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How to Improve Profit and Cash Flow in Your Business

The success of a business can be measured in a number of ways however the bottom line, literally and figuratively, is profit. While longevity, public perception, and product or service quality are a few other things that factor in, the financial health of a business will always be a critical metric in determining its value and success. Not only is strong net profit an indication that a business has been run effectively up to this point, it also lets owners know how much they’ve earned as well as assess ways to continue to thrive, improve, and invest in growth. That being said, how do we improve a business by leveraging the drivers of profit? Understanding how to leverage them by making small improvements can significantly improve your business’ bottom line.

What Drives Profit?

In order to increase your business’ net profit, we must first look at the driving forces behind it. Among other factors, there are four key drivers to consider – and they have varying levels of impact on net profit.

  1. Price: The price of your business’ goods or services has the greatest effect on profit, as any increase to the price for which you sell something goes straight to net profit (assuming it costs you the same to produce).
  2. Sales Volume: Increasing your sales volume generally increases variable costs (e.g. cost of goods sold), so the gain in revenue may be more significant than any rise in net profit.
  3. Variable costs: The direct cost of acquiring or producing the good / service. Having greater buyer power to secure lower prices or being able to produce / deliver something more efficient without comprising quality will increase the gross profit margin and in turn your net profit. It’s important to assess this one regularly to pass on any increasing costs in this current economic climate.
  4. Overheads: Decreasing your overheads will increase your margins but not overall revenue, as such this has the least impact on net profit.

As you can see, not every profit driver is created equally. Therefore, it stands to reason that small tweaks to the more significant factors are likely to have a greater impact on your net profit. Below is an example of how critical some small improvements can be.

Small Tweaks, Big Improvements

In the following example, we’ll look at Luke’s Lawnmowing Service, and how making small increases to his profit drivers can have a significant impact on the business’ overall profitability (figures are annual).

MetricCurrent StateIncreaseResult
Mowing Customers200-200
Rate of retention90%1%91%
[Total existing customers]1802182
New leads 505%53
Conversion rate50%5%55%
[Newly acquired customers]25429
Retained customer base2056211
Annual mows per customer639
Total mowing jobs per year1,2306681,898
Average price per mowing job$5010%$55
Annual Customer Revenue$61,500$42,883$104,383
Gross Margin35%3%38%
Gross Profit$21,525$18,141$39,666
Overheads (fixed costs)$6,000-2%$5,880
Net business Profit$15,525$18,261$33,786

As you can see, Luke’s Lawnmowing Service has a fairly low profit margin at the moment. While he has 200 regular customers, all having their lawns mowed once every two months, and charges $50 each time – his current margin of 35% and overheads of $6,000 p.a. means Luke’s net business profit is only $15,525 p.a. Considering the fact that serving that many customers would likely constitute a Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm type of schedule, that is a pretty disappointing outcome.

While increasing the net profit of Luke’s Lawnmowing Service might seem an uphill battle, just a few tweaks here and there can make a significant impact. Luke could more than double his net profit just by doing the following: increase customer retention by 1%; acquire just six more customers; add three more mows per year, per customer; raise the price of each job by $5; and cut overheads by 2%. From $15,525 to $33,786 – what a difference those small improvements can make!

Other Factors to Improve Profit

There are also other drivers of profit, three of which you’ll find on your balance sheet. These are:

  • Accounts Receivable: How much you’re owed for goods or services you’ve provided; and how long you’ve been owed for. Lowering this number increases cash flow for your business.
  • Accounts Payable: How much you owe for goods or services you’ve used; and how long you have owed that money. Increasing these days improves available cash.
  • Inventory Days: Average number of days you hold stock before selling it. Lowering the number of inventory days reduces the amount of money you have tied up in inventory (and therefore have in cash instead).

Much like the profit drivers outlined in the example, the three listed above can also make a big difference to your bottom line if they are improved even slightly (it’s all about the small wins!).

Next Steps & How We Can Help

If you’re interested in seeing how a few small tweaks could improve your net profit, our handy Business Growth Model is available on our Free Resources Page. With this tool, you can input the relevant data from your own business, gauge where you’re at right now, and project where you could be soon.

The Business Improvement team at McKinley Plowman has established a reputation over many years for creating awesome outcomes for clients by streamlining their business processes, optimising their cash flow, and guiding smart business decisions. To find out what we can do for you, get in touch today via our website or call us on 08 9301 2200 (Joondalup) or 08 9325 2411 (Perth) for a free, no-obligation consultation.

written by:

Ben’s career began in April 2008 specialising in taxation and business advisory by managing a small portfolio at a young age. He joined McKinley Plowman in 2014 as a Senior Accountant and with his passion for business and assisting clients in achieving their objectives he has progressed to a Business Services Manager, and more recently being appointed as an Associate Director.

As a qualified Certified Practising Accountant, his areas of expertise include but are not limited to, assisting clients with new business start-ups, advising on business structures, tax planning, business valuations and management reporting across many industries.

Ben prides himself on being part of his client’s business journey in taking them from where they are now and working towards where they want to be.

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