Benchmarking Basics


What does it mean to use benchmarks in your practice and how do you get started?

By Sturdy McKee, PT, MPT, CEO

In this issue of Impact you are reading a good deal about benchmarking for your business and practice. So, what do you do with these benchmarks? If they don’t become actionable in your business, then they are just another number.

Once you understand what the industrywide benchmarks are, with an appreciation that they are often averages, you can consider what the appropriate benchmarks, or key performance indicators (KPIs), are for your business. In some cases the benchmark will not apply to your business at all, and in other cases they will be very relevant. There will be instances where you will want to exceed the industry average, and others where you will want your number to be lower.

So, how do you make all of this actionable and relevant to your business and your employees? The answer is simple, though not always easy.

It comes down to assigning the right KPIs to your employees. When you define the most important measurable results for your business, then it is important to determine who is responsible, or able to contribute, to that desired outcome. There must be a primary owner who is able to drive the ultimate result. There may be additional team members who create and contribute to the results that feed up into the larger result. Think of a pyramid, or synergy, of the component parts feeding up into the one single important result. Make sure that those component parts are given to the people who are best able to impact and drive the results that you want.

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The two most common mistakes I see made around assigning of KPIs to employees are that the employee is unable to influence or change the metric, and that the metric they are responsible for does not feed into the overall goals of the company. In the first instance they either lack the authority or the tools to have a positive impact. Giving them the authority, along with the responsibility, as long as they have the right tools, will empower them to make positive changes in your business. In the latter instance, the KPI assigned to employees does not feed into the overall goals of the business. The team members are given a number for the sake of giving them a number. In the worst cases, this can be undermining or pulling in the opposite direction from where you want to go with your business. Make sure that the responsibilities assigned to each team member feed into, or are synergistic with, the bigger picture goals.

The third mistake I see, though less common, is not getting buy-in from the responsible team member. Make sure to have the conversation with the people to whom KPIs are being assigned and ensure that they fully understand the desired outcome and what they are committing to. If they are unclear, or don’t want the responsibility, it is better to know and address that at the beginning rather than after they have not delivered.


Sturdy McKee is a business coach and adviser at and the chief executive officer and cofounder at San Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy, and Major League Orthopaedics. He is also a member of PPS and serves on PPS’s Impact Magazine editorial board. He can be reached at

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