Vancouver Business Journal

Fri10242014

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WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

25 years ago, Washington State University opened its Vancouver branch on the Cla...

Maruichi Northwest to invest $30 million in port steel mill

Maruichi Northwest to invest $30 million in port steel mill

A new steel mill is coming to the Port of Vancouver USA’s Centennial Industrial ...

Tidland Corporate Center sold for $3.3 million

Tidland Corporate Center sold for $3.3 million

Tidland Corporate Center, a 64,000-square-foot industrial building and 6.03-acre...

Introducing the Accomplished & Under 40 Class of 2014

Introducing the Accomplished & Under 40 Class of 2014

The Vancouver Business Journal is pleased to announce the Accomplished and Under...

East county bridge proposal causes contention within freight industry

East county bridge proposal causes contention within freight industry

After $200 million taxpayer dollars were spent on the botched Columbia River Cro...

Angels bringing ideas to light

Angels bringing ideas to light

Most new businesses come to being with a great idea. How to get that great idea ...

Banking & Money Management

Angels bringing ideas to light

Angels bringing ideas to light

Most new businesses come to being with a great idea. How to get that great idea from concept to marketplace reality is often what separates them.

Entrepreneurs can come into business with substantial investment and savings of their own, enjoy a low overhead-quick return scenario or be completely reliant on financial help.

“When you are in a position where you get to decide if you wish to seek ou...

Education & Workforce Development

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

25 years ago, Washington State University opened its Vancouver branch on the Clark College campus. From the very beginning, the university has been closely tied to Clark County’s business community, and those partnerships have grown even stronger over the last quarter-century.

WSU-Vancouver Chancellor Emile “Mel” Netzhammer joined the campus in July 2012, and has glowing praise for the relationsh...

News Briefs

From the List: Private Schools (2014)

What are the largest private schools in Clark County? We ranked them by total number of students enrolled in the 2013-2014 school year.

Spotlight

Dynamic Events finds success in service & technology solutions

Dynamic Events finds success in service & technology solutions

When you attend a conference or a large corporate event, you might assume that the registration process will be smooth, dinner will be served on time, and the speakers’ presentations will work flawlessly. But Allison Magyar, president of Dynamic Events, doesn’t take any of these details for granted.

“We provide complete meeting and event management and software, plus registration services and gra...

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

Now is the time for apprenticeships

Now is the time for apprenticeships

There is much talk of the “skills gap” – the widening space between the technical skills that employers need and the ski...

Towne Square project is a win for the local workforce

Towne Square project is a win for the local workforce

Our economy continues in fits and starts to recover. Workers struggle to find employment providing a living wage. Famili...

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