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Incredible Subscription Ideas for Service-Based Business

With the pronounced shift from transaction economy to subscription economy, the big winners will be ones who are first to adopt the new model for their industry. Pick an idea for your own, map out an in-depth plan and capitalize on such fascinating subscription-centric trends!
By Kaley Nguyen | EnvZone Staff
on March 10, 2020 | 10 min read
Image credit: Today Show

More than just a “passing fad”, Subscription Business Model is claimed to be the go-to model for future-focused businesses in various industries, especially the service-dominated ones. Since customer purchasing habits are trending toward more simple and hassle-free shopping experiences, more and more companies are jumping into the subscription space and witnessing incredible growth.

Since this model does bring value for both the business and the customer, it’s a bandwagon you should jump on as well. Should you still be vague about where to start, let’s delve into a couple of awesome ideas for money-making subscription services as well as top successful businesses in such fields to “hit the ground running”!

Subscription: A Wise Choice for Service-Based Business

Before going into great detail, it's more than essential to first cast a glimpse over its major benefits– and figure out your own answer to the primary question: Why you should adopt a subscription business model?

Real Values Presented for Both the Businesses and Customers

The subscription business model owes its success to the optimal balance of value it does offer to both the company and its customers.

From the customers’ perspective, the value lies in the convenience. Firstly and obviously, there’s the autopilot simplicity of subscriptions that removes the thinking out of a buying decision. In practice, subscribers never have to remember to rearrange or reorder every month, letting them rest assured that they will have whatever they need before they actually need it. Everything arrives to your door like magic, removing the hassle of making a trip to the store or website to replace an order. Actually, they are given more choice and freedom to enjoy goods and services on their own terms.

Secondly, since subscription-based businesses often offer the products or services at a flat rate, this enables the customers to stay within their budget by predicting and controlling their spending. Lastly, subscriptions usually bring added value to the customer through bundling (or getting it all for the price of one).

Incredible Subscription Ideas For Service-Based Business - Fig 1
Image credit: We Heart

From the businesses’ perspective, the key attraction of the subscription-centric model is the ability to predict revenue through recurring sales. In fact, according to John Warrillow, creator of The Value Builder System, recurring revenue is perhaps amongst the most compelling factors in company valuation.

 “The more guaranteed revenue you can offer a potential acquirer, the more valuable your business is going to be," Warrillow shares. "Because a high percentage of the revenue of a subscription-based business is recurring, its value will be up to eight times that of a comparable business with very little recurring revenue.”

Furthermore, such consistency in revenue does allow subscription-based businesses to easily calculate the lifetime value of a customer, manage inventory, offer simple pricing and many other business benefits. When it comes to customer management, the subscriber model not only offers clarity around individual customers' purchase behaviors and demographic data but it also allows the business to constantly strengthen, change, update and innovate around its offering, which is essential.

"It offers a rare opportunity to track your customers because otherwise, you wouldn't even know who they are," Prof. Baruch Lev - the Philip Bardes Professor of accounting and finance at Stern School of Business, New York University - says. “Let’s say you run a store and customers come in, buy something, then leave. You don’t know if they ever return, or how often they return, or how satisfied they are with your services. You know very little about them.”

Incredible Subscription Ideas For Service-Based Business - Fig 2
Image credit: MoonClerk

Positive Impacts of A Service-Based Business

Greater Flexibility

As already mentioned, following the subscription model allows you as a business owner to plan resources and predict your revenue stream. Supposing you're working on a certain project up to your client's request and suddenly, they wish to change its focus? For a subscription-based business, there will be no problem -nothing is going to be “out of scope” because there isn’t a scope!

To be more specific, service subscriptions grant you greater flexibility in your tactics without having inconsistent service due to recalculating costs. It gives your teams the ability to provide different types of services, not just static deliverables.

This also turns out to be a big plus for your client, simply because they always know that resources – or whatever they may concern - will be available to them as their needs change. It gives the option to change their objectives on the spot as well as adjust the “game plan” month over month.

Better Ability to Scale

Also, should your customers or clients need to change dramatically, a subscription will probably give them the ability to scale work up or down, without worrying about contracts. To take an example, if your client is in the middle of a website redesign, and out of the blue, they need to invest funds into a special product initiative they are rolling out, then they get the ability to decrease their subscription for a few months. Work will still continue but of course, at a slower pace than previously expected!

On the other hand, if this client just closed a round of funding and desires to accelerate the launch of their SaaS site to satisfy investors, they can as well increase their subscription packages to boost the pace. Or for another instance, the client is opening another location and is in need of more design work, the graphic artist could expand their service subscription to meet the needs for that month. Subscriptions offer clients a sense of security of knowing that everything is month-to-month, and nothing is set in stone, especially the job scope.

