We are in our 11th year here at Schedulefly and in many ways just now finding our stride. I mean that in terms of what we believe in and who we want to serve. Financially – we grow slower than we used to – simply because we have more customers – so there are more to lose. That’s expected. So we lose right at 1.5% of our customers each year for a variety of reasons including restaurants outgrowing our software (and needing more features) and also restaurants going out of business. That means we retain 98.5% of our customers each year and that is a number we are proud of and I think a number that could only be consistently reached with a simple product like ours. We could certainly grow much faster and add more restaurants than we do – but that would require a different sales and marketing model than we have and would likely cause that 1.5% churn rate to tick upwards. It’d be like casting a bigger fishing net to catch more fish with each throw – only to THROW BACK a larger % of what we caught right away that were not the fish we wanted (by-catch). I’m more of a sight fishing kind of guy. I catch less, but when I do – it’s the one I wanted to catch. This equates to customers sticking around much longer and keeping our retention rate at 98-99%.
Anyway – we seem to be on investor’s radars more in recent years and that’s due to a couple of things. We serve more restaurants now, so our name is out there more than it used to be. And many of the companies that serve restaurants (competitors or not), have taken investment and of course their investors keep tabs on other companies in the “space”. The kinds of investors we hear from are the kinds that you’ll hear from after you’ve brought on a bunch of customers and have grown your revenue and are making a profit. In other words – once there is less risk for them. These investors are looking for a way to turn a few million dollars into tens of millions (or more) in short period of time. We have so many reasons not to take capital at this point – and one of the main things that I think about as it concerns this is – what is the rush? If you sell something that is extremely useful to a group of people and back it up with great service – I am confident it will never go out of style. There is no reason to fear you’ll go away if you don’t rush and grow faster and win! Craigslist is a great example. Investors and competitors have been scratching their heads for years wondering how this insanely simple and old school web site does so well in a industry filled with newer and better technology. Craigslist is massive now – a billion dollar company with a website my grandmother can understand. And not too many employees either. I’d guess that the team at Craigslist looks back at the last 23 years since they began and looks at where they are now and just smiles. What an amazing testament to keeping it simple and useful and you’ll never go out of style.
So I think about the next decade and beyond and all the restaurants that we serve that will continue to need a simple, reliable solution and all the new restaurants that will open their doors and I think what miss all that? Why skip it all and squeeze all the awesome years ahead for us into just 2 or 3? Who would do that? People who are scared they may not last that long? People who think that a lump sum of cash would make them happy instead of a business that excites them to hop out of bed each day? I’m not sure – but I know that I don’t want to fast forward what’s happening. If anything, I want us to slow down.
It’s so much more sustainable and predictable and scalable if we keep taking our time. And while we do, I get to enjoy this badass business and life we’ve created! Rushing would skip it all. Rushing be like doing a crash diet hoping to lose 20lbs in 3 months, only to be left with a body that you really don’t recognize and one that would then be hard to maintain going forward.
I’d rather lose one pound a year for the next 20 years and end up with something truly amazing.