It’s no secret that distributors in our industry—and many of you reading this, regardless of the nature of your business—face stiff financial pressure in their daily operations. With demands from suppliers, customers, and competitors alike, it’s imperative that cleaning-industry companies operate as efficiently as possible to maximize profitability.
To help suppliers improve their operational efficiency, especially as it relates to facility and transportation expenses, ISSA launched the Distributor Efficiency Analytics & Learning (DEAL) program in collaboration with Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC. DEAL is an efficiency-improvement program that incorporates learning, analytics, and recognition to help distributors (and even some manufacturers) benchmark their performance, streamline their operations, and realize significant savings in warehousing and fleet expenses of up to 30 percent.
If you consider the median net profit margin for a typical ISSA-member distributor—about 5 percent, according to data gathered in ISSA’s Distributor Performance Dashboards (DPD) benchmarking program in 2016—even modest operational savings can drive significant bottom-line improvement. For example, a distributor that spends about US$25,000 per year on operating expenses would have to generate an additional $150,000 in revenue to increase profits by $7,500, the same bottom-line impact the DEAL program has proven to generate independently.
So how are ISSA-member distributors—and other member companies that operate facilities and fleets—using the DEAL program to drive positive change in their businesses? They’re leveraging all aspects of DEAL’s comprehensive, three-part approach:
Learning. DEAL’s regularly hosted online Learning Sessions provide actionable, low-cost/high-impact improvement measures that guide participants in their pursuit of increased efficiency and profitability. Recent Learning Session topics have ranged from modifying driver behavior and guerilla marketing to waste and recycling management. Further, ISSA’s partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s ENERGY STAR and SmartWay transportation programs provides additional pertinent resources, best practices, and benchmarking information participants can use to enhance their knowledge and implement improvements.
Analytics. The DEAL Data Portal, an online analytics dashboard, helps users track their performance, identify opportunities for improvement, and compare their operations to other DEAL-participant distributors as well as other non-cleaning industry distributors nationally. The DEAL Data Portal includes 10 facility- and fleet-related metrics ranging from water and waste to energy and fuel economy. And while DEAL participants can actively view their regularly updated operations data in the DEAL Data Portal, companies are not responsible for data entry; the DEAL data team from Sustainability Dashboard Tools works with utilities providers and other sources directly to manage that process on an ongoing basis.
Recognition. DEAL’s Recognition component combines marketing and award opportunities to help participating companies distinguish their industry-leading achievements. In addition to DEAL-specific awards that participating companies are eligible to win on an annual basis, participants also gain access to marketing materials like infographics and press release templates to help get the word out to customers and local business media. Plus, DEAL data consultants help companies prepare submittals for external awards competitions using data and performance metrics housed in the DEAL Data Portal. Increasingly, participating companies use the DEAL program to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
First to Save
In fact, the initial group of DEAL participants—20 ISSA-member companies—adopted DEAL-prescribed principles and practices to generate US$400,000 in cumulative savings in the program’s first year. Many of these companies, which subscribed to DEAL during its pilot stage last fall, gained recognition for their achievements in the inaugural DEAL Awards at ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America 2017 in Las Vegas, NV.
Consultative, Data-Driven Approach
In addition to its three core components, the DEAL program also provides participants semi-annual performance reviews, during which DEAL data consultants provide one-on-one consulting. The reviews quantify the effect of each participants’ involvement in the DEAL program in terms of money saved, costs averted, and environmental impact. For example, a DEAL data consultant helped a participant validate the savings from recent lighting retrofit while helping it uncover additional saving opportunities in water costs based on its irrigation meter billing.
Not only can organizations clearly quantify the impact of their activities through the DEAL Data Portal and these performance reviews, ISSA generates marketing and publicity materials, such as infographics and press release templates, for companies to use to promote their achievements with their customers—and even inside their own organizations.
Following the first DEAL performance reviews earlier this year, DEAL participants have utilized the findings from these reviews in a variety of ways. For example, EBP Supply Solutions shares its DEAL-verified operating data and sustainability business practices with its sales team to engage existing clients and earn new business; Nichols customized and published an infographic that outlined how it diverted 90 percent of its waste from the landfill and saved 4,000 trees from deforestation as part of an Earth Day promotion. And DEAL data specialists helped Nyco Products Co.—one of a handful of manufacturers enrolled in the program currently—uncover and act on an imbalance in its natural gas costs, which will save the company about $33,000 over a three-year contract.
While the results and return-on-investment metrics speak for themselves, the program generates the most value in engaged organizations where internal champions lead the charge. In general, DEAL participants expect to spend about two hours on DEAL-related activities each month. That’s one hour to participate in the monthly DEAL learning session and another hour instituting improvement measures as outlined in the learning sessions. With an understanding of actual performance metrics and new principles and practices to improve, opportunities abound.
For more information about the DEAL program or to schedule a complimentary one-on-one online demo, contact Jon Adkins at 847-982-0800; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the Postconvention 2017 edition of ISSA Today.