What Is an Overhead Ratio?

Overhead Ratio

If you’re a business owner or manager, chances are you know that overhead costs can be a major drain on your profits. But have you ever stopped to consider the impact of these expenses on your bottom line? The answer is simple—overhead ratio.

An overhead ratio is a calculation that tells you how much of your total revenue is going towards non-revenue generating expenses. In this blog post, we’ll explore what an overhead ratio is and why it’s important for businesses of all sizes.

Why It’s Important to Understand Overhead Ratios

A business’ overhead ratio can give managers and owners insight into the financial health of their company. By understanding where money is being spent, as well as how much money is being invested into non-revenue generating activities, owners can make more informed decisions about how to allocate resources in order to maximize profits. This knowledge can also help flag potential problem areas in operations, such as excessively high costs for materials or labor.

Calculating an Overhead Ratio

An overhead ratio is calculated by dividing total operating expenses by total revenue over a certain period of time (this could be a year, quarter, or month). For example, let’s say a business has total operating expenses of $100,000 and total revenue of $500,000 over the course of one year; its overhead ratio would be 0.2 (or 20%). This means that 20% of the company’s revenue was spent on non-revenue generating activities during this time period.

It’s important to note that an overhead ratio should not be used in isolation; instead it should be used in conjunction with other measurements such as gross margin and profit margin to get a better understanding of a business’ overall financial performance.

Additionally, because different industries have different cost structures and pricing models, it’s best to compare your own business’ overhead ratios with those within the same industry for more accurate results.

Optimizing Your Overhead Ratio

Once you have calculated your overhead ratio, you should use it as a benchmark against which all future decisions related to costs should be judged.

If you find that your overhead ratio is too high relative to industry standards, then it’s time to start looking at ways in which you can optimize your cost structure while still providing quality products or services.

Consider outsourcing non-essential tasks or reducing staff levels; these are just some ideas that could help lower your overhead costs without compromising your product or service offering.


Overhead ratios are essential tools for understanding a business’ financial performance and making informed decisions about resource allocation and cost control measures.

By calculating an overhead ratio and comparing it with other companies within the same industry, managers can gain valuable insights into their company’s operations—insights that can help them identify areas where costs can be trimmed without sacrificing quality or profitability.

So if you’re looking for ways to increase profit margins without cutting too deeply into your bottom line, start by taking an in-depth look at your own overhead ratios!