Occasionally I’ll meet someone new in a small talk kind of situation and they’ll ask what I do. I’ll say something along the lines of “I own a company that sells software to restaurants”. The first response to this is usually either “Oh, you mean like Open table dinner reservations?” or “Oh, like POS software for entering orders and stuff?” I’ll say “No, nothing like that. The restaurants use our software to schedule their employees. Staff swap shifts on their phones and managers approve changes. Stuff like that.” They’ll then say “Oh cool. So restaurants like Chick-fil-a and Outback and stuff?” I’ll say “No, actually we don’t serve chains – we focus on independent restaurants. There are just 5 of us in the company so we have a pretty narrow focus.” Then they say “Ok, I see. Neat. So are you mainly just in restaurants here in Wilmington?” Then I’ll say, no actually we have customers in every state in the U.S and some overseas. At this point – that’s usually the end of it (because small talk typically doesn’t get much deeper).
I think two things are happening that make it seem unusual that I would own (with just 4 other guys) a business with customers in all 50 states. The first thing is I don’t look like a person who owns a big business. Big businesses have customers in all 50 states, not a 5 person company with an owner who doesn’t shave and lives at the coast. The second thing is when I mention independent restaurants. To most people, that term probably conjures up an image of a small mom and pop restaurant. Which means, along with my overall vibe, I own a very small local company selling to places I can visit on foot. Anyway – you get the picture.
So recently I had a conversation like this with someone who started to ask more about how we get to these places and where they are. He knows we don’t have sales people and we don’t cold call restaurants or send email blasts and it was really hard to understand how word of mouth could spread like this – across the country. He’s a sales guy – so go figure. Later that day I mapped out exactly where our customers are on a google map just for fun. It’s fascinating to look at – because you can see where we have clusters of customers all jammed up in a small area. Word of mouth is literally visible on the map. You can see little bread crumb like tracks of customers between clusters too – where a place like Denver has a tight wad of customers and there are a few places outside Denver on the way to Boulder and then another tight wad of customers in Boulder. It’s really cool to see how it’s spreading. All without a single call bothering someone. Or a single ad on their Facebook. Or a single email in their inbox. I really believe that some of our customers use us because of that. I know I would.
Anyway – here are a few shots of that map and our top 25 cities so far.
Space shuttle view of our customers
New York City customers
San Francisco customers
Customers in the North East
Dallas/Ft Worth customers
Top 25 Schedulefly cities (# of customers)
New York 345
San Francisco 112
Los Angeles 103
Oklahoma City 64
San Diego 51
St Louis 46