Money & Business

Foodservice Group's New Interactive Benchmarks Help Members Deliver

By / Sep 2, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock)

In a quest to continually offer members value that they can’t find on the open internet, the International Foodservice Distributors Association launched a new suite of customizable benchmarking tools. The initiative was driven by IFDA’s volunteer leaders.

As it looks to expand its offerings and provide more value to members, the International Foodservice Distributors Association last week announced the launch a new suite of surveys and interactive reports to help food distribution centers assess themselves against industry benchmarks.

We’re using our members’ data to actually provide some information that they can use to get a better handle on how they’re performing within their own company.

IFDA members represent more than 800 food distribution centers worldwide that do over $125 billion in sales each year. Yet, they vary drastically from one another.

“There’s lots of different sizes of companies [among our members], and of course in different parts of the country there are different needs,” said Toni Salmi, director of education and research at IFDA. “For them to be able to drill the data down to what exactly is close to what their facility is like is really important to them and helps them get a great look at how they’re doing in the industry.”

Salmi and IFDA President and CEO Mark Allen said the organization has been involved in benchmarking for several years, but the new reports give them a chance to be competitive as a content provider.

“If our members can go online and find information that’s readily available in an area, it’s probably not something that we’re going to spend a lot of time trying to compete with,” Allen said. “But with benchmarking, we’re using our members’ data to actually provide some information that they can use to get a better handle on how they’re performing within their own company—it’s a unique need that any association can fill.”

The tool—which IFDA created with the help of Dynamic Benchmarking, a provider of web-based benchmarking and reporting tools—offers three new reports: a safety and risk survey, a quarterly operations benchmark, and a sales benchmark. Ease of use was a critical goal: The quarterly operations report, for example, is a new iteration of a paper-based survey that IFDA used to conduct biannually.

“It used to take company CFOs about three hours to complete,” Allen said. “Now its digitized, it takes 10 minutes, and we can do it quarterly. We’ve focused on absolutely what they need to know to drive decisions in their business. We’ve really tried to make it easy for them to participate, and we see participation rates go way up as a result of that.”

Just as important as usability, Salmi said, was getting member input throughout the process. Three IFDA volunteer leadership committees were the driving force behind the initiative.

“They were the ones who said that it’s data that’s important to them and important that the industry capture,” she said. “It was very much something that was totally member-driven. For any association trying to produce a benchmarking program, you really do need that personalized member touch in order to get the buy-in from the members, and to make sure that you are getting them exactly what it is that they need to do their job better.”

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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