Merriam-Webster defines benchmarking as, “The study of a competitor''s product or business practices in order to improve the performance of one''s own company.”
Benchmarking is identifying a scope of comparison to discover who is best at something, whether it is in your company, your industry or the world.
Benchmarking surpasses guesswork and reputation by providing numerical data.
Why You Should Benchmark
In the cleaning industry, there is a standard of clean, a set of requirements against which building service contractors (BSCs) can compare themselves and their services.
This standard helps you focus on your strengths and weaknesses to determine necessary improvements and stay competitive.
John Garrett, executive vice president of Able Services, says: “Internally, we benchmark against clients within similar market segments, be it corporate headquarters, manufacturing, et al. Through these means, best practices are shared across the organization as part of our focus on continuous improvement.”
Able also benchmarks with various outside industry organizations like ISSA, International Facility Management Association (IFMA), Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), U.S. Green Building Council (USBGC) and Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM).
Garrett explains this is incorporated “to confirm service delivery methods and cost competitiveness, while both sharing and gaining access to new technologies and innovations.”
Benchmarking helps you see the big picture of how to implement changes for improvement and measure data to monitor outcomes.
How To Benchmark
With technology at your disposal, there are many ways to gather information that are extremely easy and efficient, including web-based software, portable devices and permission-based systems.
Find the tools that are optimal for you that can be used on location.
Obtaining the right tools will help you effectively gather information you can monitor in “real time” to help increase your client retention, productivity and revenue.
Start by finding what is important to the potential client.
Then, do a baseline audit of existing competition to see where practices currently stand.
Once you win the account, perform an additional audit a month later to learn what has improved.
Use a number value system, like 1-10, to gather data that is easy to measure.
A quantifiable system helps compare how the client felt before and after your contract started.
If the score leaps from 2 to 10, that is an 80 percent increase in satisfaction.
This measurement can be used in your marketing to help you win new bids.
Being able to extract comparisons between you and your competition gives the ability to evaluate if there is a difference, whether good or bad, and then capitalize on it.
If the evaluation confirms you have strengths above your competition, then use the coinciding process in other areas of your business to improve.
If your competition is ahead of your company in areas, use that knowledge as an opportunity to try new things.
If you are always improving, you are benchmarking.
Value of Benchmarking
Benchmarking takes out the guesswork; it provides you with real data that helps you understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Implementing benchmarking in company processes:
Teaches how excellence is achieved in similar fields
Shares knowledge on common problems
Easily improves performance expectations and goals for improvement
Gives employees the information and tools to improve performance
Creates an environment for people to work “smarter”
Replaces emotion with real data.
You need to regularly review your processes and be willing to adapt to changes in the market or innovations that advance your company.
Understanding where your competition is gives the opportunity to evaluate your company and make improvements as needed.
Garrett has seen benefits from benchmarking, saying: “Returns can be measured in built-in service quality, excellent safety performance, reduced lost time accidents/incidents and improved worker morale. The results: Superior safety performance; savings for our clients; and improved quality all culminating in less rework, greater productivity and efficiency.”
Benchmarking encourages an atmosphere of continuous evaluation and improvement.
Data collected and evaluations made can be the difference between winning a bid and losing it.
Always consider what you are doing and how it can affect your company.
Mike Jenkins is president of CleanTelligent, a web-based quality control software company, and is well-known as a consultant for cleaning companies looking to win new accounts, retain more clients and increase productivity. He can be reached at Michael.Jenkins@CleanTelligent.com. To learn more, visit www.CleanTelligent.com or call (877) 272-4648.