By Diane M. Calabrese / Published June 2015
From the Marine Corps Marathon to the Indianapolis 500, there’s nothing like meeting with competitors to assess performance and develop strategy for improvement. Ever since the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA) introduced the Planning for Profit benchmarking program in 2008, manufacturers and distributors have had their own opportunity to compare with and readjust to competitors.
The Planning for Profit program allows manufacturers and distributors to analyze cumulative, year-over-year data on performance—both in-house and in the context of data collected from other companies. Information submitted by manufacturers and distributors is treated confidentially by the Profit Planning Group, Boulder, CO, which administers the survey for CETA. Identities of survey participants cannot be inferred from aggregate results.
CETA members and distributors for Alkota Cleaning Systems, Inc. and Mi-T-M Corporation, manufacturers that in part sponsor the survey, are eligible to participate in Planning for Profit benchmarking program at no cost.
Each participant in Profit for Planning will receive a Performance Analysis Report (PAR). The PAR enables the participant to ask and answer tough questions, such as: Can more be done to control expenses? How much more can we control expenses without jeopardizing sales opportunities? The PAR also proves a useful tool when meeting with lenders or others providing credit to a business.
For manufacturers and distributors that want a quantitative and objective assessment of their performance, the PAR is a superb tool. Moreover, in 2015, CETA will be offering a series of webinars about how to make full use of the PAR.
The robustness and predictive value of each PAR grows with the number of participants in the Profit Planning survey. There is a great deal that can be learned by looking at performance in the context of the competition. It’s why runners—and even gardeners—compete by comparing results.
Reallocating resources and refining business plans both benefit from a timely, contextual, and unbiased assessment of how a company is fairing—the sort of assessment the PAR from Profit for Planning provides.
The deadline for submission of information is June 30, 2015 (reporting for 2014). Download the 2015 Profit Planning Survey in PDF format from the CETA website (www.ceta.org).
“Benchmarking is a great way to compare the results of operations of a distributor’s business to the results of operations of similar-sized distributor businesses in the pressure washer industry,” explains Gary Scott, president of Alkota Cleaning Systems in Alcester, S.D.
“Benchmarking is also a great way to compare how my company’s income statement and balance sheet ratios have changed from year to year as we continue the benchmarking process over a number of years,” explains Scott. It is part of the continual improvement process. It is a great management tool. I wish we could get all distributors to join CETA as well as the benchmarking program to improve everyone’s operations. That is why our company has supported the program over the years with dollars to keep the program funded.”
There’s a parallel perspective from Aaron Auger, the water treatment division manager at Mi-T-M Corporation in Peosta, IA. “Our company is pleased to once again help to sponsor the CETA benchmarking program in 2015,” he says. “In the years where CETA has had manufacturers support in helping to fund the program, participation has increased significantly. We as a manufacturer feel that this support is crucial in securing the participation of our members to give an accurate assessment of the data that is being collected.”
Positive reports from CETA members reinforce the significance of the program. “Members that we have had the opportunity to speak to about the benchmarking program have all had positive results. Almost everyone has been able to extract at least one piece from their custom, confidential report that will help their business bottom line. It’s by talking with my dealers that I understand the importance of the program to our dealer base. I was on the CETA board of directors when benchmarking was first introduced to our membership, and I truly believe in the strengths the program has to offer. I would encourage all dealers in our industry to consider taking the time to participate in CETA’s benchmarking program.”