Alan Hanbury on Benchmarking

February 01, 2006

Part 1: Introduction

Benchmarking: Setting Standards for the Industry

The definition of and synonyms for benchmark include "standard," "point of reference" and "targets." Benchmarks provide direction and suggest a course of action.


Part 2: Compensation

Overpaid? Sometimes Paid? Owed Pay?

Most business owners try to find ways to maximize their salary toward the end of the year, and it never seems to be enough.


Part 3: Lead Tracking

Leading the Way to Profit

I have precious little free time and don't want to spend my billable hours giving away free information without a fighting chance of a sale.


Part 4: Productivity

Does Your Company Need Performance-Enhancing Help?

Making money is all about maximizing performance — using your tools, people and materials as efficiently as is practical. This month we look at annualized sales per field employee, office employee, sales employee and total employees.

Part 5: Cash Flow and Capital

Are You Dying to Grow?

Looking at metrics for accounts payable, accounts receivable and working capital efficiency over time and against benchmarks can tell us if we are headed toward being cash strapped or if we can safely grow our business.


Part 6: Vacation and Hours Worked

The New Rules: Work Smarter by Working Less

Every company has an obligation to find a balance between working hard at making a profit and working hard at staying sane.


Part 7: Gross Profit

There is Nothing Gross About Profit

Setting a gross profit target — finding a pricing, staffing, operating expense and profit model that is SMART — is the key to all business success. (SMART is defined as specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-sensitive.) No one can tell you what to charge for your work or what markup to use.


Part 8: Budgeting

Making Sausage

We talked about the first three steps in setting a gross profit target. Now comes the part where we run the numbers through the grinder. The math is easier with our markup calculator.


Part 9: Acting on the Numbers

Bring the Business Plan to Life

We have talked about some 25 business metrics that one can track. After we collect them for a period of time, they begin to have a "normal" range. We can then apply these numbers to make better predictions and better decisions.





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