We’re fluent in startup finance. Now you can be too.

Learn more about common financial (and startup) terms here. To learn more about Pilot, fill out the form below.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Operating Margin

What is Operating Margin?

Operating Margin is a financial metric that helps businesses understand their profitability by measuring the percentage of revenue left after covering the cost of goods sold (COGS) and operating expenses. In this article, we'll show how to calculate the Operating Margin, discuss its importance, and suggest strategies for improvement.

How to calculate Operating Margin

Here's the Operating Margin formula:

Operating Margin = (Operating Income / Total Revenue) x 100

Operating Margin calculation example

Let's consider a real-world example of a retail clothing store. We'll use the following data to calculate the Operating Margin:

  • Total Revenue: $1,000,000
  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): $600,000
  • Operating Expenses: $250,000

Calculate the Operating Income by subtracting the COGS and Operating Expenses from the Total Revenue:

Operating Income = Total Revenue - (COGS + Operating Expenses)

Operating Income = $1,000,000 - ($600,000 + $250,000)

Operating Income = $1,000,000 - $850,000

Operating Income = $150,000

Calculate the Operating Margin using the Operating Income and Total Revenue:

Operating Margin = (Operating Income / Total Revenue) x 100

Operating Margin = ($150,000 / $1,000,000) x 100

Operating Margin = 0.15 x 100

Operating Margin = 15%

In this example, the retail clothing store has an Operating Margin of 15%, which means that it retains 15% of its revenue after covering the cost of goods sold and operating expenses.

Why is Operating Margin important to understand?

Understanding Operating Margin is essential for several reasons, which can be summarized in three core points:

  1. Assessing operational efficiency: Operating Margin provides insight into how well a company manages its costs and generates profit from its core operations. A higher margin indicates better cost management and revenue generation, while a lower margin may signal inefficiencies or challenges in the business model.
  2. Comparing industry performance: By comparing Operating Margins across companies within the same industry, investors and business owners can identify which firms are more efficient and profitable. This information can be used to make informed investment decisions or to benchmark a company's performance against its competitors.
  3. Identifying areas for improvement: Analyzing Operating Margin can help businesses pinpoint areas to reduce costs or increase revenue. By focusing on these areas, companies can work towards improving their overall financial performance and increasing their competitiveness in the market.

Strategies for improving Operating Margin

Here are some strategies that can help improve your Operating Margin:

  1. Optimize cost management: Regularly review and adjust your cost structure to identify areas where you can reduce expenses without compromising the quality of your products or services. This may involve renegotiating supplier contracts, streamlining processes, or implementing cost-saving technologies. Efficient cost management can lead to a higher Operating Margin by reducing the overall expenses associated with running your business.
  2. Enhance revenue generation: Focus on increasing your revenue through upselling, cross-selling, and expanding your product or service offerings. This can be achieved through targeted marketing campaigns, personalized recommendations, and offering incentives for customers to spend more. By increasing the value of each transaction, you can boost your Operating Margin.
  3. Improve operational efficiency: Invest in process improvements, technology, and employee training to enhance the overall efficiency of your business operations. This can lead to reduced costs, increased productivity, and better utilization of resources, all of which contribute to a higher Operating Margin. Continuously monitoring and refining your operations can help you maintain a competitive edge in the market and improve your financial performance.

Need help with other finance or startup questions?

Pilot provides bookkeeping, CFO, and tax services for literally thousands of startups and growing businesses. We've successfully processed over 10 million transactions for our customers and have unparalleled expertise when it comes to helping businesses succeed.

We're the largest startup-focused accounting firm in the United States, and we'd love to help you. To talk to an expert on our team and find out what Pilot can do for you, please click "Talk to an Expert" below, or email us at info@pilot.com.

See what Pilot can do for you

Get the peace of mind that comes from partnering with our experienced finance team.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.