So while we don’t use social media websites here at Schedulefly (and I don’t personally any longer), I do have to give them a giant shout out because it has definitely helped our business grow. But not really in the way it’s being pitched to help businesses. It’s helping our business because it’s teaching our market and our potential customers that it’s incredibly easy and productive to use the internet to communicate with prospects, customers and employees. It’s bringing them online and making them realize that they can reach customers and employees in ways they never could before. It’s pulling them away from the mindset that they should own software and install it, rather they should subscribe to software over the internet. Ask any software service company that’s been around for more than 5 years and I’ll bet they will tell you that 5 years ago they had to do a lot more convincing (about storing information on the internet and using web based software) than they do today. Today, our potential customers are actively looking for easy tools to help them reach customers, take reservations, take orders, alert wait list people, schedule employees, do payroll etc. It’s mainstream now. And the last thing they are looking for is software on a CD that has to be loaded on a computer at the restaurant and comes with a on-site technician to install it and train the staff. It’s no longer acceptable for any information they need to be on a computer’s hard drive or hanging on the wall at the restaurant.
A quick story to illustrate my point:
About 6 years ago I set out on foot with a laptop to show Schedulefly to a few restaurants in Raleigh NC – the first few that had ever seen it. I am not a sales person and I didn’t like it, but since restaurants were not actively searching for software like ours and were not hearing about it from staff – I had no other choice. Being a lousy sales person was not the worst of it though – I had the unknowns and the scariness of the internet working against me. You see back then there was no Twitter or Facebook (for brands anyway) or Foursquare or Yelp or Groupon. They were no phone apps that let consumers find restaurants near them and read reviews and leave comments and use coupons. Software for restaurants was AT the restaurant (and it was usually hooked to a printer). That’s what they knew. That’s what they were comfortable with. Restaurants were not using the internet to reach customers and employees (except via email). So while I did get lucky and stumble across a few early adopters (who are still customers today!), most of the restaurants I showed it to gave it a once over, didn’t really consider it and showed me the door. Even though I knew they had the pain of scheduling and communicating with their staff effectively, I was a tad early. I was not speaking their language….not quite yet.
Well today we are. We are speaking it loud and clear and so is any internet business offering online services to businesses. It just makes so much sense now.
So here’s to social media and all the smart people behind those sites! Thank you.
p.s By no means am I saying it’s now easy to sell a software service on the internet. It’s not. Our main competition is still paper or excel or whatever they’ve always done. Convincing people to change will always be a challenge…so will being priced right, creating brand awareness and scaling the business. Sheesh, it’s a wonder how any business becomes successful.