Enriching lives through property stewardship.
FirstService Residential unites North American training programs with Adobe Learning Manager.
Differentiate services by instilling a customer-first mindset in every associate
Consolidate and streamline organization-wide training efforts
Increase number of digital courses to reach more participants and adjust to COVID-19 conditions
Unifies course content, bringing associates in six regions together through a shared purpose
Increases learner engagement and knowledge retention through gamification and interactive training
Educates community managers with new, industry-leading curriculum
Communities built on care
From high-rise condominiums in downtown Vancouver and cooperatives in New York City, to master-planned communities outside Las Vegas and senior living facilities in Tampa — all these large-scale, amenity-rich communities have one thing in common: a need for responsive, knowledgeable, and professional management.
FirstService Residential’s reputation for proactive service across the United States and Canada has made it one of North America’s leading residential property management companies. Every day, the company’s 15,000 associates, including community managers, housekeeping, landscaping, maintenance, and heart-of-the-house support teams, work hard to enhance every property’s value and the lifestyle of every resident in the communities they manage.
Supporting the activities of frontline associates requires an extensive back-office team and a proven IT hub to set up work orders, log customer inquiries, and manage the vast amounts of property information. In addition, FirstService Residential operates two dedicated customer care centers offering residents 24-hour/7 days a week service and support.
People make the difference
One key factor in FirstService Residential’s success is the unparalleled knowledge and professionalism of its associates. The company’s online training portal — FirstService Residential University — is one of the reasons for that success. Branded with an interactive landing page, FirstService Residential University provides industry, service, and job-specific training programs to community managers, support teams, heart-of-the-house employees, and even to external customers, such as residential association board members, to help them excel in their roles.
“Whether it’s new-hire orientation, onboarding, or operational training, our team is responsible for the professional development of all job functions,” explains Margharita Nehme, Senior Manager of Operational Training and eLearning, FirstService Residential. “Through our courses, we instill business acumen, a service ethic, and leadership skills. But above all, we help associates grow in their careers and realize their potential.”
Evolving training to meet business needs
When limitations in the company’s learning management system (LMS) limited the Training team’s ability to keep pace with demand for online courses and track external and classroom offerings, the organization decided to search for a new LMS. Following an exhaustive, eight-month review of LMS options, FirstService Residential chose Adobe Learning Manager.
“Adobe Learning Manager offered everything we needed in an LMS,” says Nehme, “It provided the flexibility and scalability for growth, as well as simplified administration and an exceptional training experience for users.”
The Training team appreciates the clean, intuitive user interface of Adobe Learning Manager, which makes navigating and registering for courses quick and easy. They also like its self-registration capabilities, which allow training sessions to be attended by external parties, such as board members of community associations or commercial partners.
From an administrative standpoint, the ability to assign and track compliance and the availability of multiple data features, is what set Adobe Learning Manager apart from other solutions. Data-driven dashboards can be used to track program performance at a high level and drill into detail such as course attendance levels or feedback on instructors. Furthermore, the solution offers a wide range of reporting options that can be used to showcase success to senior leadership or to secure funding for development projects, for example.
Mobile functionality essential to e-learning expansion
“An Adobe Learning Manager feature that really stood out for us was its mobile functionality,” explains Nehme. “What that means for in-person courses is that attendees simply walk into a classroom and scan a QR code by the door for automatic class registration. That enables us to track their progression through the University.”
She continues, “Additionally, the intuitive design of Adobe’s mobile interface and easy platform access enabled us to expand our virtual course footprint to reach more people in the U.S. and Canada. This was a major development effort that became even more significant after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Fueled in part by the pandemic, today approximately 80% of FirstService Residential University courses are digital while 20% are taught in person. By comparison, over 60% of courses were classroom-based just four years ago.
“The scalability and efficiencies of Adobe Learning Manager have helped us unite our learning and development teams and curricula across North America, and introduce a modern, blended approach to learning. It’s wonderful to see associates come together and rally behind common goals.”
National Director for Training and Organizational Development, FirstService Residential
Honing and consolidating the offering
Using Adobe Learning Manager, the Training team has created a single, company-wide training portal that features a visually engaging landing page customized for every learner. Interactive features have been embedded into everything from e-training modules to webinars; from table of contents that allow rapid navigation to portions of content that are most relevant to a learner’s development; to knowledge checks and quizzes that reinforce learnings. Additionally, simulation techniques have been applied to tutorial videos so that participants can engage with the content as if they were part of it.
In addition, the ability to customize content using Adobe Learning Manager has helped the Training team create a common look and feel to the organization’s custom content for the first time.
“Eight years ago, FirstService Residential consisted of 18 different companies operating across the U.S. and Canada — each with its own approach to training,” explains Claudia Eftimie, the company’s National Director for Training and Organizational Development. “For many years there was little consistency. A course in Vancouver was different to its equivalent in Dallas. These cultural silos were made worse by the limitations of our previous LMS — so it was hard for teams to pull everything together.”
Today, all teams take a more centralized approach. “While there is still some local variation in content and training, the scalability and efficiencies of Adobe Learning Manager have helped us unite our learning and development teams and curricula across North America, and introduce a modern, blended approach to learning. It’s wonderful to see our associates come together and rally behind common goals,” adds Eftimie.
Preparing associates for frontline duties
Serving as the brand ambassadors for FirstService Residential, the community managers are among the first associates who have benefitted from the new, consolidated training approach. The Community Manager Training Program was built to strengthen competencies and behaviors to ensure a high level of performance. Course topics are based on what community managers need to know in the first week upon hire, 30, 60, and 90 days on the job, and modules incorporate interactive exercises and quizzes to help them retain vital information. Meanwhile, course content is kept fresh through quarterly reviews.
Currently, community managers log on to FirstService Residential University, to select from more than 20 modules that form a 4-stage training program tailored to their job responsibilities. For example, Stage 1 courses range from an introduction to the different types of community associations and financial management to a deep dive into FirstService Residential Connect, a 24x7 information portal for community residents. Stage 2 courses include guidance on how to enforce association rules and regulations, how to deal with difficult customer situations, and the fundamentals of front desk management. Stage 3 courses encompass topics ranging from how to run annual meetings and elections to how to manage collections, delinquencies, and mechanical equipment. Finally, stage 4 courses offer important information and best practices on reserve studies and investments, transfers and disclosures, emergency preparedeness, and handling claims.
“By leveraging Adobe Learning Manager, we’re proud to have created and housed interactive training programs that provide everything our associates need to know for their current role, while giving them the knowledge and skills to develop as part of their career aspirations.”
National Director for Training and Organizational Development, FirstService Residential
Increasing employee satisfaction and retention
Since the launch of the Community Manager Program, Eftimie reports that the associate experience scores connected to training and development increased by 1.4% in 2020 compared to a 1.1% increase in 2019.
“The training program powered by Adobe Learning Manager helps ensure that every FirstService Residential community manager is ready to tackle the day-to-day challenges of running a complex residential association,” says Eftimie.
Maggie Smith, the National LMS Architect for FirstService Residential and the company’s main LMS administrator, credits the collaboration with Adobe for much of the University’s success to date: “Adobe has stood with us every step of our journey. Their team actively seeks our feedback and involves us in new feature testing. It’s great to be involved in shaping the direction of the architecture.”
Reflecting on the growing reputation of FirstService Residential University within the property management industry, Eftimie says: “By leveraging Adobe Learning Manager, we’re proud to have created and housed interactive training programs that provide everything our associates need to know for their current role, while giving them the knowledge and skills to develop as part of their career aspirations.”