Financial Ratios for Design Firms

Financial Ratios for Design Firms- Complete Controller

A design firm or an organization with engineers and architects does not only mean having two jobs- the architect, whose job is to design the buildings, and a contractor who builds the building the way the architect designed it. These firms also include the architectural (or structural) engineer, who helps the architect with the designing process, helps them analyze blueprint buildings, creates templates or patterns to detect flaws, and then suggests ways to improve them, ensures that the designs are safe for construction, they give ideas to increase efficiency, and how to decrease costs.

These firms require very skilled engineers as these tasks are overly complicated and require deep analysis. They also help with exploration and performing surveys before or during projects by visiting the buildings or construction sites to inspect systems, foundations, and facilities. They are often assigned as the on-site managers. These firms also hire part-time workers and function as an agency to provide others with professional designers and constructors. 

Design firms’ financial and accounting systems of engineers and architects differ significantly from other businesses. The employees working for these firms have quite distinct roles. Financial ratios indicate any business’s financial performance and different ratios identify different results and performances. The key economic indicators and ratios for engineers and architects are:

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 Net Revenue Per Employee

This ratio is calculated by dividing a company’s total income by its current number of employees. This ratio determines how much money each employee generates for the business they work for. An ideal net revenue per employee ratio is the highest result possible because a high rate shows that the workers are productive. 

Net Multiplier

This ratio identifies the percentage or multiple of the revenue generated by the total direct labor. This rate should be higher than the break-even as it will make the designing firm profitable. A low net multiplier indicates that your business is not performing well and is facing a loss if it is lower than the break-even point. 

 Break-Even Rate

This break-even rate is quite different from other business organizations. The break-even rate for architectural and engineering firms is calculated for each worker or employee’s break-even cost. It equals the overhead rate plus each person’s hourly salary, represented by the unit of 1.0. If a company wants to calculate an hourly billing rate for each employee, it could divide the break-even cost by the total profit margin.

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Profit-to-Earnings Ratio

This ratio is calculated by dividing profit before taxes by net operating revenue. It determines the whole company’s efficiency and effectiveness in generating profits.

Cash Flow

A cash flow statement includes all the cash (or cash equivalent) activities happening in the business, including the company’s money and the cash coming into the industry. It helps you identify how much cash in hand you must pay your trade payables, such as employee salaries, taxes, insurance premiums, expenses, other fees, and other bills. Managing a balanced cash flow is an arduous task, even if the business is profitable. 

Overhead Rate

Overhead costs are the costs used indirectly in a business or the costs that were not directly created in producing goods. These are the other costs generated to run the business. An overhead rate is calculated by expressing the percentage of indirect costs to total direct labor. This rate is estimated to be added to the direct production costs to assess each product’s profitability.

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Utilization Rate

This ratio calculates the amount of revolving credit the business uses and the total amount of revolving credit the company has available. It is also the percentage of hours spent on a project billed to the total number of hours utilized. To simplify the billing process, this does not identify productivity but the ratio of employed hours.


These are essential ratios and financial indicators for designing companies to measure their performance and obtain other financial results for their firm.

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