Today our customers are leading the movement

In 2007, Wes wrote the first lines of code for Schedulefly. That was the beginning of a movement, a movement to lead independent restaurants to a new place with staff scheduling and communication. Back then all restaurants were using pencil and paper or Excel, and Schedulefly was launched to give them a better way.

The problem was figuring out ways to get restaurants to follow us. We tried all sorts of things to spread the word, from email campaigns, to exhibiting at trade shows, to cold calls, to mailing flyers, to going door-to-door, to hiring a PR firm, to offering customers $100 for every successful referral they made, to using Twitter. You name it, we tried it. Yet when our free trial sign-up forms came in and we read how people found out about Schedulefly, we saw they had either searched online or they heard about us from a new employee, or a friend in the industry, or through some form of natural, organic referral. Online searches and referrals. That was our bread and butter. No matter what else we tried, the evidence was clear that our outbound efforts were a waste of time and money.

That meant we needed to do two things well: 1) make sure people that found us through search were clear when they visited our web site about who we are and what we offer, and make it easy for them to get started with a free trial; and 2) live up to the expectations of people that heard about us through a referral, which meant a focus on straightforward, reliable software and exceptional customer service and ease of doing business with. We payed enormous attention to those things, and decided to take a patient, long view of our business, focusing not on finding ways to get people to come to our site, and instead on what happened once they got there.

Today, 250,000 people at over 6,000 restaurants use Schedulefly. They come to us partially by online search, but mostly by referral. Referrals from friends, new employees, new managers, etc. We see it every day on our trial signup forms. It never ceases to amaze me how many of the trials come in from good old fashioned word-of-mouth.

At this point, we are no longer leading the movement we started. Our customers are. We have 300 free trials going at any time, and a large majority of them came in because one of you told somebody about Schedulefly. It’s breathtaking to watch it happening, and all five of us feel grateful to be a part of it. We will keep waking up each day and doing our part, making sure the software is straightforward and reliable, and making sure any time one of you needs something, we take great care of you. Otherwise, you are taking this thing wherever it’s going to go.

Thank you for taking us this far. It will be fun to see where we wind up.