Spring has not been kind to travel softball in my neck of the woods this season. As I write this, we have played exactly three games — two in 40-50-mile-per-hour wind gusts 40 miles from home and one less than two hours after it rained with temperatures in the 40s — only because two stubborn guys (one who may or may not be the author of this column) refused to say no and got a soaked field ready to play in record time on a dreary, cold Friday night.

With my daughter’s team, we like to look at statistics that might not leap off the page like batting averages, earned-run averages and fielding percentages do. For example, in one of those games we were called out on strikes six times! As we pointed out, that’s two free innings for the other team’s defense. In fact, I pointed to a house beyond the left field area and said the other team could have went to the front door, asked what’s for supper, stayed for two innings and come back to no damage being done.

We also like to keep track of bunting — successful bunts and bunts that result in base hits. As the pitches become faster (we found out in one of those games 56-58 miles per hour from 43 feet makes a unique sound when it smokes the catcher’s mitt in a 40-mile-per-hour wind), bunting becomes much more important.

Statistics also play a big role in the day-to-day existence of PHCP-PVF distributors whether that be in customer-service-centric areas such as on-time delivery rates, in-stock percentages and rate of product turns. On the financial ledger side, the fine print most certainly can make a difference on a company’s bottom line.

Here at ASA, we produce on a yearly basis what has become known as the gold-standard in benchmarking reports, the Operating Performance Report. In its fourth decade of being produced by ASA business intelligence partner Industry Insights, the OPR is a nearly 100-page book stuffed with data to compare your PHCP-PVF distributor company against other firms in the industry.

I have the 2021 report in front of me as I am typing this and happened upon a hypothetical individual company report Industry Insights uses as an example of how to interpret various parts of the book (each company does get an individual company report/report card).

In this particular sample, a five-year trend is shown (provided you participated in the last five reports), showing your yearly performance in categories such as sales per employee, payroll to gross margin, turn-and-earn profitability index, bad debt expense as a percent of credit sales, and the list goes on and on.

You are also given a synopsis of your firm’s ratios compared to the appropriate industry averages. In this sample instance, the firm’s number on net profit before tax to net sales is compared to all responding firms to the study and to all PVF firms responding to the study.

If you wanted to know the average invoice size in dollars for PHCP-PVF firms, it’s in there. How about percentage of industry inventory considered dead stock? In there.  I would run out of room listing all the categories covered.
If you have either participated in the survey or not participated, but purchased it, you know the value of having that OPR book to benchmark your company against the industry.
If you have never heard about OPR or have, but are not sure how to go about participating, head over to the ASA Business Intelligence section at www.asa.net and have a look.
The deadline to turn in your company’s data is June 3 and the massive OPR book will be available to participants July 11. Non-participants can purchase the report, but at a much higher price point. Data is confidential and ASA never sees any of it.  

Compensation/benefits report 

Also of benchmarking note, as you are reading this in May, the bi-annual cross-industry compensation report will soon be available (in the May 13 neighborhood). This report is done in conjunction with multiple distribution-related trade associations, giving members an overall view of compensation and benefits levels across the distribution industry.  
The last time this particular report was done at the start of the pandemic in 2020, 905 distribution companies representing more than 10,000 locations participated in the survey.  
The cross-industry report will be delivered free of charge to all ASA distributor companies that participated in the survey, and ASA distributor companies that did not participate in the survey can still purchase it for a fee.
There is that old adage that numbers don’t lie/tell the whole story. That tends to prove true in sports (have to get those bunts down in fair territory) and in business.  
Take advantage of these two critical benchmarking functions ASA offers and use that data to its fullest in your company’s excellence journey.