The Strategic Edge of Customer Profitability Analysis in Service Businesses
Agency Management

The Strategic Edge of Customer Profitability Analysis in Service Businesses

Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron

In the current service industry, knowing how to plan and cater to your best customers isn't just a bonus – it's a necessity.

Imagine yourself in charge of a business that provides services: a marketing or a consulting agency, for example. There’s a huge push to boost your profits like never before.

But how can you accomplish this?

Here's where customer profitability analysis (CPA) comes in handy. It can root out which customers are really making money for you and full-on engage in habits that will seriously upgrade your financial game.

Let’s explore some definitions first.

Understanding customer profitability analysis

Customer Profitability Analysis (CPA) isn't about number crunching. It's a strategic game plan for service companies to find out which of their customers are the real revenue drivers and why. It's a matter of weighing the cash each customer brings in with what you're spending to keep them happy.

By focusing on customers who mean more to your bottom line, you'll be able to make strategic decisions about where your time and resources are best invested.

Once you're ready to start with CPA, a key first move is to keep a couple of metrics on hand:

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This is the total profit you expect to make from a customer throughout your relationship. This big picture number tells you the complete story of what a customer is worth to your business financially.
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU): This one tells you how much money each of your customers or subscribers is bringing in every month. This makes it a lot easier to focus on who the most profitable customer groups are to focus on. It’s notable that the ARPU also helps a service company in evaluating the effectiveness of its pricing strategy and service value.

As with many metrics, though they may sound simple, they're the first step of many to understand how your customers behave and what they mean to the bottom line of your business, helping you do whatever it takes to boost profits.

Steps for effective customer profitability analysis

Expanding on the process of conducting a thorough customer profitability analysis, let's detail the steps a service business can take to leverage this strategic tool effectively.

Step 1: Gather data about your customers

The game plan begins with getting to know your customers like the back of your hand. You want to scoop up all the details – who's buying what and how often they're coming back for more.

You’ll need to understand how they interact with your team, too, like having positive experiences with your support crew, sharing info about your latest offer on social media, or just browsing around.

Step 2: Break down the costs

Once you've got the lowdown on your customers, it's time to figure out what you’re spending on them. We're talking about everything from the costs of getting your service to them to the less obvious stuff like the admin expenses that keep your business running. The goal here is to know exactly what's going out the door for each customer. The calculation of the direct expenses for each customer is a more straightforward process. For the general expenses that support the whole business, you should attribute them proportionally to each service or customer.

Step 3: Segment your customer base

Now, with all that info in hand, you'll want to sort your customers into groups. You could segment the customer base by a variety of factors, including industry, company size, or country. Or, you might wish to prioritize the demographics of the core decision-maker you’re targeting like seniority, department, or some other factor. This helps you see the most profitable segments and those who might need more of your attention (or a different strategy).

Step 4: Calculate customer profitability

With your customers all sorted, crunch those numbers to see who's really making you money and who's not. Subtract what you're spending on them from what they're bringing in, and voila, you've got your profitability for each group or individual. Here’s what that looks like in equation form:

Customer Profitability = Total Revenue − Total Costs

Step 5: But what does it all mean?

Take a good look at those numbers. You'll spot your top spenders, the ones who are really worth rolling out the red carpet for, and you might also find some folks who were one-and-done. This is your chance to figure out how to maintain business from those who love your services and improve your offering to further appeal to others.

Step 6: Put changes in place

Based on your analysis, make informed decisions to improve overall profitability. This could involve:

  • Adjusting service offerings: Tailoring services to the needs of the most profitable segments.
  • Optimizing cost structures: Reducing costs for low-profitability customers or services.
  • Enhancing customer experiences: For high-value segments to improve retention and increase their lifetime value.

How Elorus can help you track customer profitability 

Let’s talk about how Elorus can help you stay on top of the money you’re making (or losing) from each client. In a world where every penny counts, Elorus shines and makes life easier for anyone running a service-based business. So, here’s how Elorus can help you with customer profitability analysis.

  • Track working time and costs: Elorus lets you see how every hour is spent by your team, both billable and not, and what your actual labor cost is. This means you get the real deal on what you’re spending to do business for each customer and the service you’re providing.
  • Project cost tracking: Got multiple projects going at once? Elorus lets you monitor each project separately. So, you can see not just how much time your team is putting into each project but also the operational costs and other expenses you weren’t planning for.
  • Analyze business expenses: With Elorus, you can break down your business expenses by category and then see which clients or services are actually costing you more. This is crucial for understanding the true cost of customer service.

How to use CPA to enhance customer profitability 

CPA is a great way to build on top of what you already have and develop deeper customer relationships – and higher profits.

1. Prioritize high-value customer relationships

First of all, there's no better way to say “thank you” than by catering your offerings to your best customers' unique needs and desires. It's about creating an experience that makes them feel valued – and ensures their continued loyalty.

Then, of course, there are the exclusive perks. Offering perks sends a message that goes beyond “you're our customer” and transcends into “you're family.” Especially when your biggest customer gets a sneak peek at a new service or priority customer service.

2. Streamline how you deliver your services

Continuously evaluate and improve your service delivery processes to reduce waste and lower costs. By constantly looking for ways to do things more efficiently, you not only cut down on waste and save money but also potentially enhance the quality of what you offer.

You can also invest in technology that automates repetitive tasks, streamlines operations and provides better service delivery at a lower cost. This can include customer relationship management (CRM) systems, project management tools, and automated billing systems.

3. Rethink your pricing

Pricing isn't just about covering your costs; it's about reflecting the value your services provide. When you price based on value, you're more likely to capture what you're truly worth, especially from those who get the most out of what you do.

4. Expand profitable service lines

Keeping an eye on market trends and customer needs can reveal opportunities for new or improved services that your top customers are eager for. Investing in innovation not only meets these emerging demands but also keeps you ahead in the game.

Whether it's through embracing new technologies or expanding your service lineup, staying fresh and relevant is key to attracting and retaining profitable customers.

Use customer profitability analysis and experience the benefits

For service-based businesses aiming to thrive in a competitive environment, mastering customer profitability analysis is essential.

Hopefully, by following the outlined steps above – and by using Elorus – you can gain a strategic edge and learn to cultivate and retain the most profitable customer segments.

Grow your Business with Elorus

Invoicing, Time tracking & Expense management.

Try Elorus for FREE

Table of Contents

Try Elorus for FREE
All-inclusive business software for project-driven teams