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Peer group effectiveness

Aug 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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Thousands of printer owners participate in peer groups, typically comprised of six to eight people who meet every 6 months. The goal is to drive the business by learning from each other and to leave with fresh ideas from a respected source. Usually the best-run printers in the industry participate in peer groups because these owners continue to invest in themselves and their business, and they are open to criticism, objective feedback and fresh ideas. Each member benefits from:

  1. Learning what others are doing.

  2. Leaving with fresh ideas.

  3. Being held accountable for results.

  4. Networking and cultivating friendships with successful people.

  5. Trending and driving performance over time.

  6. Hearing candid feedback and opinions from printing experts.

  7. Specific, expert advice from owners dealing with the same issues.

Standardized peer group metrics

Most peer groups standardize on reports to pinpoint opportunities for improvement and growth. Many use benchmarks similar to those published by PIA and NAPL in their wage, pricing and financial benchmark studies. The best peer groups benchmark customer loyalty and share at each meeting a standardized SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) based on customer feedback. Benefits of implementing customer feedback into peer groups include:

  1. Customer-centered goal setting.

  2. Increasing customer loyalty levels with all members of the group.

  3. Challenging peer group members to drive improvements based on facts.

  4. Disciplined, focused discussions around marketing, customer service and sales efforts.

  5. Quantified, fact-based decision making tied to customer needs.

Standardize on the customer loyalty question(s), the way customer feedback is obtained and how it will be shared. Make each owner responsible for bringing one improvement area and one opportunity for growth identified from the customer feedback. Each owner brings his or her customer loyalty scores to the meeting, and those scores are displayed, side by side, to help during discussions.

We all stress how important loyalty is to our survival and growth, yet we know we can do a better job measuring, monitoring and leveraging customer information in a disciplined, deliberate way. Standardizing on how customer feedback is shared during peer group meetings and setting better, customer-centered goals is one more way best-in-class printers continue to distance themselves from their competitors.

Michael Casey is president and founder of Survey Advantage ( He is a strategic partner with NAPL supporting its consulting and research practices, he integrates project surveying with MIS systems and he is an approved supplier for several franchise networks.