Once upon a time in 2006-ish, before Schedulefly had a single paying customer and before I had any partners, I lugged my laptop over to the office of a well known restaurant group in Raleigh NC. They owned 6 very popular restaurants and I had been introduced to their CEO via email by a friend who knew him. This friend of mine knew about Schedulefly (because he knew me – not because anyone used it yet) and suggested I go see them. Sales makes my stomach upset and I hate selling and I’d honestly rather get my ass kicked than go bother someone about buying something – but I had to try. I had been to nearly all of their restaurants as a patron and I remember thinking there were an ideal prospect too – lot’s of young staff with busy schedules. It was worth putting a collared shirt on and heading over there just to see.
I met with their HR person and showed her Schedulelfly. She was super nice, seemed to like it, but told me they had a bunch of other wheels that were squeaking louder (that were not related to staff scheduling) and sent me on my way. I was like Tommy Boy selling brake pads and said “Okee Dokey, thank you very much” and hustled out the door. I do remember asking how they managed their staff schedules at that time and she said on paper – or maybe with Excel. In hindsight, Schedulefly was a bit ahead of it’s time. No one was scheduling and communicating with staff online in 2006….and restaurants were not using sites like Twitter and Facebook and Yelp and Groupon etc. etc. etc. They did not exist…except maybe Facebook and it was for college kids not businesses. So here I was trying to show them the software I had created as well as educate them on how powerful the internet is for tools and utilities like Schedulefly. You don’t have to buy hardware anymore. You don’t have to sign contracts and have people onsite to setup stuff and come back when problems arise or upgrades are released. You don’t have to spend much either. No wonder that was a hard sale. That’s not the way they buy stuff. It was not normal. Today, literally everything is done on the internet and “in the cloud” so most of what I was trying to sell her on is not part of the sale anymore. People get it now. They don’t need complication anymore. They do almost everything on the web.
I remember about a year later (after Tyler and I teamed up and we had 50 or so paying restaurants) I tweeted the CEO of that restaurant group (back when I used twitter). I refreshed his memory about us, told him we had added some cool new stuff since his HR leader last saw it and asked if they wanted to give it another look. He said and I quote “We are all set on our scheduling systems”. I never contacted him again.
Well sometime in 2010 (4 years later) they signed up one of their restaurants and started paying. Soon the rest came on. As I sat in my kitchen (which has also served as my office for the last 6 years) and watched them hand over their credit card to start their subscriptions I thought….man, timing is literally everything and from now on, we really just need to be here for restaurants when they are ready and when the time is right for them. We need to be an option for them when scheduling becomes a pain or when a staff member mentions us and they have time to turn their attention to trying us. We don’t need to push it on people who are not ready – and may never be. Who are we to assume a restaurant even needs what we provide – now or in the future? No matter how perfect they may seem – we can’t. It’s silly to.