There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of articles online about how subscription services can make businesses more productive. But what about running a subscription business itself? How can SaaS not just be the providers of productivity, but ensure, along with other subscription model companies, that they are also running at their most efficient and effective?
There are a few key factors that can ensure you're managing your business, and your customer's subscriptions, properly.
1. Streamline processes
One of the biggest keys to productivity, is to condense and streamline internal processes as much as you can. If you have outdated, convoluted methodologies for how you organize the back end of your business, you'll likely struggle to keep up with managing customers and their data as you grow.
Make things simple for yourself. You should have prescribed ways of handling customer complaints, new employee onboarding, and managing your sales pipeline. Without streamlining processes, you may wind up wasting valuable time on figuring out what the next step should be. Eliminate unnecessary tasks and redundancies.
2. Digitalize and automate as much as possible
As more processes and tasks become digitized, every type of company from software to manufacturers should be looking to see what they can be automating. Automations help businesses run more smoothly, and can often save hours per day in manual operations or menial, repetitive tasks.
Additionally, automations can actually improve business intelligence, since there may be issues or details that your programs catch, that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. When it comes to subscription management in particular, automating billing, usage reporting, customer lifecycles and renewal periods, etc, will ensure that you can be focused on growing your business and not just spending your energy maintaining it.
3. Lock down contract types
When first starting a business, it can be tempting to take every opportunity (ie, customer) you can. Sometimes this translates to making concessions on pricing, making accommodations and customizations, or simply just not having subscription contracts that are universal and consistent. This becomes very problematic when trying to scale. You wind up spending all your time just trying to figure out who has what deal and negotiating new terms when the time comes.
By streamlining your contract types, being clear on how you charge, for what, when, and why, you can be much more productive in business. With standard offerings that ensure profitability, but are reasonable and clearly understandable to your customers, you stand to gain more time to focus on customer service and sales, rather than keeping track of all the different moving parts of your subscriptions.
4. Allocate resources better
One big productivity killer for subscription businesses is the misuse of resources. As companies grow, it can be difficult to see what should be prioritized in terms of time and money.
A lot of businesses are quick to focus on new sales, without having a solid foundation for customer success. What then happens is a load of new customers comes in, but don't receive the ongoing service they need or expect. This can mean there are long wait times for issues to be addressed, or onboarding is slow and painful. Here is where churn can increase, instead of there being a strong retention rate.
For the long-tail market where volume is the name of the game, time and money can be pushed to marketing and advertising. But sometimes product development or financial controlling are areas that make more sense for ensuring a productive, successful business.
5. Use integrated reporting methods
One of the best things you can do to free up more time and be more productive in subscription business, is to simply have more integrations. You may have a CRM, a separate tool for financial reports, another one for invoicing, and still another for keeping track of contracts. But without these programs talking to each other and integrating automatically, you'll spend much of your time manually comparing reports instead of being able to clearly see patterns regarding usage, customer lifecycles, and revenue recognition.
Finding ways to be more productive in subscription business can be crucial for long term growth and success. Without efficiency in how you operate, scaling can be hard to sustain.
The first step in knowing how to be more productive is to identify your biggest areas of weakness. Want to find out how you stack up?