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Where does new business hide?

In every town, there’s a place where new business hides.

If you can’t find its hiding place, your business is likely to struggle.

Most of the time, that struggle is rooted in the inability to dependably produce predictable, month to month revenue.

Without predictable month to month revenue, businesses close, scale down or at the least, fail to reach their potential to support their owner, their family, their employees’ families and their community.

Revenue consistency problems influence a business owner’s decision making because their decisions end up being driven by cash flow. Decisions based on sales you made last week (much less yesterday) rarely fit into a long-term strategic plan.

Predicting revenue isn’t all that difficult. You simply have to check the Sales Thermometer.

What’s a Sales Thermometer?

Imagine that there’s a thermometer on the front door of businesses and homes that told you to pull in and sell something to someone because they had developed a need or a want that *had* to be fulfilled.

Armed with a town full of sales thermometers, you’d have all the new business you’ve ever wanted and wouldn’t waste a bit of time chasing around town after people who didn’t want or need what you sell.

Instead, you’d simply drive through town, check the thermometer and stop at the places where the temperature was the highest.

On days when you need a little extra revenue, you might get up a little earlier and drive around a little later so you could check more thermometers. 

Once you took care of the places with the hottest temperatures, you could retrace your steps, scan for the next highest set of temperatures and take care of those sales.

As the sales thermometer readings change on other homes and businesses, you’d see them during your travels so you could pick up on the newest opportunities for new business – simply by being observant.

Scaling

There is a downside to this sales thermometer thing. It has some scalability issues.

For example, you can only drive so far in a day and every customer who takes an hour of your time consumes an hour that you can’t use to check other thermometers. That will eventually force you (subconsciously at least) to stop and work with only the hottest thermometers.

If only there was a way to automatically check the hottest thermometers without spending all that time driving around.

Fortunately, there is.

Getting new business isn’t a joke

While talk of a sales thermometer seems like a bit of a fantasy or even a joke, your business’ inability to consistently produce new business from existing and new clients is no joke at all.

If your business struggles with that, the problem isn’t the lack of a thermometer. The problem is that you aren’t reading it. 

The sales thermometer in the information you should already have about your clients and prospects.  The thermometer’s temperature is driven by behavior and interaction, both yours and that of your prospects and clients.

Those behaviors are like a patient’s symptoms. Monitoring  and acting on them in a predictable, repeatable, systematic way is what gets your business to the point where you *can* produce consistent, predictable month to month revenue.

Random revenue from new business is an indication that you’re not watching and acting on these symptoms on a consistent basis. We all know we need to do these things, but sometimes we get sidetracked by the crisis-of-the-day.

While they should be acted on individually for each prospect or client, these symptoms should also be grouped together (aggregated) to help you monitor the health of your business and your market.

Things that drive up temperatures

What causes rising temperatures?

  • Interaction behavior changes.  You should know when someone is paying more attention than a typical prospect. Do you have a way to detect this?
  • Sales cycle behavior changes. You know how long it takes to close a sale. Is that timeline changing? Are certain prospects skipping steps in the process? Is their path-to-purchase pace is faster than normal? If so, does your internal behavior toward those prospects change to suit their timeline?
  • Purchasing behavior changes. For example, customers who are buying more (or less) often than they normally do. Even if you’re tracking sales on paper, you can monitor this .

Are you monitoring the sales thermometer?

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Business culture Business Resources Competition Employees Habits Improvement Leadership Personal development Productivity Small Business

Does packing a suitcase make you more productive?

Think about the process you go through when preparing for an important business trip.

You make a todo list so you’re sure you get all the bases covered.

You think of every scenario that might come up at home while you are gone and every scenario that might up come while out of town.

Based on all the conditions and situations you can think of, you pack/prep/research accordingly and give instructions to the pet/house sitter.

Do it every day

Do you also use that same process to prepare for the next week of work? For the next trade show? For the next sales meeting? For your next customer appointment? For your next deployment?

