The word "benchmarking" first was used back in the day by shoe cobblers to describe their method of measuring people's feet to manufacturer shoes. The cobbler would place the person's foot on a "bench" and trace an outline of the foot in order to create a pattern to make the shoes. Today, the term benchmarking is commonly used by business leaders to refer to a management survey tool that compares one's own business processes, metrics of performance and best practices to that of industry leaders. The objective of benchmark surveys is to identify how well industry competitors perform, and, more importantly, how they achieve their results. The ultimate goal of utilizing benchmark survey software is to learn how to perform more efficiently and effectively by studying successful companies in the same industry.
Benchmarking is also a survey tool used to establish goals or "benchmarks" that your business can work toward. It involves taking a look at the goals of others and how they measured up to those goals, which allows you to build or refine your goals. With a proper benchmarking survey, you can learn about your competitor's strengths and weaknesses. Learning about both the strengths and weaknesses of the leaders in your industry, will help you to maximize your own strengths while minimizing your weaknesses.
In a nutshell, a benchmark study provides you with a statistical snapshot of your industry's market, where your business fits and where your competitor fits in that market. Most businesses feel like they have a good handle on their own customers. But do you have that same understanding of your competitor's customers? Is there a market trend out there that you haven't tapped into yet? Benchmarking can help you answer those questions and more.
Typical benchmarks used in online surveys for benchmarking include revenue, production costs, staffing size, employee turnover, profit and loss and more. Today, an online survey can measure social media benchmarking to find out just how much your competitor's are tweeting or running Facebook promotions. Benchmarking surveys can be applied to just about every process or function under your businesses operating umbrella. A benchmark survey tool conducted using survey software can be customized to collect the specific information and data you want based upon any custom parameters that you need, such as size, type or regional location.
Since most experts recommend that marketing research be conducted on an ongoing basis, many businesses conduct online surveys for benchmark studies at least annually, if not quarterly. Using a survey tool, such as benchmarking survey software, allows businesses to conduct benchmarking research more frequently due to convenience and flexibility, especially if carrying out the research via an online survey. Although some businesses implement a benchmarking study once or twice during their business cycle, many companies look at benchmarking as a continuous process to continuously seek improvements in their practices. Further, by periodically revisiting the study, you can track market shifts and measure marketing progress against goals.
Although benchmarking surveys can be used as a measurement of success, perhaps more importantly, benchmarking shows you what is possible in your industry.