From a business’s standpoint, subscriptions also allow you to scale if you continue to add value to the client and leave positive impacts on their bottom line.

Stronger Relationships

The subscription business model is not about delivering a service and then just moving on to the next customer – actually, it allows your company as a service provider to establish and cement a relationship with your customers, catering to their business or designing tailored needs as they change. No matter how simple this may seem to be, it helps to build out a substantial level of trust since the customers well acknowledge that you have their best interests in mind and understand their business.

From another angle, subscription model keeps you to be accountable in customer relationships. To make it clearer, in a project carries out under the traditional approach, the goal is to finish all the tasks, whereas with a subscription, the goal is to accomplish the given objectives - and continue to provide value over time.

So as to not lose subscribers, you have to always be pushing for innovation and exploring new ways to make a greater impact - to be proactive instead of reactive. For example, lawyers would look to drafting stronger contracts and proactively looking out for trademark infringements, also finding and employing new tools to do so.

Subscription-Based Businesses for Professional Services: Money-Making Ideas (With Examples)

Long gone are the days when the "subscription" concept was only applied to products such as magazines and gym memberships! Over the recent years, the subscription model has been on the meteoric rise across several industries, covering everything from makeup to meals - and a wider range of subscription services you would never have even imagined. It does seem like there is a subscription service for just about anything.

Amongst them, there are some particular areas where the subscription business model has excelled. Let’s see and pick your own one!

#1. Beauty & Skincare

Should you wish to offer a subscription service in the skincare and beauty sectors, you’ll be in good company. Why? In fact, one of the very first subscription services on the scene, Birchbox, made huge efforts to popularize the idea of selling small versions of makeup, skincare, and hair care products on a monthly basis.

Incredible Subscription Ideas For Service-Based Business - Fig 3
Courtesy: Birch Box

Furthermore, the beauty industry remains a super-potential market - a gold mine, particularly for self-made women. Statistically, for 2019, the industry was valued at over $93.5 billion in the US market alone, which is on an upward trajectory. Nevertheless, if you really set your heart on starting a health and beauty subscription service, you’ll have to think outside the box!

After all, whereas the subscription business model works very well for beauty and skincare products, you will not prefer to just repeat exactly what has already been done. Instead, it’s a “should” to spend some time doing research into untapped markets.

How goes it if you provide a beauty box subscription service catering to the makeup needs of women of color - those who get an especially hard time finding makeup matches? Or, how about focusing on green or all-natural products, a growing niche for subscription services? The possibilities are endless, but be 200% sure that you profoundly carry out your market research first!

Some Great Examples to Look Forward In 2020

#2. Pet Supply

Running a subscription service for pet owners, that includes toys, food, treats, or even less traditional pet-related products (such as lint roller) can turn out to be a perfect option, especially if you are an animal lover.

According to the American Pet Products Association, up to 2018, more than 85 million households own a pet and pet ownership has increased to 68% over the past few decades. Not only do more Americans than ever own pets, but they also spoil them. In fact, Americans spent staggeringly $72 billion on their pets in 2018 - when it comes to their pets, they can't stop spending.

Understandably, the pet subscription service industry is very popular, with favorites pet supply boxes like BarkBox, Cat Lady Box, and RescueBox appealing to pet owners who like to pamper their pets with new toys and treats on a monthly basis.

Incredible Subscription Ideas For Service-Based Business - Fig 4
Courtesy: Bark Box

If you wish to take advantage of the subscription business model and are fascinating by the idea of offering products for pets, let’s think creatively about what you - or also your friends and family members – regularly use for their pets. Clearly pick your market niche and dedicatedly design your unique offerings!

More Great Examples to Look Forward In 2020

  • PawPack – All-natural treats and chews for dogs
  • Pocket Pets – Toys, treats, and some essential supplies for guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, and other small pets
  • Surprise My Pet - A mystery box filled with toys and other surprise goodies
  • The Dapper Dog Box - All-natural treats and toys made by eco-friendly companies
  • Meowbox - Toys and treats for cats delivered monthly
  • Doggy Lawn - A monthly delivery of a small square of grass for your dog to use as a “potty patch”

#3. Software as A Service (Saas) And App-Based Offerings

Actually, the SaaS industry was amongst the first to adopt the subscription business model, as it works especially well for intangible services. It will be a serious mistake to miss some outstanding names in the success list of this field, particularly Slack - a global collaboration hub for businesses and Salesforce - a CRM platform leveraging artificial intelligence.

Incredible Subscription Ideas For Service-Based Business - Fig 5
Courtesy: Slack

Developing a software product is definitely a huge challenge – yet, with a well-defined plan and wise business model, everything will be much easier!