Even though this kind of preparation works well for a big business trip, it’s unusual to find businesses doing it on a day by day basis. If you plan your work weekly, you may not need to do it each day – but that depends on the nature of the work you do, as well as the work you delegate.

Harvey Mackay says “dig your well before you’re thirsty” – which most of us tend to do before going out of town. So why would we do so little of this when we’re in the environment that we’ve (presumably) optimized to produce our best work? Yes, I mean your office, shop or whatever place you work in on a regular basis.

The earlier, the better

Recently my wife (who teaches junior high kids) and I were talking about our area’s proposed use of tablets in school. Personal electronics use in schools is all over the place policy-wise, depending on the school system. Unfortunately, discussions about electronics in school tend to focus on what can go wrong, perhaps due to the political pressures schools face.

Because junior high kids are at a highly impressionable age, it’s the perfect time to teach productive, socially-acceptable use of mobile devices. It’s also an ideal time to teach critically important work habits that help improve productivity, focus, accountability and follow up skills they’ll need to succeed in high school. If mastered before leaving junior high, they’ll help students meet goals they haven’t even discovered in high school and beyond. While it isn’t too late to learn these habits in high school, the earlier they’re learned and used, the faster they’ll benefit the student.

The value of “The earlier the better” works the same way for your company.

Do you also encourage your staff to do the “before packing a suitcase” kind of prep? When improving your own work processes, include your staff early. The habits you pass along will help your business in the short run and grow your staff in the long run. Finally, don’t forget to ask them about their best work habits – you might learn about the best one yet.

If you aren’t doing this, it can put your staff and your customers at some level of risk. Maybe not the risk of failure, but certainly you risk achieving “average industry performance”.

What’s wrong with average industry performance?

How does this sound: “We deliver average products and services in an average time frame at average prices.” That just screams “you gotta buy from us”, doesn’t it?

This is one reason the term “best practices” sets off alarm bells for me. Industry organizations publish their members’ “best practices”, but really – these practices tend to be the common practices of the average industry member. Why? The organization assembled the list of tactics and strategies from its membership, or in best case, from those considered to be leading that industry. Few recognize the practices that the highest performing organizations have adopted as their advantage until they become widespread – ie: average.

Below average organizations who are trying to improve work to adopt today’s best practices of their industry. Industry leaders have already created (or discovered) what will be tomorrow’s best practices, which will soon be the norm. That is, when everyone else figures out what the new norm is. By then, the industry leader has raised their game.

Everyday habits like your “before packing a suitcase” ritual are what set industry leaders apart.

PS: Here’s the story of the concrete suitcases in the photo.

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attitude Competition Entrepreneurs Improvement Leadership Personal development Productivity Small Business

The biggest lie you’ve ever told

Pinocchio
Creative Commons License photo credit: The Wolf

Many of us have something about our business that acts as a barrier that limits what we can do.

In many cases, this barrier isn’t real – it’s simply a belief we’ve allowed to infect our mindset.

The trouble with this is that if you believe there’s a limit to your business – there is, because you’ve bought in to it.

These limits might be about limited cash flow, access to capital, inability to hire enough (or enough qualified) staff, raw materials supply, a lack of time, the inability to make decisions, politics, legislative pressures, market uncertainty, customers who won’t pay what your products/services are worth, or something closer to home – like the fact that you’re letting one of these or something else act as a wall between you and the next step.

If you look at that list, you’ll notice that there are two types: things you can do something about and things you can’t do much (if anything) about.

Both have something in common – your belief that they are THE factor preventing you and your business from doing something.

But that’s not the biggest lie of all.

The biggest lie is telling yourself that this limit is insurmountable. That it has a solution beyond your reach, or that it has no solution at all.

What’s your lie?

Think about it right now. What’s the unspoken assumption you think is limiting your business?

What are you doing to challenge its perceived hold on your business?

I have a friend whose “insurmountable limit” is that his market’s prospects are mostly losers and that only 4-5% of them will spend any money on what he produces. He knows he has to solve this, so he’s far better off in dealing with his business’ limitation than many others are.

Still, it’s a good example of how poisonous these things can be.

