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The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,114 ratings  ·  113 reviews
The lifeblood of your business is repeat customers. But customers can be fickle, markets shift, and competitors are ruthless. So how do you ensure a steady flow of repeat business? The secret—no matter what industry you’re in—is finding and keeping automatic customers.

These days virtually anything you need can be purchased through a subscription, with more convenience than
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 5th 2015 by Portfolio
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  1,114 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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David Huff
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A helpful, well-organized and quick read about the many advantages (and a few challenges) of building a subscription based business. If, for instance, you are an Amazon Prime customer, that is a large scale and classic example of the subscription model. Netflix would be another.

I have a professional service business, some aspects of which I'm planning to move to a subscription based format. This book gave some helpful insight for me, and also has sections that deal with product-based businesses,
Oleksandr Golovatyi
An interesting book on building a business selling through a subscription. As we have seen for a long time, the main giants are trying to sell not single products but services with a subscription, keeping buyers as long as possible. The book gives different examples for different industries and types of business. It was very interesting to read it, I recommend.
Интересная книжка по построению бизнеса продавая через подписку. Как мы давно уже видим основные гиганты
Daniel DiPiazza
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: strategy, business, 2017
Since Rich20 is actively developing a subscription-based monthly product, we want to pack as much value as possible. This book gets right to the point and delivers on the promise. Very good insights on the development of recurring business models over the last 10 years, what types of models work and how to keep people happy long-term. Quick read, too. Legit!
Chad Warner
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: entrepreneurs, business owners, web agency owners
An excellent guide to creating a subscription business, packed with actionable insights backed by data and real-world examples. It has the right mix of theory and application.

The examples include software companies (e.g., HubSpot, Basecamp, FreshBooks), services companies (e.g., Mosquito Squad, Hassle Free Home Services), and product companies (e.g., BirchBox, Blacksocks).

I read this because I'm overhauling the WordPress website care plans (maintenance plans) offered by my web agency, OptimWise.
Samson Sunny
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book talks about subscription based business model. Author gives so many examples on subscription based business companies and he is suggesting this is the good approach to run a business in current situation.

WhatsApp, apple, amazon, Microsoft and many big companies already following this approach to maximise their profit. Amazon prime is a kind of subscription which makes the customers to buy more products in amazon and it stopping the customers to buy from other competitors.

Author says
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wasn't completely new to the benefits of subscription model businesses, but there were definitely good takeaways:
- Explains 9 TYPES of subscription model businesses with examples
- Explains how to adjust your metrics in order to accurately monitor your business performance. E.g measuring your business using the traditional P&L (profit and loss) statement is not a good indication of performance for subscription businesses; it is more appropriate to take your MRR (monthly recurring revenue) and p
Roustem Karimov
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect timing

I never thought that I would be interested in the subject but a few months ago we introduced 1Password Teams and 1Password Families service that helps businesses and families take control of their passwords. The reaction from our customers was all over the place, some of them loved the new service and some hated the idea of a subscription.

It was great to read about other companies, similar challenges, and learn about new ideas and what to expect in the future.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
An introduction to the subscription business model with plenty of great ideas and examples for businesses already working in the subscription model. Short and sweet.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book exploring the benefits of the subscription-based model over "sell/do"

Here are the points I noted in my reader:

* Amazon Prime membership was not about additional revenue, it was about changing people's mentality so they would not shop anywhere else.

* Millennials value access over assets. Rent vs. Owning; Spotify vs. buying songs; Blinkist vs. Buying books. Therefore, the subscription model is relevant if millennials are your target audience.

* "Customers want to express their ind
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author has much experience running businesses and converting his consulting business from a per-episode individualised one to a subscription-based one with generic research. So he knows his stuff. He strongly advocate running the subscription model of business because it allows you to plan and sleep at night. Rather than starting from zero income at the start of each month, the subscription model allows you to have recurring income so you would know how much manpower you will need 6 months d ...more
Eszter Pálmai
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I abandoned the book halfway in because I found it way too long-winded. I also didn't see much of a point of separating subscription models based on which need of the customers they satisfy. Some simplify their lives, others give them the chance to discover something they like, also others give exclusive access to a very scarce resource. Obviously different products / services serve the customers in different ways, and while it can be useful to learn ablut some common variations of subscription ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A 4.5/5 read, actually. Warrillow sprinkled in just about enough evidence and studies to make a strong case for his points. Not too dissimilar to Ask (R. Levesque), this one sure stood out as a solid package filled with highly constructive advice. I couldn't quite manage to put it down and the only times I did, I was drafting pricing strategies and other formulae just to test out some ideas sparked by the author.

