How to Calculate Net Dollar Retention

How to Calculate Net Dollar Retention

Understanding and optimizing key metrics is essential for long-term success in the highly competitive world of Software as a Service (SaaS) companies. Among these crucial metrics, Net Dollar Retention (NDR), often used interchangeably with Net Revenue Retention (NRR), is a critical measure of customer retention and the ability to keep existing customers engaged. In this article, we will delve into the concept of Net Dollar Retention, provide guidance on how to calculate Net Dollar Retention and offer insights on related metrics such as Gross Dollar Retention, and Gross Revenue Retention. 

Understanding Net Dollar Retention

NDR is a metric that recalculates Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) to include growth and customer churn. It shows how well a SaaS business keeps, engages, and upgrades its customers, demonstrating the stickiness of a company’s products and services and indicating the likelihood of long-term customer relationships and sustained revenue streams. A company can also use its monthly recurring revenue (MRR) to narrow its timeframe and get an up-to-the-minute snapshot of its health. 

A high NDR means a company’s existing customer base is staying and expanding its spend, which is a strong indicator of customer satisfaction and product-market fit. Conversely, a low NDR may suggest issues with customer retention, requiring the business to reevaluate its customer success strategies and offerings.

Calculating Net Dollar Retention

To calculate Net Dollar Retention (NDR), data on the existing customer base must be collected, including any changes to their subscriptions, such as expansions, contractions, and churn. 


Follow these steps to calculate NDR:


1. Identify the beginning annual recurring revenue (ARR) or monthly recurring revenue (MRR) for the period you want to measure. This initial figure is essential for assessing the revenue generated by your existing customers at the start of the evaluation period.


2. Calculate any expansion revenue from existing customers during this period. Expansion revenue results from upsells, cross-sells, or any additional services or features purchased by existing customers. This metric helps you understand how effectively your SaaS business is growing its revenue within the existing customer base.


3. Determine the contraction revenue, which is the loss of revenue from existing customers downgrading their services or reducing their subscription fees. Contraction revenue reflects changes in customer needs or dissatisfaction with your offerings, which can negatively impact your Net Dollar Retention rate.


4. Calculate the churned revenue, representing the revenue lost due to customer cancellations or non-renewals. High churned revenue can indicate issues with customer satisfaction, product fit, or your pricing model.


5. Add the expansion revenue to the beginning ARR or MRR. This step combines your starting revenue with any additional revenue generated by existing customers during the evaluation period.


6. Subtract the contraction revenue and churned revenue from the resulting sum. This calculation reveals the net change in revenue from your existing customer base, taking into account both positive and negative factors.


7. Divide the final amount by the beginning ARR or MRR and multiply by 100 to get the Net Dollar Retention percentage.

Net Dollar Retention Formula

net dollar retention formula

Net Dollar Retention Calculation Example

Suppose you have a beginning ARR of $125,000, $5,000 in Expansion Revenue, $2,500 in contraction revenue, and $5,000 in Churned Revenue.

In that case, your NDR would be:

net dollar retention calculation example

Improving Net Dollar Retention

Improving NDR is critical for a SaaS business’s long-term growth and profitability. Here are some strategies to increase your Net Dollar Retention rate:


  • Focus on customer success: Ensure your customer success team is actively engaged with clients, offering support and education to maximize product usage and satisfaction. Regular check-ins, personalized onboarding, and customized training can help customers derive more value from your product, increasing retention and expansion opportunities.


  • Identify and address churn risks: Analyze customer data to detect potential churn risks, such as low product usage or negative feedback, and address these issues proactively. Implementing early warning systems and segmenting customers based on risk profiles can help your team prioritize efforts and take preventative measures to reduce churn.


  • Upsell and cross-sell opportunities: Regularly evaluate customer needs and offer relevant product upgrades, additional features, or complementary services to increase recurring revenue. By tracking product usage patterns and customer feedback, you can identify potential upsell and cross-sell opportunities, enabling you to better tailor your offerings to customer needs.


  • Provide exceptional customer support: Invest in a skilled customer support team that can quickly and effectively resolve customer issues and maintain high customer satisfaction. Implementing tools like chatbots, knowledge bases, and self-service portals can help your support team deliver timely and personalized assistance, improving customer retention.


  • Monitor and optimize customer lifetime value (CLV): Regularly assess your CLV to identify opportunities to extend customer relationships and increase revenue from existing customers. You can optimize CLV and boost your Net Dollar Retention rate by focusing on customer segmentation, targeted marketing efforts, and tailored pricing strategies.


