking Lot flipchart).

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