Vancouver Business Journal

Fri12192014

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Details emerge on 101 Main Street building

Details emerge on 101 Main Street building

Local developer Killian Pacific is preparing to break ground early next year on ...

Pacific Continental announces major SW WA expansion

Pacific Continental announces major SW WA expansion

Pacific Continental Bank has inked plans to expand its presence in Southwest Was...

Freshii to open two additional Vancouver locations

Freshii to open two additional Vancouver locations

Less than one year ago, Doug and Rich Gillespie brought the Freshii franchise to...

Best practices for business seeking loans

Best practices for business seeking loans

With the right approach, applying for a loan doesn’t have to be painful. The fol...

Fit Right owners sell company

Fit Right owners sell company

Dave Sobolik and Robb Finegan, owners of Fit Right, a running store with locatio...

Women in construction: Building their success

Women in construction: Building their success

Some industries have been clearly dominated by one gender or the other; perhaps ...

Banking & Money Management

Best practices for business seeking loans

Best practices for business seeking loans

With the right approach, applying for a loan doesn’t have to be painful. The following best practices, garnered from local experts, can help business owners successfully obtain a new loan or restructure an existing one.

“Right now is a great time to restructure debt because interest rates are so low,” said Dave Hansen, Columbia Bank’s senior VP and regional manager for the Portland/Vancouver area...

Design & Construction

Women in construction: Building their success

Women in construction: Building their success

Some industries have been clearly dominated by one gender or the other; perhaps no industry more so than construction. However, in Southwest Washington, women are finding their place and respect amongst their male counterparts.

Leading to construction

As with most careers, there are a variety of paths that lead us to our chosen industry.

“I have always been fascinated with building things,” say...

News Briefs

Ridgefield named ‘Port of the Year’ by Washington Ports Association

The Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA) has named the Port of Ridgefield as the recipient of its annual Port of the Year Award. The annual award recognizes a WPPA member that has demonstrated exceptional success in the industry. There are currently 75 member ports operating within the state.

Spotlight

SmartRG: Riding the technology wave of the connected home

SmartRG: Riding the technology wave of the connected home

Recently more than doubling their office space, from 2,600 square feet to almost 6,000 is just one sign that SmartRG Inc. is a rising star in Vancouver’s high-tech community. SmartRG designs and produces hardware and software solutions to help Internet service providers and broadband operators monitor, manage and monetize the connected home.

Before the expansion, Jeff McInnis, CEO, said they were...

Common Business Questions

Staying competitive in the market can prove profitable

Janet A. Harte
Small Business Development Center

Q: Sales are growing but I am not making any money. How do I improve my profit?

A: First, take a look at your selling price and, second, analyze your expenses. A selling price that is too low or expenses that are disproportionately high mean less money for you.

Staying competitive in the market can prove profitable

Janet A. Harte
Small Business Development Center

Q: Sales are growing but I am not making any money. How do I improve my profit?

A: First, take a look at your selling price and, second, analyze your expenses. A selling price that is too low or expenses that are disproportionately high mean less money for you.

Q: What do I need to know about setting prices?

A: Two factors that affect price are competition and cost. If you are selling comparable products or services at a price lower than your competition, then you will attract market share. However, keeping market share depends on how your customers perceive value. Normally, low price means you can’t afford to offer other things like a convenient, attractive location and excellent service. A low price strategy means a "bare bones" cost strategy.

Q: What if the prices I use are similar to my competitors’ prices?

A: If prices are competitive, then your ability to improve profits means lowering costs to give you sufficient profit margin. Begin by analyzing the gross profit margin – selling price minus cost of sales. Gross profit must cover your overhead plus profit. To see if your costs are appropriate, compare them with industry standards. Good resources are the Risk Management Association’s "Annual Statement Studies 2006" and Dun and Bradstreet’s "Industry Norms and Key Business Ratios." They are available at the Fort Vancouver Regional Library. If you belong to a trade organization, look for statistics on appropriate cost of sales in your industry.

Q: Assuming the gross profit margin is OK, what about overhead?

A: First, make sure you are recording all of your overhead expenses. Overhead costs are those you have to pay whether you make a sale or not. Shop for the best deals on insurance, telephone plans, advertising and travel, as well as on industry-specific costs. Common large overhead expenses are leases for space and/or equipment. Negotiate the lowest cost per month by extending the terms or assuming the costs of improvements. Some expenses such as electricity, water, fuel, office supplies, and so on can be minimized by avoiding waste. Pay close attention to overhead costs and profit margin goals. Remember, sales must cover cost of sales and overhead, and provide profit to reinvest or distribute.

Q: Is there anything else I should do?

A: The best way to be competitive is to meet the needs of your customers. This means identifying opportunities to provide more or better products and services as customer needs evolve and change. Keep an eye on new products and trends, suppliers and competitors. However, to be profitable, you must adjust prices as necessary and always look for opportunities to reduce costs.

Visit your local library to research market trends or contact relevant trade associations. Visit competitors regularly to compare your business with theirs and assess your competitive advantage. Talk to your accountant or a business consultant about managing your finances. Your industry and market environment, your customers and your ability to manage your business all impact your goal of higher profits.

Janet A. Harte is a certified business advisor and center director of the Washington State University Small Business Development Center for Southwest Washington. The SBDC offers free, confidential business management advice to small and mid-sized businesses. It is a partnership program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For questions or to make an appointment, call 360-260-6372 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For more information, visit www.wsbdc.org.

Opinion

Focus Column

Five planning tips to help your business succeed in 2015

Five planning tips to help your business succeed in 2015

As we look forward to watching the ball drop in Times Square at midnight on Dec. 31 and the start of a new year, it’s a ...

The small print in loan documents

The small print in loan documents

Part of the small print in the stack of papers making up your loan documents is the rules you are promising to follow fo...

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