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Friday, November 21, 2014

Wow! Look at all this stuff!

Eventually, even if everything in my closet and garage is neatly arranged and in a place where I can find it - I'll spring clean. I'll get rid of things that get in the way that I don't really use. It's amazing how much stuff can pile over time up that I don't use or wear. It's also amazing at how many things come and go that I hardly used. As I get older - like many of you - I now try really hard to refrain from buying things that I truly don't need. Except of course for yet another fly rod.....

The good news is it's easy to spring clean and remove things that I don't need. And when I'm done - I LOVE it! It feels fresh and organized and back to the basics of what is really important. Less is more! With software, however, it's very difficult to remove things and spring clean. Removing things, even if they are poorly designed or rarely used, are difficult to take away - because someone out there (likely more than you think) has gotten used to the way it works and would be upset if it were removed. There are a few things in Schedulefly I'd like to remove that have been there for a long and are not widely used - but I won't and I am thankful there are just a few.

Imagine if we had been adding stuff each quarter to Schedulefly over the years. Actually, that's  what I did at bigger companies because the sales people needed to up sell existing customers in order to hit their quotas and the management team focused on the people buying the software - not the people who used it. So over time the software became like my closet. At first glance when people looked at it they thought - WOW! Look at all this stuff!  It's got everything I need! Management loved all the options and bells and whistles and value! But of course after some time, most of it was not used and most of it was not needed and it only made the good stuff harder to find and use. It became harder for new people to learn how to use and it became frustrating for the existing people using it.

If  you compete with others at whatever business your in, adding more stuff to differentiate yourself is a natural strategy. More stuff means more value....until it's too much. And then what?


Monday, November 17, 2014

I tip my hat to those who've closed their doors...

I just got a call from a lady who asked to cancel her restaurant's Schedulefly subscription. She told me her restaurant is closing it's doors. She was sad, and it made me sad to speak to her about it. I don't mind when somebody calls and tells me they've found a different solution for their business, and need to cancel. That's a good thing because it means they have found something that works better for them, and we no longer are serving a customer who doesn't love our software. A win-win.

But when somebody cancels because they are dissolving their business, I can't help but take a moment to wish the entire team the very best in whatever they do next, and tip my hat for having tried. Starting and running a successful restaurant business is tough. Very tough. There are so many things that can go wrong, many of them out of your control. It's hard to hear about a group of people who've poured so much time, money, effort, sweat, energy, passion, and love into something and it didn't work out. That's tragic.

But my hope is the folks that called today, and anybody who has to make the tough decision to hang the permanent "Closed" sign on the door, are able to learn from the experience, make adjustments, and try it again. Or maybe they won't. Perhaps they learned that the restaurant business isn't for them after all. Either way, I got off the phone and decided to write this post anybody who has been through this scenario. I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you for trying. Thank you for having the guts to go for it. Thank you for putting yourself out there. Thank you for not letting fear rule your decisions. And thank you for reminding us all that no matter the results, trying is courageous and inspiring.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"The Brewer" (new video)

It's hard for me to describe how much I love this video of Les Stewart from Trophy Brewing in Raleigh, N.C. Just watch it. I promise you'll be glad you did.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"The Pastry Chef" (new video)

"The more you do to something, the more somebody is going to be able to tell that you did things to it." So says Andrew Ullom of Ashley Christensen Restaurants in Raleigh, N.C. as he talks about using high quality ingredients and keeping his food simple. Enjoy this short video featuring Andrew sharing his story and his love for what he does.

The Schedulefly Crew

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why mess with a good thing?

My friend who owns burger-centric restaurant tells me that one of his non-operating investor partners wants to use a lower quality, less expensive beef in order to shave 2% off of food costs. My buddy pushed back, saying they can measure food costs, but they'd risk losing customers and doing possibly irreparable harm to their reputation for serving high-end burgers.

Why take that risk? Sure, their food costs are a little higher than average, but who cares about averages?!?! Business is good. They are profitable. The restaurant is well-respected and popular. They have a great word of mouth reputation. So, all of these aspects are above average!

Those types of stories baffle me. What would drive this person to want to cut food costs in this situation? I guess it's greed. Perhaps he mistakenly believes you can build a reputation on serving a quality product, then turn around and cheapen the product yet still maintain your excellent reputation and then pocket more money? I don't know. It just doesn't make sense. Seems so myopic.

Yet this stuff happens all of the time in business. We focus on measurables (food costs, overhead, etc.) and forget that while we can tinker with them to show a direct result, we also inevitably alter the immeasurables (reputation, word-of-mouth, etc.) in the process. For my money, I'll always bet on those things we can't measure but that are typically the lifeblood of a successful business.


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