  • Encourage customer advocacy: Develop programs that reward loyal customers for referring new clients or sharing positive reviews. Customer advocacy can help strengthen your brand reputation and attract new customers while increasing loyalty and engagement among your existing customer base.


  • Collect and act on customer feedback: Implement systems to gather and use this information to improve your product, service, and overall customer experience. Addressing customer concerns and incorporating their suggestions can increase customer satisfaction, increasing Net Dollar Retention rates.


  • Monitor and analyze key SaaS metrics: Keep track of important ones, such as churn rate, customer acquisition cost (CAC), and average revenue per user (ARPU). Regularly analyzing these metrics can provide insights into your business’s performance and help you identify areas for improvement, contributing to better Net Dollar Retention.


  • Optimize pricing strategy: Review your pricing strategy to ensure it aligns with your target market, product value, and customer needs. Offering flexible pricing options, like tiered plans or volume discounts, can encourage customer loyalty and increase Net Dollar Retention.


By implementing these strategies, you can improve your Net Dollar Retention rate, ensuring your SaaS business’s long-term growth and success.


The Role of Customer Success in NDR

Customer success plays a crucial role in improving Net Dollar Retention. A customer success team’s primary goal is to ensure customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service. By actively engaging with customers, understanding their needs, and providing tailored support, customer success teams can foster loyalty and satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates and upsell opportunities.

Customer success teams should also collect customer feedback and insights to help inform product development, ensuring that your SaaS company continues to meet evolving customer needs. In addition, by proactively understanding customer pain points and addressing them, customer success teams can reduce churn risks and maintain a healthy Net Dollar Retention rate.

Importance of Customer Retention for SaaS Companies

Customer retention is crucial for the success of any SaaS company. Retaining existing customers has several advantages over acquiring new ones:


  • Lower customer acquisition cost (CAC): Acquiring new customers can be expensive, especially in the competitive SaaS market. Focusing on retaining existing customers is more cost-effective and can impact your bottom line more.


  • Higher customer lifetime value (CLTV): When you retain customers longer, their lifetime value increases. This means they will continue contributing to your recurring revenue, making your SaaS business more profitable.


  • Positive word-of-mouth: Satisfied customers are more likely to refer your product or service to others, helping you acquire new customers organically.


  • Improved product development: Retaining existing customers allows you to gather valuable feedback and insights that can help you improve your product or service, making it more appealing to both current and potential customers.


  • Expansion revenue opportunities: By maintaining strong relationships with your existing customer base, you open the door for upselling, cross-selling, and other opportunities for growth.


The Connection Between NDR and Customer Lifetime Value


Net Dollar Retention and customer lifetime value are closely connected. As your Net Dollar Retention rate increases, so does your customer lifetime value. This is because a higher NDR indicates that your existing customers spend more on your product or service over time, either through renewals, upgrades, or additional purchases.

By improving Net Dollar Retention, you are boosting your recurring revenue and increasing the overall value each customer brings to your business. This enables you to invest more resources in product development, customer success, and marketing, ultimately leading to a stronger, more sustainable SaaS business.



Understanding and optimizing Net Dollar Retention is essential for any SaaS company looking to achieve long-term success. By implementing strategies that focus on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and success, you can improve your Net Dollar Retention rate and, in turn, increase the lifetime value of your customers, ensuring your company’s growth and profitability.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a good Net Dollar Retention?

A good Net Dollar Retention rate is typically above 100%, indicating that your existing customers are renewing their subscriptions and upgrading or purchasing additional products or services. A rate below 100% means that you are losing revenue from your existing customers. A rate of 130% or higher is considered exceptional and strongly emphasizes customer success and satisfaction.


How is net retention calculated?

Net retention is calculated by dividing the revenue generated from your existing customers at the end of a given period by the revenue generated from those same customers at the beginning of that period, excluding any revenue from new customers. This calculation takes into account upsells, downgrades, churn, and renewals. The result is expressed as a percentage.


What does 100% net retention mean?

A 100% net retention rate means that the revenue generated from your existing customers remains the same over a given period, indicating that the revenue gained from upsells and renewals is equal to the revenue lost due to downgrades and churn. While this is not a negative rate, it does not demonstrate growth in your existing customer base, and it is important to strive for a higher net retention rate to ensure long-term success.

If you enjoyed this post on net dollar retention, here are some other key metrics in SaaS accounting you might find useful:

Customer Life Time Value
Monthly Recurring Revenue
SaaS Rose Metric