Saas retention strategies with Jordan Boesch

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Watch the third part of an interview with Jordan Boesch, CEO of 7shifts .  Watch the full video or skim the audio transcription about Saas retention strategies in this post.  jordanB

  • Jordan shares his entrepreneurial journey on how he built 7shifts and the Saas retention strategies he employed to make it a successful.

  • He reveals tips on how a business can increase their Saas retention rates



The following is an audio transcription that was cleaned up for readability purposes.

Intro (0:00 to 1:25)

Rodrigo Fuentes (“RF”): Okay. Hi everybody my name is Rodrigo and I am the co-founder of ListenLoop and today I am interviewing Jordan from 7shifts. Introducing Jordan here.

Jordan Boesch (“JB”): Hello there!

RF: Alright. So, first I want to talk about the startup journey. How would you describe 7shifts in under 50 words or so.

JB: So 7shifts is restaurant scheduling and time clocking software for restaurants, QSRs, and other food service industries.

RF: And what is your role at 7shifts?

JB: My role at 7 shifts as CEO, I’m wearing a lot of hats right now. So anything from design development, sales, you know writing, server configuration. Wearing a lot of hats right now but enjoying it. So we are a small team.

RF: Cool. And where are you guys currently based?

JB: Where are based out of Regina, Saskatchewan. For those who don’t know where that is, because a lot of people don’t, it’s right next door to Alberta in Canada. We are kind of in the middle of Canada. So if you are in the US we are right above Montana.

Customer Retention (20:51 to 32:24)

RF: So I want to move on to the last section of the interview which is talking about customer retention. You know what, especially in this world where more and more applications are entering the *****0:29:27.5 space on a monthly recurring basis incredibly important to protect the revenue to continue customers on that renewal basis. So I want to ask you to describe that first customer you lost and why do you think you’ve lost them.

JB: Well, I won’t talk about the first… Like I don’t remember the first customer to be honest. It was probably a small, really small shop somewhere in the world. But I’ll talk about the biggest customer that we lost. Because I think that is more interesting and we had this client back in, you know, 5 months ago and we on boarded them and they are a juice chain in New York and we on boarded them and during this process there we are on the phone call with the CEO and he’s like “I need this, I need this, I need this, and I need to have this and this.” And we are like “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll build it. We’ll build it.” and he’s like “Alright, if you guys build this and do it I’ll switch over tomorrow.” And so we started work on our time punching app that we are going to build anyway but he needed it right away so we basically hold a bunch of almost all-nighters I guess to try and pump this app out and got it to a state where it was working okay and you know, he said “Alright, let’s go.” And we basically on boarded all their stores and they had like 15 stores and we did like a few at a time and we did like 10 in like a week and people were on boarding and we did trainings, training with them and you know, show people how to use the app and when it came to the time-punching component that we rushed to build it wasn’t ready. It just wasn’t and it was just riddled with bugs. It was just constantly up until the wee hours in the morning fixing bugs. Fixing how the whole thing works because we haven’t been into the time punching space so we were kind of learning as we went and man I was on some pretty nasty phone calls of managers rimming me out for what a crappy job we did on some of that stuff but, you know, the staff like they like the app but the managers where kind of fed up with the time clocking stuff. So we fixed all the bugs, ironed it out and I hadn’t heard from them for a few months and things are going well and I checked in, you know, see like a few months later and, yeah, I heard from HR and she said “Yeah, it’s fine. Things are working.” So I was like “Okay, great. Things are working.” I just wanted to try and maintain a relationship and kind of stay close of them and then I didn’t hear from them for a while and I’m like “Man, what’s going on.” Like “What’s happening?” and then a bug came up in 7shifts and one of the managers from one of these juice-chain stores reported it to one of the managers and then the managers said, forwarded that email to me saying like “Hey, what’s going on here?” and I’m reading down the message chain and then it says “I thought we were getting rid of 7shifts? Why are we still using this?” and so I was like, my heart just like sank and I was like “Oh my God” like they are going to leave us. But at the same time I’m like, you know, it was just a big pill to swallow, right. And, you know, it was just a matter of time and so we did some investigating and, you know, talk to some people there and, you know, it was… They are moving on to like a product that’s… They are a billion-dollar company, the competitor they chose. You know, they are a public company. ***** 0:33:08.4 who they ended up going with and for reasons we totally understand now that we look at it at hind sight. It’s like we tried to be that company that…

