Schedulefly Stories

Growing a software business one restaurant at a time

Month: April 2015

A memorable milestone

Late last week, we officially reached 5,000 customers. It’s taken almost 8 years – since we get them one at a time, but man it’s sure flown by. It’s a really memorable milestone for us – maybe the best yet. I think it’s so cool because there are still just 5 of us running Schedulefly. 5 guys in NC serving 5,000 businesses and over 200,000 individual people in every state in the US is just amazing. I am so thankful that the 5 of us make conscious decisions to try and keep things from getting too complicated and eventually becoming something we no longer enjoy doing.

Here’s to our 5,000 awesome customers and Wil, Charles, Hank and Tyler!


Creating fans forever, even after they are gone

There are so many examples of companies that initially created something awesome for a specific type of customer, only to eventually abandon a loyal subculture of fans in trade for growth and profits and return for investors. For most, it was probably the only way to survive once they passed the point of no return (taking investment, hiring lots of employees, opening offices and introducing loads of complication that required much faster growth). But you can’t blame them – it works – at least from a balance sheet point of view. And that’s what’s important and what business school taught them. They’ve become a very profitable household name brand, one that is instantly recognizable and on every shelf at every big time retailer. They did it!

But there is a problem now. No one admires what they do anymore.

Their incredibly important ambassadors (the real ones, not the ones they now have to pay) have moved on. They are so disappointed. The people that used to love their products and proudly talk about being a customer are gone. The hard core outdoor folks that use to wear XYZ gear with pride have bailed since big time sporting goods shops start selling their stuff to the masses. The trend setting ladies who used to wear boutique XYZ dresses shutter at the thought of being seen in one now that giant stores (that also sell electronics and groceries) now carry them. And on and on. The very people that these companies designed their products for…the ones who will help them grow without them even asking – have vanished. Was that the plan? Maybe. If you watch Shark Tank – they definitely won’t invest in you unless that’s your plan. It’s sad they do that.

So ex-ambassadors (or fans) are now searching for another company to talk about and love. A company that has a story that they can relate to again and products they are proud to own and use. They are searching for a company that says no to the wrong people – even if it means making less money. They are searching for a company that makes them feel like they are part of a members only club again – one where the story gets better and better over time. Sure, the masses are now buying and the money is pouring in like never before, but the love and the fun and the story are gone.

The good news is there are very successful companies that do take a stand and are not making stuff for anyone who will pay for it. They don’t put it on every shelf in every giant store and create annoying ads for stuff that follows you around the internet. They actually choose their customer and say no often. And guess what? They still grow every year. And they end up building enduring relationships with the perfect customers. Customers who love to talk about the company and are proud to be a part of the story. Customers who may even one day out grow what the company provides, yet still admire and recommend them after they are gone.


"Coffee is definitely trial and error" (new podcast)

Sean Scott owns Subculture Coffee, with locations in West Palm Beach and Delray Beach in Florida. Sean and I spoke about everything from the trust and relationships formed between coffee buyers and the farmers they source their beans from, to the risks of bad weather harming coffee bean crops, to the trial and error of the craft of roasting great coffee, to the importance of having six or more months of working capital when you open your doors, to how everything takes longer than you plan and costs more than you plan when you are starting your first location. This is a very wide-ranging conversation, and Sean offers tons of wisdom and advice for anybody interested not just in coffee, but in the mentality it takes to succeed in the restaurant business. Enjoy…

"I run my restaurant like I would run Apple" (new podcast)

Bret Oliverio took over Sup Dogs in Greenville, NC in 2011 after his brother, who started the restaurant, tragically passed away in a house fire. Bret had no restaurant experience and had to learn everything from how to tap a keg, how to manage his staff, how to implement portion controls, how to generate consistent profits, how to … well, how to do EVERYTHING it takes to run a successful restaurant. Four years later, SUP Dogs is doing extremely well, and opened it’s second location two hours away in Chapel Hill, NC nine months ago. Bret shares his story and the lessons he’s learned along the way, as well as discusses how he only has four years of experience and still has a lot to learn. This is an absolutely fantastic interview with a guy who has overcome a lot of hurdles. Bret is a hard-working, sharp guy who expects a lot of himself, but has no ego about his success. Enjoy…

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