Turnover analysis of small BVs, sole proprietorships and general partnerships

October 24, 2023 by
Intercross Recherchediensten, Bob Engelen

How to determine turnover of small businesses

Intercross investigative services specializes in obtaining financial company data. We work with renowned parties such as Experian and Bureau van Dijk for the analysis of financial data. However, these reputable sources also do not have adequate data regarding smaller companies. Smaller private companies (BVs) often provide no more than their balance sheet, and sole proprietorships and general partnerships (VOFs) are not required to disclose their financial results at all.

However, there are certainly possibilities to determine the turnover of these smaller companies as accurately as possible. We emphatically do not engage in corporate espionage and other unethical practices, but fortunately there are numerous public sources that enable us to decipher the turnover of your competitors. . In this white paper we share our approach and expertise in this area with you.

Why turnover is important?

Why should you pay attention to your competitors when your focus should be on your customers? Naturally, your customers are of the utmost importance, but if you aim to increase turnover, it can be worthwhile to also take a closer look at the competition. You probably already have insight into the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors, but what impact this has on their turnover is often the question. Only when you have the financial data in your hands will it become clear which unique selling points of your competitors actually contribute to their turnover.

1. Industry figures

We start by analyzing industry figures. Not only can we get this information from Statistics Netherlands, but Rabobank is also an excellent source that has been publishing industry data for years. 

With these industry figures we can form a detailed picture of the average turnover within your sector, while at the same time making the correlation with other financial variables, such as: stock levels, debts, personnel costs, rent and depreciation.

We record numerous financial ratios such as inventory turnover and credit terms of creditors and debtors. Because we need all those ratios at a later stage to determine your competitor's turnover. 

We also compare your financial figures with industry data. By comparing this data with your own figures, we can identify deviations and properly assess the industry figures.

2. Survey customers and suppliers

If it is desirable and of course possible, we will then contact your customers and suppliers. By interviewing them, we get a clear picture of the spending patterns within your industry and who your direct competitors are. If your suppliers do not want to cooperate, there are alternative ways to obtain this information. Many companies list their partners and customers on their websites, and with advanced searches we can find out who their customers are and thereby get to know your direct competitors.

3. Visitor analysis

We can perform a visitor analysis for companies with a physical location, such as shops, hotels or catering establishments. This looks at the crowds at different times and days, and takes into account external factors such as the weather.

4. Inventory of assets and supplies

In some cases, a physical observation of your competitor's premises will provide a great deal of information regarding your competitor's size, number of employees, stock of goods and assets. Sometimes on-site observation is not even necessary and we can work with satellite images and the street view function of Google, Baidu, Yandex or Apple.

5. Investigate business floor space

We can obtain the business floor space of an address through various sources. This provides insight into the rental amount, which, in combination with the industry data, provides insight into turnover.

6. Research workforce and vacancies

We examine the workforce by viewing social media profiles and making company visits. By mapping the number of employees, we gain insight into the scale of your competitors. This is important because the workforce is often related to the size of the business activities and therefore the turnover.

We can also look at the outstanding vacancies. We can find out not only current vacancies, but also past vacancies. The number of outstanding vacancies compared to the current number of employees can say something about the growth of the competitor.

We also conduct research into the use of offices and business premises by counting parking spaces. We do this through satellite images and on-site observations. This gives us valuable information about occupancy rates and the number of employees, which in turn can be related to a company's financial performance. This method is an additional tool to gain a more complete picture of the competitor's business activities and financial health.

7. Website Analytics

We investigate your competitors' websites. 

  • First we obtain the number of monthly website visitors of your competitors. This does not directly tell us how much they sell, but it does show how you and your competitors compare.
  • We download your competitors' website and examine the website for hidden documents. Perhaps your competitor is carelessly sharing financial data  
  • If your competitor has an e-commerce website, we can do an inventory analysis. This provides insight into your competitors' stock and is an important indicator of turnover.

8. Social media attention

We check how many followers your competitors have on social media and how much interaction there is on those channels. This does not directly tell us how much they sell, but it does show the relationship between your company and your competitors.

9. Online reviews

We also look at customer reviews on various websites. Companies all do this in their own way, some more actively asking for reviews than others. And yes, sometimes the scores are tampered with. But overall, these reviews give us an idea of ​​how satisfied customers are and how the company is doing in terms of sales compared to others.

10. Advertising expenses

In addition, we take a look at advertising expenditure. Thanks to the transparency policies of major players such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and various other social platforms, we are able to gain insight into what your competitors spend on online advertising. Given the significant correlation between advertising costs and revenue, this information gives us valuable insights into your competitors' revenue.

11. Covid-19 subsidies

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 and the introduction of subsidies such as the TVL (Fixed Cost Allowance) and NOW (Emergency Bridging Employment Measure), we as Intercross research services have been able to develop new methods to make turnover estimates based on the subsidies that your competitors have. received. It is not only the UWV that has published this support, but the European Commission has also published the TVL received from almost all Dutch SME companies.

Particularly during the first NOW period, we noticed that many companies have given up the maximum drop in turnover. This arose from uncertainty about the future; It is better to apply for too much and pay back later, was the thinking. However, this strategy does offer us insight into their total personnel costs and therefore indirectly into their turnover.

For certain sectors, such as catering, retail, hairdressers and taxi companies, we can say with certainty that there were periods when they generated no turnover at all. This allows us to determine with certainty that they have received the maximum TVL subsidy for those periods. The allocation of the TVL was based on a complex calculation, but by reversing this calculation we can make an accurate estimate of turnover for that period. This gives us insight into the relationships between competitors and allows us to translate quarterly turnover into annual turnover using industry figures.

12. Turnover of comparable companies outside the region and competitive field

We know from experience that the availability of financial data can sometimes differ per sector. But if there is insufficient data, we will not let that stop us. In that case, we look for companies that are similar to yours and your competitors. This may mean that we have to broaden our horizons and also look in other regions. There are plenty of companies that simply have to publish their financial figures. If we then examine that information, we can identify the characteristics that influence turnover.

13. Credit Ratings

At Intercross Detective Services we already have access to a lot of information thanks to our collaboration with Bureau van Dijk. But we believe in completing the picture by also using other sources. Dun & Bradstreet is a good example of this, because they make a lot of useful information available for free.

And don't forget the credit rating agencies! They can sometimes help to get an idea of ​​the turnover. How it often works: if a company has more turnover, credit rating agencies are inclined to issue a higher credit guarantee. Credit rating agencies also receive a lot of information from their customers about the payment behavior of their debtors. By checking your creditworthiness we have an even better picture of what is going on financially with your competitors. 

14. Purchase/purchase obligations

Finally, we can also approach suppliers to collect information about order minimums and annual purchases. This data provides us with additional insight into the financial strength and purchasing of your competitors. It helps us to better understand their market position and strategies, which is crucial for a thorough competitive analysis.


In this white paper, despite the limited availability of financial data, we have shown various methods through which we can form a picture of the turnover of small companies. By using public sources, physical observations, and data analysis, we can gain insight into the financial position of these companies.