I'd recommend it to anyone currently active in the e-commerce space for its valuabl
LeikHong Leow
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is indeed one of the best read this year. It gave me many great ideas on how I can turn my business into a subscription-based and generating monthly recurring revenue.

In the book, Warrillow shared many great examples from the existing company that is subscription/membership business model. Giving you a clear path on which model would suit you the best. Apart from the success stories, the book also shared some of the difficulties you might face should you decided to go into such business mod
Bruce Harpham
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simply an excellent book! If you've ever looked at businesses like Netflix and wondered "how can I have that kind of recurring business model?," this is the book for you. I liked how the author fully explored a variety of business models for a subscription style business and fleshed out each model with actual companies practicing that model. I was mainly interested in tech and online businesses but found it interesting to see how traditional businesses (e.g. home maintenance services) can be tra ...more
Ronald J.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good complement book to Subscribed, about implementing a subscription business model in your business. Warrillow builds a good case for why subscribers are more valuable than one-time customers, and offers 9 subscription models for your consideration. He also explains the new accounting required, as well as how to evaluate a subscription business to know when to step on the gas vs. retreating and tweaking. I liked his chapter on the psychology of selling a subscription and also the one on idea ...more
Szymon Kulec
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Engaging, short and to the point.

If you're thinking about starting SaaS, a premium club or just considering moving to a subscription model this is the book. I wish I knew it before I had spent a lot of time on reading various blog posts about this topic. And to be clear: they are not bad at all. This is about this books: it's just great!

Divided in a few parts, describes both strategies and the mechanics behind the subscription model. Shows in a really simple way what Customer Lifetime Value and
Shubham Bansal
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: startups
Sometimes it does not make sense to write a 200-page book when you can concise the same learning in 15-20 min long read blog. Many business books try to provide a theory but they are nothing more than correlations carved out by studying some case studies. The problem with such correlations is that they don't apply universally as they don't delve into the core principles. This book was of that type.
A good blog could have been enough.

Nevertheless, the case made for subscription-based business ag
Mike Ncube
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Impressive book with many good ideas on how to implement a subscription model in any business. Having read it I can see the possibilities in my business, but the implementation will not be easy. I believe this book is a good introduction on how to get started but a lot more research will be required to get it implemented.

I particularly like the LTV:CAC model the author suggests to assess the viability of the subscription model - and later sellability of the business.
John Stepper
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've read a few books on subscription business models (Subscribe by Tien Tzuo being the best), and this book complements it extremely well. I found the nine different kinds of subscription business models to be an excellent framework as both an analysis tool and also as a way to pick and choose elements to create my own model.
Richard Mulholland
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
The first two thirds of the book was a ** at best, the last third was a ****. I'm not sure I'd recommend reading the whole thing. if you have an idea of your subscription type, which you probably would have, the read then non-breakable stuff at the end.
Arturo Hernández
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
General review of the origins, main features, possible flaws, details and potential of the subscription business model. It’s a short read but it points out key elements of the system. Will definitely come back to follow-up on some of those highlights.
Mike Lander
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended

It's a fantastic read for anyone looking to move towards a more sustainable and less stressful business model. Great examples to illustrate key points and all the metrics you'll need to put theory into practice.
André Barnes
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good read discussing subscription businesses that got better as you mover along. Helpful ideas to potentially implement and evaluate if you are thinking about subscription based busunesses and predictable cash flow. Good examples as well.
Arseniy Gushin
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: marketing
I would cut the first 2/3 of the text. The third part is nice, but still way too generic. It's not something you expect from subscription business guru.
Nguyen Ly
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Clarity of models, useful before starting a subscription business
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyed this easy read. provides good food for thought on how to build a recurring revenue biz.
Derek Jackson
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great insights into subscription based businesses.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent topic.
Crisp writing.
Highly recommended for anyone looking to build a valuable business.
Scott Couchenour
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Need to read this again. Things have changed since I read it before.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business-books
An excellent introduction to the subject - well written, conversational and informative.
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“By early 2014, WhatsApp users were sharing more pictures than were posted on Facebook and the service had twice as many users as Twitter. WhatsApp was adding a million users a day when Facebook decided it had to buy them for $19 billion. WhatsApp is a classic network model subscription, in which the value of being a subscriber increases as more people subscribe.” 0 likes
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