What is a variable cost?

The concept of relevant range primarily relates to fixed costs, though variable costs may experience a relevant range of their own. This may hold true for tangible products going into a good as well as labor costs (i.e. it may cost overtime rates if a certain amount of hours are worked). Consider wholesale bulk pricing that prices goods by tiers based on quantity ordered. In microeconomics, Variable Cost is is a cost that depends on the quantity of output produced. In other word, the cost changes depends on the input that is related to sales commissions.

  • Because variable costs scale alongside, every unit of output will theoretically have the same amount of variable costs.
  • Recognizing the significance of these costs on their overall financial health, the company maintains a keen focus on optimizing operations and maximizing profitability.
  • Commission percentages tend to vary by the type of insurance agents are selling.

It’s usually calculated as a percentage of the total value of goods or services sold, and can be an effective way to incentivize your sales team. In today’s competitive business environment, getting ahead of variable costs is more important than ever. By taking a proactive approach to cost management, businesses can gain a competitive advantage and thrive in their respective markets. This section gives the okay for the salesperson to sell products or services on behalf of their employer.

Is sales commission a fixed cost or variable cost?

For example, Amy is quite concerned about her bakery as the revenue generated from sales are below the total costs of running the bakery. Amy asks for your opinion on whether she should close down the business or not. Additionally, she’s already committed to paying for one year of rent, electricity, and employee salaries.

Sustainable supply chain practices can result in more cost-effective and resilient sourcing methods. This fosters cost efficiency, allowing businesses to produce more at reduced expenses, ultimately enhancing competitiveness. With a clear understanding of how costs fluctuate, organizations can plan for contingencies and be better prepared for economic uncertainties. To find out more on costs, budgeting, accounting and other core financial knowledge, look at our Finance for the Non-Financial Manager e-learning course.

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The major lesson here is that in spite of their name, “fixed” expenses are not necessarily set in stone. If you lose your job or aggressively want to start saving, you could devote a few hours to culling your fixed expenses. It’s much easier to budget for fixed expenses than it is to budget for a variable expense or discretionary expense. There’s no inventory meaning exact science to pinning that figure down, but referencing average commission rates for your industry can be a solid starting point. You’ll need to present your plan in a way that’s clear to a range of people with different loyalties and opinions. This can help other stakeholders see where you’re coming from and offer more constructive insights.

Which of the following is a semi-variable cost?

The proportions of costs incurred can vary dramatically by business, depending upon the sales model used. For example, a customized product will require considerable in-person staff time to obtain sales leads and develop quotes, and so will require a large compensation and travel cost. Alternatively, if most sales are handed off to outside salespeople, commissions may be the largest component of selling expense.


Your team may entirely consist of team players or you may have a few aggressive and endlessly driven sales stars who will excel as independent workers. Any of these qualities will help decide the variables that will best enhance a commission plan. This decision should be made with volume capacity and volatility in mind as trade-offs occur at different levels of production. High volumes with low volatility favor machine investment, while low volumes and high volatility favor the use of variable labor costs. Sales commission is a payment made to salespeople for the successful completion of a sale.

Implementing lean manufacturing practices

If demand decreases, a business can scale down production to reduce variable costs and prevent unnecessary expenses. Conversely, during periods of high demand, a company can expand its operations to capitalize on opportunities for increased revenue. Setting the right prices for products or services is crucial for any enterprise.

Because variable costs scale alongside, every unit of output will theoretically have the same amount of variable costs. Therefore, total variable costs can be calculated by multiplying the total quantity of output by the unit variable cost. As a business owner, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the different types of costs that impact your bottom line.