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Betsy Wise
By: betsy_wise
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What Is Cost of Sales?

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Accounting terms like cost of sales, price of sales, and gross profit make your head swim, don’t they? There’s no need to worry.

This comprehensive article tackles how having a working knowledge of the cost of sales keeps a lid on costs to increase profits. You’ll readily see that implementing proven techniques to grow your business actually works. In addition to keeping your costs lean to increase profit, there are other ways you can increase the bottom line so your business stays on track and thrives.

Before addressing those proven methods to help make your business profitable, let’s find out what’s so important about this accounting term, cost of sales.

What is Cost of Sales, anyway?

As a point of reference, the term cost of sales (COS) or costs of goods sold (COGS) appear on your income financial statement. If you’re like most business owners, you’ll look at your gross profit or profit margin before fixed costs. That’s an important number but it’s good to know how the cost of sales factors into calculating gross profit. Here’s a brief description that’s easy to understand.

The figure consists primarily of variable costs that increase and decrease depending on production levels. All you need to remember is that your gross profit is determined by subtracting COS from your total revenues.

Plus, there’s a simple way to calculate COS using a basic formula that’s easy to use.

How Do You Calculate Cost of Sales?

Use the following formula reviewing specific components you include to calculate gross profit.

  • Basic Formula: Cost of sales= Beginning Inventory/Stock+ Purchases – Ending Inventory/Stock.

Here’s a simple example: Your beginning inventory is $25,000, to that you add purchases of $20,000 and subtract ending inventory of $15,000 for a COS total of $30,000.

  • Elements Included to Calculate COS: The inventory at the end of your accounting year is the same figure you use to begin a new year. Many businesses depend on a software program for beginning and ending inventory amounts. It’s a good idea to set aside some time and tabulate product counts manually to verify totals. At the end of 12 months of production, the inventory number represents purchases you’ve made to sell your products, raw materials, and related supplies, payments to employees who worked directly on producing products, shipping costs, and utilities incurred during the production process. Rent that you pay to use a facility to manufacture products is also included.
  • Why COS Is Important: Tracking sales and production expenses accurately ensures that your business is operating profitably and at a reasonable cost. By knowing how much profit you make at any given time, you’re in a better position to drop products that don’t perform and add new ones for future growth.

Once you keep on top of the cost of sales, it’s easier to determine pricing.

How Does Cost of Sales Affect Price of Sales?

If you don’t have a handle on your COS, it’s nearly impossible to price your products in order to make a profit. Likewise, pricing items too high causes demand to suffer and sales may plummet.

For example, if it costs $30 to produce a product, a business owner may set pricing at $45 to $60 to recognize a profit. If he or she doesn’t know the exact costs to produce a profit, they’re merely guessing at pricing. The same business owner who prices an item for $45 and it costs $50 to produce quickly loses money, taking into consideration that fixed and variable costs remain constant.

Once you know all your direct and indirect costs are covered, you can be more competitive with pricing. Even so, history proves that customers will only pay so much and pricing has to keep pace with what’s trending in the market.

To sum up, by regularly using a formula to determine COS, there’s a much greater chance your business will operate in the black. Did you know there are other ways to generate more profit?

How Do You Generate More Profits Without Raising the Sales Price?

So you don’t resort to adjusting the sales price upward, you can reduce COS resulting in increased profits. You can do so the following ways:

  • Don’t Just Focus on Revenue: Reviewing your COS data provides a real-time snapshot of profit percentages. This important number is one of the first indicators to reveal you may need to trim specific costs. A simple internal control like this can increase the bottom line.
  • Rethink Labor Costs: Cross-train employees so they can handle more than one job. Should an employee need to take an unexpected leave of absence, there won’t be any downtime in production. Run a tighter ship by training existing employees to learn a new skill. You should experience less turnover when newly trained employees know a pay increase is on the way. You’ll save money in the long run when you don’t need to retrain new employees, which involves a learning curve, equating to less productivity.
  • Shop Around for Less Expensive Raw Materials: The last thing you want to do is purchase inferior materials at a reduced price. However, it’s possible another reputable vendor may offer the same product at less cost. It never hurts to see what other suppliers charge and take advantage of the savings. Moreover, a new vendor may offer a discount for paying early or buying in bulk.

Once you make these simple recommended changes, there’s no need to raise your prices. If your prices seem too high to customers, they will start shopping elsewhere for a better deal. To keep that from happening, there are other actions you can take.

 

What Are Some Tips to Increase Sales and Profits?

By now, the term cost of sales may not seem nearly so daunting. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re all in and ready to implement strategies that will help your business grow. Here are a few more helpful tips

  1. Listen to Your Customers: Both positive and negative feedback is essential to help keep you on a steady course. Your customers want to know that the person in charge is available to resolve issues, listen to recommendations, or respond to glowing reviews about your business.
  2. Implement Lost Leader Pricing: To create a buzz about your quality products, you can attract customers by lowering pricing on one or more select items. No, this isn’t a bait-and-switch tactic where you substitute an inferior product in place of a superior one. You know going in that you may lose money but there’s also the possibility that customers will buy additional products. See this article for more details on how lost leader pricing can increase sales.
  3. Spend Time Choosing the Right Sales Team: Finding the right people to sell your products can mean the difference between mediocre and a substantial increase in sales. In most situations, it’s not necessary to spend more money on additional employees but to provide training and incentives for your existing sales staff. A more diverse team increases your chance to reach all types of people.
  4. Offer Discounts Strategically: If you offer seasonal discounts for a limited time, customers may take a closer look at your other products. Without going overboard, you can build discounts into your marketing plan throughout the year because customers love deals no matter when they’re offered!
  5. Market Your Products Differently: If sales seem to have stagnated, reach out to your existing customers and in the process find new ones. Nearly everyone these days has a social media account. You can use these platforms to reach people as well as other marketing tactics.  
  6. Don’t Forget Growth Evaluation: Our free survey quiz provides the clearest picture of areas in your business that need attention. The straightforward form addresses the crux of what keeps businesses from experiencing sales growth. We can recommend immediate steps you can take to keep your business moving forward.

By tweaking your action plan, even a little, it’s possible to make immediate changes to realize an increased profit. Remember, Camino Financial specializes in helping business owners excel and thrive amidst a workaday world.

For instance, Camino Financial helps small business owners unlock the growth of their companies. One way to do that is to take this simple quiz called growth evaluation. By taking a few minutes to answer questions, the survey assesses pricing and costs, people, marketing, technology, and business funds. We lovingly refer to these areas as the five pillars of growth.

In less than 72 hours, you’ll receive a report with everything you need to know to start transforming your business. We highly recommend that you “click on the growth evaluation link” and take advantage of the insights this free assessment offers. Remember, we’re only a click away and look forward to working with you soon!

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