It doesn’t mean that there isn’t a limit. The lie is that the limit cannot be eliminated.

What about real limits?

Real ones are out there.

The lie isn’t that the limit exists. The lie is that it is insurmountable or that you’re incapable of eliminating it due to a lack of skill or resources. When you start to believe that, your mind subconsciously stops working on it because you’ve accepted the belief that it can’t be beat.

Think about it – would you wake up in the middle of the night with a solution to something that cannot be solved? Probably not.

This is one reason that coaches are so valuable. They see what you cannot. They believe things about you that you don’t. They provide clarity for you when a situation confounds you to the point of exasperation, desperation and acceptance of it. The baggage of the lie doesn’t burden them, so they can tell it like it is.

Challenges

Challenge the unspoken assumption you’re making by accepting the belief in your business’ limitation. Ask yourself “Why is that?” enough times that you figure out the real root of the limit. Ask yourself what Jobs, Gates, Buffett, Branson or others would do when faced with the same issue. You might think they would simply pour money or people into it and that you can’t do that (another limiting belief) – but that probably isn’t the case.

They would probably do something else entirely. Sit down with one of them and discuss the problem and see what they come up with. I realize you might not be able to do that because you don’t have access to them (particularly not for Jobs, since he’s dead), but you can consider what they would say if you had a conversation with them about the problem. Why not do just that. Ask them what they would do if they were your age and had your assets. Consider how they might respond, knowing what you know about them.

You’d be surprised how real a pretend conversation like this can be, and how much it can reveal to you.

Break through the limiting belief. Stop perpetuating the lie.

Finally…Think back to something you accomplished in the past that you never thought you could do. How’d that happen? Intense focus? Drive? Or did you simply decide that nothing was going to stop you from getting that done?

Try that again.

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Business culture Competition E-myth Employees Entrepreneurs Habits Improvement Marketing Personal development Productivity

Business insight from the back of a shampoo bottle


Creative Commons License photo credit: thejbird

When are you going to get serious about your business?

Identify one thing you can do today to attract a new customer, educate a prospect or answer a common question.

Do it again tomorrow. If daily is just too much (seriously?), can you do it every couple of days, or at least once a week?

Once the habit is cemented in place, don’t stop. Ever.

Now find another rough edge in your business. Repeat the same process.

Like the shampoo bottle says: “Wash, rinse, repeat.”

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Business culture Business Resources Employees Improvement Productivity Small Business

If Dave Ramsey was a management consultant

If you’ve ever read or heard anything from Dave Ramsey, a personal debt reduction expert, you know his spiel.

Why? Like any good info marketer, he repeats the fundamentals each time he speaks/writes.

One of his fundamental teachings is “when you pay off a debt, start applying that debt’s payment to the next smallest remaining debt”.

If Dave was a management consultant, he would probably suggest using time the same way. That is, when you invest in something that saves time, you then take the saved time and apply that toward the next most important thing you need to get done.

What happens when your company implements a time-saving tool or process?

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Amazon attitude Business culture Competition ECommerce Employees Entrepreneurs Improvement Leadership Management Productivity Retail service Small Business strategic planning Strategy systems Technology The Slight Edge

Rather than sweep, eliminate the source of dirt

During the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Re:Invent conference‘s “fireside chat” with Jeff Bezos, he told a story about during a professional development session where he (like all senior Amazon management) spent two days on the Amazon customer service call center staff.

Stop for just a minute.

If your business is small – you likely spend time on customer service, even if not by choice.

Depending on the size of your business, you’re might be insulated from your customer service people and likely from your customers. While it isn’t something you want to do every day, I assure you the value of doing what Amazon senior management does here is sizable.

Listen to the quality

I’ve sat within earshot of my customer service staff. You learn a lot about your quality. Sometimes you learn things about your quality that runs a chill up your spine – but that’s better than not knowing.

That’s what Bezos learned.

During the session, he handled calls and operated the customer support system while being coached through the process by an experienced Amazon customer service person as each customer called in.

