One Overlooked Metric That Could Transform Your Business’s Value


One Overlooked Metric That Could Transform Your Business’ Value


You know gross margin impacts your profit, but have you considered the impact it has on the value of your company?

When assessing your business’ value, acquirers and investors will often scrutinise your gross profit margin. Gross profit margin is the difference between a company’s revenue and its cost of goods sold. It’s the profit a company makes from each unit of product or service sold after accounting for the cost of producing or delivering that unit, but it does not include other fixed expenses. For example, if a company sells a product for $100 and it costs $70 to produce and deliver it, the gross profit margin would be $30, or 30%.

A high gross profit margin is a crucial factor for investors and potential acquirers as it indicates that a company has established pricing power through marketing differentiation and possesses a competitive advantage. A strong competitive moat is an indicator of a company’s long-term sustainability, making it more appealing to potential investors.

When a company’s gross margin shrinks, it indicates to investors that the company may be competing on price. This is typically a sign that the business lacks a unique value proposition or marketing differentiation and that competing on price is the only way to attract customers. A shallow moat leaves the company vulnerable to competitive threats and makes it less appealing to potential acquirers.

24 vs. 6 Times Earnings

To illustrate the impact of gross margin on a company’s value, let’s compare two companies: Apple and Dell. Apple has a strong competitive advantage and a healthy gross margin, whereas Dell’s competitive moat is weaker and its gross margin is lower. In 2022 Apple’s average gross margin was 43%, compared to just 23% for Dell.

Apple has a highly differentiated brand and controls the buying experience through its Apple Stores. Additionally, Apple has invested in various high-margin subscription offerings, such as Apple TV and Apple Music. The market is willing to pay more than 24 times Apple’s 2023 earnings forecast, and the company has a market capitalisation of over $2 trillion.

By contrast, Dell offers commoditised technology products, which puts it in a weaker competitive position, requiring it to compete on price and resulting in a lower gross margin. The market only pays around six times Dell’s 2023 earnings estimates, giving it a total market capitalisation of around $30 billion.

Just as gross margin impacts the world’s largest publicly traded companies, it also affects smaller businesses. Ron Holt started Two Maids & a Mop, a residential cleaning company, in 2003. Holt ran a lean business and enjoyed healthy gross margins and a net profit margin of around 30%. Holt invested his earnings in differentiating his business from mom-and-dad cleaning services. He built a network of 12 locations across the southern U.S. and planned to expand.

Holt was curious about franchising as a business model and attended a Las Vegas conference where he had a chance encounter with Subway founder Fred DeLuca. Subway had more than 40,000 locations worldwide at the time, so Holt asked DeLuca for his expansion advice.

DeLuca cautioned Holt about taking every idea from his employees as his company grew. He told Holt, “Most of the time, employees bring you ideas to make their life easier, not to make you more money. Every time you make your employees’ lives easier, it comes at a cost.”

Armed with DeLuca’s advice, Holt grew Two Maids & a Mop from 12 to 91 locations and $40 million in revenue without seriously compromising his gross margin. In 2021 Holt sold his business to JM Family Enterprises for over ten times EBITDA.

Taking Action

Apart from raising prices or reducing input costs, an often overlooked approach to improving gross margin is to invest in carving out a point of differentiation for your business in the minds of your customers. When your customers see your business as unique, you are less likely to have to compete solely on price. Charge a premium for a differentiated product or service, and you will boost your gross profit margin and your business’ value.


Take our Value Builder Score Questionnaire to get your Value Builder Score, measuring how your business compares on growth potential, as well as the other key drivers of business value.

If you have any questions about this article or would like to speak to one of our advisors about how you can improve the value of your business, please do not hesitate to contact us or call our office on (08) 6212 7200.

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Chris Mandzufas

Chris Mandzufas

Chris has a diverse range of skills and experience as a result of providing accounting, taxation, advisory board and management consulting services to owners and directors of fast growing businesses.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith

Chris Smith has been a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand since 2006, a member of the Tax Institute of Australia since 2013, and a registered Tax Agent since 2018.

Tony Monisse

Tony Monisse

Tony’s key focus is the integration of strategy and financial management. To this end he has developed tools and process that facilitate this integration, including business modelling, target setting and rolling cash flow forecasts.

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