The Beauty of Benchmarks
If you are in a business that has a strong trade organization that provides industry benchmarks, it is certainly worth joining. If the trade organizations are national, in many cases they will be structured so that they will only have one member in each competing market. That way you can share numbers without risk of having to do so with a competitor. This does two things to help the business owner. 1) benchmarking identifies the areas in your business where you are doing well, as well as the areas where you are failing and need focus. 2) By sharing information, you know who is doing well. You can then go to them for ideas on how to make improvements. I have seen firsthand how helpful people in the same industry can be if they are not regional competitors.
Contribution to Growth
My experience with this has been very positive. A company I worked for joined a national trade organization several years ago just before a period of significant growth. The first time we put our numbers into the model of benchmarks, we realized how much we were doing wrong. Every area needed vast improvement, but it showed us with much detail in which areas to focus, and which areas would result in a faster and greater benefit to our bottom line. It was amazing how within a couple of years, in those most profitable areas, we were not only hitting but exceeding benchmarks. We then moved on to the other less profitable but no less important areas. As a result, we sustained consistent, healthy growth for several years.…even during times when the overall economy was not doing so well.
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