Schedulefly Stories

Growing a software business one restaurant at a time

Month: August 2017

Schedulefly Podcast with Wil and Wes

Wil and I recently started a podcast that was inspired by years of communication we’ve had back and forth via voice notes. Instead of bothering each other with phone calls – we almost always send voice notes. In fact – we were laughing today when we realized we have not talked live to each other in a few years. Heck – I’ve not seen Wil in person nearly 5 years. 99.99% of the voice notes are unimportant anyway and really don’t require a disruptive phone call. They are usually rambling thoughts and comments about Schedulefly, customers, prospects and life in general. Most of them are just cheer-leading kinds of things to fire each other up – like something great we heard someone say about us or something tired like a template style sales pitch from the office of a venture capitalist. The podcast is similar, although we are trying to keep the topics we discuss a tad more focused and not all over the place – as we often are in voice notes.

Anyway – we thought some of you might like to hear us talk about why we do things the way we do – and of course why we don’t do many things too.

Here is the podcast on iTunes


Our next film…

We are working on The Story of Bida Manda, about Van Nolintha (below) and how Bida Manda, one of the most popular and respected restaurants in N.C., came to be. It’s a story of deep parental love, hard work, deflating road blocks, family, friends, and a maker authentically expressing his vision and the feelings rooted deep in his heart. We’re fired up to have the opportunity to make films about some of the many incredible independent restaurant people we feel so fortunate to serve and, in Van’s case, call friends.

Van and Wil at Bida Manda

We don’t back down to corporate bullies

‚Äč”Wil, independent restaurants understand that large fifty million dollar companies like mine get better pricing.”

That’s what the director of operations of a large restaurant group told me this week. He was pressing me to give his restaurants a better multi-unit discount than the standard 10% discount we give all customers with more than one account. I politely declined to give him a better deal, letting him know we learned early on after trying this path that we have to be consistent. He didn’t care about consistency and was trying to tell me his smaller competitors won’t care because they expect him to get better pricing. I told him they shouldn’t expect him to get a better deal from us, and he shouldn’t expect a larger organization than his to get a better deal than he does.

Unsatisfied, he pressed again.

“Half of our restaurants use your software. Half don’t. Maybe you have the best software for the second half, but why else would I direct them to switch to you if you won’t give us a volume discount?” I told him I am not sure if he should tell them to switch and said that if volume pricing is the top issue then we may not be the best solution and that he should do what’s best for his organization.

(awkward silence)

He went on, “Well I expect you’ll run this up the flag pole before telling me what our price will be.” I nicely let him know I am the flagpole, and all five of us our on the same page on this issue.

(more awkward silence)

Well, I want you to know I adamently disagree with how you do things and I highly recommend you reconsider. At this point I decided to just say “Ok, I understand. What else do you want to talk about today?”

What I refrained from saying is, “Look dude, I’m not telling you how to run your business, don’t tell me how we should run ours. The problem here is you like to bow up and bully small vendors into caving on pricing, but we’re not scared of losing your business so your weapon of choice, fear, won’t work on us. Feel free to look for another provider.” I should have said that, but it was implied with my above response.

We built Schedulefly to serve independent restaurants, which means we aren’t used to anybody trying to push us around. We’ve had it happen a few times, but we’ve always put the bullies in their place. Larger organizations might get better deals from all of the other vendors they deal with, but not this one.


It’s still the "good ole days" at Schedulefly

In the hilarious movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character wakes up every day and it’s Groundhog Day. No matter how he spends his day or what he does, he wakes up the next morning … and it’s Groundhog Day. Even walking front of a moving train doesn’t matter – he dies, but wakes up again the next morning. Groundhog Day. He spends the movie obsessing over how to break the spell.

Last week I told Wes that ten years into this business, it still feels like Groundhog Day for me. The same is true for him and for Hank, Charles and Tyler. But we cherish that feeling! Every day we add a few new customers, we set up 6-12 new trials, we get about 10 phone calls from customers and about 30 support emails, we turn off accounts of customers who are closing their doors (or sometimes have different needs than our software fills), we make sure our servers and hardware and software are running smooth and fast, we send thank you cards and Schedulefly trucker hats to a few customers, and we work on telling the stories of some of the many, many absolutely amazing, badass independent restaurant people we are so fortunate to serve.

Many founders and early participants in startup businesses that become successful eventually begin to reminisce about the “good ole days.” The business has grown and it’s “successful,” but things get complicated. More people, more rules, more systems. More of everything. For a business that’s ten years old, that’s very, very common. You like your revenue and profits but you you are stressed about how complicated your business is, and you long for the days when everything was simple. Clean. Easy. It’s very hard to maintain that, and once you’ve let it go it’s too late to get it back. You might wish for it, but you won’t be able to have it again.

One of the things we are proudest about is it’s still “the good ole days” around here, and it’s because we fought to make sure we never let those good ole days pass us by. We have the same small team of five people, we have no administrative assistants, no HR people, no marketing team, no sales team, no partnerships, etc. We do everything ourselves, nothing is outsourced. Everything is clean, everything is simple. Each of our days are very much like the day before.

And while in the movie it made sense for Bill Murray’s character to wake up each morning with a goal to do anything he could to figure out how to get past Groundhog Day, we wake up and hope nothing has changed.


Our tribute to independent restaurants (revisited)

We made this video a few years ago using footage from videos in our Restaurant Owners Uncorked film series. We haven’t had it on our web site in a while so we wanted to re-post it for many of you who’ve never seen it. Enjoy…

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