Schedulefly Stories

Growing a software business one restaurant at a time

Month: December 2013

A small, single location, world famous indie restaurant (new video)

I really like the way the folks at Riverside Market & Cafe in Fort Lauderdale think of their restaurant as a world famous place. This is a cool philosophy…

More vids from our Riverside shoot coming soon. Y’all have a wonderful New Year, and thanks for reading our blog.

The Schedulefly Crew

Why everybody feels at home at Riverside Market & Cafe (new video)

Unedited footage of Julian Siegel talking about creating a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere at Riverside Market & Cafe in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Thanks for watching,
The Schedulefly Crew

A restaurant that uses the honor system for beer purchases (new vid)

Riverside Market & Cafe in Fort Lauderdale, FL has 550 types of bottled beer in coolers lining one of their walls. If you want to drink one, you grab it and knock it back. Want another? Open the door and get one. Repeat process until you’ve had your fill.

All they ask is that you please pay them for what you drank on the way out. That’s right, they have an honor system, and it’s unlike anything I’ve seen at any restaurant, anywhere. And while many people think that’s crazy, it was clear as day to me while we were there filming that people flock to Riverside exactly because of things like the honor system.

As Lisa mentions in this video, most people want to be trusted. And because she and her husband, Julian, choose to focus on the 99% of people who are honest, and not worry about the 1% who aren’t, they are able to have this wonderful honor system that frankly makes you feel more like you are visiting a friend’s house, not a business.

Recently I blogged about fear, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how much fear tends to drive many business decisions. It’s at the root of so many rules and regulations and systems that businesses in every industry put in place, to keep employees or customers from doing things those businesses fear they will do. Think about it. It’s pervasive.

But operating with faith, not fear, has clearly enabled the folks at Riverside Market & Cafe to create something special, and people go there to be a part of it because it’s so rare for businesses to operate that way these days.

Wil

Roll the dice (new vid)

Julian Siegel of Riverside Market & Cafe in Fort Lauderdale, FL talks about how he finds great people for his team.

The Schedulefly Crew

Our book is (still) a great gift

Last December I wrote this post suggesting our book would make a great gift. It still is.

It was $12 for paperback last year and $5 for the Kindle version. Now it’s $9.72 for paperback (still $5 for Kindle). $9.72 is a weird price. We actually still have it listed as $12, but Amazon likes to sell items at a discount, so they set the price at $9.72 and show it as a 19% discount. Hey, whatever works is cool for us.

Anyway, people seem to like the book. It doesn’t beat you over the head with things you “have to do to be successful.” And it doesn’t have a central point. It simply offers interviews we conducted with twenty independent restaurant owners. We asked them to tell us their story and let us know what lessons they’ve learned, things they think are important to do if you own a restaurant, mistakes they’ve made, advice they’d give an aspiring restaurateur, etc.

If you know somebody who dreams of owning a restaurant one day, he/she may enjoy Restaurant Owners Uncorked. It’s here.

Wil

A stress-free restaurant

(Riverside Market & Cafe has 550 types of bottled beer. Choices, choices)

I’ve already written about how much Luke and I loved filming at Riverside Market & Cafe in Fort Lauderdale. We’re working on their videos now, and I thought it might be cool to offer a preview of some of the things owners Julian and Lisa Siegel talked about in their interview.

Julian…

Roll the dice

Finding people in this industry is really hard. And sometimes we do get into a jam and get understaffed. Everyone says, “Just put it on Facebook. Put a sign on the door.”

Well there’s nothing worse I can imagine than walking into a restaurant with a Help Wanted sign on the door. We’re not a lumber yard. When people walk up to your restaurant, you want them to think that you’ve got everything under control, so the sign in the door doesn’t work. Same with social media. I couldn’t imagine putting a note on Facebook, “We need servers. We need help,” because you always at least try to feel that you are secure in your business and you don’t need help. Good help will come to you.

Some of our best employees have come to us by accident, just walking through the door. And there’s always a network. There’s always situations where somebody says, “Hey my sister’s friend’s cousin is new in town and he’s great.” Or, “My best friend’s son will work out. He’s a dream.” You get a lot of referrals, which is great because at least there’s a level of connection.

Every time we’ve gone ahead and advertised openings, we’ll have a thousand resumes, set up a hundred interviews, ten will show up, and one is qualified. I prefer to just roll the dice and let the right person walk in the door.

Make everyone feel at home

We wanted to make this a tribute to a mid-century theme of a general store, but base it on great food and craft beer, and kid-friendly – which is huge.

At one point we had an oversized counter at the front, and we didn’t really need it, so we made it a children’s play area. Board games, padded floor, toys, high chairs. You name it. And it was just one of those spaces where your kids could play while you sit back and have a beer. It’s just one of those things we do because we want everybody to feel at home here.