More Great Examples to Look Forward In 2020

  • HubSpot – A leading developer and marketer of software products for inbound marketing and sales
  • ConvertKit - An email service provider that is specifically marketed towards bloggers, podcasters, and other businesses who are building audiences
  • LastPass - A “freemium” password manager that stores encrypted passwords online
  • Spotify - The streaming music service that has taken over as one of the most popular ways to listen to music
  • Canva - Free design program, which is popular when it comes to creating logos, social media graphics, and other digital creative products
  • Trello - An excellent free system of project management

#4. Food & Drink

When speaking of money-making ideas for subscription services, food and drink seem so natural - after all, everyone is constantly in need of new snacks, convenient meal kit, healthy dinners, and fun treats.

Whilst the possibilities here are endless, it’s worth mentioning that food and drink subscription service sector is a fairly saturated market. Nonetheless, there is always the opportunity to find out a market gap and improve on an existing service.

Incredible Subscription Ideas For Service-Based Business - Fig 6
Courtesy: Sun Basket

To get off on the right foot, you can begin by assessing your own pain points. Do you have trouble knowing what snacks to bring to work with you every day? Or, let's get started by thinking of what niche food or drink product you love and turn it into a subscription service.

Some Great Examples to Look Forward In 2020

  • Sun Basket - An organic meal kit subscription service in which customers receive weekly home deliveries.
  • RawSpiceBar - Small batch, freshly ground spices
  • Atlas Coffee Club - A monthly curated collection of different freshly-roasted coffees from around the world.
  • Freshly - Gourmet meals delivered weekly that are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and low carb
  • Taste Club - Monthly handpicked artisan goodies such as coffee, condiments, and oils
  • Graze - A personalized selection of 8 healthy snacks every two weeks.
  • UrthBox - All-natural, GMO-free, organic snacks delivered monthly

#5. Elderly Care

Based on AARP, approximately 8000 ‘baby boomers’ in the United States turning 65 every day. Hence, caring for aging boomers will be a big business, and there' will be golden opportunity to establish a subscription business whereby kids and grandkids send older relatives a surprise box of customized goodies to let them know people are thinking of them. Early adopters include Grandbox and Gramsly.

Incredible Subscription Ideas For Service-Based Business - Fig 7
Courtesy: Grand Box

Apart from these two major players, there are few active subscription-based companies on this market, meaning this could be a super-potential area for you to form a business with a subscription business model.

The best inspiration perhaps will be drawn from your own family. Let's think about what would you love to be able to send to your grandparents, aunts, and uncles, or family friends on a regular basis, or what service do they need often that could be turned into a subscription service?

Some Great Examples to Look Forward In 2020

  • Grandbox - Monthly boxes for loved ones over 65, filled with meaningfully themed treats and fun surprises
  • Gramsly - Handpicked, personalized boxes specifically for grandmothers

#6. Home & Garden

If you’re interested in operating a subscription service business revolved around home and gardening needs, it’s a great idea to first take some time to assess your own personal habits and needs when it comes to your home. Home and garden products lend themselves well to the subscription business model, as people are constantly in need of new products - for instance, cleaning supplies will, more than often, run out!

An exciting example of a subscription service that has tapped into this idea is Urban Organic Gardener’s subscription seed box, which sends new hand-picked seeds each month and tailors each box to the experience level and needs of the customer. Or maybe you love filling your home with gorgeous and luxury scented candles? Wickbox comes to provide a candle subscription service. Besides, there are more fascinating ideas to spark your inspiration and get off to a flying start!

Incredible Subscription Ideas For Service-Based Business - Fig 8
Courtesy: Wickbox

More Great Examples to Look Forward In 2020

  • Our Little Roots - A monthly organic gardening supplies including seeds, pots, and stakes
  • Bloomsy Box - A monthly floral subscription service
  • Nicely Noted - A beautifully curated monthly stationery box
  • Squix Box-A monthly subscription service providing germ-fighting products
  • Jade Canopy- Monthly organic, heirloom, GMO-free seeds

The Bottom Lines

Wouldn’t it be great if, rather than having to fight, hunt, or even practically beg for each new sale, you could establish a business in such a way that all your customers pay you regularly, time and time again? That’s the beauty of offering a subscription service. Pick an idea for your own, map out an in-depth plan and capitalize on the fascinating trends of the “subscription economy”!

Besides a wise pick of your business ideas and operational model, you should never turn a blind eye to the online presence of your own site, especially within such an ever-evolving digital landscape. Should you need any help with a dedicated team to get your site exposed to the digital world, don’t hesitate to get an online presence manager.

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