You can insulate your business from the effects of income fluctuations by marketing your products and services in ways that build income streams that keep money flowing to you month after month.
Look for ways you can encourage commitments from customers and keep cash coming in on a regular schedule.
During a visit to a spa I was asked if I wanted to buy a package of services, instead of paying for only the treatment I received that day. I got the advantage of a lower price for each service. The spa not only got me to commit to coming back for additional services, I have paid in advance for those services. At future visits, I may be tempted to try additional products or services. And by making my visits there a habit, they have created a relationship that will result in my providing them with ongoing revenue.
Some customer commitments do not require advance payment. Instead, customers are automatically billed each period, usually by bank draft or credit card, for the agreed-upon amount. Many customers enjoy the convenience of these arrangements, and customers may receive a discount when they commit to a longer term or pay in advance.
Service businesses often provide services on retainer. For a monthly fee, the customer has access to a specified level of service. The service provider is guaranteed a certain amount of income and the customer knows that the help they need is just a phone call away.
Maintenance contracts are a variation on the retainer idea. For a set fee the provider performs all routine maintenance, and may even include a number of hours of labor if a repair is needed.
Subscriptions are not just for magazines. In fact, just about anything can be sold by subscription. Consumables fit this model well. If you sell printer supplies (such as toner or ink cartridges), you might suggest setting up shipments where customers receive supplies on a regular schedule based on their expected needs.
Memberships offer another revenue possibility. You may charge for memberships in a facility (such as a health club), an organization, or even a Web site. There are membership Web sites for everything from grocery coupons to hobbies to businesses. Online membership fees range from a few dollars a year to hundreds of dollars per month.
Create revenue streams by selling advertising. Advertising opportunities might include posting signs at your place of business or on your vehicles, selling space in your customer newsletter, charging for mailing flyers with your invoices, or posting ads on your Web site. Google will automatically feed ads to your Web site and share revenues through their Adsense program.
Having these “automatic” revenues in place does not mean that you can then stop marketing. Customers will drop out and have to be replaced, and ongoing marketing will help you expand your business. However, having a base of revenue you can count on means that you can spend your time serving customers and growing your business instead of worrying about covering basic expenses.