Schedulefly Stories

Growing a software business one restaurant at a time

Month: July 2016

You Should…

When somebody says “You should,” followed by advice about your business, be wary. Following that advice could be harmful.

In our first few years at Schedulefly we tried lots of things in an attempt to get the business off the ground. PR. Sales. Trade shows. Email marketing. Social media, Etc. All of these things are very conventional. They’ve worked elsewhere, so they should work for us, right? But none of these things felt right for our business so we didn’t have our hearts in them. Frankly we just didn’t want to build a business like everybody else did. We wanted to build it our way.

We stopped doing all of those things and started doing things like telling the stories of some of our customers on our blog – how they got into the restaurant business, what they loved about it, what lessons they’d learned, and so on. Those stories led to our book, which led to our video series, which led to our podcast, which is leading to our second book. All of this content is focused on the people we serve, not on us, and it’s been a wonderful way to pour our energy into something we believe in and to provide something meaningful to the industry we serve. But six years ago when we started down this path, nobody would have ever told us “You should scrap all efforts at sales, PR, social media, trade shows, etc. and focus all of your energy on producing content that has nothing to do with you and is solely focused on your customers’ stories.”

On the contrary, a good friend of ours, let’s call him Robby, was convinced we needed to advertise. He’s had a lot of success in business and we all know him and like him and respect him, and he just couldn’t get over why we didn’t invest into a traditional advertising campaign. “You should really consider this, Wil. I know it’s not what y’all are excited about, but I really think it could work.” And if Robby ran this business, that’s what he’d do. I’m sure he’d learn how to make it work, but only because he would be live in it and he’d put his heart into it and he’d have a laser focus on it and he’d tinker with it and make the necessary changes with it and it would be a big part of what the business is all about. And it would be a very, very different business than what we’ve built.

There’s nothing wrong with people telling you what they think you should do. Even though I am writing a post warning people to be wary of anything that follows “You should,” I still find myself occasionally uttering those very words. “You know what? You should…” It’s a very natural thing to do, especially if you’ve had success in a domain, from business to fitness to child rearing to you name it. We take our experiences and apply them to the next person’s situation, and assume if they would just follow the same path we did, they’d have the same success.

But this really comes down to having the confidence to build something you love and you are proud of by doing it your way. If we were currently running a very successful PR campaign at Schedulefly, or an email marketing campaign that produced amazing results, or we were having success with any other traditional practice, we wouldn’t be as proud of the business. We wouldn’t wake up every day and believe to our core in what we are doing. That’s not how I want to start my day. How about you?

We add about 1,000 net customers per year while running this business exactly the way we want to, the way we are proud of. And we are perfectly happy with that. If we were adding 2,000 new customers because we were doing things other people said we “should” do, we’d be growing twice as fast (yeah!), but be half as happy (boo!).

If you want to build a business you love, one you could be a part of every day for the rest of your days, do it your way. Lots of people will quickly tell you what you should do, but if those things aren’t in line with what you want to do, politely thank them for the advice and ignore it. The only thing you should do is do it your way.

Wil

If you like this post, you might also like Blaze Your Own Path. You might also like our book, which is full of stories about restaurant owners who did things their own way.

Choosing to do less

Recently a restaurant owner who uses another software solution emailed us asking several questions about our software’s capability. I guess he was unhappy and shopping for a more suitable solution. He was looking for things we don’t do – so the response was easy. We answered no to each and thanked him for stopping by. With software being so incredibly easy to create and offer as a service now – I understand we could do so much more…

There are many reasons why we don’t do all the things we “could” do with software and with our business, yet I do understand that what we believe in unique and not for everyone. We do less on purpose and I think it’s important to explain this in order to help the right restaurants understand the kind of company we are and what we believe in. We are not corporate minded fellas and will never hire any to work with us. We do not have dozens of employees and are not looking to grow internally with funding and sales people and such. We are not offering technology to control people and processes so tightly that it takes a manager with a key to override the technology or gobs of options and settings to set and manage. We actually lean to the side of people still having to make decisions – versus technology that does it all for them. We are 5 guys with a simple solution to a simple problem that will never go away and never change – so there is no plan to change our solution.

Here’s a good summary of why we don’t do more and how we operate – to get a better glimpse inside our simple company.

We have accumulated over 6,000 customers and – with patience – could reach 20,000+ and still be a relatively unheard of company serving a tiny % of our market that is also served by dozens of other companies like ours. The 5 of us work very well together – and know each other well and we are all great at specific things. For that reason, we rarely need to talk and no one manages any one else. I speak to Tyler a few times per year. Wil and I leave voice notes to each other now and again but I haven’t seen him in person in over 3 years. Charles and Hank live in the same town as me yet I see them rarely. Usually for a round of golf or hot wings or a cold beer on Charles’ back porch. So we don’t have team meetings. We don’t work in an office. We don’t travel and on and on. This keeps everything extremely simple and low cost and free from many many things that don’t really matter.

Instead, we work only when important works needs doing and after 9 years it’s still fun and rewarding work because it matters to people. Staying simple and not overdoing it (personally and in business) really matters to people. It matters to our customers and to our families. You can hear it in their voices and see it in their faces. They often thank us for not overdoing it and resisting the opportunity to do more. For this reason – we never dread work that needs to be done – because it always matters to someone. Busy work or work that doesn’t matter – that’s dreadful. So we don’t have it. All 5 of us spend more time with our families than anyone I know…and our company still grows. Every morning I see my kids and every evening we play and I give them baths and read with them. By saying no and by passing on the countless opportunities that we could pursue and instead focusing as hard as we can on those who believe we matter to now, we are relentlessly protecting a life and a company that I honestly had never dreamed could exist.

And lastly, I’ve personally written enough software to know that most of what I (we) could create will likely never matter to anyone and would just add more complexity and additional costs that come with owning and maintaining something that didn’t really matter. It’s like noise on the internet. Every day there is more noise for us to have to filter through and software we have to learn to use and questions we have to ask ourselves. Do I really need this? So we are not going to add more noise – just to try and make more money – just because we could. And just because technology “can” help, doesn’t always mean it should.

For me, Schedulefly is a once is a lifetime opportunity and company for many more reasons than the software we’ve written. It’s one to tell my grandkids about. A company like no other I’ve ever known.

Wes

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