Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2008   by Andrew Ross, Publisher And Editor,

Benchmarking Makes Sense

There is an old phrase that states, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

It has been quoted often in business management texts, speeches, columns, and more than a few boardrooms — and, of course, now here.

While I do not disagree with its central point (that you need a goal to have a plan, and a plan to reach that goal), there is one component of that philosophy which is often missing: where are you now?

Too many businesses don’t have a firm grasp on this point. Too many businesses do not have highly focused reporting of their finances, productivity, tracking or performance relative to the industry.

Let’s say you, as a jobber, are generating an average of $5,000 from each of your trade customers, and that 20 of them make up 80% of your total revenues. Is this good? What is your annual average revenue per employee, and how much does each of your counterpeople generate? And, more to the point, what does your number mean in terms of the industry at large? Are you doing great, underperforming, or holding your own? Are you even tracking the right numbers?

My friend, aftermarket consultant Bob Greenwood, is fond of saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” and I agree, but you also need a reference point.

And it all starts with knowing where you, and your customers, are at right now. And this is why we are preparing a series of benchmarking surveys with Greenwood and the Automotive Industries Association of Canada. Three surveys will be conducted in early 2009: one of jobbers, another of automotive service providers, and the third of collision repair businesses. Results will be analyzed and published in this and other magazines.

It will provide a comprehensive snapshot of important business indicators, and provide some direction for the future.

My personal hope is that it will provide some real help to the various participants in this industry, to understand what they are good at and where they might need to improve.

At the very least, it is bound to be fodder for constructive discussion, something that is so important in these turbulent times.

So be on the lookout for it, and when you do see it, respond. It will help everybody — you included.

P. S. To make the Canadian automotive aftermarket benchmarking research study the best it can be, we need your participation. Since the survey will be going out electronically, e-mail addresses are a must. We have thousands on file, but do we have yours? If you’re not sure, send it along to me at promise we won’t spam you if you do.



We profile the 2008 Counterperson of the Year. Plus, we’ll look at remanufacturing developments in several product categories.

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