Recently CDR-Data, with input from colleagues Tony Freeth, Owner and Managing Director of Medusa, and Wendy Spreenberg, President of SITE Resolutions, surveyed ten successful U.S. and Canada-based business centers to lean more about how they bill their clients and what advice they would give to owners and operators of incubators to help them grow revenue. We've assembled the tips below for your information and use.
Bill for Bandwidth: Establish multiple rate plans to correspond to varying levels of bandwidth usage. Try using a Plan A, B and C, with "C" being for light usage and "A" being the 'gold' level for the heavy hitters. This will not only generate more revenue, but will separate those folks regularly using bandwidth-intensive apps such as Skype and YouTube from those with light data need s.
Charge for Equipment: Consider charging to phones on the desk. Many business centers are generating as much as $125 per phone! Of course, be clear that there are amenities attached, such as a virtual receptionist and voice mail. Rate plans are accepted and expected but should be tailored to allow choice according to usage levels. Below are a few examples:
- Cost per minute: Est. 15-20 cents/per minute
- Flat rate: $50/month (not including international calls)
- Hybrid: "X" for the first "Y" minutes and a lower cost per minute thereafter. Specify rules for the ability to forward (or not) unused minutes (i.e. $70 for the first 750 minutes, with a 'per minute' charge of anything over 750.)
Provide Take-Home Phones: Consider renting phones for home use. Business centers routinely do this with great cooperation from VoIP vendors such as Cisco and Shortel. Each unit can be connected to the home internet, carrying with it all the features from the center.
Create Membership Plans: Increasingly, incubators are moving towards a co-working model. That, in most cases, means membership-based. Owners and managers can set up billing parameters to customize their own programs. As an example:
- Time on site - Very simple, but do this as "bands" of time, such as "X" number of hours per month.
- Time and day of week - Consider offering free bandwidth during weekends and after hours.
Stage and Host Events: Most successful co-working spaces have implemented regular events to drive interest within the community, while supporting the business goals of their members. It's a natural 'win-win' for incubators and members.
Are there more ways to generate revenue? Absolutely! As your incubator grows, you will find new and creative ways to add value and add revenue. As long as you are providing a great place for young start-ups to collaborate and prosper, you will find your clients more than willing to pay for the experience of doing business with your center.
Feel free to contact us with your questions or to learn more about how CDR-Data can help you with the right tools to allocation and control 'the true cost of your calls'.
-Kevin Young, CEO/Founder, CDR-Data