Starting a benchmarking service is hard. It would be almost impossible without the strong history, and foundation of the Best Practice Groups (BPG). Recently, I was asked what the most common objection to getting involved in benchmarking was. I didn’t have to think twice. The most common objection/phrase I hear (almost daily) is “I’m Different”. Since I’m polite by nature, my typical response is “Interesting, tell me more…”. However, in the back of my head I‘m saying “I’m sure you are” – with heavy sarcasm.
Although this perception is a psychological barrier for some, the contrarian approach (and proper one in my opinion) is to embrace the attributes that make a company different. The Best Practice Groups are Operating Mode specific, but beyond that, if you look at the members within (as an outsider looking in), you’ll immediately see big differences in size, location, and more importantly those unique operating attributes that make them ‘different’.
As a group facilitator, I’m primary concerned with three things: 1) Personality compatibility with other group members, 2) Level of engagement, and 3) Unique perspectives/Contrarian opinions/Problem solving ability. If the combination is right, it not only provides an energetic atmosphere for group meetings, it also provides an endless inventory of new ideas for each member to take back to their respective businesses (and profit from). An outsider would expect that the biggest carriers would have the best ideas, the freshest perspectives and ultimately best long-term performance. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some of the best performing trucking companies in the Best Practice Groups are under 100 trucks.
It should be noted, differences in operating models do affect the comparative results, but those differences are typically isolated in secondary KPI categories (Average Length of Haul, Loaded %, etc). When it comes down to the primary KPIs (Gross Margin, Gross Margin per load, per driver, per non-driver, Admin % of Gross Margin etc), that is where excuses about differences float away. It also highlights those companies that have out-performed their peers. Those situations start the conversations, and those rabbit holes are what I live for.
I could sit and listen to a member talk about their strategies and tactics all day long, and coincidentally, that is a common trait of BPG members. They are fans of business, and the Best Practice Groups are like a continuous March Madness.
Yes, you’re different, and that’s why benchmarking is for you and your company.