July '12

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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| | | | Your Personal Business Trainer Benchmarking Benefit or bane to your business? T oday's decorated apparel and promotional-prod- ucts business owners are confronted with new challenges and potentially rewarding opportuni- ties every day. Growing a successful company in these uncertain economic times calls for developing the ability to look outside the business for solutions, ideas and best practices. However, this can be time-consuming and frus- trating if not done methodically. While benchmarking does take time and a bit of ingenu- ity, it can provide valuable information that one can use to improve any business, almost immediately. The different types of benchmarking—functional, industry, financial, tactical and strategic—could be used together for a more accurate picture of where your company is in relation to your competition, the industry, the marketplace and your own hopes and dreams for the enterprise. Is your business a prime candidate for benchmarking? Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after seminar speaker and author with a unique perspective on business development and management subjects, primarily in the decorated- and promotional-apparel industries. With over 20 years experience in sales, marketing and training, he is pres- ently an independent consultant to various apparel-decorating businesses looking to improve profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit his new website at, and send email to See Vince DiCecco in-person at The NBM Show in 2012, where he'll pres- ent the following classes. (Visit www. for details and to register.) UPSELL AND INCREASE REVENUES Thursday 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. APPROACH THE BENCH(MARK) Back in the 19th century, a benchmark was a surveyor's term that meant a mark cut into a stone or a wall that es- tablished the exact level of altitude for a tract of land being measured. Benchmarking for business grew in popularity during the 1970s when it became a common component of Total Quality Management (TQM) programs taken up by large companies. The Japanese were given credit for advancing the con- cept of benchmarking through their practice of sending managers to visit other companies in order to improve their understanding of good business practices. In 1979, the Xerox Manufacturing Operations began a process of competitive benchmarking in order to combat increasing competition and laid the groundwork for the steps many of today's businesses take to implement benchmarking, regardless of size. Today, benchmarking is a commonplace term—defined as "a standard or point of refer- ence in measuring or judging the current value or success of your company in order to deter- mine future business plans"—although the practice is often executed incorrectly. Too frequently, benchmarking efforts end with competitive comparison studies— which only assess the gap between what you and other companies are doing. The oth- er—and, arguably, most meaningful—half of benchmarking is discovering, understand- ing and adapting how the comparison companies are achieving better results. Therefore, acceptable definitions of the term 'benchmarking' should focus on the qualitative process aspect and not only the quantitative end results. For benchmarking to be successful, both of these elements are essential. It is impossible to understand why a performance gap exists purely from the numbers; only the practices or processes on which the metrics are based will reveal why. (See Figure 1) 26 | PRINTWEAR JULY 2012 August 16; Long Beach, Calif. September 20; Philadelphia FIND, HIRE AND PAY THE PERFECT SALES PERSON Thursday 3 – 4:30 p.m. August 16; Long Beach, Calif. September 20; Philadelphia GET TOP-DOLLAR MARKETING RESULTS Friday 11a.m. – 12:30 p.m. August 17; Long Beach, Calif. September 21; Philadelphia PRICING PROWESS: PRODUCE PROFIT AND MAKE PRICES STICK Friday 2 – 4 p.m. August 17; Long Beach, Calif. September 21; Philadelphia Big business has used best practice benchmarking over decades and real- ized billions in savings and revenues in all areas of business operations and sales. Small business can reap even greater re- wards from best practices because, unlike large corporations—which operate like a freight ship, taking three days to turn and five days to stop—smaller businesses are as nimble as speed boats, which can turn on a dime and make quick course correc- tions. Learning what others have done successfully can keep a business moving forward without costly errors. BY VINCE DICECCO

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