Schedulefly Stories

Growing a software business one restaurant at a time

Month: July 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

Awesome Indie Restaurant Series – Joe’s Real BBQ in Gilbert AZ

This series profiles restaurants that are creating a buzz in their cities and towns. With each Awesome Indie we profile, we’ll check in with owner (“The Head Honcho”), the GM (“The Fearless Leader”), and an employee who personifies their brand (“The Evangelist”), to pick their brains and find out what they’re doing that makes their restaurant hum.

First up – Joe’s Real BBQ, a phenomenal, popular, well loved restaurant in Gilbert, AZ. They’ve been in business for 12.5 years, and their employee turnover rate for hourly employees was about 28% last year, despite losing more college-bound high school seniors than usual. Management turnover was 0%. And they are doing great business year after year out in Gilbert!


The Head Honcho
Tad Peelen, one of three owners. Tad co-owns the restaurant with partners Tim Peelen and Joe Johnston and is the operating partner you will typically find at the restaurant.

Why is Joe’s Real BBQ successful?
Because we really only care about three things. Our employees all wear hats that say “clean, delicious, friendly” for a reason. When I sit down with my staff, we only talk about 3 things. When we hire customer service staff, we really only care whether they are friendly or not. When we create a new dish, we only focus on how delicious it might be. Our menu hasn’t changed much since 1998. The environment here is welcoming, and family-friendly. Diners are greeted by the same people every time they come. Our lunch customers have been rung up by the same cashier for almost 12 years. There is a 1948 John Deere tractor in the dining room, and a 70-foot long mural celebrating our town’s agricultural heritage. It’s the kind of place where everyone feels welcomed, and everyone can be comfortable. We are not a dive (clean is important in our business), but we’re far from pretentious.

How do people find out about Joe’s?
Mostly from their friends and neighbors. We have an embarrassingly low marketing budget, and usually come in under budget. We employ social media. We have met hundreds, probably many hundreds, of our customers via social media and forged lasting relationships with them. We have never paid for search engine placements, but do fare rather well when people start looking around the web for a place to eat in the phoenix area. We encourage people to write about their visit on yelp, urban spoon, and other review sites. We have great relationships with the local media – traditional and digital. We have very very loyal fans. We get quite a bit of publicity for giving everyone a free meal on their birthday. And we have an animated neon sign sticking up about 18 feet in the air!

Why is your turnover rate so low?
While I’d like to think it’s because people really like the owners so much, the truth is people hang around because they are treated fairly and shown they are valued. Showing employees you value them takes effort, and must be consistently evident. Money can’t be an afterthought. We give raises when they are warranted. We offer full time employees health, dental, ltd, std and life insurance and pay 90% of the premiums. We offer full timers and part timers alike a 401k plan with matching. We offer full and part timers paid vacation after 6 months on the job. The employee meal is always free. We run contests where employees can be in a drawing to win a gift card. While it gets more difficult as we grow, we’ve always tried to have corporate outings – diamondbacks baseball games, bowling; that type of thing. We give anniversary gifts and bonuses. Every employee gets their birthday off with pay. We recently started honoring an employee of the week. As you may have guessed, our employee of the week must go above and beyond in getting the place clean, making delicious food, and being friendly. We post photos of the employee of the week on ScheduleFly, and on our in-house electronic menu board known as BBQTV.

What’s your favorite meal on your menu?
I like the sampler platter. Served with a homemade side dish, our sampler offers brisket, chicken on the bone, ribs and pulled pork. While it is big enough to split, I usually don’t have any left to share with the Mrs.

Let’s say you meet somebody on a plane who is coming to visit Gilbert. He doesn’t yet know you own a restaurant, and asks for a restaurant recommendation. What’s your “airplane pitch” for Joe’s?
The best BBQ in Arizona, served in a 1940’s agriculturally themed restaurant at yesterday’s prices.

What do you hope the future holds for Joe’s Real BBQ?
More of the same. We are humbled we’ve had almost 13 great years in a great town. We have no immediate expansion plans, and intend to focus instead on making our place cleaner, our food more delicious, and encouraging our employees to be even more friendly. If the lord continues to bless us, we’ll be doing what we do for quite a few more years.