While this had to be hugely educational for him about unmet needs and/or streamlining processes for his customer service team, he learned a unexpected lesson – how things really work when it comes to product quality at Amazon, which gave him an idea to improve quality and do so before the cost of low quality grew.

Listen to Bezos describe the result – how Amazon now handles poor products, poor packaging and enables their staff to communicate quality information (and make decisions) about them – much like Toyota’s assembly line allows anyone to “pull the cord” to stop the line to deal with a defect (2 minutes, 47 seconds from 18:01 to 20:48):

 

Can your sales/service people pull a poorly-made or poorly-packaged product off the sales floor? How long will you sell a lame product or perhaps worse – a good product delivered poorly – to your “valued customers”?

How would this impact your buying process and related contracts? How would this impact your product quality and delivery feedback processes? Note Bezos’ use of the un-word “systematize” – not just making more work, but making a new system to make the work and customer experience better.

If you don’t do these things (in your own way, of course), are you willing to deal with the disadvantage this creates between your business and businesses that handle this as Amazon does? What else could you do rather than this to assure the same level of highly-consistent quality of products and packaging?

Remember, this isn’t about replicating what Amazon does. The important thing is to replicate or improve upon the results.

Doing the right work

While discussing a week-long Kaizen (quality) professional development training session, Bezos talks about a Japanese consultant who chastised him for sweeping up some dust on the warehouse floor (1 minute, 54 seconds from 20:49 to 22:43):

 

Eliminating the source of dirt is more important than finding a better janitor or a better broom. Obvious, once you think about it.

Smart businesses regularly do something new and different in their market, producing really good results.

I don’t mean not-so-thoughtful act of cloning a service or a product. I’m talking about the processes and systems that a strong business depends on and eventually turns to as a strategic advantage. Might be a sales or marketing process, might be front or back office.

Once the value is shown, even of a non-obvious system/process, why wouldn’t these things be duplicated by business B when they see business A gaining value from them?

  • Sometimes the new system/process was intentionally designed to be complex so that it would be hard for competitors to duplicate.
  • Sometimes those complexities don’t impact a small local business but a parallel business need for a similar system still exists in that business that should be considered.
  • Sometimes we have this odd tendency to watch someone do something great and stop right there because it’s so easy to assume that we can’t do what others have done.
  • Sometimes the lead isn’t followed because of ingrained beliefs like “Yes, but that’ll never work here.”

What’s your reason? What system would transform your business front office? What would transform the back office? These things don’t have to be massive or expensive. As one of my mentors says, “Little hinges swing big doors.”

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attitude E-myth Employees Entrepreneurs Habits Improvement Leadership planning Productivity Setting Expectations Small Business Strategy

Why don’t we do what we know must be done?

Change is hard.

We often don’t make a change because just thinking about it tends to be unpleasant, never mind the change itself.

We’ll think about it and mull it over and consider our options like we do about stopping for gas. We’ll glance at the pump as we pass by and put off the inevitable until the needle falls into that “below-the-E” zone where you know you’re in trouble if you don’t stop soon.

The decision to pull over and take 10 minutes to ensure that you can continue for hours or days takes just an instant. Yet many of us wait until forced to do it.

What actions are you waiting to be forced into? What would change if you didn’t wait?

It’s about the pain

Jim Rohn used to say “We don’t change until the pain of change becomes worse than the change of same.”

Yet we know better. Every day people make a decision not to fix something, change their mindset (or at least start down that path) or deal with the 500 lb gorilla in the room.

I sit in meetings with regularity where the obvious thing that has to be faced is ignored as if time will make it go away. Every day, the cost of not facing that thing increases.

Yet we continue to stall.

Why?

In the past, some have proposed that we’re afraid of reaching the destination we claim we’ve sought for years. In a few cases, that might be true, but I suspect that for the majority of people and businesses, advance thought might never have gone that far.

What important task have you avoided thinking about this month? What would happen if you forced yourself to focus on it for 15 minutes?

Procrastination

How many times have you thought about a problem you wanted to solve, then bought something (a book, service, etc) to help you address it – and then did nothing with the resource?

