Work on ABACUS-17, the American Booksellers Association’s annual financial benchmarking survey, has launched. Beginning this Friday, May 11, ABA member bookstores can submit their data in an anonymous and fully secure online platform.
ABACUS is an exclusive member benefit for participating bookstores, and this confidential survey of key bookstore financial information provides participating stores with in-depth, customized reports that are an important tool for improving business operations and profitability.
By becoming part of the ABACUS community of participating bookstores, booksellers will receive:
- A full ABACUS benchmarking report (including comparative financial ratios, operations data, and company profile information)
- A customized bookstore performance report
- A range of online reporting tools that provide a wide variety of specific analyses, allowing stores to evaluate performance versus similar companies and track their company’s performance over time against the industry results, among other criteria.
“ABACUS is a tremendous tool in evaluating our financial strengths and weaknesses. It helps us challenge our assumptions and makes sure we are asking the right questions about how we operate,” said Andy Perham of Books Inc., with locations throughout Northern California. “The ability to compare our store with other bookstores across the country is very effective in helping us be as healthy as possible. It is especially useful to compare against stores grouped similarly to ours — by region, square foot, sales volume, and other categories. For the minimal amount of time it takes to submit your information, the rewards are overwhelming.”
This year, ABA will again be working to compile and create the ABACUS report with Industry Insights, of Dublin, Ohio, a company that has worked with associations for more than 35 years in preparing studies of business demographics, operations information, and financial ratios. In compiling the data and preparing individual reports, no one from ABA ever sees any store’s individual data, which is only available to select staff at Industry Insights and kept strictly confidential.
An e-mail will be sent to ABA member bookstores from Michael Becher of Industry Insights on Friday, May 11, with instructions on how to access this year’s survey. Members will be able to complete the survey securely online or they may download a PDF version of the form to complete and return to Industry Insights.
The deadline for submitting to ABACUS-17 is Friday, June 15. ABA member bookstores can begin the submission process by going to www.ABACUSbenchmarking.com.
ABA member bookstores attending BookExpo this month will have the opportunity to meet with Industry Insights’ Becher in the ABA Member Lounge on Wednesday, May 30, from noon to 5:00 p.m. and Thursday, May 31, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. He will answer questions about ABACUS, review the report’s many features — including online tools — and help booksellers prepare for submitting their store numbers. Booksellers who would like to set up an appointment ahead of time can e-mail Becher at MBecher@industryinsights.com.
Also, bookstores that have never submitted to ABACUS that participate in ABACUS-17 will this year have the option of registering an additional staff person for the upcoming Winter Institute, set for January 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“The value of ABACUS to my store continues to grow in new ways each time I receive the annual report,” said Shawn Wathen of Chapter One Book Store in Hamilton, Montana. “ABACUS gives me the detailed information to accomplish this, as well as giving me an overall picture of the health of my shop. The time I spend inputting data into the survey is minimal, especially when compared to the wealth of information I receive, and can then use immediately. I cannot understand why any book shop owner/manager would balk at participating in this program. Without ABACUS, I would feel unprepared to meet the challenges of modern bookselling.”
Booksellers should watch their inboxes on May 11 for the e-mail with instructions on how to submit their data for ABACUS-17.