• ZISK

Are You Currently Caught in a Comparison Trap?

April 29, 2022


It is a fairly common practice to compare your operation with others in your industry to check “how you compare with others.” This is a good idea, but it also has some limitations that we all need to keep in mind. Is your business identical in absolutely every respect to the others being used in the Comparison Summary? I doubt it.


With this factor in mind, please feel free to review these comparisons, but then let’s take this process even further. My Business Coach Dan Sullivan stated that “Amateurs compare, but professionals measure.” What does he mean?


Given that your operation is not identical to every other one used in the industry comparison, I think we need to be careful. For example, if you are milking in a double-12 herringbone parlor, it will be tough for you to compete with a 50-stall rotary barn for labor costs. If you have 12 employees, but a similar size operation has robotic milkers and only six employees, will that be a fair comparison? Probably not. If you are farming 200 acres vs. someone with 2,000 acres (& probably bigger, better equipment), will you look competitive? Not likely…

May I suggest an even better approach? Look at these industry comparisons, and then go one step further. Look at how you performed in your most recent year compared to the prior three years. From this, you will acquire a more beneficial comparison, because you will be comparing “apples to apples.” This is looking at your business from year to year and will tell you where you are making progress, as well as what areas you probably need to seek improvement on.


You will recall that I’ve suggested that if you measure something, you can better understand it. If you understand the measure, you can then control it, and if you can control a variable, you can improve it. That principle works here, too. If you see some cost in your operation rising (for reasons other than short term supply issues, e.g., with fuel), you can then focus on ways to improve this area, using the year-to-year comparison you have made with your own operation.


Of course, there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to remain competitive with the top tier of your industry, but you need to be sure to keep this in perspective. Otherwise, you can get caught in a trap of what Dan Sullivan describes at the Gap and the Gain. For example, if you walk toward the horizon for 30 minutes and then look toward the horizon, you will feel like you’ve made no progress at all (the Gap). However, if you look back and see how far you’ve progressed in comparison to where you started, you will experience what he calls the Gain. The same principle holds true in your business!

Consider looking at your operation vs. others, but don’t overlook the progress you have been achieving within your own operation. That way, you’ll benefit more fully from the comparisons, and if I can assist you in measuring your progress, please let me know.


So, think about this question: Have you been caught in a Comparison Trap?


Let’s take your business to the Next Level!


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