“We tried so hard to build this thing, make it ready for this company and we ultimately weren’t ready for them”

and it showed by the amount of problems that occurred and as someone owning that company, you inevitably think man like this is frustrating. I want something to streamline my business. I want something that runs smoothly and that’s integrative and we didn’t have a lot of that. We had maybe one out of the four or five things that they needed and so they ended up going with like a you know, a massively huge competitor that had all of these aspects. Can you blame them? No, I can’t. We just weren’t ready but it was a great learning lesson because, you know, when we talked about this when we were on boarding this client, and she was kind of like “You know, we need this today.” Everything was “We need today today or yesterday” and it needs to be done now now now. And like “I’ll switch over in a heartbeat, blah blah blah.” And we are like… We all kind of look back and we all… We are just like “You know what, this is good I guess right now but if he’s willing to switch on a dime like that for these guys, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t do it to us.” So it’s kind of… We learned a lot from that process. We learned a lot about behavior from their CEO and their team and like how that type of behavior… You got to just walk for that because if you are not ready for that type of behavior or these people that need it… like yesterday and they are rushed and they are going to make a decision like today for stuff, I’ll just be a little bit weary because they could end up making that split second decision and getting really you just as fast. So before you allocate a lot of resources to these guys, maybe think a little bit about whom you are dealing with and who you are bringing on as a long term client. And we also learned that we just weren’t ready for that. So it just wasn’t a good match and we are still working up to that level. So, we’ll get there but it’ll just be a matter of time. So, that’s my story.

RF: I want to thank you for being so kind about that. That was definitely a great lesson for many of the entrepreneurs to hear. One thing I kept thinking about as you were talking is the concept of how those users, the people in the restaurants or the people in the juice stores were using your application. Did you have a good sense that they were still actively engaged? Was it… Is there anything you could have looked at in your data to predict that they were going to turn?

JB: Not at that point. Maybe there could have been some stuff we could have looked at in the database. You know, activity logs. Things like that. But we had so much other stuff going on that we kind of just… We are like “Okay none of this is good news” you know. We haven’t heard them yell for a bug like “Oh my God this is awesome.” We are just going to keep working on other stuff because we had a lot on the go but, you know, there are certain things now that we could have definitely used to watch and see if that customer is about to turn and with a customer that large, you know, it’s important to have a solid working relationship with that person who your direct contact is because when we were working with them they had like 5 different points of contact and no one was kind of our designated point of contact. So we basically… there’s a lot of he said she said mix up and I guess if you are dealing with a client that large and on that scale,

“I would just ensure that you can have a main point of contact because it just turns into an absolute circus if you don’t”

RF: Again, it is all about customer oriented communication. I really appreciate your hand draw on that sensitive question. Although we touched up to three topics I wanted to talk about today, I want to kind of wind things down and talk about conclusions here and I wanted to know what do you wish you would have known five years ago. What will you tell yourself 5 years ago?

JB: I would have told myself to pick a niche market and go after that because we have only done this recently… Sorry my throat is kind of sore right now. I’m drinking coffee, I should be drinking water. But I would have buckled down and picked a niche market to go after because we went after every market for a long time. Well, not a long time. Like for me it was a long time because I had started 7shifts on my own, in my own spare time and so it was like a project that I have been working on over several years while I had another fulltime job. But now that I’ve got a few other people fulltime with me working on it, it was crucial to make that decision, to buckle down and pick a niche and focus on it. So for us, it was the restaurants. Could you still me hear me okay?

RF: I could hear you fine.

JB: Okay. I just couldn’t hear you in the background.

RF: Yup, so picking a niche that you want to focus on. You feel that that could have significantly change your trajectory over the last year or two for instance.

JB: Well, yeah. I fell like our focus would have been a lot better because what happened is the past. Five or six months especially was that we’d start getting a lot of request from different industries and it made it really kind of confusing and it just made it harder to make decisions and the vision wasn’t clear on where we are going. Were we going to be this everything-scheduling company or what were we doing. So as soon as we said “No, we’re restaurants” like it just… It was basically like “okay. Well, these are the features we need to tackle and here’s our road map and it was just so much clearer. The people that are now requesting things, it was like okay well are they from a restaurant? Oh no, it’s a dog grooming company. Okay, well I haven’t heard it from restaurants, so sorry. It’s not getting put in. Of course we say that a lot nicer but on our marketing side it’s very clear who we are focusing on. So if you aren’t going to sing up with us, just know what you are getting into. Is you are getting into an app that’s not catered maybe for you but it’s catered for restaurants. So, yeah. That’s probably…

“Some advice that I would say is pick a niche market, really understand that market the best you can, talk to people in that industry and learn how to solve that problem better than anybody else in that industry.”

RF: Solid advice man. Well, thanks again for your time Jordan. We really appreciate it.

JB: Hey no problem.

RF: You know, we wish you continued success and, you know, best of luck man.

JB: Yup, thanks. I had a blast Rodrigo. Thanks for interviewing me here.

This is the conclusion of this series, we discuss Saas customer retention and Saas retention strategies. Big thanks to Jordan Boesch for answering my questions and being so candid about his experiences.

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