How to get your training program funded

Your fleet company’s financial outlook has improved and there is actually money allocated for training this year. But it’s a finite amount, and there are other training programs being proposed besides yours.

How do you make sure some of that available money goes to your program?

Here are some tips for getting your training proposals approved by your company’s internal decision-makers.

1. Get to know the key people.

Ask for a meeting with those who control the purse strings. Even something informal, like a lunch, will work.

Tell them what you have done or are currently doing with regard to training and performance improvement. Doing so can put your name in their heads when new training proposals roll in and have to be decided upon.

If you do not deal with the internal decision-makers on a daily basis, it is important to establish yourself as a competent professional with a vision for the long-term success of the company through employee development.

2. Write a clearly-worded proposal.

Many training proposals are rejected, at least in the minds of the reviewers, before they finish reading them.

It is always wise, right from the opening paragraph, to clearly point out the performance gaps among the proposed trainees, and make a general statement about how training is a viable solution.

Follow that up with focused, specific statements on how each aspect of your training program addresses a gap or future knowledge or skill need.

This establishes you as having the necessary know-how to not only propose training ideas, but to develop and carry out the training itself.

Eliminate extraneous and vague verbiage that adds no value to the proposal. If you are strong technically, but not a strong writer, enlist help from someone who is.

3. Provide a cost-benefit statement.

This is the most important part of your training proposal, as you must make your training program “valuable” to the company.

Each aspect of your training curriculum and/or individual course ideas must include one or more statements that tie into the company’s bottom line - either through cost savings or increased revenues.

If the benefit is something like “better customer service,” state how that affects company profits or future business. Do not assume the connection is obvious to the reviewer.

4. Ask for feedback.

If a proposal of yours is denied, ask the funding sources why. Was there anything missing from the proposal or anything in the nature of the training itself that caused it to not get funded?

In some cases, the decisions are purely financial, but don’t be afraid to ask what would have given your particular training ideas priority over others.

When you get feedback, also try to make a case for re-submitting the proposal with the feedback incorporated.

5. Deliver on your promises.

Training funding is often a “what have you done for me lately” proposition. Historical success or failure of your previous programs can carry a lot of weight.

Doing Level 3 and, if possible, Level 4 evaluations of previously successful training can help. (Evaluations were covered in a previous article.)

Essentially, Level 3 evaluations assess demonstrated behavioral changes among trainees. Level 4 evaluations gauge the business or organizational impact.

Do not forget to include this information in future proposals.

Stephen Howe is employed as a field trainer by United Rentals, the world’s largest equipment rental company, with approximately 600 locations in North America and an a rental fleet worth more than $3.5 billion. He is a past president of the Automotive Training Managers Council – a global non-profit organization dedicated to sharing best practices and recognizing outstanding training in the automotive and heavy vehicle industries.