It’s been awhile since I posted an update regarding this case study due to the holidays and many other projects I have going on. If you need a refresher as to what I’ve done so far check out Part 1 to learn about what my goals are for this case study and check out Part 2 to read about what I’ve done to prepare to sell my app to independent pizzeria owners.
To review, this case study has four “phases”:
As you can probably tell, in this 3rd part of the case study I’m going to be focusing on how my attempts at selling this idea to pizzeria owners has been going.
Finding a Quality Developer
Before I sold my app development services to any pizzeria owners, I wanted to make sure that I was going to be able to provide them with exactly what I was saying I would. So I posted a job on Elance and got only 11 total proposals which is a lot lower than I typically get. However I found 2 developers out of those 11 who “passed” my first stage of filtering and who I would normally do a Skype interview with. Here are the 2 bids:
Price for 1st Pizzeria Additional Pizzeria Price Time
1) $438.36 $25 2 weeks
2) $383.56 $75 2 weeks
As of right now I am leaning more towards “Bid 1” as he offered to create a “system” for me that would allow me to swap the pizzeria information (without any coding or technical work on my end) so that I wouldn’t need to hire him again for additional pizzerias (unless I wanted to in order to save time, for $25). However, I haven’t done Skype interviews with either of these developers yet because I want to have a customer in hand before I hire one.
As you can see though, after I get my first customer’s app built whatever I charge additional pizzeria owners after that will be almost pure profit. That’s really exciting for me as I could even lower the price to $400 (instead of the original $800-900 I was planning on charging) and STILL make a decent amount of money!
Testing the Waters
So now that I have a very specific idea of how much it’s going to cost me to develop this app, I need to actually get my ass in gear and get some customers!
I decided that before I approach local pizzeria owners in person, I wanted to get some practice refining my sales pitch as well as possibly getting at least a customer or two so I could have a “live” app to show them in person on my phone.
So in order to save me time (though I could have manually done this myself) I hired a woman on Elance for $20 to find me the contact information for 100 pizzerias. The contact information provided includes:
- Name of Company
- Owner Name (if included on the website)
- Email Address
- Phone Number
- Website URL
Now you could do this yourself without hiring anyone using sites like Google Maps and References USA (I believe that’s the site she used) however I think it’s $20 well spent to save me the time of going through that process.
Now that I had my list of contacts, I sent this exact email to each of the 100 pizzeria owners:
Subject: App Development for Your Pizzeria
My name is Thomas Strock and I’m a mobile app developer from Allentown, PA. I came across your pizzeria and I have a really great idea to help you connect with your customers as well as find new customers through a mobile app! Below is a link to a PDF with more information about my idea for you to take a look at. If you have a few minutes, check it out and let me know what you think!
I’d love to help you out with this project as I’m sure you’ll see the tremendous value of reaching people through a mobile app in today’s business environment.
I look forward to your reply with a date and time most convenient for us to have a quick meeting over the phone to discuss this opportunity in greater detail.
**My Phone Number**
I was torn when writing this email as to how long it should be. On one hand I could keep it really short so that busy business owners are less likely to skip over it or not read it. However on the other hand, a really short email with a link in it looks a lot like spam. Plus it would be difficult to get the information I wanted across in just a few sentences. So finally I decided to compromise and make it a bit lengthier, but to try and keep it as concise as possible at the same time and not include “fluff”.
Another thing to consider is that for half the emails I sent it exactly as written above, with the recipient having to click on a link to view the PDF with more information. However for the other half of the emails, I uploaded the PDF as an attachment. People are scared of clicking links AND downloading attachments from people they don’t know in emails, so I’m not sure which one would work better. To remove any “excuses” if barely anyone replied, I split it 50/50.
Also, because sending mass unsolicited emails selling stuff is technically spam, I set up a brand new, separate GMail account to use specifically for this project. I hoped that that would protect me at least a bit if people reported the email as spam.
The foundation of this blog is to be as open and honest as possible and let you in on both my successes as well as my failures. Unfortunately, the results of this case study so far have been an utter failure.
Of the 100 independent pizzeria owners I contacted, I got only 1 response (a phone call). Granted, I’m sure if I would ask people to email me back instead of call for pricing I might have gotten a few more responses, however I doubt any of those would’ve turned into sales…people are too afraid to call are probably “just curious” and not serious about buying anyway. Why waste my time on them?
Anyway, instead of focusing on the 1% response rate and the 99 people who DIDN’T contact me, let’s talk about the 1 person who DID. But trust me, this story is not getting any less painful…
My STUPID Mistake
A few hours after I sent out my emails, I got a phone call from one of the pizzeria owners that I contacted. We talked for about a half hour and I answered a bunch of questions he had about the app idea and how it would help his business.
It seemed to be going pretty well, and for the most part I felt like I did a fairly good job of selling the idea to him. I had to admit to him though that I had no “live” examples of this type of app that I developed on the App Store. I told him that I was just getting started offering services to small businesses, but he could check out one of my personal apps SharePrayer to see the type of work I do.
Overall though he seemed relatively optimistic about the app and didn’t even give any verbal objections when I told him the $800 price tag. Instead he went on to ask me how much it would cost to add an Android version (I told him an additional $200).
Sounds like it went pretty well right? WRONG. Why? Because I screwed up…BIG TIME.
The guy I was talking to had a pretty heavy accent and I felt bad when I had to ask him to repeat himself over and over again. On top of that I think he was under the impression that I knew his pizzeria and I sent him that email exclusively. So for those two reasons at the end of the phone call I didn’t do the following things:
1) I didn’t try and close the sale and get him to commit today.
2) I didn’t ask for his name (too embarrassed since he said it a few times before and I didn’t hear it clearly).
3) I didn’t ask for the name of his pizzeria (too embarrassed since he apparently thought I already knew it and the email was personally sent to him).
Yeah I know – I let my embarrassment and social awkwardness over the phone get the best of me. I did a great job for 29 minutes of that call and then completely ruined it with the last 60 seconds. It sucks, but lesson learned…only thing to do now is avoid making that same mistake again.
I tried comparing the phone number he called from to the numbers on my list of contacts. However, it didn’t match up so I assume he called from his home phone or cell phone. I could narrow it down to around 4 different pizzerias, however it would be hard to call a pizzeria (probably get an employee) ask for the owner, ask if he called me ___ days ago (and if not apologize and explain I have the wrong pizzeria).
These emails are supposed to be giving me an idea of how good this app idea is and how many business owners will be interested. So far it’s not looking good. However, I’ve worked too hard creating mockups, creating a detailed sales packet, filtering developers, etc. to let this setback stop me.
I went back to the same woman before from Elance (by the way…her name is Bambi and she’s awesome) and had her get me the contact information for another 200 pizzeria owners.
I’m planning on tweaking my email a tad, and sending out 50 emails per day for the next 4 days.
In addition if anybody calls me I will MAKE SURE I get their name and the name of their pizzeria. I will also attempt to close the sale at the end of the call, and may offer them a discount (maybe $600 if they commit and send the money today).
Let’s hope the results are better than last time!
After seeing my results from the first batch of 100 emails, do you still think this is a viable idea? Any advice as to something I could be doing wrong? Hit me up in the comments section. I LOVE constructive criticism, so bring it on!