We left $250,000 (and a million headaches) on the table…

“Are you crazy? Do you realize how much money you left on the table?” That’s what somebody asked me when I told them the following story:

A couple of months ago a large restaurant chain called us. They were already very familiar with Schedulefly, liked it a lot, and wanted to consider rolling it out to their locations across the U.S. They’d pilot it in about 10% of the locations over the next month, and assuming the pilot went well, deploy it nationally.

I’ll admit I got a bit excited at the possibility at first, so instead of going ahead right then and telling them to call another company in our space that was built to serve chains, I entertained this idea and quoted them $250,000 per year. What can I say? I got momentarily focused on the wrong thing – the money – and forgot about the cost to our business, and to our lifestyles, if we decided to take this on. It was a mistake.

Wes and I spoke about it, and he got me thinking straight again. The next day I told the nice gentleman at this chain that we just aren’t in the business of serving chains, and I referred them to a “competitor” (this company focuses on chains, we focus on independent restaurants and franchisees, so we’re in the same space but I don’t see us as competitors). I said that serving chains is not what we’re passionate about. It’s not what our company was built to do. It’s not something we are hoping to do. You see, serving chains is not something we believe we are the best at, and if we can’t be the best at it, we don’t want to do it.

Besides, we’re here for the long term. We’ll bring in that same amount of money by bringing in restaurant customers one at a time. And if we do it our way, we’ll be able to keep our software simple because we won’t have to add the things a chain would inevitably need us to add. We won’t have to hire a new employee to help serve a large customer who could leave us any time, and conversely cause us to have to let that person go. We won’t have to build out a roll out plan.

But perhaps most importantly, we won’t run into the inevitable scenario of people being forced to use Schedulefly when they don’t want to. As we’re set up now, restaurants use our free trial to determine if our software will work for them. They don’t get any sales pressure. They don’t deal with somebody on our crew trying to convince them why they should pay us their hard earned money. Rather, we simply let the app speak for itself, we provide excellent service if it’s needed during their trial, and we let them determine on their own if they will love Schedulefly like our paying customers do. If they choose to subscribe, GREAT! We’re stoked to serve them for as long as Schedulefly helps their restaurant run better and makes their team members’ lives easier. If they choose not to subscribe, no worries. It wasn’t the right fit for whatever reason. We understand. They move on and we move on, and we’re confident that if things change down the road, they’ll give it another try.

You see, all of our customers are paying us by choice, so we have great word-of-mouth going for us. There’s no animosity towards our brand. People that use Schedulefly love Schedulely – because it’s their choice! But if a bunch of people were forced to use it because somebody back in headquarters decided they should? Well, that would be a different story. And it’s not a story we want to be a part of.

So while we left a couple of hundred thousand dollars on the table (or possibly a million dollars if you consider it over four years), we also left a million headaches on the table, we kept our focus on being the best at what we do, and we left ourselves the flexibility to take time to enjoy life every day.

It’s 10:52am on a Friday. Rather than working through a rollout plan right now, I’m going to take my kids to the park.