Our minds get satisfaction from the purchase. That little bit of dopamine is enough to pacify some of us. It pretends to be action.

We stop on the first rung of the ladder, or the second, or worst, the last.

When it comes to the most important thing you’re putting off, what rung are you on? Do you have more trouble starting or finishing?

Inertia

The trouble with inertia is that it seems to sprout from a smaller version of itself. It does this without water, sunshine or even MiracleGro.

Yesterday’s inertia morphs tomorrow’s seemingly insurmountable mental castle surrounded by alligator-infested waters. It grows like interest on a credit card bill. Every day, its slightly heavier weight eats away at you, your life and the stuff that needs to get done.

What’s the source of your inertia? Worse yet, what feeds it?

Overwhelm

Every marketer knows that if you present too many choices to a prospect, they’ll often choose nothing. They’ll….procrastinate, secretly hoping that the list will shrink and make the selection easier.

It isn’t much different than a todo list with 300 items on it or a TV listing with 300 channels or that restaurant menu with 40 appetizers.

Overwhelm breeds inertia. Would half as many choices help you get moving?

Momentum

There are two kinds of inertia. The kind we just talked about – the bad kind – is the inertia that keeps you from taking the first step, the next one or the last one.

With just one step, the bad kind transforms into the smallest instance of good inertia. Movement. It creates momentum, however small.

That first bit of movement spawns more. Every little decision you make in your day either contributes to it or undermines it.

Think about the little things that hurt your momentum. Stop doing them or at least, do them less often.

Think about the little things that fuel your momentum. Do more of them, however tiny.

Essential Keys

If you must, start with the smallest thing. Then the next size up. Build upon each tiny victory, even if it’s something as simple as sticking a stamp on an envelope or writing one page of that book.

The small victories, like tinder and kindling for a fire, are what build you into a sustainable force.

Do what must be done. Start right now.

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Business Resources Competition Employees Improvement Leadership Management Productivity Small Business Software business Strategy systems Technology The Best Code Wins The Slight Edge

Stop waiting until you’re big enough.

Say AHHHH :-O
Creative Commons License photo credit: aussiegall

This morning a friend pointed out this story about how QuickBooks maker Intuit manages 10 million lines of code.

The punch line is that they manage 10 million lines of code just like you should be managing your code.

Professionally.

Is your business using professional-grade methods and tools? Are you sure?

Intuit manages their massive code base using the same professional-grade methods that almost every software business should be using. Perhaps you’d choose different tools, but the process is the key.

What does Intuit process include?

Intuit uses continuous integration.

So can you.

Intuit’s continuous integration (CI) tool is Jenkins, an open-source product not unlike CruiseControl and CruiseControl.Net and numerous others. I use CruiseControl.Net. Use what fits you until it doesn’t.

But my programmers will never agree to that”, you say. Aside from wondering who runs the place, I suggest you review this discussion on getting developers bought in to continuous integration. You shouldn’t have to work very hard at it, if you’re working with professionals.

Intuit uses source control.

So can you.

Intuit’s source control tool is Perforce, which offers a free version. If you want something simpler or less expensive, there are plenty of options – including some very dependable free source management systems. Examples include Git, Mercurial, Kiln (a hosted version of Mercurial), Vault, Subversion and several others. I use Kiln and Vault.

Intuit manages multiple builds.

So can you.

You can do that with a source control tool in conjunction with your CI tool of choice. You could make this more complex, but really, it’s about builds and source management. And you *can* do that.

Why do you need multiple builds? For one, when your tools change. You have production code deployed. It breaks. You need to fix it, and you sure can’t wait until all of your testing is done on the new tool set. Check out the code with the old tool set, fix it, check it in, build it.

You won’t believe how simple this is, especially if you manage multiple toolset releases with source control. Your hair might even grow back.

Intuit automates code analysis and testing.

So can you.

