Show of hands: Who has had a bad experience at a restaurant?
Wow, everyone! One of us – John Washam to be exact – decided to make it easier to get in touch with the manager to resolve issues immediately before they fester into a scorchingly-bad review. His Seattle-based startup, TalkToTheManager (TTTM), lets customers of any service-based business anonymously text managers with their complaint, and managers can respond to smooth over the situation.
Washam started building this service last fall after reading about another service that lets restaurants text you when your table is ready. “So with text messages in mind, I thought, ‘It would be great to be able to send a text message straight to the manager’ in that kind of situation. And soon after I started working on TalkToTheManager.”
TTTM directly confronts the problems that Yelp and other online review sites create. It is so easy to post your complaint and damage the reputations of hard-working business owners, who don’t have the time or the tools to effectively “fix” these reviews due to restrictions and algorithms in place.
To keep TTTM focused, the features Washam included are based on many conversations with business owners. “I had a long list of features, about a third of which I dropped based on these conversations. And before I forge ahead with new features I go back to a set of them (now TalkToTheManager customers) to make sure I’m building features that provide them with worthwhile benefits at reasonable prices. The essence of product design for TalkToTheManager is simplicity and convenience.”
Despite having a full-time job while growing TTTM, Washam loves the startup life. “It’s exciting to see something you’ve created being used to help people…. Every meeting juices my knowledge, motivation and the business’ prospects for the future.”
Like a true entrepreneur, Washam has audacious goals. He wants “to make this service the new standard in every restaurant, hotel, spa, oil change shop, and just about every service-based business. Right now it’s a novelty for consumers to use. In the near future, consumers should expect businesses everywhere to use this service.”
As TTTM continues to grow and gain new customers, it’ll be fun to see if he’s right.
TalkToTheManager was a showcased startup at last week’s Tech Cocktail Seattle mixer.