To help its distributor members increase productivity and profitability, Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) recently introduced a new custom benchmarking software tool, Distributor Performance Analytics, LLC (DPA). The web-based software tool is free for one year to HARDI members.
“Our new Distributor Performance Dashboard (DPD) is the next generation in wholesale distribution performance benchmarking, and I am so proud that HARDI and our Management Methods Committee are leading its development,” said HARDI Executive Vice President and COO Talbot Gee. “HARDI leadership is committed to investing in anything that will empower our engaged distributors to significantly outpace and outgrow the average market.”
A Group Effort
DPA was first introduced to HARDI members at Evolve ’13 in Phoenix. The software solution is financed by five wholesale trade organizations — HARDI, the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA); the Association for Hose and Accessories Distribution (NAHAD); the Industrial Supply Association (ISA); and ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (formerly the International Sanitary Supply Association).
“DPA LLC was formed out of a collaborative effort,” said Greg Borr, vice chair of the HARDI Management Methods Committee and chair of the DPA Software Development Committee. “A bunch of associations were looking for a better way to collect data that has historically been manually collected, as far as key performance indicators, and use it for benchmarking yourself against your peers.”
The goal of DPA is to provide a software solution that is Web based and business intelligence driven, can automate the process of doing distributor performance analytics and is updated quarterly for quicker analysis and greater insight into key performance indicators (KPI).
“The objective of benchmarking at HARDI is to help our members be more productive so they can maximize the resources available to serve their customers,” said Brian Loftus, market research and benchmarking analyst for HARDI. “The DPD provides members with the ability to interpret their operating performance so they can maintain their profitability and create innovative ways to support their customers.”
“It’s a more efficient process,” Borr added. “We get greater insight, [and] we can drill down into the data to sort, filter and compare it against our peers in the industry. Before, we had a static output. Now, we have the greatest flexibility we could have.”
Tools for Distributors
The new custom software puts a mountain of data at the users’ fingertips in a timelier manner than ever before. Those data — which include the number of or types of products sold, key financial ratios, gross profit percentages broken down by sales channel, regional sales, assets, liabilities, number of employees and shipment types — can be used to compare companies of similar size and revenue.
“You used to get a spreadsheet, and you’d send it in. And nine or 10 months later, you’d get a report,” Borr said. “Going forward, it’s an online web-based survey. All the data is co-located on secure servers, and no identification of individual companies is stored. Within 90 days of having that data in, users will have access to all the data.”
Being able to compare one business’s data against another business’s data is invaluable, Loftus said. “If you only know your own results, you only know half the score,” he explained. “It is easy to use, so the distributor can see how their operations are performing versus other HARDI distributors. [It’s] flexible enough to allow the distributor to sift through the data for deeper understanding or to create customized comparisons. DPD will help members save time and money.”
Borr anticipates “potentially thousands” of members from the five founding organizations will use the software. “It’s very exciting,” he said. “Over the years, participation in our previous benchmarking has been stagnant, and we’re looking to significantly increase our participation in year one. We look forward to sharing this distributor-specific solution with association members and having it be an effective resource for their benchmarking needs.”
Gee said he also looks forward to sharing the tool and took a moment to acknowledge those who were instrumental in developing it, saying, “Very soon, the entire membership will see why they owe a massive thanks to Greg Borr and Brian Loftus for leading the development of this incredible tool.”
To access the Distributor Performance Dashboard, go to www.hardinet.com, log in with your account information, and then visit www.hardinet.org/ distributor_performance_dashboard.