Schedulefly Stories

Growing a software business one restaurant at a time

Month: September 2015

"We believe in people more than we do in things"

Meherwan Irani got an MBA and spent 15 years in corporate America, working for other people. He was not unhappy, but never jumped out of bed in the morning excited to head to work. So in 2009 as the economy was collapsing, he and his wife Molly took a leap of faith and decided to start a restaurant. Meherwan was a self-taught chef with a dream, a thoroughly-researched, 150-page business plan and need for $70,000 to get started. All the banks turned the Iranis down for a loan, as did the SBA. But they raised the money, convinced the landlord of a prime location in downtown Asheville, NC to lease them his space, and opened Chai Pani on day one with customers lined up around the block while having spent $0 on advertising and having only $250 in the cash register (and $0 in the bank), knowing they needed to sell a lot of food in the first three days or they’d have nothing left. They were so busy the first day they had to close at 2pm because they ran out of food. Just five years later (2014), Meherwan was nominated for a James Beard award for best chef in Southeast, and today he and Molly own five successful restaurants with another opening soon. This is a very inspiring, educational story about trusting the people that work for you, having passion and faith in yourself, using scarcity to your advantage, and not relying on conventional wisdom. Enjoy…

If you are reading this on your phone or in an email, you won’t see the podcast player. Click here to listen on iTunes. 

"It takes discipline to stay simple"

Cris Eddings co-owns Chuck’s Fish (two locations) and 5 Bar (five locations). His restaurants are very popular and very highly rated. He and his team follow their own compasses and don’t pay attention to conventional wisdom when it doesn’t align with what they believe. So they do things like raising the minimum wage for non-tipped employees to $10.25/hour well before the idea became a national topic, opening a highly focused concept (5 Bar) with only five of each category on the menu (five entrees, five appetizers, etc.), and replacing the expense of advertising with initiatives such as investing into funding their non-profit organization, which sends food trucks out several days per week to feed underprivileged people for free. This is a very refreshing and inspiring interview. Enjoy…

If you are reading this on your phone or in an email, you won’t see the podcast player. Click here to listen on iTunes. 

"The more you do to something, the more people can you tell you did something to it"

We posted this video a year ago, but I wanted to re-run it. Luke Pearson (Lift Films) did an incredible job of capturing the passion and pride Andrew Ullom takes in his work as a pastry chef at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey in Raleigh, N.C. I love his comments on why he and his team focus on simple ingredients.

We haven’t made a video in ten months, but we are back at it soon, filming one of the many interesting owners I’ve spoken to for our podcast. Thanks for reading, listening to and watching our Restaurant Owners Uncorked content. We LOVE creating it.


"My business plan called for $1,000,000 but I opened for $70,000"

Mic Heynekamp of Eddyline Brewery was in our book, Restaurant Owners Uncorked, and told me one of the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard about opening a restaurant. He and his wife, Molley, drew up a $1,000,000 business plan to open their first place. It included new equipment and everything conventional wisdom says you need to do to get started. After getting declined for financing, they began to whittle away at the plan, learning that creativity and common sense helped more than a big pile of money. They wound up finalizing their business plan at $100,000, and opened for $70,000, just 7% of what they had originally anticipated they needed. In this interview, Mic tells how they did it, as well as how they built their second location for $750,000 when an architect had told them it would cost $5,000,000. This interview offers tons of practical, repeatable pieces of advice on getting started with your first restaurant, as well as Mic’s thoughts on why small towns are a great place to operate, and how you can run your business with trust and delegation to enable a balanced lifestyle and room to grow. Mic and Molley own locations in New Mexico and Colorado, and are currently in New Zealand working on opening a location there. This is a great story, enjoy…

If you are reading this on your phone or in an email, you won’t see the podcast player. Click here to listen on iTunes. 

Why we don’t try to sell people on using Schedulefly

As we’ve mentioned before, we don’t have sales people – nobody trying to convince restaurants to use Schedulefly. Why would we? How do we know if it’s right for them? We don’t know how they operate, what issues are important, etc. Or if the timing is right. Maybe they want to deal with scheduling a year from now. Why would we try to convince them to do it today?

Instead, we focus on taking great care of the people that use our software, and we are easy to find. It’s 2015 – all anybody needs to do is search online for restaurant staff scheduling softwares and they’ll find us quickly. Or they can ask their friends in the industry what they do for scheduling. Or they can ask employees who’ve worked elsewhere what other restaurants are doing.

Anyway, I thought of this the other day when a sales person emailed me multiple times in a 24-hour period to try to convince me that we should use his marketing tool. He asked what we do to try to stay in touch with people who signed up for a trial but didn’t become customers. Here’s my answer:

“Nothing. They will come back to us when they are ready. That’s how it’s always happened for 8 years now. We have no sales people and completely leave people alone unless they need us. We solve an explicit problem for people (restaurant staff scheduling sucks), and when that problem makes its way to the top of their list of problems to solve, we provide a good solution. They’ll find us.”

He replied and wrote “That’s interesting” – and proceeded to infer that what we are doing is maybe “interesting” but certainly not the smartest thing to do, explaining how some of our competitors use his tool and it helps them get more customers, so therefore we should use it too. Here’s my answer:

“Name- our approach may seem “interesting” to you. To us it’s one of the pillars of how we do business. We will never do it another way. Man, I’ll be straight up with you – the fact that those other companies do something one way makes me even more determined never to do it. We don’t follow other people’s playbooks, we write our own. I don’t want Schedulefly to be like everybody else. I want it to be like Schedulefly.

I appreciate your persistence. I’ve been in sales. I know you believe passionately in what your company does and how it can help businesses be more successful. And I’m sure y’all do help many companies. But I can save you the time of following up with us, because we are not going to change the core of how we operate this business.”

I was as polite as I could be, because in a short period of time, I went from not knowing about his company to being annoyed by them. Even if we changed gears today and decided to start using a marketing solution, I would look elsewhere for a provider. Why would I want to work with somebody who is trying to convince me at the wrong time (when I have no identified a problem in our business) that what we are currently doing is “interesting” but certainly not the smartest thing to do because my competitors do it differently? Not gonna happen.

So this brings me back to why we will NEVER have sales people. We never want to try to convince people at the wrong time that what they are currently doing is the wrong thing to do. Rather, we will wait patiently for them and welcome them with open arms and take great care of them if they decide at the right time for them that we have the right fit for their restaurant.


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