Schedulefly Stories

Growing a software business one restaurant at a time

Month: May 2014

On the $15 minimum wage and more from Seattle….

Last week we visited Willy Boutillier (below on right) at Maximilien in Seattle, and talked about the movement to move the minimum wage to $15/hour in Seattle, the pros and cons of culinary school, the common misperception of what it’s like to be a restaurant owner, and a lot of other interesting stuff. The vids will be awesome – here are some pics for now (the view from this restaurant is, as Willy says, “priceless.”)

People don’t admire technology

I read that Facebook will be launching a video sharing tool to compete with Snapchat – the company that turned down their 3 billion-ish dollar offer. With all the talent on the Facebook team and with their resources and awareness – you’d think they could crush every single business that they decided to compete with. But I doubt they will. I think Snapchat is too focused and too far ahead on creating their brand. In fact, turning down that offer (while crazy seeming) likely made many people admire them.

About 5 years ago someone asked me what we would do if Google decided to offer some kind of scheduling software. I guess they assumed that just because we created an internet company that Google would decide to do it too? I recall thinking to myself – I suppose they might do that – but should we wake up worried about that every day and should we change our strategy and add more technology and take that investment and grow faster and be bigger – just in case one day our competitor is Google? Surely if that actually happened we wouldn’t stand a chance and would lose ALL of our customers overnight because Google now does what we do and everyone in the world would rather do business with them right?

In my opinion, it’s not just about the technology you offer – it’s also about the stand you take and the decisions you make for your business and what you believe in. That’s what many potential customers can relate to when looking at options. When there are choices, I think people ultimately love to do business with companies that they respect and admire for some reason – and the reason is something other than the technology.


The magic is in the preparation (new video)

Willy Taco in Spartanburg, S.C. serves some seriously fresh, high quality food, and owner Kenneth Cribb says the magic is in the preparation. I personally ate 10 of their tacos while we were there and they so damn good my mouth is watering just typing this and remembering the experience! – Wil

Upcoming videos from Busy Bee Cafe and Trophy Brewing

We recently filmed interviews with Chris Powers (left) and Woody Lockwood, who co-own Busy Bee Cafe and Trophy Brewing. Both places are extremely popular, with great food, great beer, great service, and great vibes. We talked about using local organic ingredients, the importance of being present in their restaurants, changing their beers and menus every day, hiring friends, being willing to check your ego and admit when you need to change something that isn’t working, and much more.

These two guys are some sharp cats with great reputations in Raleigh as well as great respect from their staff. Can’t wait to run the vids.


Why restaurant design detail matters (new video)

I really like the comments Kenneth Cribb made about why he and his partners paid so much attention to the design of Willy Taco in Spartanburg, S.C.

I will attest to the impact the design had on Luke and me while we were there filming. You can’t help but notice it and pay attention. They flat out got it right.


A restaurant owner who leads by example (new video)

Kenneth Cribb of Willy Taco in Spartanburg, S.C. talks about leading by example in this video, and I can confirm without a doubt he practices what he preaches because we watched him do it the whole time we were there. This is a fantastic vid…


Sure we could add more, but we would miss the point

While in college, I was a waiter at a nice full-service independent restaurant in Wrightsville Beach NC. There were 2 owners – one of which was there every night. During the summer they were both there on the busy nights. At that time, it was one of the best independently owned restaurants in the area and it was run very well. Eventually I became one of the more senior staff (thanks to my extended stay while taking my sweet time getting an undergraduate degree) and made the schedule for the wait staff. Before I was senior enough to call the shots on when I wanted to work and also make the schedule for the others – I (and every other waiter – about 40 of us) would do one of the following every week to find out when we worked….

a) Call the restaurant and bother whomever answered the phone and ask them to run back in the kitchen (where the paper schedule was posted) and check it to see when we worked. This was officially banned by the owners – but sometimes it was still the only option – short of option c below – which was miserable.

b) Call the person who made the schedule once we knew it was done. Of course in the mid 90’s no one had cell phones so calling meant calling them at home. College kids are never at home.

c) Get in our cars and drive to the restaurant to go personally check our schedule. This was most common. Seriously.

And that was just Sunday – the day it was posted. The rest of the week got worse once it started changing.

It was a simple problem our restaurant had back then and when I sat down to write the first lines of code for Schedulefly about 10 years ago – it was those 3 things that I thought about. I thought about what those two owners (and the staff they employed) would need to help with that. That’s it. I did not picture this software being used one day by other businesses with these same challenges and integrating with other products and other companies and becoming giant. I did not think that I would spin off a Schedulefly for retail and Schedulefly for healthcare and Schedulefly for [insert you favorite industry here]. Today, I still don’t.

Because today and in the future, many many great independent restaurants (just like the one where I worked) still have that same simple problem as we had back then. It’s a simple problem that needs a simple solution – and the problem will never go away. Sure, with technology, we could add tons of other stuff in an attempt to solves tons of other problems in hopes of growing bigger and faster and serving more customers – but we would miss the entire point. In fact, the point of it would be lost in a sea of options and features and complication. I know for sure that those two owners who I worked for wouldn’t like it and I wouldn’t blame them.


Give ’em a reason to come (new video)

Chester Kroeger of Fudpucker’s in Destin, FL talks about about the constant evolution that’s necessary in the restaurant business, and why he and his team try to come up with creative ways to draw people into their establishment…

By the way, that shadowy figure in the still image for this video is me. My acting debut – drinking a beer. I’m going places!


Overcoming complacency (new video)

Chester Kroeger of Fudpucker’s in Destin, FL talks about the importance of avoiding complacency in the restaurant business…

Slow and low, that is the tempo

Today, we officially reached 4,000 monthly subscribing customers. I am writing this post because I am so incredibly proud of how far the 5 of us have come and I know that I will never again be a part of something so unique and as awesome as Schedulefly. I’m not some “serial entrepreneur” with tons of ideas who sees this is just one company in a long list of companies that I’ll be a part of starting and running. This is it. This is all I’ve got. I’ve put my heart and soul into this for a long time – as have Tyler and Hank and Charles and Wil. These other 4 guys are the most devoted and patient and smartest people I’ve ever met. In short, we are a really unique team that is hell bent on keeping it so darn simple – while still useful – so we can grow and stay small and complication free and enjoy our lives. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and company.

It has taken 7 years to get here today and while we have evolved a bit over time (especially in the early years) – we’ve pretty much stayed the same and have kept the same focus. I occasionally read that in order to be successful in business – you must change and adapt and innovate and grow and hire and diversify and become something possibly much bigger and different than you could have imagined in the beginning. And while that may be true– especially in some industries – it’s not the only way to grow a successful business.

Slow growth is not sexy. Steady growth is not what you read about and predictable growth may seem boring. But I would bet that most of the companies our there today that have happy, loyal, repeat customers are ones that grew a bit slower and did things on purpose along the way to make sure they didn’t jeopardize their brand and their service and what they believed in when they started. I tip my hat to all of them.

So here’s to my team and the 4,000+ other teams that are a part of our family – thank you so much!


This is a related post that I wrote nearly 4 years ago – it’s related to our focus. You may like it if you liked this one. Don’t mess with my margins.

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