The Fearless Leader
Darryl “Big D” Jansen is the kitchen manager who has worked at Joe’s for almost 13 years. He was the first employee.

Why do you like working at Joe’s?
I like the owners, Joe, Tad and Tim. The dedication and care they show for my family and I.

What’s the most important aspect of your job?
Food safety and food quality. Clean, delicious, friendly.

What is your management style?
I am a hands on chef. I get dirty with my staff and work side by side with them.

What’s your favorite meal on your menu?
I like ribs with beans and applesauce, with cornbread and honey butter.


The Evangelist
Florencia has worked at Joe’s for almost 12 years. She has worked as a counter server, at the takeout window, and cashier. Both of her parents work at Joe’s, but she has seniority on both of them!

Why do you like working at Joe’s?
I like the atmosphere, my bosses, my co-workers, and the way I get to talk to customers instead of being in an office or away from people all day

What’s the most important aspect of your job?
The way I get to interact with so many customers. I see hundreds of people every day, and have seen so many people for so many years, a lot of them are like friends and family

What’s your favorite meal on your menu?
When I am real hungry I get the stuffed baker with turkey on top.

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Restaurant with Open Jobs to Fill?
Check out Restaurant Jobs by Schedulefly
The easiest way for restaurants to find and hire great people

Is Restaurant Staff Scheduling Wearing You Out?
Tens of thousands of restaurant folks use Schedulefly to make restaurant staff scheduling and communication easy, simple, and fun.

Where We’re Heading with Schedulefly…

We always try to be very open about what’s happening at Schedulefly, including our plans for the business. So here’s a simple list of what Wes, Tyler and I are working towards every day, one customer at a time.

Become the Most Beloved Brand in the Independent Restaurant Space
We love indies. Everything we do is based on making the lives of folks at independent restaurants easier. So we make our app really easy for them to use, and we use our blog as a tool to let them tell their stories, and to promote them, and do whatever we can to support them. Years from now, we want every independent restaurateur to know and love our brand. Period. That’s what fuels our fires every day.

Be a Great Company, But Not Necessarily a Big Company
We purposely made Schedulefly simple, intuitive, and flexible, so we wouldn’t have to have a bunch of people to provide customer support. We don’t have many customer support requests, and new customers rarely need any training. We believe passionately and very, very confidently that we can grow our business significantly with just a few people. We have three people now, and our guess is we will have no more than four or five people two or three years from now. We strive to be great. Not big.

Never Sell Our Business
People always ask us, “What is your exit strategy?” People think it sounds sexy or cool or something to have an “exit strategy.” And they assume all entrepreneurs have “exit strategies.” After all, when people “exit” it means they sold their business for lots of money, and people like those kinds of stories. So the press always tells us about mergers and acquisitions, and entrepreneurs “exiting” with lots of cash and, presumably, their dreams fulfilled. But the three of us love Schedulefly. We love what we do every day. So why in the world would we ever have a strategy to “exit” something we love? And since we love Schedulefly, we make decisions based on what’s best for our business, not based on propping our business up to be sold one day.

It’s fun to dream big while also focusing on keeping things simple. It’s working great so far!

Wil

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Restaurant with Open Jobs to Fill?
Check out Restaurant Jobs by Schedulefly
The easiest way for restaurants to find and hire great people

Is Restaurant Staff Scheduling Wearing You Out?
Tens of thousands of restaurant folks use Schedulefly to make restaurant staff scheduling and communication easy, simple, and fun.

Successful Restaurateur: Add Up All the Hours We Used To Spend And Schedulefly Is Money Well Spent

Restaurant owners and managers usually can’t find extra time to eat and sleep, much less, time to tell us how our software helps their business and makes their staff’s lives easier. So when we get their undivided attention even for just 2 minutes – we try to make the best of it! Recently we caught up with one of Joe’s Real BBQ owners – Tad Peelen and asked him to tell us more about the ROI his family owned and operated restaurant receives from Schedulefly. What he said was cool and clearly something that is much easier to realize in hindsight…so I wanted to share it here.

