Benchmarking Overview

Overview | Basics | Financial | Merchandise & Inventory | Sales | Productivity | Operations & Expense | Others | Resources


The best industry information comes from your peers. By using this information, you can make improvements to your business. This is the basics of benchmarking—learning from others. Benchmarking allows you to compare one area of your college store business to that of another, or one area of your business to the same area of your business in another year.

Benchmarking is a comparative process, and is done from the perspective of the college store’s stakeholders—its customers, faculty, staff, and management. Management may include the institution’s administration, private owners, or contract management firms.

A benchmarking analysis must define objectives or outcomes. Primary objectives for implementing benchmarking procedures could include: 

  • Identifying successful practices within the college store
  • Determining where processes need more attention
  • Being part of a larger benchmarking initiative


Benchmarking can help you:

  • Better understand your own operations
  • Evaluate how well your store is doing in relation to other college stores
  • Set internal standards and goals
  • Pinpoint areas needing attention
  • Identify where your store is performing well
  • Discover new processes and procedures
  • Adapt and implement ideas to improve operations


The benchmarking process is never completed. It is a continuous improvement process. This section outlines and defines “key performance indicators” that every campus store professional should know about their operation.

Benchmarking tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not consider any one ratio alone.
  • A ratio presents a picture of the store at the time the ratio was calculated. To compare correctly, calculate ratios at the same time of year, year after year.
  • Look for areas to compare which are measurable, such as the percentage of adoptions that you receive annually for textbooks.
  • Take action because of the benchmark analysis; information gleaned from the analysis should generate plans for improvement. Sometimes it is necessary to look outside of your organization or normal resources for creative solutions to problems or challenges within your business.
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