Contrary to popular industry belief, a 40% gross profit margin may not be the magical number that leads to the best bottom line in the kitchen and bath business. The correct number for a particular business may be significantly higher or lower. It really turns on three things: (1) a “market-rate” owner’s salary, (2) the operation’s overhead including a “market rate” rent, and (3) the owner’s desired annual return on his investment.
The first reason why a bigger top revenue line only marginally affects one’s bottom line is that more errors are made with higher sales volumes; so gross margins typically decline by a few percentage points. Secondly, variable expenses - like sales commissions and payroll taxes - increase with higher sales volumes. And third, more staff people are usually needed to support the higher sales volumes, adding to the overhead.
One thing I learned early on in my career is that learning is lifelong. No matter what level of formal education anyone attains, it is just the start. I always keep learning because business is always changing.
Ten years ago Faith Popcorn, the futurist guru, wrote “what will make us buy one product over another is a feeling of partnership with the seller” … “that decency is not only the only way to behave, but decency can also be profitable” … and “we want to buy from a person … a person whom we trust.”
Having launched the kitchen/bath industry’s first buying and business development group in 1994, the SEN Management Team has had an opportunity to work with hundreds of design firm owners. We have analyzed their financial statements, studied their business models up close and personal, critiqued their operations onsite, and coached owners for many months on end …. and through both good and bad economic times.