Yesterday I ate some of the best pulled pork BBQ I’ve ever had, at Buxton Hall in Asheville, NC. I’ve been eating BBQ since I was old enough to eat solid food, and this is as good as it gets.
As I was enjoying some delicious banana pudding after my meal, I talked to owner Meherwn Irani and his business partner Michael Files. They expressed amazement that our team of five not only doesn’t work in the same office or live in the same town, but that we rarely see each other. I explained what I mentioned in a blog post I wrote in 2011 titled “Here’s to distance,” which is that we believe our company is successful in part because we don’t work in the same place, not in spite of that. I said that we do many things differently that most software companies, and that’s one of them.
After I finished explaining our philosophy, Meherwan paused, ran his hand through his hair and looked perplexed. He then said, “You know what, Wil? You talk about being software company but I have never really thought of Schedulefly as a software company. I mean, I know it’s your product, so of course you are a software company. But I’ve always just thought of Schedulefly as a cool company that I like doing business with.” When he said that all I could do was smile. THAT is exactly what we have always aspired to be, and to hear it flow out of a customer’s mouth literally made my day.
You can do that in any business. Whether you sell software or food or coolers or clothing, you can build something that’s much bigger and more important than the product you sell. If you are authentic and genuine. If you focus on being a great company vs. being a big company. If you do things that might not have a measurable ROI but that you are proud of. If you truly want to, you can build a brand that customers want to affiliate themselves with not just because they like your product, but because they believe in what you stand for and how you do business.
Ironically, as great as the BBQ was at Buxton Hall, what made me come home and rave about it to my family and tell my friends about it was the whole experience. The food, the people, the atmosphere. It all added up to me not really thinking if Buxton Hall as a restaurant, but as a cool place where I want to spend a lot of time.