The Benchmarking Suite is a product designed for accountants, business advisors and management consultants to support their clients and improve business performance.
To understand how this works and how our customers support their clients, we interviewed Vincent Keogh, Chief Operations Officer at the Benchmarking Group.
The Australian Benchmark Report is essentially the final industry specific report an individual business owner receives. This report benchmarks their performance against businesses within the same industry of similar size and profit.
There are more than 200 report templates to suit all industries; therefore, we will never compare a beauty salon to a law firm. We also have different Key Performance Indicator’s (KPI’s) for different industries to ensure businesses only receive scores relevant to them. Any business owner can purchase an Australian Benchmark Report to see their results.
The Benchmarking Suite, however, is an online tool that enables accountants and business advisors to produce endless business benchmark reports for their clients. When our customers have access to the Benchmarking Suite, they can on-sell these reports to their clients or offer them as a value-added service.
2. Why is this product designed for accountants and business advisors?
When the business began more than 20 years ago, the business benchmark report was an accounting tool. We worked solely with accountants as they were the custodians of most business ledgers, and we could ensure the accuracy of all the information we received.
However, as times changed and more businesses opted to use Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks, we revised the reports to offer a greater variety of business metrics, not just financial performance. However, we still saw the reports as an indispensable tool for the accounting industry as many firms began to use them to offer consulting services. At present, due to the ease of inserting a client’s data into the online tool, the reports are also highly relevant to business advisors/management consultants.
Furthermore, we believe that accountants and advisors who work with small businesses are best placed to discuss how business owners can use their benchmarking results to drive business growth. Our reports provide each business with a strengths and weaknesses analysis, along with industry-specific strategies. However, business owners often still need support in setting objectives, enhancing strategies and implementing them. We see this as an opportunity for accountants and advisors to offer consulting services to their clients – either as an additional product or a value-add. The reports are essentially a way to start the conservation about any consulting services a business may need.
However, some accounting firms just like to produce reports for clients as a value-add to their services. This works too!
On top of this, the Benchmarking Suite is designed to integrate with Xero and import data from Excel. We understand many accountants have access to clients online-accounting software already, making the report production extremely easy for everyone.
3. How does benchmarking help small businesses to improve financial performance?
Our reports show business owners the areas of their operation they should be focusing on to drive growth. By comparing their business performance against others, they can see areas for improvement or maintain and areas that may not require as much attention.
For example, the report may highlight that a business owner is spending a great deal more on marketing costs than their competitors. The result may be that they should either look for more cost-effective marketing solutions or focus on more repeat business, depending on the industry.
Another example is revenue versus product. Some businesses may have great revenue, but compared to others in the industry, they may have a weak net profit. By understanding how their business is performing compared to others, they can focus on increasing their bottom line. The flip side of this is they may have a great net profit; therefore, the best strategy may be to focus on investing funds in business growth activities.
4. Can you share how current customers support their clients?
Our current Benchmarking Suite customers receiving the best results are the ones that undertake annual benchmark reviews with their clients. This way, their clients can review their annual performance against the industry year-on-year and determine areas of success and areas for improvement.
The online tool stores all information input over the years, so comparing year-on-year data is really straight forward. As the data can also be exported as Excel, Word or PDF documents, we know some accountants/advisors will undertake their own analysis and add our results to their own reports. This enables them to easily produce time-consuming and onerous reports and plans, such as business plans, grant proposals and annual reports.
We also receive interest in employee productivity statistics from business owners wanting to ensure high productivity. These statistics are particularly popular with advisors the reports give them findings to help businesses restructure or implement training programs to maximise employee output.
One area that is always of interest is business valuation. It can be a tough conversation telling a business owner that their business is not valued as highly as they expect. With our tool, accountants/advisors can offer a very structured approach and begin to draw a plan of how to reach their desired goal and use benchmarking to identify what they want to change and track it over time.
5. What are your top ‘tag lines’ accounting firms and business advisors can use to ‘sell’ the Benchmarking Suite to their clients?
I do have a few good tag lines that I’m happy to share with any Benchmarking Suite customer:
- How does your business compare to your competitor’s? Find out with our Business Benchmark Report.
- Discover your business-growth potential with Business Benchmark Reports.
- Do you know how productive your business is compared to your competitors?
- Learn how well your business performs compared to your competitors.
- Want to know if you are spending too much (or too little) in your business? Speak to us today about your industry-specific Business Benchmark Report.
- Do you know the value of your business?
- Contact me for your free business valuation!
These are really for any Benchmarking Suite customer to start the conversation about benchmarking with their client. For clients new to benchmarking (and any who are not already involved in benchmarking), I recommend starting with a meeting. There, you can talk about benchmarking, showcase an example report (you can find one here) and, most importantly, discuss their business goals and future life plans.
6. What’s your final take-home message for accountants/advisors?
Even though our Benchmarking Suite is designed for accountants and advisors, the ultimate product is designed to support small Australian businesses and help them grow. Therefore, make sure the report is valuable to your clients to help them understand the areas of their business they should focus on and how they can do this.
I know from experience that it is pretty rewarding to see a client’s business grow and know you have been influential in its growth.