What we don’t do is important too

On our story page, we say that “We are on a mission to build a brand independent restaurants admire and love.” We talk about this a lot and wanted to put that on the site because it’s true and (frankly) something that not many companies that serve restaurants probably care about. Achieving this of course doesn’t just happen one day after years of hard work, it happens very slowly as we go. It happens here and there along the way – which is cool, because it’s actually a never ending goal. In fact, it’s happening some now. We often get unsolicited feedback via phone and email from a customer about how much they like doing business with us. They often use the word love and tell us that they admire what we are doing and the way we are doing it. Now I understand that it would be impossible for all of our customers to feel this way and that’s ok. But the more that do – the better. That is why we focus so hard and try to bring on the perfect customer and encourage the wrong ones to keep looking. The last thing we want is a bunch of the wrong kinds of businesses becoming customers – just to make more money – only ending up with a company that frustrates customers and one that we eventually don’t enjoy running anymore. Most people think I am an idiot when I tell them I’d rather have 10 perfect customers come on board than 100 “sort of” perfect. Over time, the steady drum beat of bringing on perfect customers helps us with our goal – and also makes word of mouth marketing that much stronger – with others that are perfect. 10 happy customers spread much better word of mouth than 100 frustrated ones. I cringe thinking of a perfect customer hearing something bad from someone who should have never used it in the first place.

So the interesting thing about this is that I can think of 3X as many things that we should NOT do – than we should do – in order to keep making progress on this mission. Really, the only things we should do (and we talk about often) are 1) keep our software simple, 2) take great care of our customers and 3) do things that help our industry grow too – like our book and video series. That’s 3 things we should do. I can think of 9 things that we should not do. Here they are in no particular order:

1. Lose our laser focus on serving independent restaurants and start serving everyone in the world who needs scheduling.
2. Take investment from people outside our company. Here are 5 great reasons to not do it.
3. Hire tons of people. More people leads to a more complicated business and eventually crappier service. Not always, but often.
4. Do traditional selling, advertising and marketing. People are tired of hearing about how great a company thinks it is.
5. Partner with others companies. The other companies have different goals and different definitions of great service and simple software.
6. Force people to use our software because it was sold to a corporate office and required at each restaurant. People don’t usually love that kind of software.
7. Add more features to try and retain restaurants that have outgrown us. Here is a great post from Wil about that.
8. Integrate our software with other software to make it more valuable, only making it less reliable.
9. Do things we just aren’t good at and don’t enjoy doing. It’s frustrating for customers when companies have unhappy employees.

The great thing is, it’s easy to not do those things and focus on the other 3.