Book notes: The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow

The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry by John Warrillow

Synopsis (via Amazon): 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.

According to John Warrillow, this emerging subscription economy offers huge opportunities to companies that know how to turn customers into subscribers. Automatic customers are the key to increasing cash flow, igniting growth, and boosting the value of your company.

Initial thoughts:

A couple weeks ago, Aduible was having a BOGO sale so I thought I would take advantage of it with my credits. I picked up this book (along with Alibaba’s World) mainly because it looked like the most interesting and relevant business book 😋

Regardless, the book had good reviews and it seemed like I would get some value out of it. As a budding entrepreneur, I feel like I need to absorb as much as I can so I can utilize effective principles in my own businesses.

Key ideas:

  • Subscription based models of business make a company more valuable overall as the ability to generate cash flow automatically reduces need for constantly trying to manage revenue
  • Subscribers are drastically better in many ways than customers
  • This current generation prefers access over ownership (Netflix, Airbnb, Spotify, etc)
  • More options (library access) allow customers to express more individuality in terms of taste
  • The most successful subscription websites help businesses master a specific skill in an industry
  • 2 step: 1) get people to sign up for email newsletter, 2) convert to paid customers through sales funnel
  • Subscription models: all you can eat library, private club, front of the line, consumables, surprise box, Trojan horse, Simplifie (set it and forget it), network, peace of mind.
  • Mastering the on-boarding process is key
  • 3 types of funding for growing a subscription model: 1) grow simultaneously with one shot model 2) look for external funding 3) charge upfront
  • 7 ways to sell the subscription model
  • Best way to reduce churn (attrition) is to fix the hole in the bucket first
  • Automatic customers > always trying to guess with matching supply and demand

Closing thoughts:

Excellent book on subscription based business models and why they are better than traditional models. This book goes into great detail and gives good tactical advice on the different types, how to set them up, downsides, how to convince your customers to switch, and how to maximize your business’s efficiency.

I think this book is a good read for anyone who wants to start a business or currently owns one and is open to learning/adopting a more powerful model. As a business owner, I think it’s important to see and grasp the changing trends and economies in order to survive and thrive.


Very tactical, focused advice on automating customer cash flow using subscription based models.

Rating: 4/5

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