For the most part no one likes surprises; unless it’s your birthday! Same goes for a business owner who thought they had a good month, then see the profit & loss statement, and “surprise,” you’re in the red! OUCH! You can minimize surprises and predict, with a level of confidence, your bottom line if you take the time to analyze and understand two important predictors in your business.
Predictor # 1 – Consistent Gross Profit as a Percentage of Sales:
For most businesses there is a pricing, or quoting system, that determines selling price based on the cost to provide a product, or service, along with a targeted gross profit dollars or percentage. Examples are retailers using markups, or service firms using overhead multipliers. The idea is to consistently price your products and services so they produce a predictable gross profit percentage. Looking at the Sample Profit & Loss below you can easily see how various levels of Sales yield predictable gross profit dollars , and provide the gross profit percentage remains around 40% ($1,000 = $400, $1,200 = $480 etc.).
Predictor # 2 – Consistent Fixed Costs per Month:
This predictor is expected provided the accounting folks follow a system. Most businesses have recurring monthly expenses (rents, utilities, phone etc.) along with supplies, and other operating expenses. Have your accounting staff create a checklist to insure all expenses are recorded for a given month. In the Sample below, fixed costs average $400 per month so each month an owner, provided there are no unexpected payments, can compare actuals to an average and determine differences.
Results – Predictable Net Income for a Given Level of Sales:
When your gross profit percentage and fixed costs are predictable you have the ability to forecast your net income based on your level of sales. The Sample Company below shows at $1,000 in sales they essentially breakeven with -0- net income. They can predict sales levels above $1,000 will result in positive net income while below $1,000 will result in losses. Management can now focus on improving sales, improving gross profit percentages, or reducing fixed costs to improve bottom line results.
|Sample - Profit & Loss|
|Sales||$1,000||$1,200||$950||$1,050||<--Levels of Sales|
|Labor @ 60%||600||720||570||630||<--Variable Costs|
|40%||40%||40%||40%||40% <--Key Predictor #1: GP as % of Sales is consistent|
|Rent & Utilities||100||100||100||100|
|Total Fixed Costs||400||400||400||400||<-- Key Predictor #2: Fixed $$ Costs per Month|
|Net Income (loss)||$0||$80||($20)||$20||<-- Predictable Net Income for a given level of Sales|
It’s not difficult to predict net income provided you understand your pricing and manage your fixed costs. Leave surprises for your birthday and manage your bottom line with confidence!
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