Could Your Business Be Doing More Recurring Billing?

Posted 5 years ago in Small Business Tips
by Tim Chaves

Recurring billing is a great way to grow your business, since you keep getting paid month after month. As you add new customers, those monthly payments really start to add up. But the real question is, are you building the kind of business that people want to keep paying you for each month?

If you are just starting a new business, it might be worth pivoting early to try and figure out how to build your services with recurring billing in mind. Here is a partial list of the kinds of businesses that work really well with a monthly subscription.

Businesses types that fit well with recurring billing

Indispensable services

We can debate whether internet and cable are a must have, but the fact is, most people don’t want to live without them. Even when my internet is slow, I would never dream of canceling my service.

In my area there is only one reliable internet provider, so calling them to threaten cancellation is an idle threat. Unfortunately, there are no lower prices in my future.

So how do you make your service an indispensable part of your customer’s life? You need to find their pain point, offer a great solution, and price your service accordingly.

Here is a short list of indispensable service examples.

  • ISP – Internet services provider
  • Cable provider
  • Cell phone service provider and support
  • Utility provider (heat, electricity, etc.)

Lifestyle support

How can you be an ongoing support in the life of your customers? Is there a way to empower them in the choices they want to make? For example, I pay Soylent every month to send me food that I can feel good about when I’m too lazy to cook.

Gym memberships, personal trainers and coaches, and food services could all fall into this category. You want to be an on-going support to your customers lives so that they will be an on-going support to your bottom line.

Here is a short list of lifestyle support companies that might work really well on a subscription basis. This isn’t designed to be an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’s enough examples to get you brainstorming.

  • Gym membership
  • Food delivery
  • Nail salons
  • Therapy
  • Personal trainer / life coach
  • Hair stylists

Save them time

If you can figure out how your customers value their time, it can be easy to step in and do regular tasks for them at a rate that will be less than how much it “costs” them to do it themselves. If you are saving them time at a rate they are willing to pay, you are setting yourself up for a great long term recurring billing situation.

There are a lot of service businesses that could easily turn their clients into a steady paycheck on a recurring schedule with a little number crunching and an organized sales pitch. Whether you sell yard care, dog walking, or furnace maintenance, you can save your customer a lot of time and hassle.

As long as you provide a clear agreement on your service and billing policies, they will be grateful to only have to give you their payment information once and then never have to worry about it again.

I took the liberty of listing some business ideas below that might both be a time saver AND allow you to charge your customer’s credit card on a recurring basis.

  • Lawn care
  • Dog walking service
  • Transportation
  • Maid services
  • Home maintenance
  • Grocery shopping

Heroes for hire

You might be in a business where if they don’t get your services, they will end up living in constant fear. Exterminators can explain the importance of regular preventative maintenance to avoid seeing a mouse in the house or having to squash spiders on their own. Another great example of this is home security providers.

Selling peace of mind is big business. If you are in a business where not doing your job might trigger someone’s phobia, you might be in a great position to work out an on-going contract with a tidy recurring billing situation.

I might be missing some businesses on the list below, but I tried to focus on recurring models that would lower someone’s fear level of threats, both real and perceived.

  • Exterminator
  • Home security service
  • Medical alert service
  • Personal security

Do the dirty work

It might not register as a recurring billing situation, but we all pay someone to come by our house every week and pick up our garbage. Can you make good money by setting up clients who pay you every month to come and clean their toilets? I think that is a million-dollar idea in the making.

There are lots of businesses that do dirty jobs, and you might be running a business that fits the bill. Your customer would be willing to pay you every month to not have to do it themselves.

If you are willing to get your hands dirty, here are some possibilities that are ideal for setting up automatic billing.

  • Septic tank evacuation
  • Oil change service
  • Pet grooming
  • Home maintenance

We’ve got your billing software right here

I’m there are other great businesses out there that could also find ways to get more from their customers. With careful planning, businesses like yours could get their customers to pay them regularly every month without having to manually collect payment. I’ll round out this thought with a couple ideas on how to execute on the auto-billing business model more effectively.

Charge less for regulars

Maybe this isn’t news to you, but you want to charge monthly customers less than you would for a one-time business instance. I would also say that using a little discount might be just the ticket to upgrade a regular customer into a monthly subscriber.

If a customer is going to agree to a monthly subscription service, and also agree to automatically be billed, you can afford to charge them less because you are putting a premium on a guaranteed stream of income. You can also think of it as putting your marketing budget back into your own existing customers instead of buying ads or radio time.


After you have a customer willing to pay you regularly, the most important step for setting up automatic billing is having a system that lets you set it and forget it. With ZipBooks you can set up a recurring profile that will send an invoice to your customer at regular intervals. You can even set the number of times the invoice will get sent out. You can find a tutorial on how to do that here.

Credit card processing

Recurring billing means generating automatic invoices and automatically processing credit cards, so it’s important not to forget the second part. With ZipBooks, you can create an account to process credit cards through Stripe and enable auto-billing on your recurring invoice profile. After your customer pays the first invoice, they get billed automatically.

Recurring credit card billing with ZipBooks is easy peasy!

About Tim

Tim is Founder and CEO of ZipBooks. He keeps his desk really nice and neat.

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