They use Coverity in conjunction with their own in-house tools, but you can start today with FxCop, NDepend, Simian, Gendarme, nAnt, various CI tools, Test Complete and a host of other CI-enabled code analysis and test tools. You can use VMWare‘s Workstation for Windows or Fusion for Mac (or both, as I do) to manage the OS snapshots and provide the same consistent testbench for each set of tests without manually having to build a test system, run tests, restore and so on.

Avoid the drudgery just like Intuit does, without losing the benefits of greater and more consistent quality.

Stop waiting until you’re “big enough”

If you’re waiting until you’re “big enough”, you’re not only wasting time, but you’re slowing down your ability to get big in the first place. You can’t wait until you have 10 million lines of code to manage to decide to go pro. By that time, you’re either drowning in code and tests and builds or you’re history. Or maybe you’re surviving as a slave to your software.

For every hour that you spend manually building binaries, building installs, testing installs, testing your app and doing other grunt work that your competition uses CI and source control systems to manage, guess what your competition is doing? They’re spending their time coding, marketing, working with customers, planning strategy, sleeping and enjoying their families.

The earlier you incorporate professional methods and professional tools in your software business, the earlier you get out of “dig a hole and fill it up” mode.

One of the reasons you might not be doing as well as you’d like is that you’re still using the methods and tools that a little software business uses.

Go pro. Start today.

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Business culture E-myth Employees Feedback Improvement Leadership Management Positioning Productivity Small Business

How Shiny Is Your Robot?

Le Grand Eléphant // The Great Elephant
Creative Commons License photo credit: Stéfan

Have you ever noticed how careful we are as business owners to take good care for our expensive business equipment?

Like…robots.

Robots get their hydraulic fluid changed, hydraulic lines pressure checked, wear points examined, worn parts replaced, firmware updated, tolerances tested, configurations checked and their overall performance checked.

When a robot doesn’t measure up, it isn’t thrown away. It’s repaired and retrofitted, upgraded, updated and/or refurbished until it performs at the level of the other robots.

Fleet

Our company vehicles get similarly detailed maintenance and regular upkeep.

When I get my oil changed, I see the oil change shop’s company account list on the wall next to the register. You’ll see every sizable business in town that has a fleet of vehicles. All of them get regular fluid checks and other services. Business owners want their vehicle investments not only to last, but to serve them well every day.

Airliners get even more stringent maintenance. Safety is critical, but so is fuel efficiency, so we check everything and update anything we can on those planes to provide better safety and better “mileage”. Wiring, hydraulics, metal stress, backup systems. Backup systems for the backup systems.

Restful

You’ve seen the form on the back of the restroom door with times and initials. Someone’s “real job” is interrupted every few minutes or hours because some business owners/managers have learned over time that the state of customer restrooms is important.

When it comes to regular attention and upkeep, many businesses check the cleanliness of their customer restrooms several times per day. Some check them as often as every 30 minutes – even in businesses that don’t seem to offer the kind of service that would make you think they’d care about their restrooms.

Even in some of the dirtiest businesses, I’ve found a checklist on the back of the restroom door. That form must be initialed and marked with the date and time so that someone in management knows that the restroom got a once-over few hours throughout the day. Fail to initial the box within a few minutes of the right time and what happens?

Usually discipline.

People?

It makes perfect sense to every business owner to provide this level of care for expensive robots, vehicles and airliners a business invests in. It even makes sense for restrooms.

It either saves us money, keeps our customers safe, makes our business run more smoothly, produces our products faster and with better quality and even smells better.

Yet we see employees every day in customer-facing jobs that need to be trained. They start a new job and are shoved in front of a business’ customers with little more than a uniform shirt and a name tag. Why in the world would you hire someone, even for the summer, and then put them on the job untrained?

Do you care that little about the service your customers receive?

People are often the most expensive asset you have – and the one with the most potential to become your advantage. If you look around, you’ll find situations where the most rudimentary front line staff positions have hard-working people failing in the obvious public-facing ways simply because they haven’t been trained to do things “our way”.

Invest

Meanwhile, we try all sorts of things to manage our staff’s time. We hound them to get them to initial that restroom clipboard every 30 minutes because it proves to someone that “we keep our restrooms clean”. We value the speed and the interval that they show up in that restroom more than we value the job they actually did while there. Our controls over showing up demonstrate that.

