Sunsetting popular features

As a founder, removing a feature from your product is often one of the hardest things you have to do.

It’s even harder when it’s a popular feature — as I’m sure you can imagine — but these are the tough decisions you have to make when you’re building and growing a product.

Quick background for context

When I first founded Coach about a year and a half ago, our go-to market audience was tutors.

Why did we start with tutors? That’s a long story for another day, but by the time we launched in May of this year, we’d made a big shift away from focusing on tutors to opening up to all solopreneurs.

An often quoted startup mantra is that you need to address one market first before going more broadly, which is what we did by starting with tutors and opening up to solopreneurs. Not sure I agree with that wholeheartedly, but that’s a story for another day too.

That brings us to scheduling.

Yes, that’s the feature we’re sunsetting At Coach. Scheduling is 95% of a tutor’s workflow, so naturally we built it as part of our core set of features along with digital products.

But after launching in May of 2016, we had a massive influx of non-tutors joining the platform.

And those people, for the most part, didn’t use scheduling. They were far more interested in building landing pages, email marketing, and selling digital products.

While over 1,000 appointments have been booked on Coach, far more landing pages have been created, emails have been sent out, and digital products have been sold.

It was time to listen to our customers and double-down on what they wanted most.

How we came to the decision to sunset scheduling

I did what I find myself doing more often than not these days: I created a pros/cons list (haha).

Without going into every specific item on the pros/cons list, the pros of getting rid of scheduling outweighed the cons 8 to 3. To me, it boiled down to 2 things:

  • We have a small product team and supporting Scheduling with the same level of detail we want to support Products, Emails, and Landing Pages doesn’t seem feasible. It’s constantly getting back-burnered and de-emphasized.
  • We have to pick a focus and that focus is Digital Products. Scheduling doesn’t support Digital Products, whereas Emails and Landing Pages do.

I shared my thoughts with the team as a whole and spoke to everyone individually to hear their thoughts. Everyone was in agreement that our customers have spoken: scheduling just doesn’t have a place with Coach anymore.

Once we knew that we were going to do it, we came up with a plan.

How we’re going to sunset scheduling

Jamie Lawrence who wrote most (if not all) of the code for our scheduling tool, put together a 9-point plan as to how to shut down scheduling in the least painful way.

Without getting into the technical bits, it starts with the following (in order):

  • Removing any mention of scheduling from our drip emails.
  • Removing scheduling from our features page and marketing site.
  • Removing scheduling from our help pages.
  • Removing the scheduling navigation item for new users.
  • Removing the scheduling navigation item for all users and disabling the feature.

There are a few others, but let’s focus on #5.

Point 5 is obviously the most difficult as people are actively using scheduling right now on Coach.

My plan is to reach out to everyone individually who has booked an appointment in the past 45 days to let them know why we’re sunsetting the feature, to see if they have any questions, and to give them some alternative scheduling tool options.

After I’ve given all of these people a week to respond, scheduling will ride off into the sunset to never be seen again (probably ;-).

Moving forward without scheduling

We were able to make this decision because we’re getting lot of traction and paying customers in other areas of the product.

If we weren’t getting traction elsewhere, it would have been a lot more difficult to identify that scheduling needed to be removed to give the other parts of Coach more attention.

I can’t wait to show you the next evolution of Coach in the coming months. Please subscribe to my newsletter if you don’t already. I write and share one article every two weeks.


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