I’m in one of my favorite places to write…a Panera Bread café. Or is it a deli? A coffee shop?
Anyway…I see they are offering a subscription service for, wait for it…coffee. $8.99 a month for unlimited coffee (restrictions apply).
Subscription services are showing up everywhere.
Banks are even offering services to help alert you to unused subscription services you’re paying for, in an effort to save you money…and of course get your business.
The real question is no longer “should you provide a subscription service?” But instead “how do I provide a subscription service?”
I’ve watched a number of consultants and speakers struggle with this model. For instance, imagine if I offered a monthly fee, say $19.99 a month, for unlimited resumé writing support (meaning I’ll tweak your resumé for specific jobs whenever you need to apply to a new job). And for a small upgrade, say $29.99 a month (total) I’ll include unlimited practice interview calls as well. How would that work?
Remember your audience. Much like a gym would struggle if every member came every day at peak hours, this service would struggle for two reasons.
1. Most job seekers aren’t in the market 12 months a year, so they would likely only subscribe for 1-3 months at a time. So I’d likely be offering my resumé writing services for roughly $20 to $60 a person and $30 to $90 a person for the coaching. (likely NOT a sustainable business model)
2. “Unlimited” can generate a lot of work. How could I scale handling more than a few active subscribers at a time? Sure I could hire assistants, but remember I have to pay them while collecting subscriptions as described in point 1. (also NOT sustainable)
What tends to work well for subscription models fall into two big categories. Things people want of need regularly (i.e. coffee or access to a gym) and things that provide new content/services, such as Amazon Prime or Netfilx.
The trick, as a customer, is to not get swept up in the feeling of a great price for a thing you may not use much, but one you have it…you get the idea. In fact Amazon and Netflix are good examples. How many streaming services does one person/family really need?
But should I provide a subscription service?
If you are asking yourself this question, keep in mind my notes above. Understand your costs, know your audience, and make sure you can sustain the commitment you make.