As a business owner, you understand how important bookkeeping is. The information a professional bookkeeper can provide will allow you to make informed decisions about your business. One piece of information your bookkeeper can provide is your company’s current gross margin or gross profit margin. Gross profit margin is a good yardstick for measuring how efficiently your company makes money from your products and services because it measures profit as a percentage of sales revenue. You can use your gross margin to compare your company’s profits to others that have different sales revenues.
Gross Margin Defined
Gross margin is the profit you’ve made after you subtract the direct costs of your products and services. It’s typically calculated as a percentage. A positive gross margin indicates that you have made back your costs and then some. A negative gross margin, on the other hand, means that it cost more to make your products than you made from selling them.
Essentially, the percentage is how much of a dollar you make as profit. For example, if your profit margin is 42%, you are making 42 cents for every dollar spent as profit. In other words, you spend $1 to sell your products, then make $1.42 from each sale. This means you paid back what you spent and made 42 cents in profit.
Calculating Your Gross Profits
To calculate your gross margin, you first need to determine your gross profit. To do that, first add up all of your sales income. Next, add up all of your costs that are associated with manufacturing, procuring, and selling your products. Now that you have your gross profit, you can divide it by your total revenue. The resulting percentage is your gross margin.
Here’s an example. Say that your company made $100 million dollars in income. After subtracting out all of your expenses, you get a gross profit of $32 million. Divide 32 million by 100 million, and the result is 32%. That’s your gross margin.
Gross vs Net Profits
One important fact to remember is that gross margin is not your total profit. There are some indirect costs it does not take into account, such as taxes, licensing fees, and other expenses. Net margin or net profit deducts all of your expenses and costs from your revenue. It represents your true profit. Net margin, like gross margin, is very useful to business owners. Both percentages are useful when making decisions about your company.
What Information Can a Business Owner Gain from their Gross Margin?
Gross margin can provide business owners with a number of key insights that can be applied to maximize profits and minimize loss. First, it can tell you if your prices are too low, your costs too high, or both. If you have a very, very small profit margin, then you may not be charging enough for your products to fully offset your costs. You may also be paying too much for raw materials or for the manufacturing process.
Some businessowners make the mistake of assuming that just because their sales are good, they are profitable. Others may believe that their high gross profit margin indicates that they have good sales. Both of these statements can be true, but that’s not always the case. You may have thousands of sale transactions within a quarter yet still not be making a profit because your prices are too low or costs are too high. On the other hand, you could have a good profit margin yet not be making as many sales as you could be.
Knowing your gross margin will help highlight these issues. You may discover that you are making a very small profit even though it seems like your sales are good.
How Gross Margin Can Help in Calculating Prices
When calculating your gross margin, you’ll also calculate your overall product costs. By looking at these numbers, you will be able to determine if you are selling your product for too little or too much. High sales but low profit margins may indicate that you are under-valuing the product. Low sales but a high margin could also indicate that your prices are too high.
A good bookkeeper will remind you that you cannot look at gross profit margins in a vacuum. There are many factors that can affect pricing, and you need to take all of these factors into consideration. The market sets the prices. If the market dictates lower prices, you will need to adjust your costs in order to meet those prices.
Gross Margin Also Provides Insight into Labor and Material Costs
In addition to looking at price, you can also use your gross margin to see what you’re spending on your products and services. New business owners may be surprised at how much they spend. If your gross margin is low but you feel that your prices are fair, there are two factors to consider. One factor is marketing, but that is a separate area of discussion.
In relation to gross margin, the factor you will want to focus on is your overall costs. Are you spending too much? You may want to consider alternative materials, new partners, or renegotiating current contracts to lower these costs and grow your business.
Who Should Pay Attention to Gross Margin?
All business owners should consider their gross margins on a regular basis, whether that’s monthly, quarterly, or annually. Small business owners can use gross margin to help them determine if they are pricing products correctly or if they could potentially save on costs. Marketing experts can look at gross margins to see if their marketing plans are meeting their goals. Even experienced business owners and bookkeepers can use gross margin to compare previous fiscal years and project their company’s growth over the next few periods.
If you have a bookkeeper, they can calculate your gross margin and help you understand what it means in terms of your profits, expenses, and sales. However, if you don’t have a bookkeeper, you run the risk of miscalculating your margin or not fully understanding how to use it to make financial decisions.
If you’re in need of a bookkeeper, Protea Financial is here to help. We provide bookkeeping, payroll, compliance, and inventory management services to wineries of various sizes. Contact us today with any questions or to discuss partnering with us.