Always Learning: Meet Matt Brenner, LevelUp Trainer
Tell us your name and how long you’ve been at LevelUp?
My name is Matt Brenner, and I’ve been at LevelUp for about 7 months.
What’s your role and what does that entail?
I am the Training Manager, which means I’m in charge of anything training related. I design the documentation for our restaurant partners, completely customized for their individual needs and branding. I run training classes for restaurant employees and managers to get them up to speed on their app and the LevelUp Hub (our CRM tool). I also help run internal training programs to make sure our team members are polishing their skills in other areas.
Can you tell us more about your jobs before this and what brought you to this role?
Haha – everything. This is career 3 or 4 for me. I was a public high school biology teacher for a long time. That was a lot of fun, I loved it, but it came time for a career switch. I was lucky enough to be able to be a “house husband” and stay-at-home father so my wife could focus on her career.
My first boy got a little older, so I wanted to do more and get back into the workforce. I became a freelance technical writer and instructional designer working with some big-name clients. The freedom of freelancing meshed well with parenting, but I was itching for a full-time career with the right company. After looking around, I found that LevelUp was that company – so I wrote a love letter to LevelUp. Literally, as my cover letter.
What’s your favorite thing about being the LevelUp Training Master?
The fact that I need to never stop learning… that is so exciting. If I’m going to represent and teach partners about our product, I need to understand every facet of our product, from app construction to card security, to graphics. I need to know the full spectrum of what we do. I’m always learning.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on at LevelUp so far?
Can there be 2? I really have enjoyed the progressive rewriting of all of our restaurant-facing documentation. One of my passions in life is creating accessibility. For this role, that means writing documentation that both meets our restaurants’ goals and is accessible to people with different needs. For example, people who are English-language learners and folks with learning and physical challenges. I find that very rewarding.
The other thing I’m loving is our internal training set we’re doing on public speaking and presentation skills. It’s stretching a different set of muscles, as I get to train in-person with my colleagues.
What are the major differences between in-person training vs. web training?
The biggest pro of web training is that you can be geographically isolated. You don’t have to be physically near the other people. It’s cost and schedule efficient, and since we are training on software, we can do an awful lot that way efficiently.
In person, however, you can interact in a much deeper way. You get such a better idea of what they can understand and what is translating over to them. There’s a great energy as well. Even when training over web, I try to get on video – that way I can hold my phone to demonstrate the app and other capabilities. It just creates much more of a personal bond.
Even after the initial training, we offer 30 days of post-launch support where our partners can ask questions and I can help them troubleshoot and find solutions. I love that interpersonal connection.
How important is training for a solution like LevelUp?
Training is fundamental. Our apps are intuitive – people know how to use them, so that takes very little training. What is important is that we teach restaurants how to train their staff effectively, and get them excited about the app. If the staff is excited, the guests will be, so that’s the best marketing tactic. That’s the most important step for app success.
For example, we create comic strips for restaurant staff with sample conversations to discuss their app with customers. That way the conversation doesn’t end at, “No, I don’t have the app.” They can say, “Here are some awesome features you might enjoy,” etc.
In your opinion, what does LevelUp do really well in terms of training?
What we do really well is make training a priority. That is something that is different between us and our competition. If a company just wants an app as a checkbox, that’s fine, but we’re giving them a fully featured financial program. Here’s the app, the CRM software to manipulate your data, the tools to get your staff excited and all the support you need.
We’re giving you all of this so you can actually change your business. We’re giving them everything they need to get ahead of the curve, be part of this digital ecosystem and thrive.
What do you do to improve training here at LevelUp?
Research shows that “learning styles” aren’t actually the whole story when it comes to retaining information. What is understood is that we need to be taught using a variety of styles to learn best. Our in-store manuals include clearly written instructions. They’re printed with industry-standard, high-contrast images that are easy to understand without written language. Scripts are presented as simple comic panels. We incorporate physical training by encouraging employees to run test transactions through our system. We talk through all of the training verbally, auditorily as well.
Are there any challenges to being a parent in the startup world?
Time, but that’s true of any business. Both a challenge and a benefit is the flexibility. As a parent, I have to be flexible and understand that I have to be in the office at a certain time. Things are high energy around here and work needs to be addressed quickly.
On the other hand, we’re not tied to old ideas of being stuck in the office from 9-5 Monday through Friday. I have a later schedule to drop my kids off at school and I work from home a few days each week. In exchange, my family understands there are some days that I’ll leave before sun up and come back after sundown.