We learned a lot in our first 100 days of business.
And now we’ve learned even more in our first 1000 days of business.
FranFunnel may be forever young, as Rod Stewart so beautifully sang, but we’re growing up.
(If you haven’t read part one or part two in this series, check them out now!)
And with that, now let’s revisit some of our original learnings and reflect on what has (or hasn’t) changed since January 2017.
ORIGINAL INSIGHT: Workflow, workflow, workflow
Automation is only part of the equation. It turns out that what our customers want (and frankly demand) is that we make their lives easier. “Fit into my workflow” is a common refrain we hear. “Don’t make me do things I’m not used to doing.” Simple things (in our mind) like recommending that salespeople keep an extra tab open on their browsers has been met with pretty high push back.
Ultimately, I think in three years we’ve learned that the focus on workflow improvement cuts across generational lines.
Our younger users are obsessed with efficiency. Their jobs ostensibly are cluttered, so doing things using as little effort as possible is paramount to them achieving the success they want to. When we talk about how FranFunnel fits seamlessly into their life as an app and an additional tab in their browser, they’re over the moon. Having 10 tabs open on your computer during the day is commonplace. And what’s one additional app? There’s no belief that their workflow is correct. Continuous improvement through technology is a core tenet of how they see their careers.
On the other hand, our more experienced users continue to push back on the idea that changing their workflow is a good idea. In many ways, they know what has made them successful in their day-to-day lives. Why is there reason to mess with that? Rather than improving their activities, it’s all about not bothering what they already have going on. An extra tab or extra app is a problem. It’s almost as if making an extra sale over a year isn’t worth having an additional process to think about.
This is not a new phenomenon, of course. But the magnitude of it has been shocking. Franchising is full of people who have been in the industry for a long time and have been successful for a long time as well. To me, I see this as a reason why there are few venture capital firms in our space. VC believes that better solutions win. But if legacy players are happy with the old answers, what’s the point?
ORIGINAL INSIGHT: Texting is sexy, for now
We know that you love text messaging. We do too. But I promise you that text messaging’s effectiveness will decrease over time. This is the natural cycle of marketing. The question you (and most importantly us) need to ask yourself is whether or not you have a plan that’s durable enough to handle whatever comes next. And that’s what we’re here for.
This was a real miss for us. If you would have asked me three years ago if FranFunnel’s core feature would have been text messaging in 2020, I would have guessed not. The fact that texting hasn’t been overrun by businesses is actually shocking to me. Looking back, text messaging’s inertia comes down to a few key differences from what happened to email:
I’ll go out on a limb and say that 1,000 days from now, texting will not be as popular as it is today. But I was already wrong once...
ORIGINAL INSIGHT: Customers as innovators
One of the more stressful parts of initially building FranFunnel was having to do a whole lot of guessing about what our customers needed. We would have pretty heated conversations about what to do next, what the latest and greatest was to be. But now our customers are pretty freaking good at knowing what would be helpful for their lives. This comes not only obviously from speaking with them but more importantly watching them use the software every day. Our customers are awesome.
Directionally, we were right here, but I’ll flesh this out into a more sophisticated idea.
First of all, the vast majority of our users don’t care about making our product better. We make their lives easier today, who the hell cares about the future. They don’t make product suggestions, and they don’t really want to talk to us at all. They exist in contrast to our power users. They are the real heroes. That small group of individuals who (a) care about what it is that we do, and (b) want to see us provide even better solutions in the future, that small cadre of people are invaluable to us. We need them as much as anything.
Secondly, most of the time when users articulate what they need, they do a relatively poor job explaining it is what they’re actually after. We find ourselves playing the role of post-doctoral linguist and psychologist trying to decode what it is they’re after. So rather than listening to our customers, we watch them. A lot. While their words can be clouded and unreliable, their actions are clean and pure. As they use FranFunnel, we get to see what really matters to them.
ORIGINAL INSIGHT: What is cutting edge?
When we first started FranFunnel, you would have very clearly heard me say that what we were building was not cutting edge. “We’re simply taking technology that already exists and customizing it for the franchise world” is a common refrain that I can still hear echoing in my head. But 100 days later, I’m not so sure. We are doing things that no one else in the world is doing, especially for franchises. We’re spending our entire professional lives uniquely focused on improving the way franchises communicate with leads. And we’re making unbelievable changes. One customer put it best when he said, “I always knew this stuff was possible, but I never thought I could do it.” That’s the cutting edge.
FranFunnel is not a cutting edge piece of technology, nor will it ever be. Anyone who has a keen understanding of what’s possible in the SaaS world would see that very quickly.
But ultimately that doesn’t matter. What matters is two-fold:
If the answer to both of those is yes, then being cutting edge is irrelevant.
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Make sure to read all the articles in this series!
FranFunnel’s First 1000 Days, Part 1: The Leads
FranFunnel’s First 1000 Days, Part 2: Contacting Leads
FranFunnel’s First 1000 Days, Part 3: Revisiting Our Original Learnings
FranFunnel’s First 1000 Days, Part 4: The Road Ahead