The ongoing pandemic has made the importance of digitization all the more important. That’s why it’s not surprising to see the rise of scheduling software for companies manage their employees and their shifts. And to do that for a specific category such as restaurants requires deep domain knowledge and insights. So it was an insightful conversation with Jordan Boesch, CEO and co-founder of 7shifts who incepted the scheduling software by understanding the issues first-hand at his father’s Quiznos restaurants.
PS: the interview has been edited for the sake of brevity.
1) Could you share the origin story of 7shifts?
7shifts started when I was working at a few of my dad’s Quiznos locations in Canada. While I was there, I witnessed the challenge of building schedules that worked, week after week. There was a lot of miscommunication, and a lot of sticky notes and spreadsheets to keep track of. The “problem solver” in me decided to build something that solved this pain point for my dad. I taught myself how to code and built a simple tool where he could upload a schedule for staff to download. It quickly grew into my passion project and, around 2014, its own business.
Now we have a team of more than 200 in Canada and the US to help restaurants solve challenges across the employee lifecycle, which we define as hiring, training, scheduling, paying, and retaining.
2) When you launched in 2014, what made 7shifts unique, considering scheduling or employee management software already used to exist?
What made us unique was that we were 100 percent focused on restaurants and highly product-led, meaning we operate a high-velocity self-serve model. We also moved really quickly to iterate and listen to customer feedback.
3) Could you tell us about 7shifts’ evolution since its launch?
Shortly after our founding, we zeroed in on focusing on restaurants and nothing else. This decision was driven by the fact that we had the strongest product-market fit, and has been the driver behind how we improve our product. In addition to solving core scheduling needs, 7shifts has grown into a restaurant team management platform that cuts across many other pillars in the employee lifecycle.
4) How many customers do you have now? What are the major geographies that you’re focusing on at the moment?
There are more than 25,000 restaurants using 7shifts’ platform as of this year, which equates to more than 700,000 restaurant and hospitality employees around the world. Our primary customer base is in the United States, and the rest are here in our home base of Canada, with a few international restaurants to round it out.
5) What makes 7shifts stand out against other restaurant scheduling software?
While there are several employee scheduling software in the market, 7shifts’ 100% focus on the restaurant industry is what makes us stand out against the rest. Because of our large restaurant focus, it means we’ve gone on to build and integrate with various important parts of the tech stack that restaurant operators are utilizing, further creating the feeling of an “all-in-one” solution.
With employee turnover in the restaurant industry being at its highest, we’re able to provide restaurant managers with tools to help them retain their staff and keep them happy. Our easy-to-use scheduling app makes it easy for restaurant employees to communicate with their team, request shift changes, and share availability. All of which boosts morale and happiness in the workforce.
7shifts is able to further stand out from the rest with its adopted “Product-Led” growth strategy. We’re confident in our product and allow it to do the talking for us. This has led to exponential growth relative to other firms in the market that rely on sales cycles, contracts, and installations.
6) Could you shed a light on your marketing strategy?
We are an inbound marketing company, so we are actively working to build our awareness and drive business through efforts such as trade shows, content, and social media. At the core, our strategy is to promote our solution to restaurants across different channels and get them to start a trial. We’re confident that once they try out and experience 7shifts at their business, they’ll want to use it forever.
As is the case with many other businesses, 7shifts had to make changes in response to the pandemic. Our first change was to alter our mission temporarily to retain our customer base and support the restaurant industry, with empathy by sharing resources on how to navigate this crisis. To take care of our customers, we suspended billing and discounted plans to ensure we kept them afloat.
We also developed new & free tools for our clients during the pandemic. These tools included health screenings and upgraded communication tools that were introduced for them to leverage during difficult times.
8) What’s next for 7shifts? Any new features that you’re working on based on your learnings over the past one year or so?
What we’ve learned over the past year or so, is that restaurants are struggling to retain, maintain and engage their staff. This has led to what many in the industry are referring to as “The Great Resignation”. What’s next for 7shifts, is helping the restaurant community tackle this challenge by launching features that will equip them to do so. Our new hiring product is designed to do just that. With hiring, our restaurant partners are now able to find, track and hire employees all in one place.
Our mission at 7shifts is to simplify and improve performance for restaurants, so focusing on providing our restaurant partners with features and tools that will help them do so, is our main focus moving forward.
9) What are your favorite SaaS software out there?
Aside from being a fan of Google’s products and the “usual suspects” like Slack, I’d have to say I’m a big fan of “Things”. I know there are thousands of to-do apps out there, but I just think they nailed the simple experience and consistent feeling across various devices. Also, a shout-out to OpenPhone. I think it’s a very well-designed product and is great for easily spinning up a VOIP number that you can use instead of giving out your personal phone number.