  When we study our investment in Schedulefly, we look at before and after scenarios. Before, we were spending hours creating schedules in Excel that were posted on a bulletin board in the employee break room. We spent more hours during the week taking phone calls from people who couldn’t make their scheduled shifts, and trying to cover those shifts. Add up all of the hours we used to spend, and add in the fact we can now communicate with our employees instantly, our employees can cover their own shifts, and schedules can be viewed from any phone or computer in the world, and then it becomes a no-brainer. Money well spent.  

Thanks Tad and team! This insight into the ROI your seeing from using Schedulefly really helps other restaurateurs who are learning more about us.

The Schedulefly Crew

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Restaurant with Open Jobs to Fill?
Check out Restaurant Jobs by Schedulefly
The easiest way for restaurants to find and hire great people

Is Restaurant Staff Scheduling Wearing You Out?
Tens of thousands of restaurant folks use Schedulefly to make restaurant staff scheduling and communication easy, simple, and fun.

Delivering Happiness In A Box

While on vacation at the beach – I read Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. It is the story of Zappos and how he and his team made the online shoe buying experience easier, better and more fun than actually visiting a shoe store! They did this by focusing on customer service and creating a culture of happy, passionate employees. If you’ve ever ordered from Zappos – you’ve either been WOW’d by their speedy free shipping (both ways) or their friendly, unscripted, truly helpful service when you call. I read they even hire marathon runners to answer questions about running shoes and hiking fanatics to answer questions about trail shoes. Their relentless pursuit of WOWing their customers with exceptional service and a simple and fun experience made them stand out.

It was an inspiring and fun book to read. They clearly made it fun for everyone by being different, being passionate about what they do, creating a family like culture and focusing on actually being helpful to customers when they call. They indeed figured out how to deliver happiness in a box!

Wes @ Schedulefly

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Restaurant with Open Jobs to Fill?
Check out Restaurant Jobs by Schedulefly
The easiest way for restaurants to find and hire great people

Is Restaurant Staff Scheduling Wearing You Out?
Tens of thousands of restaurant folks use Schedulefly to make restaurant staff scheduling and communication easy, simple, and fun.

Wil’s Whiteboard, Volume III – Free Tastes of Schedulefly

We recently launched a web site that enables restaurants to post job openings for free. Here’s the story behind why we are doing this….

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=13339759&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1

Keepin’ Our Business Decisions Wide Open,
Wil

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Restaurant with Open Jobs to Fill?
Check out Restaurant Jobs by Schedulefly
The easiest way for restaurants to find and hire great people

Is Restaurant Staff Scheduling Wearing You Out?
Tens of thousands of restaurant folks use Schedulefly to make restaurant staff scheduling and communication easy, simple, and fun.

Waterman’s Surfside Grille Staff Says Schedulefly Rocks

If you’ve been to Virginia Beach – I bet you’ve been to Waterman’s Surfside Grille. Since 1981 this family owned and operated oceanfront venue has been serving up steaks, ribs and local seafood – as fresh as it gets. Literally. To get the full experience of Waterman’s – you can book an offshore fishing charter on The Waterman – a gorgeous 57′ foot sportfishing boat – and take your fresh catch of Tuna or maybe Mahi-Mahi to Waterman’s to have it grilled with a side of rice and veggies while you wait with a cocktail at their outdoor boardwalk bar. Seriously – I can’t think of a better way to spend a day…

Waterman’s, and their 132 staff, love Schedulefly. It’s not that easy to schedule and communicate effectively with a restaurant staff that size. They use Schedulefly because we make it easy and fun for them to do just that. We are not just saying that – they told us that. So we sent them our Flip video camera in a box. The only other thing we sent (besides a return label) was a note that said – “Tell us why you use Schedulefly”. Check it out…

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=13309158&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=13309440&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=13308573&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1

Keepin’ it Fun and Simple,

The Schedulefly Guys

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Looking for a Job? Got a position to fill?
Check out Restaurant Jobs by Schedulefly

Tens of thousands of restaurant folks use Schedulefly to make restaurant staff scheduling and communication easy, simple, and fun.

