HARDI released its 2012 HARDI Profit Report and according to the association, the report shows how a typical HVAC distributor can likely reach the same level as a high-profit firm by paying close attention to four critical profit variables. What are they?

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) released its 2012 HARDI Profit Report. According to the association, it shows how a typical HVAC distributor can likely reach the same level as a high-profit firm by paying close attention to four critical profit variables (CPVs) - sales change, gross margin, payroll expense, and non-payroll expenses.

HARDI distributor members were invited to participate in the annual survey that provides an analysis of the previous fiscal year’s financial and operation characteristics. To maintain confidentiality, responses are collected by an independent third party, The Profit Planning Group.

According to this year’s report summary authored by Dr. Al Bates, the key to improved performance is to develop a specific plan for each of the CPVs and combine them in a positive way.

“The goal is not perfection. Perfection is always the enemy of the good,” Bates cautioned. “The goal is to do a little better across the board.”

The report also suggested that at least some firms are well on their way to outstanding long-term profit performance. The key to understanding the economics of profitability is to distinguish between the performance of the typical firm and the high-profit firm, said HARDI. The difference is significant and appears to be widening.

“Every business has its own unique mix of strengths and weaknesses. The HARDI profit survey helps us spot the weaknesses we need to remedy and the strengths we need to exploit,” noted Ken Abbott, vice president, Geary Pacific Supply, and vice chair of HARDI’s Management Methods Committee, which oversees this annual project.

“With sales change there is a misconception that rapid sales growth is a key to success. The ideal rate of sales growth equals the rate of inflation plus 2- to 5-percentage points. The report states that payroll expense is the most important CPV of all. Ideally, payroll costs should increase by about 2 percent less than sales,” Abbot added. “The majority of non-payroll expenses usually only require minor adjustment if sales are rising faster than inflation. Rapid sales growth can tax the operating system and cause more problems while solving others. In a down market, firms get antsy and cut prices in order to combat dwindling sales. An adequate gross margin can determine a firm’s profitability. A firm must always monitor its gross margin performance.”

Dan Miller, COO, Dakota Supply Group, and Management Methods Committee chair said that, “The typical HVACR Distributor is showing signs of healthier sales volume and making investments to capture continued growth opportunities as the market improved in 2011. The caution however is that gross profit margins continued to decline. This decline coupled with a rush to add more sales people and inventory resulted in typical HVACR distributors seeing a decline in their bottom line profit rates from 2010. With a renewed focus on improvements on each of the critical profit variables (CPVs); our typical HVACR distributor can look forward to higher returns as the market continues to grow in 2012.”

The complete 2012 Annual Profit Report is available at www.hardinet.org/Profit-Report.