Everyone identifies with us. If you look around the room on any given time, you’ll see professionals, you’ll see cops, you’ll see misguided skateboarders, you’ll see tattooed, pierced teenagers, you’ll see artists, musicians, photographers.

Everyone seems to be able to relate to this establishment, and enjoy it. And they just expand our audience because they tell other people about Riverside. And we love it. And we love them for loving it!

Lisa…

Don’t count pennies

You don’t have to have spreadsheets and a million dollar build out to make a successful restaurant. I think that because we are not trying to maximize everything, and we’re not penny counting, and we’re not sitting there with spreadsheets is a big part of why we have had success. It’s because we’re not stressed out about that stuff.

We’re here having fun. We’re having an enjoyable, authentic relationship with this restaurant, with the people that work here, with the people that are part of our family, the people that come in here. And I think that’s what leads to success.

If we were sitting here watching every penny and nickel-and-diming everything, what fun would that be? It wouldn’t be. So I think that approach works for us. We’re not trying to meet numbers and push to goals. We’re just here having fun, and it’s working.

Check your stress at the door

Julian and I try to live a stress-free life and have a stress-free environment here at Riverside. I think we emanate that energy, and people feel it. You come here to relax, enjoy yourself, meet a new friend, or just be by yourself and drink a beer and go back to what may be a chaotic life.

We recently had another restaurant owner come in and on his way out he said, “This is the most relaxing hour I have had in months. And now I have to go back to my crazy life at my restaurant.” And that’s how we’re supposed to do it. That’s what we want you to experience when you come here.

We’ll have the vids ready soon. You’re gonna love ’em!

Wil

Different

One of my favorite books I’ve read in the last 10 years is Different: Escaping the Competitive Heard. It’s author, Youngme Moon, is a popular professor at Harvard Business School, but this book’s premise is far from what you might expect from the b-school set. In fact, it’s called “a book for people who don’t read business books” in it’s description on Amazon.

Youngme discusses why many brands that have broken all of the traditional rules of marketing have been wildly successful over the last couple of decades. The short summary is that people glaze over the b.s., instantly-nostalgic, feel-good, manipulative marketing that used to work 50 years ago when it was new, but now is either easily ignored or even causes harm for the brands that use it.

I’ll let these quotes do the rest of the work for me, but suffice it to say that I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I’ve read it twice and reference it often…

“I contend that if one were to identify the most compelling business stories of the past two decades, a disproportionate number of these stories … could best be described as exceptions to the rule.” (She discusses brands such as Red Bull, Harley Davidson, Google, IKEA, and others in depth, and shares how they ignored the “rules” of marketing to differentiate themselves, which led to enormous success.)

“In field after field, past experience has taught us that the ones to pay attention to are the ones who understand the rules so well that they also understand the urgency to break them.”

“The problem with asking consumers what they want is that not only will they ask for things they’re not getting, but their requests will usually be driven by what they see being offered by the competition. This is one of the (many) problems with market research. And so it is that we wind up with a Volvo that runs like an Audi, and an Audi that runs like a Volvo.” (Youngme then tells the unique story of the Mini)

“In business,it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that the way to be better is to simply do more. However, if the story of augmentation has a parable, it is that it’s possible to improve yourself all the way to mediocrity.”

“In a marketing environment saturated with overblown promises and cloudless false reality, nothing dents. Meanwhile, the brands I find myself paying attention to are the ones who aren’t afraid to evoke a more complex set of reactions. The brands that aren’t afraid to put a stake in the ground and force us to line up on either side of it.”

“Our competitive myopia has created a dynamic in which our tendency to mirror (or better yet, one-up) the movements of our competitors has become reflexive.”

“When consumers look at the brands within a particular segment, more often than not, all they see is a competitive blur. The objective is not to blend into the blur; the objective is to stand out from it.”

“Great ideas, novel ideas, original ideas … are tenuous at birth. And the reason for that is that, early on, they are often indistinguishable from crazy, impractical ideas.”

And, finally….

“Differentiation is not a tactic. It’s not a flashy advertising campaign. It’s not a sparkling new feature set … Differentiation is a way of thinking. It’s a mindset. It’s a commitment. A commitment to engage with people- not in a manner to which they are merely unaccustomed, but in a manner that they will value, respect, and perhaps even celebrate.”

These quotes are of course a mere teaser to the extremely though-provoking, enjoyable, meaningful content in Youngme’s book. If you’re looking for a good read – even if you don’t normally read business books – check it out.

Wil

Why Daikaya’s owners traveled to Japan to plan their restaurant (new vid)

Daisuke Utagawa and his partners at Daikaya in Washington, D.C. traveled to Japan together as they planned their restaurant. Daisuke explains why it was worth the time and expense to make the trip…

This wraps up the Daikaya vids. Next up are Julian and Lisa Siegel from the one-of-a-kind Riverside Market & Cafe in Ft.Lauderdale, FL.

The Schedulefly Crew

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