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Schedulefly Podcast with Wil and Wes

Aug 28, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
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...

Aug 22, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
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

Aug 17, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
​"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

Aug 11, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
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)

Aug 8, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
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...

ROU Revisited - Jake Wolf of Capital Club 16

Jul 10, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
Jake Wolf and his wife Shannon own Capital Club 16 in Raleigh, NC. Jake and Shannon are down-to-earth, authentic, genuinely good, nice people and it's so cool to see them have the success they have had with their restaurant. A few years ago we filmed Jake for our video series, and here's him on a riff about what it takes to be successful in the restaurant business...

New Video - The Story of Sup Dogs

Jul 5, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
We've been interviewing independent restaurant owners for seven years. We share their stories in our books, our podcast, and our video series. In all of those years, the most powerful story we've come across is Bret Oliverio's. Bret owns Sup Dogs which has two locations in North Carolina. We couldn't be more proud than to have the chance to produce this film. You'll be glad you watched...

ROU Revisited - Dave Query

Jun 29, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
We started our Restaurant Owners Uncorked video series five years ago. We've interviewed a bunch of successful, awesome owners and made some inspiring videos full of timeless wisdom. Every now and then I go back and re-watch some of them, and I never fail to nod along with what these folks are saying and thinking about how grateful we are to serve people who we admire so much.

I'm going to start re-posting some of these vids. They just never get old.


We're so proud to serve all of you

Jun 21, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
Wes and I talk so often about how proud we are to serve the kinds of restaurants we serve, so I decided to just write a post letting you know that. No need to wait until the holidays. June works just fine.

You decided at some point that scheduling and communication in your restaurant was a problem, and you tried Schedulefly to see if it made the problem go away. It did, so you became a customer. 99% of you renew every month because what we offer works well for you and your team. You clearly like straightforward, reliable software that does it's job and gets out of your way, and friendly, fast, authentic support when you need it. We've never changed our philosophy on what our product should (and shouldn't) do, or on how we should treat the people who've paid their hard-earned money to use it. And we never will change.

Thank you, sincerely, from all five of us to the nearly 7,000 of you and your 250,000+ staff members. Y'all are awesome, and we are super-stoked and proud to be a small part of what makes your business great!


Clockwise from left - Wes, Hank, Wil, Charles and Tyler

How to get (and keep) a restaurant job

Jun 15, 2017 | Schedulefly Crew
“Wil, I’m desperate to find people willing to work hard.”

"Labor is at Defcon 4 right now. I can't find anybody who is willing to work hard."

"These days nobody wants to earn their stripes."

These are the things restaurant owners have been telling me lately. I've offered just a few quotes, but I’ve heard the same bit dozens of times from restaurant owners I admire and would love my kids to work for one day. I recently wrote about why I want them all to work for independent restaurants when they are old enough. Here's what I plan to tell them when they have the opportunity, to give them the best chance to both get a job and to thrive once they do...

"Let me start with my own entitled and lazy story. When I graduated college in 1996 I felt entitled. Entitled to a job. Entitled to a significant paycheck. Entitled to early promotions. I felt like I had paid my dues by working hard in high school to get into a good college and then by working hard in college to get a good job. I got a job at a bank and I was self-centered and focused on what I wanted and what I needed. It was all about me. I honestly didn’t really want to put in the hard work and have the selfless attitude it takes to earn my success. I expected it to come much easier. As an only child I had been told for 20 years that I was special, that I deserved to be a success, etc. That stuff got into my head, and I expected to see it come to fruition.

But the real world offered a harsh rebuke.

I quickly learned on the job that all that mattered was whether I was willing to put in the effort to help my team achieve it's goals. It wasn't about me. It was about something more important. It was about whether I realized that my personal success was not the focus, but would instead by the byproduct of helping my team succeed.

That minor change in perspective made all of the difference. Just take the focus off of me and put it on the bigger picture, and all of the things I wanted would come true. Better pay. Promotions. You name it. It all happened when I stopped focusing on it happening. The change didn’t happen overnight. It took time. But I finally came to realize the key to success in almost any endeavor: To get what I wanted I needed to stop focusing on what I wanted, on start focusing on something bigger than my individual needs.

Now that your dad has exposed himself as a self-centered, entitled dude when I rolled up on the set in the workforce, hopefully this won't sound like a lecture, but more of a bit of wisdom that can help you avoid my mistakes and get and keep a job and grow in that job at an independent restaurant.

Let’s start with getting a job. Before you apply, learn as much as you can about the restaurant. Read the About Us page on their web site. Google the owner’s name and read any articles that have featured her or him. Talk to anybody you know who works there or has worked there. Try to get a sense of what the owner is all about. Why is the restaurant there? What is the culture like? How many other restaurants does the owner own? Have they been expanding in recent years? Contracting?

Also, check social media. If they have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. see what they post about, what people are saying about them, and how they interact with their followers. Also check Yelp and other review sites. When people leave positive/negative reviews, does the owner respond? How does he or she handle negative reviews?

Make as many notes as you can about these things, and you’ll get a sense of whether it’s a place where you want to be, and whether you will have opportunities to thrive in a positive, team-oriented environment. If you don’t do some upfront research, you are rolling the dice. You might get a job, but soon learn it’s toxic culture with a controlling owner who leads by intimidation and not my example. Why take that risk? Your time is too valuable. Do the research.

Now, if you like what you’ve learned about the place and think you’d like to work there, you’ll start to get a sense of how you can add value. Ask yourself, “What can I do to help this business prosper?” “Do I have any ideas to bring to the table from the get-go?” “What clues has the owner left in interviews and other places that let me know what things are important to her of him, and how can I highlight that during my interview?” Then make it clear during your interview that you’ve done your research, let the interviewer know what you’ve learned, what you like about the business, how you can help their immediate needs, and how you can help them make the business even better. Be prepared. Now go win the person over.

Ok, so let’s say you do all of this and you get the job. Now it’s time to focus 100% outward, not inward. From your first day on the job, listen carefully, stay focused on what you’ve been asked to do, leave your phone in your car or back in the office, bust your ass, and get busy with proving that you are what you said you’d be. Reliable. Hard-working. Committed. Looking for ways to exceed expectations. Focused on making the customer experience awesome with every chance you get and on helping the business thrive, not on when you can use your phone or when you will get a raise or on working only the shifts that suit you best. Follow these tips, and it will get noticed, it will be appreciated, and you will put yourself on a glide path to success within that restaurant.

Here’s the deal, kids. Restaurant owners are looking for this stuff. Many of them are literally desperate for it. So if you want a restaurant job and you want to make good money and be a part of a happy, successful team, and enjoy what you do, and have success, the opportunity is WIDE OPEN. If you take the approach I’ve laid out and you will get the job you want, you will find yourself up for quick promotions, you’ll make good money, you’ll enjoy what you do, and many, many more doors will keep opening for you. Guaranteed."


Owner Van Nolintha (bottom right) and the hard working, selfless team at Bida Manda in Raleigh, NC.