The Network for Incubator and Commissary Kitchens (NICK) is the largest network of shared kitchen professionals sharing their knowledge and insights daily. Below is a summary of a recent conversation regarding tracking company success and utilizing performance indicators. Answers may have been edited for readability.
We are evaluating our metrics for tracking the success of our kitchen. We are curious what you look at to track. There are hours logged in the kitchen & revenue, but do you have measures for tracking company success?
- Start with income vs. expense, that’s always a favorite of mine.
- We always track output volume of businesses (especially those who make shelf stable products). We can track sales of those in-house who use our retail space. Another thing that we find can justify our existence and effort are the amount of contacts we make and those who make inquiries into our commercial kitchen and to what extent, i.e. have they applied, or are they in early stages of setting up the business. This also acts as a catalyst for contacting those people periodically to see if they need any help with their process or to see if they are even still active.
- What are your goals for the data? Are you reporting it to outside funders/stakeholders or using it internally to measure the effectiveness of specific services? Are you currently collecting data from clients? If you collect reports from clients annually on their sales, staff, sales channels, etc. then you can chart their growth over time. Tracking the sales from market opportunities or loans/investment you facilitate for them is also great. And tracking the success of those that outgrow/graduate from your space is valuable. Tracking everything you do (like coaching hours, events, referrals, tours, etc) is great for measuring your productivity. If you want to show the impact that it’s having on clients a client survey is often necessary.
- Our goals are internal metrics to show the success of our efforts and to also track the development of the overall food community. Essentially, we are looking for data that just by looking at these numbers we would understand where are. We do send out annual surveys to our kitchen members & business training participants to measure their progress over time.
- We get block grant funds for ours, so we track job creation in addition to the usual metrics. We also track success of those who graduate and our “graduation rate.”
- It is also important to define “success”. For some, success is simply trying their dream, even if they discover their idea doesn’t work or the industry isn’t for them. In my mind, even those failures are successes, since they didn’t lose their life savings in the process.
- The Shared Kitchen Toolkit is a comprehensive guide to starting a new shared-use or incubator kitchen and managing day-to-day operations. Check out the sections on Financial Management and Tracking Financial Performance for relevant information on performance tracking.