With the complexities and unexpected expenses in doing business, it can seem like it’s hard to maintain a comfortable profit margin, let alone realize surpluses that can be reinvested in business growth. Regardless of economic climate, there are four key factors that could be restricting profitability.
For illustration, there was a print company where workflow was scheduled by estimated hours of labor. The majority of printers worked full shifts but produced only 3-4 hours of scheduled work. No performance analysis was ever done, and the company continued to struggle meeting deadlines.
It’s important to clearly define job roles and expectations, and establish measurable, verifiable metrics of performance. When those standards aren’t met, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed ASAP. In this example, the printers of this company for whatever reason were shorting their expected output by about half. In just about any company, such a discrepancy could be fatal to the business.
Admittedly correct pricing is a complex situation considering such factors as labor, cost of supplies, market competition, and more. But companies can discourage customers by charging too little as well as charging too much. Few brands can maximize profits as the “cheap” alternative. Working out models for industry and company cost structures, sales analysis, and effective cost-cutting are essential to determine price structures that are both competitive and profitable.
One of the major expenses for many small-to-medium businesses is the struggle to keep their IT infrastructure up to date, especially in these days of constantly changing technology, tightening regulations, and the constant fear of data breaches. Outsourcing IT functions is becoming an increasingly popular solution. For a flat monthly fee, an Ottawa IT services provider can integrate with your systems to provide support, system design, consultation, and the latest security measures in anti-viruses, data storage, network monitoring, and much more.
One common approach to maximizing profits it to slash payroll or employee benefits. Labor alone can account for a huge chunk of operating expenses—general construction labor in the US costs around $14 per hour. However, this decision should be balanced against issues such as having insufficient labor to meet sudden demand, or high employee attrition rates, which means the added costs of hiring and training replacements. Some companies can get by on minimal staff and a good relationship with local employment agencies, but those depending on skilled labor are best served by nurturing the talent they have with reasonable salaries compared to the market.
It’s never easy to predict return on investment with any sort of guarantee. That’s why it’s important that analysis of your own situation and requirements is a frequent and ongoing part of your business process.