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Three Tips to Increase Profit Margins During Times of Uncertainty

April 4, 2023
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The current economic climate is causing profound challenges for business owners across industries. Not only is inflation on the rise, but increased costs associated with food and housing mean that buyers everywhere are feeling the strain. In fact, a 2022 TransUnion Consumer Pulse Study revealed that 48 percent of consumers were concerned about their ability to fulfill financial requirements. With more shoppers prioritizing necessities, businesses increasingly have to make adjustments to stay in the black. 

A profitability ratio used by analysts and investors, profit margin, helps reveal whether a business is making or losing money. To determine profit margins, companies subtract the total cost of providing a product or service from the sales price paid for the item by customers. Along with material costs, finance teams need to consider factors such as labor, storage, equipment depreciation, shipping, and rent or mortgage payments. The goal is to identify ways of maximizing margins without reducing product quality or customer satisfaction. At Centage, we’re passionate about connecting businesses with the sophisticated financial planning and budgeting tools they need to stay competitive. Here are three of our top tips for increasing profit margins regardless of what the economy has in store.

Three Ways to Increase Profit Margins:

1. Improve Efficiency

If you want to maximize profit margins, increasing operational efficiency is the first step. Start by dividing all business costs into three categories: those that are essential, those that are simply important, and those that are desirable but not necessary. The most innovative finance leaders involve their teams in this process, encouraging workers to identify opportunities to improve efficiency in each category. The goal is to reduce spend in the important and desirable buckets without sacrificing anything that will significantly impact product quality or customer contentment. 

While reducing costs is always a challenge, businesses can utilize automation to minimize disruption to customers or employees. Sophisticated FP&A software tools like Planning Maestro enable finance teams to automate routine tasks such as manual data entry, accelerating workflows and improving forecasting. The end result is that you get the data you need faster for more accurate forecasts all without overburdening staff and increasing budgets. 

 2. Optimize Costs

It’s hard to raise profit margins without either increasing sales or cutting costs. Since many customers are feeling squeezed by the current economic climate, raising prices on existing goods may not be the way to go. After all, shoppers may choose to take their business elsewhere if you charge them more for the same items. Instead, companies should consider adding new products to their line to boost margins. Look for ways to solve customers problems without creating new issues for your manufacturing or supply chain.

Additionally, companies can increase margins by optimizing costs. In some cases, leaders may be able to negotiate lower prices from suppliers by agreeing to longer-term contracts. In other situations, it might make sense to look to another supplier for better rates on materials or services. 

Another way to optimize costs is to look at your customers themselves. As they are the source of your revenue – and your profits  – but how much are they really worth? Are you spending like crazy to acquire new customers? Are your service customers better at producing profits than your products? Obviously, this data must be taken in context with the rest of the business. A low valuation customer who typically later purchases high margin items is a good investment. But you need to understand which is which. Does this make those latter customers the most valuable? It’s best to look closely at the value of each customer. While some may bring you the majority of your profits, they may not be profitable.That 20 percent could be the ones with the biggest discounts or those that purchase the lowest margin services or products.

3. Determine Prices

Ultimately, successful price optimization is crucial to turning a profit. The most savvy business leaders test multiple methods of raising average sales prices without making changes too quickly. After all, driving prices too high too fast can cause a rapid drop in volume. The goal is to model different assumptions and track them over time. 

Moreover, businesses need to strike the right balance between making money and providing value. Customer surveys are a useful tool for gathering information on demographics, psychographics, and buying behavior. Recognizing that spreadsheets are both unwieldy and prone to errors, companies are increasingly using financial planning tools to assess the impact of multiple scenarios. Additionally, businesses should evaluate regional market specifics, historic sales data, and demand fluctuations throughout the months and years. 

Financial visibility and control are essential to helping businesses stay profitable. Ideal for today’s volatile economy, Planning Maestro is a financial budgeting, planning and analysis software created by and for modern finance leaders. Offering sophisticated budgeting, superior forecasting, and faster data analysis, Planning Maestro enables companies to maximize profit margins without sacrificing product or service quality. Whether you’re looking to collaborate with employees around the world or use automation to allow workers to do their jobs more effectively, this cutting-edge software can help your business succeed.

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