I recently run a poll amongst managers to check on what the priorities are for them.
Here are the results and my comments:
New features (9 votes) vs better existing features (6 votes)
As you can see they are very close.
I read this as more or less “let’s not add new features fast just to have them, but let’s make the system stronger every day and also add new features”.
This may seem obvious but it’s not.
It goes down very well with the decision to develop incrementally, that is: built a new feature very basically and then iterate (improve, get feedback, improve, get feedback …) quickly.
In other words, each time you get a new feature it will be a half baked product good enough to let you do very basic things.
But since basic things are 90% of real world usage it makes sense.
Often a new feature will generate a lot of work for you, so you tell us “come on, make this automatic” and if your request is useful also for most users, we’ll do it.
The best thing of this approach is that we can avoid the sexy but unuseful functionalities, the ideas you get when you develop lost in your nerdy world with absolutely no connection to reality.
Those normally come out like “let’s do a calendar which auto generates rss and sends an email to every Owner except those who have a conversion rate lower than 15% and red hair, and let them order pizza online without even needing to know it because our algorithm decided they are hungry“.
But then nobody uses them and they interact with future development and make everything more complicated.
We made our share of these and we won’t make them anymore.
We are going to keep things simple and effective, maybe not powerful from day one as you want, but workable.
You have seen this with the Reservation list and you will see it with Tickets.
And you won’t see anymore stuff like “increase/decrease price according to season” which was meant to be “oh so cool we’re gonna save time to the owners and they’ll love it” but nobody used and it’s just a fastidious addition to the price table (we’ll leave it for now, anyway).
I, the Manager, have to collect more apartments in my area (7 votes)
I like this.
It shows most managers did not fall in the Andy Capp syndrome which sounds like “mmmmm..maybe my efforts will be more effective if I wait a bit until we have the auto mailing function which scans for owners online and sends them an email to join us. In the meantime let me see what’s up in Facebook, maybe I can get some good ideas for the social features in Adormo. Oh look, what a nice kitty! I will share this my my 290 friends I never met!”
Unfortunately the system will never be as good as to avoid work for a Manager and while it’s true that new Manager will need to work less, the time to move is now.
Promote Adormo as a strong brand so it will be easier for me to approach the Owners (3 votes)
“Dear sirs I am a small guy with a dream and I just set up a small website and I hope I will one day send you one request a week, please keep your calendar update every 5 hours“.
The above approach is hard and not efficient.
Much better would be to write :
“Dear little owner with the empty apartment. A storm is coming and its name is Adormo, and I am sure you heard of it.
No, this is not a fake message and we are really writing to you.
It’s real, and you are right to be excited.
It has been brought to my attention that you may have a slight chance to be part of our highly selective network and I write to you because I know you would never dream to write to us.
We need to see your apartment tomorrow at 9 am,please have breakfast ready.
I believe you are aware of the fact I only drink freshly brewed coffee. Thanks.”
We’ll get there eventually, but only through hard work, early mornings and self made coffee.
I, the Manager, need to have more visibility for my website (3 votes)
I, the Manager, need to certify price where possible (3 votes)
I, the Manager, need to find more professional Owners (3 votes)
These 3 got the same votes.
I suggest to concentrate on getting better owners and certifying prices because this comes before getting visibility.
Why? Because you have to think about what customers get once they step into your shop first, and how to get them to your shop later.
Putting energy in shouting around “come to me come to me” and when they arrive “mmm yes, please send a request to know the price and then if we are lucky the owner will reply” just can’t be a good strategy.
Yes, true, if there are no requests, owners won’t join or keep calendars updated so you need some visibility, but you must know that visibility works in misterious ways and it just does not work to promote half baked sites.
Get your stuff togethetr,make it nice and tidy and THEN think about visibility.
We have some sites which got a lot of requests with zero Seo, social networking or adverts, probably because they had many apartments and were intererstig. Your job is to create a compelling product first, customers will find you later.
Yes, you need professional owners. You make money with 20% of them, the smart ones. Those who never understand how a system works, complain that they need to do something to get customers and dream of the days when they had just to sit and wait are bound to disappear.
Don’t invest time in them, they just drain resources.
Concentrate on the good ones, they deserve to thrive online and will be your best partners.
You’ve got to choose, so choose early.
And yes, for your customers mental sanity give them a price now, clear and certified.
Owners with prices which cannot be calculated online will need to adapt and they will if you send them customers.
Adormo has to improve speed (2 votes)
Agreed. We are working on that.
Speed is certainly a major point and we’re doing all we can to make sites faster.
Adormo needs to improve Social Network integration (2 votes)
Social Networking is also a great way to attract customers but again, a good web site with good content comes first. So while we do this, go ahead and make your site a great one, it will spread faster on Social Networks.
Adormo needs to improve Customers End usability to attract and retain more customers (2 votes)
Usability on Customer End is way more important that usability on Owner End because Owners are not motivated by usability and they would accept to send confirmation letters by post if that guaranteed a reservation. They are motivated by reservations.
Reservations are generated by Customers who find the website easy to use and they have no incentives in trying to find out how stuff work. If something is not clear, they just go to the next website.
So, we make it easy for Customers and powerful for Owners. Customers send requests and Owners learn the system.
Adormo has to add languages (1 vote)
Languages are easy to add but before we are going to prepare an interface to make it easy to maintain them too, which now is not.
Adormo needs to improve Owner End usability not to lose Owners (1 vote)
Owner End usability: as above, important but less than Customer End.
Adormo needs to improve the system in order to manage Niche sites (0 votes)
You’ll start asking this when you start working on them :)
Adormo needs to find more Managers to have a wider presence in the world (o votes)
Adormo needs to start thinking about marketing seriously to start it in 2012 (0 votes)
These is actually quite close to “promote Adormo as a strong brand” so I assume that one vote was enough.
I, the Manager, have to start Adwords (and similar) campaigns
If done well, knowing what you do, it may actually pay off quite nicely.
The risk is to spend a lot for nothing. You need experts advice on this.
Ok, thanks for the feedback, we are on it!