Rolling Back the Curtains on Schedulefly’s New, Free Restaurant Jobs Site

Social networks are changing the way businesses find and recruit new staff. Many restaurants are letting their Facebook fans and their Twitter followers know about job openings instead of posting to the big search engines like Monster and Yahoo. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to post a job that is immediately seen by thousands of unqualified candidates – they are targeting their broadcast and finding the right people faster – for free. They are finding local people who might be familiar with their business and/or their staff. People with whom they (or someone on their staff) may already have a connection. It makes sense.

So we decided to help restaurants take advantage of this by making the hiring process easier and much more organized. We’ve given them a free easy job posting tool so they can create a job opening page with a way for people to apply. They simply share this page with their team and on their social networks. When someone applies- we notify the hiring managers via email and attach the resume. They can also visit the site to review applicants, post and edit jobs. All the applications are stored nice and neat for review at any time.

This tool is one of the tools that Schedulefly’s customers use in our easy web-based restaurant staff scheduling and communication app. It was easy to build and is easy to maintain and was frankly a very easy piece to strip out of our app and give away for free to restaurants.

So now – any restaurant, anywhere, can now post jobs online for free at http://jobs.schedulefly.com. Yep, that’s right. Any restaurant. Anywhere. Free.

Keepin’ It Simple & Building Our Brand,

The Schedulefly Crew

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Looking for a Job? Got a position to fill?
Check out Restaurant Jobs by Schedulefly

Tens of thousands of restaurant folks use Schedulefly to make restaurant staff scheduling and communication easy, simple, and fun.

Common Traits of Schedulefly Customers

We have recently been working to understand the common traits that our restaurant customers share. And we’ve learned that outside of the obvious desire they all have to improve their restaurant staff scheduling and communication, the commonalities are pretty easy to determine…

Independently Owned Restaurants
Almost all of our customers are independently owned restaurants. Most of our customers have one, two, five, or maybe ten locations. Many are franchisees. All of our customers tend to value easy communication, simplicity and focus on creating fun environments. Since we focus on the basics and leave out complicated features and rules, we usually attract restaurants without a governing corporate headquarters. We attract restaurants that are empowered to make smart financial decisions for their own business and ones that like to empower their staff.

Employee Focused
Most restaurants will tell you they care about their employees. And you can be certain the employees know if that’s true, or just lip service. Most of Schedulefly’s customers really mean it. You can tell when you speak to them. The owners and managers talk a lot about their employees. They tell you one of the most important reasons they use Schedulefly is to improve communication with their employees. And to keep them connected. And to help build camaraderie and teamwork. And simply to give their employees a fun tool that makes their lives easier. They tend to think like Richard Taubin, co-owner of Friends Coastal Restaurant in Madisonville, LA, who says “We are very family oriented. Our employees come first, even before our customers.” Or they think like Kiersten Traina of Liberty Market in Gilbert, AZ who thinks about and accounts for her employees’ personal schedules as much as her restaurant’s needs when creating the weekly staff schedule.

Fun & Family
Most owners, managers, and employees of Schedulefly customers will tell you their restaurant is a fun place to work. They’ll say it “feels like family.” If you and your employees would say the same, Schedulefly is probably a great fit. We have a fun app that helps our restaurant customers foster teamwork and camaraderie and build their own online communities. Frankly, that’s why we are so focused on serving independent restaurants, and franchisees that think like them. We’ve found that indies like to keep things simple. They like to keep things fun. And they like to feel like a family. As Renee Shuey, GM of Murray Brothers Caddyshack in St. Augustine, FL told Wil: “We’re like one big family. We like to have fun. And Schedulefly fits right in with our approach.” If you can relate to Renee’s philosophy, you think like most of our customers, and you and your employees will probably love using Schedulefly.

If you find yourself nodding knowingly while reading this and thinking “That’s us!”, then I’ll bet you Schedulefly will be a great fit for your restaurant. We’d love for you to sign up for a Free Trial and find out.

