At last week’s kickoff webinar of our new Benchmarking Intelligence platform, ACA leaders explained how benchmarking has helped their businesses and why they signed on to participate in the new platform.
01/27/2023 12:50 P.M.
7 minute read
“It’s a momentous day for ACA,” CEO Scott Purcell said at the start of the Jan. 26 webinar announcing ACA International’s new Benchmarking Intelligence platform, which has been years in the making.
The webinar also featured ACA board members Tim Haag, president of State Collection Service Inc., Courtney Reynaud, president of Creditors Bureau USA, and David Williams, president of Williams & Fudge Inc.—a group who were among the members who participated in the development of the benchmarking tool. They shared their enthusiasm for the new platform, as well as the ways benchmarking in general has helped their businesses.
“I think if you don’t participate [in this], you’re going to leave a ton of money and growth on the table,” Williams said. “I think it’s one of those things that you can’t afford not to spend time doing it.”
How it Works
The Benchmarking Intelligence database is a self-service tool that provides critical market information for ACA company members (including third-party collections, first-party servicing and asset buying metrics). It allows U.S. member companies of all sizes to compare their own performance against a variety of other member companies on an anonymous basis to help guide your strategic decision-making, with the expectation of enabling even greater profitability.
“This is very exciting,” Haag said. “This is a big opportunity for all of us.”
The Benchmarking Intelligence database is a free, members-only initiative. Only companies that participate will be able to access the benchmarking data.
Participants upload their data to the secure platform on a quarterly basis within designated timeframes. Data can be filtered by key metrics for ease of comparison. Data input questions are specifically designed to allow for participants to compare their KPIs with other de-identified participants.
Datapoints that are collected and reported by market vertical include:
- Unit yield
- Gross collections
- Self-service percentages
- Non-legal and legal recovery percentages
- Net income
- Number of employee collectors
- Number of payments
- Payments by type
- Settlement costs
- And more!
Markets covered include:
- Health Care
- Telecom & Utilities
- Banks and Finance Companies
- Student Loans (Federal and Private separately)
- Credit Cards, Banks, Credit Unions & Retail
- Property Management
Options for first-party collections and debt buying are included as well.
“In building this tool, we realized there’s some standard data calculations within the industry that would apply to everyone,” Purcell said. “We considered: How does everybody calculate the denominator? How does everybody calculate the numerator? Are there things that are included or excluded? There’ll be some opportunity for you to do your own reports the way you do it, but also there will be some system-derived ones that ACA has defined. Of course, we expect that to grow and change over time as we get feedback from you. As a participant, you will have a voice in how this system evolves. It’s going to meet your needs today, but over time it will get even better based upon the member feedback that we get.”
Whether you’re looking to expand into new markets or benchmark facets of your business against your peers, ACA’s Benchmarking Intelligence database has the information you need to communicate value, keep up with industry standards and address areas that may need improvement.
“The data in this system is so important to identifying areas where you might be underperforming or overperforming, as well as how to capitalize on those things,” Reynaud said. “I know a lot of people look at their P&L, monthly collector reports, monthly sales reports and things like that to get a sense of how they are doing. But this platform goes so far beyond that. It is a culmination of all of that information and more that will help you drive business decisions as you go forward as well as correct any issues that you might find along the way if you spot outlier trends.”
The insights you can glean from the Benchmarking Intelligence database can inform many aspects of your business, including infrastructure investments, market diversification and more.
“With technology in particular, it’s sometimes hard to understand how much we need to be spending,” Williams said. “Because, sure, we’d all like to get the cool stuff that’s out there and have all the new technology for our organizations, but when you’re benchmarking your data, you can more clearly see the cost of the technology versus the revenue you’re bringing in.”
ACA is complying with Federal Trade Commission standards, which require benchmarking data to be aged at least 90 days before being shared in comparison. So, for example, data from the second quarter can’t be reported on until at least Oct. 1. No reports will be released until at least five members have responded in order to comply with federal antitrust guidelines—which also supports ACA’s goals for anonymity.
ACA leaders on the webinar, who all participated in a beta test of the Benchmarking Intelligence platform, noted that members should be prepared to invest a bit of time into the initial process of collecting data, particularly if some of your internal data isn’t already in the format required by the platform. You may need to create some new reports to collect the data internally.
“While it does take some time in that initial output, once you know where you’re grabbing the data or once you develop new tools to grab that data, it’s going to be much easier going forward,” Reynaud said. “When you first look at all the data in the Benchmarking Intelligence database, you may feel overwhelmed. But I encourage you to break it down piece by piece because a lot of that data is likely already in your standard reports.. You may just need to figure out how to combine it or export that data in a different way. And once you do it the first time, you’ll be able to repeat that same process every quarter and it will take you a fraction of the time to complete.”
Reynaud stressed that members’ initial investment in the tool is solely an investment of time, not cost. There will be two methods for getting your data into the system. One way is through a user interface and the other will be an electronic file upload process.
“You don’t have to onboard a new vendor in order to gather this data,” Reynaud said. “You may need to work with your current data vendor in order to figure out how to export the data. But it’s not going to be a hard cost that you will see on your P&L.”
Security and Anonymity Are Built-In
The secure Benchmarking Intelligence platform is hosted by ACA’s outside vendor, Dynamic Benchmarking, which provides benchmarking technology for nearly 100 prominent associations. Only individuals on file with the Benchmarking Intelligence database will be able to view the deidentified data from your firm—and even your own data is protected within your own organization.
Dynamic Benchmarking has purpose-built a platform to collect performance and financial information anonymously, safely and securely. Companies providing data will be kept confidential and anonymous and will not be able to be identified by other users.
“The indemnity of this group was really, really important to the ACA board as this is sensitive data,” Williams said. “And that’s why there’s no way to really see who you’re benchmarking against. It’s all a collective group of people.”
Participating companies can compare their data against other companies by tier for Tiers 1-6. Due to the more limited number of larger agencies, Tiers 7-9 are grouped together for comparison purposes—a tool to further ensure anonymity. In addition, members will not be able to compare their data against other members located only in their own state.
ACA company members who agree to participate in the Benchmarking Intelligence database will have access to online training on how to input and access their data as well as how to view deidentified data.
If you want to participate, reach out to ACA’s Member Services team here to request access. The platform is only available to ACA Company Division members who have signed an agreement for only U.S.-based data. You can also read more on the new Benchmarking Intelligence page on our website.
A recording of the introductory webinar will be available soon.
If you have executive leadership updates or other member news to share with ACA, contact our communications department at [email protected]. View our publications page for more information and our news submission guidelines here.