Since 1965, PizzaExpress has quickly become a well-loved restaurant known for their mouth-wateringly good pizzas. Operating over 450 restaurants across the United Kingdom and 100 restaurants internationally, PizzaExpress is growing rapidly and has extensive expansion plans.
With ambitious growth plans, PizzaExpress needed to revitalise their elearning. At the time when they were looking for a new solution, PizzaExpress’ elearning was limited to off-the-shelf Health and Safety and Food safety courses and an LMS that was a tick-box tool for compliance. Their previous LMS was clunky, unreliable, didn’t provide any meaningful data or a central location for records of learning. They wanted something better, but they were unfamiliar with market and what was possible. Ben Walton, Learning Technology Specialist at PizzaExpress, stated: “When we began our search for a new LMS, our experience was limited to compliance. After looking at the market and working with Kineo, we quickly realised we could do more, it’s a bigger tool than we originally thought: it could be an all-in-one solution – something that was a challenge for us. Our face-to-face training and compliance used to be separate for example and nothing was tied up – we had huge excel sheets trying to record everything”.
Because PizzaExpress was unfamiliar with what they could get from an LMS and bespoke elearning courses, Ben confesses that they had unrealistic expectations. Kineo stood out from all the other vendors because of our approach. As Ben said: “Suppliers are often literally ‘suppliers’, and do only that. Kineo is much more collaborative and understanding and it felt like we were building a solution together. Kineo was the only company to challenge us and ask questions, and once [Kineo] had done that, we knew [they were] the right choice because everyone else was just saying ‘yes’ and ticking the boxes”.
Kineo and PizzaExpress used Totara LMS and the power of open-source to create an all-in-one learning solution and are continually scaling the LMS and adding custom elearning courses to align with PizzaExpress’ L&D strategy. As Ben explained: “Where we are at now is quite a way from where we started three years ago. The scope for configuration, development and tweaks is huge with Totara LMS. The next step is to use it internationally and it’s great that we know the LMS can do that – it’s very reassuring”.
PizzaExpress has full confidence that Totara LMS can handle all their current and future needs. Commenting on their old LMS and the benefits of open source, Ben explained: “with a proprietary LMS, no one is likely to want to touch it because no one knows the knock on effects. With open source, someone has often done what you want before. There are so many more eyes on problems and solutions, and more experience. Open source gives you a lot more scope with more minds looking at it to make it better”.
PizzaExpress recently restructured their LMS to reflect changes in the business and have incorporated their induction training. PizzaExpress was really impressed with the ease and flexibility of the system. Being open source, Totara LMS doesn’t look the best right out of the box, but as Ben said, “Kineo has configured the LMS to look completely on brand and unmistakably PizzaExpress”.
PizzaExpress’ end goal has been about getting everything into the system. Reflecting back to when he was first vetting vendors, Ben laughed at the thought that “it was originally always going to be a compliance system”. For PizzaExpress, that was the most important tick-box at the time – they had multiple systems and processes to handle the rest so anything that did more was seen as a bonus, not a must. But Kineo’s solution and continued partnership has been a game changer for them. As Ben commented: “I would never have expected to have achieved what we’ve done and done it the way we’ve done it. The flexibility of the solution has allowed us to put everything on there, from career journeys and development to mandatory courses and induction”.
PizzaExpress has moved away from off-the-shelf elearning and a compliance LMS to an all-in-one solution that they align with their L&D strategy and business goals. These efforts have resulted in huge cost savings and enabled them to use a more blended approach, top and tailing face-to-face sessions to achieve far better results than face-to-face training on its own – a strategy that became less effective and achievable with how far and wide their business has expanded. As Ben stated, “A lot of learning would never exist without the LMS”.
The simplicity of the system has been invaluable and been a huge time saver for everyone at PizzaExpress. It’s easy for everyone to get what’s needed, whether that’s on the learner-side or on the back end of the system.
Speaking of the learner, the benefits of PizzaExpress’ new LMS and bespoke elearning has resulted in a better experience for their employees, from restaurant level all the way up to executive. The learner now has one go-to-place for all their learning needs, starting with onboarding. Learner buy-in has been a resounding success.
“The relationship PizzaExpress has with Kineo is a collaborative relationship rather than a standard supplier relationship. Kineo’s ability to turn around and ask the right questions and get us the right solutions has been invaluable. It’s been like that throughout the whole process: since going live with our site, we continue to always have a front man at Kineo. This is reassuring because it means they take whatever query or issue and find the best options and solutions”. - Ben Walton, Learning Technology Specialist at PizzaExpress