NRHA’s Retail Management Certification Program, created in conjunction with Ball State University, is designed to provide business owners with a comprehensive, six-month college-level educational program that helps develop the leadership and management capabilities of high-potential employees.

This program, which is designed specifically for employees of independent hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards, offers a learning experience that is directly applicable to both the student and the business by contributing an immediate return on investment. The lessons from each course module can be directly applied to the business as soon as students return to their stores. 

The power of this educational program is its direct positive effect on the business performances of the participating companies. The curriculum is designed with multiple components that encourage education application, including:

  • Leadership and Leading People
  • Business Strategy
  • Marketing, Sales and Customer Service
  • Operations
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Human Resources Management

Course Components

  • Three visits to NRHA headquarters in Indianapolis over the course of six months to interact with a small class of up to 25 peers, allowing students to build an industry network that will aid them during their careers.
  • Practical intersession homework assignments that relate directly to the business the student manages. Homework focuses on topics that provide opportunities to improve the business.
  • Access to a Business Coach to counsel students on how to achieve maximum value from the program. This coaching interaction will engage the student and business sponsor in a discussion of how to apply the student’s learning assignments directly to the business.
  • Access to an electronic learning management platform allowing students to easily receive assignments and submit homework online.
  • Personal assessments that help students rate their management and problem-solving capabilities so they can personalize training to their needs.
  • Intersession conference calls that allow owners to participate in the student’s learning experience.
  • Multiple uses of interactive workshops during classroom sessions, designed with the adult learner in mind. These workshops will utilize learning tools such as simulations, case studies, small group exercises, role-playing and classroom discussion that encourage interaction and help students immediately relate classroom experiences to business application.
  • Roundtable-style group discussions where students share best practices from their companies. 
  • A Business Improvement Project throughout the program that culminates during the third and final visit to Indianapolis when students will present their business plans and receive feedback from peers, business owners, course instructors and industry professionals.
  • A final Quick-Wins assignment following the third visit where students will enact three things they learned during the course to provide an additional return on investment to the business.
  • Business Administration Certificate awarded by NRHA.

Time Required & Schedule

The program includes three visits to Indianapolis over a six-month period. Students will arrive on a Tuesday evening and depart on a Friday morning for each visit.

  • Tuesday evening: Students arrive and enjoy a networking dinner.
  • Wednesday: Class sessions all day followed by a group dinner.
  • Thursday: Class sessions all day followed by a group dinner and activity.
  • Friday: Morning departure.

Preparation before each visit requires two hours per course module (approximately 32 hours per visit).

Ongoing Program Involvement

The NRHA Retail Management Certification Program is a significant investment in the student’s ongoing education. Realizing this, NRHA has designed ongoing opportunities for students, sponsors and participating company representatives to continue to reap the benefits of the program. These benefits include attending the NRHA Retail Management Certification Program Reunion Roundtable networking event scheduled in August at NRHA headquarters. In addition, participating companies will continue to receive information about Business Improvement Projects completed by students in future classes. 

In addition to the ongoing benefits of program attendance, one of the biggest advantages to attending NRHA’s Retail Management Certification Program is the relationships developed during the program. Throughout the course, attendees develop a strong support network with other students and advisors that will last throughout their careers. To date, students continue to rely on one another for support, idea generation, guidance and feedback.