The clipboard’s initials don’t say “I left this bathroom so clean my mom would approve.”  They say “I walked in and at the least, initialed the form” because that’s what we measure.

Yet you do it for robots

We check restrooms every 30 minutes. We retrofit, upgrade and reprogram robots. Yet some of us don’t work at all to invest time (much less money) in the improvement and training of our staff.

It’s time to focus as hard on them as we do the condition of the restrooms.

Imagine if both were highly polished.

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Automation Box stores Business model Buy Local Competition customer retention Marketing Productivity Retail Small Business strategic planning Strategy Technology The Slight Edge

Rid-X figured out subscriptions. When will you?

Finally.

A mainstream, old school consumer product company figured out how to make it easy for customers to use their product at the recommended interval and do so with as little labor/friction as possible.

Rather than rolling their own, they used Amazon’s infrastructure to deal with payments, shipping and subscription management.

From Amazon.com:

Amazon Subscribe & Save allows you to subscribe for RID-X to be delivered straight to your door every month. When you sign up for RID-X through the Amazon Subscribe & Save service, you receive 15 percent off and free shipping every month. While you can subscribe to any RID-X product, it is recommended you choose either RID-X 1-Dose Powder or RID-X 1-Dose Liquid so you stay on top of your septic system maintenance. You can cancel your subscription through Amazon.com at any time.

RID-X has *television ads* that send people to that Amazon page. Serious money is being spent, this isn’t just a whim.

I’ve ridden you hard about this sort of thing in the past. If a septic tank additive manufacturer can do it, surely you can too.

Of course, you can buy other items of this nature at Amazon.com, Wal-Mart.com etc. Even toothpaste can be purchased by subscription.

What it isn’t and what it is

This isn’t about selling people stuff they don’t need or more than they need.

It’s about making it as easy as possible for the customer (with a by-product of making it easy for you) while putting a fence around your customers.

If your RID-X or your Crest 3D automatically shows up at home at just the right interval and ships free, why would you spend time and fuel making a special trip to pick up those things?

Yes, I realize you might pick them up when you’re already at the store for other things, but that isn’t the point.

When you force your customer to buy the old-fashioned way, you take the chance *every single time* that they will be lured by a coupon or some other bright shiny object (BSO). They might be disappointed in the product or service that coupon or BSO delivers. It might even hurt that consumer or business – something you could have prevented.

I don’t have enough time

Think about the complaint that so many people have these days. “I don’t have enough time .”

Yes, it’s often an excuse. Yes, they need to prioritize what’s important. Are you helping them do that?

Part of that prioritization is doing the important things rather than going to Wally World. When someone can deliver the product you need for the same or lower price than you’d pay by getting in the car, driving there, using fuel (more money), picking up another $57 worth of Richard Simmons videos that you won’t use and so on, why go there at all?

Would your customers rather have your product magically appear at their door? Or would they prefer to drive to your store? Some portion of them would rather take their kid to the park instead of sitting in traffic.

B2B

Even if you don’t sell consumer-class goods to businesses, there are services or products they need all the time. They are as time-pressured as consumers. They’d rather be on the phone with customers, working ON their business rather than running errands, or creating their next big thing. But instead, you’re making them drive across town. Or you’re making them remember to initiate those services.

This isn’t just about commodities like RID-X, toothpaste and softener salt. Customers of CPAs, attorneys and other professionals have *predictable* recurring needs that can be sold on a subscription basis.

Yes, I realize no one else in your market sells professional services that way. So?

That infrastructure thing

If you make things that have to be shipped, it might not be workable for you (for whatever reason) to ship pallets of your stuff to Amazon’s warehouses. Maybe you don’t meet their minimums. Or maybe you make things that aren’t shipped at all.

Even so, you might have a subscription-capable thing to sell. If you do, there are automated subscription-driven solutions out there that don’t require you to build it yourself. The right one will allow you to serve those customers in a way that fits you both.