Keepin’ It Straightforward,

The Schedulefly Crew

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Looking for a Job? Got a position to fill?
Check out Restaurant Jobs by Schedulefly

Tens of thousands of restaurant folks use Schedulefly to make restaurant staff scheduling and communication easy, simple, and fun.

People Don’t Come for the "Flare"

It’s funny how many restaurants try to concoct “fun” atmospheres and make customer service a process. There’s nothing genuine about it, and we all know it when we see it. It’s so common that the movie “Office Space” has a few “Flare” scenes to mock the approach. Here’s one of them….

Then there are places that realize you can keep it simple and still get it right. Five Guys is notorious for minimal decorations and very simple layouts and interiors. A bunch of plain wooden tables. Not much on the walls. Certainly no “flare” on their employees. I ate lunch at one with my three year old son today, and we had a great experience. It was great because of two simple gestures by the manager.

First, my three year old son tried to give him my credit card so that he could pay for lunch for us. But the manager moved his hand aside each time my son tried to hand him my card. After a couple of times my son caught onto the game and started laughing. So he quickly won over my son. Then, when our number was called, we went to pick up our lunch and the manager – still at the register – looked over and caught my eye. He simply said, “Hey thanks for coming in today sir.” He held eye contact and – this is the key – I could absolutely tell he meant it. His thanks was genuine. That’s all it took. We’ll go back. Now, we’d go back at some point anyway because we love their burgers. But you can bet my son will be asking me to take him back in a day or two, because he now associates Five Guys with having a funny man at the cash register. And since I received a genuine thank you, I will be happy to take him.

Wil

Intense Focus and Patience Equal Success

I recently started keeping a fly fishing for Redfish journal. I keep detailed notes on each trip I make. I jot down the date, the tide, the temperature, the time of day, who I was with, the spots we fished or checked, wether or not there were clouds hampering our effort etc. Lots of stuff. I, of course, also describe in detail how the fish were acting that day and if we had success or not. Anything that might be an indicator as to why we found Redfish or not. It is going to be really cool, next year, to look back at my entries for the month of June this year and refresh my memory on where the fish were hanging out. I am learning every month.

You see, the Redfish we catch here in NC, are creatures of habit. They do the same thing year after year. They are resident fish and they live here. In the Fall – the more mature fish (5 yrs old or more) move out of the creeks and bays off the Intracoastal waterway and head into the ocean – where they spawn. The juvenile fish stay in the bays and creeks and marshes until they are old enough to be parents. There a number of factors that cause the bigger fish to leave their cozy, safe shallow water homes near oyster beds and spartina grass and head into the ocean – things like water temperature and definitely the movement of bait. The movement of the food brings them all back.

My focus on learning how this one fish lives and moves and eats and evolves has turned into an obsession. Each time I fish, regardless of catching fish, I learn something new. Focusing on them and learning about them is causing me to have more success each year. Just a few years ago I would fish a spot that had no life – no bait, no sting rays, no turtles etc. I would always say – “there have got to be fish here – it just looks too good”. Today I know better. I look for real signs of fish before I actually look for fish. I look for bait. I wait for the right tide. I look for other marine life. It is amazing to see success happen because of what I learn each time out. Sure – fishing is a lot of luck – but consistent success is directly related to focus, patience and learning. If I lost my focus on Redfish and just started fishing for anything that bites – I might catch more fish – but I would be less effective and I would certainly not have as much fun.

The hunt for this one specific fish and the challenge of catching them with a fly rod, consistently, is what drives me. It is not about the catching, it is not about the numbers – it is about the hunt and the not so obvious things happening during the hunt. The sounds, the smells, the quiet and the intense focus. The rare success I have comes from time on the water – hours and hours of focus. Focus on how these fish move and on what tide and what they are eating. Often too, it’s just as important to learn where the fish are not – and why. Kind of a process of elimination I guess. Every trip I take – I learn more about what I am trying to catch and over time – I am having more and more success.

Here is an NC Redfish being released to rejoin his school of buddies…

Keepin’ the Focus
Wes

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