Open House Tuesday October 4th

Come by our office Tuesday October 4th between 10:30am and 1 to get your new Axxess Card.

I’ll be serving up complimentary coffee and treats as well as giving away a few prizes.

If you’re interested in earning a Free Axxess Card, come learn about our Ambassador Program and find out how.

Hope to see you!

121 East Mason Street, Ste. B
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

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What’s New with Axxess

There’s been a lot going on at Axxess lately and here’s what’s new with the Company as well as a sneak peak at the upcoming 2012 Edition:

  • The Membership will now be valid for 15 Months! October though December 2012. The price remains steady at $30 but you now get 3 extra months to use the Card.
  • You can now activate your new card on any mobile device (although we’re more than happy to talk to you on the phone or in person if you’re still kind of old school and prefer to activate with us directly).
  • We added 107 new places!
  • Ablitt’s Dry Cleaners will have a $30 discount as will Cafe Luck! Tri County Produce has a $20 Discount!
  • 5 New Wineries
  • Our Ventura Axxess Program kicks off in November – a separate Book & Card also valid through 2012.
  • Our daily deal promotions continue to dominate the local market and beat out the big corporations like Groupon & LivingSocial with great offers that are actually locally relevant.

We also moved into new digs last month and are now in the Funk Zone at 121 E. Mason Street. Once you know where it is it’s easy to find, but check the map link before heading over here just to be safe. We loved our old office on Canon Perdido and it served us well for nearly ten years but as many of you know the parking was a pain and we had definitely outgrown the space. The new office is great so come by anytime.

Lastly and most importantly, there are over 50 local schools selling Axxess Books to raise money and most of these fundraisers start this Friday the 16th.  All schools typically get a head start selling Axxess Books so look out for a student to support or stop in to almost any school office to buy yours before they’re available to the general public. They’ll be available in our office and around town on October 1st.

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Keeping Up

Every day I talk with a dozen or so local small business owners and while each one is unique in their own way, more often than not the conversations touch on some of the same opinions and challenges, and I imagine these concerns run true for almost everyone regardless of whether or not they own their own businesses or work for someone else.

Most recently it seems there’s a more positive outlook for the future than people were willing to express in the last two or three years – so that’s reassuring.

The flip side is that people are feeling more inundated than ever before and are simply having a hard time “keeping up” with their business activities. This means different things to different people but in the world of the business owner it ultimately means doing ALL those things, big and small, to not only keep the business running but to also grow it. That means staying modern and relevant, staying visible, keeping up and hopefully outdoing the competition, connecting (& actually engaging) with your customers, analyzing costs towards profitability, managing cash flow (and the people that work for you!) and a variety of other objectives that require constant effort, time and brain power.

When I’m feeling overwhelmed I have to really put myself in check, take a deep breath, and re-convince myself that on my death bed these things aren’t going to matter. It’s not that I take the issues lightly, in fact it’s the opposite – but in the long term and in the larger scheme of things (life) most of the daily stresses get way more attention than they deserve.

So relax. Decide which of the tasks you need to handle first in order to best “keep up”. Or which objective when completed will relieve the most stress? Attack it and move on.

TIP – If you get your email to more than two locations (your work computer, your phone, your i-pad,  your home computer or laptop, etc), that is Madness and I suggest you simplify. Trust me, once you make it a week or two being less connected, you’ll feel less stressed and will have more time to “keep up” with the other things that matter.

I started this post to talk about the changes to the Axxess Website and look where it took me…maybe next time.

Happy Monday!

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Web reviews

When I graduated from UCSB in 1998 I had barely ever used email nor spent any time online. Doesn’t seem that long ago but back then most colleges didn’t offer classes about email or “the web”.  Since then the internet has drastically changed how we do business and undoubtedly how the world turns.

Pre-internet if you wanted to take a vacation you physically went to speak with a travel agent. If you needed to research something you went to the library or to a bookstore. And if you wanted an opinion on a restaurant or a local business you asked someone you knew. Today however, you can research far more in far less time than ever imagined. Most of the time I think the endless supply of information empowers us but it’s important to disseminate information from opinion.

Websites like Yelp.com and the local SantaBarbara.com host reviews both good and bad but it seems to  me people are more likely to write a negative review than a positive one. I’ve always been amazed that people take the time to do this (on any website) but also that other people read and actually trust such reviews from people they don’t even know. The power of Yelp or any other site that hosts reviews is unbelievable as it can both deliver and deter customers.

Anyone in business or simply with a job knows you can’t please everyone all the time – no matter how hard you try. Whether you work in a restaurant or at a large company, things don’t always go perfectly. And as consumers, we’ve all been let down or disappointed at one time or another by some company or brand.

Yesterday I met with a restaurant owner who was frustrated with the amount of time he’s spending monitoring websites and blogs and particularly responding to one unhappy and malicious customer who took the time to post negative reviews across multiple websites. Interestingly enough, it was the owner who actually waited on this customer and felt he had gone above and beyond to fix a minor oversight made by his chef. The customer didn’t complain or speak up at the time but instead went home and expressed his opinions anonymously online.

Where I’m going with this is that I learned a long time ago to replace my complaints with requests. Otherwise, my negative output is wasted on the wrong ears. Next time you have a bad experience anywhere try sleeping on it and then contacting the person or company that you feel let you down. Take an amicable approach and try turning your complaint into a request. You’re not only more likely to get a reasonable and fair response, you’ll also feel better about it because writing negative reviews really doesn’t fix anything relative to your situation.

Most business owners have worked their butts off to build their company and make their customers happy. They’ve often invested their life savings into the business and rely on it to pay their mortgages, put their kids through school, etc. So I urge you to to keep all this in mind the next time you feel the urge to publicly post your opinion. And if you absolutely must write something negative, try to counter it by writing a few positive reviews too.

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Enjoy Your Soup

Last week I stopped in to a little cafe who’s a client of ours just to see how Axxess is working for her lately. She’d been a client for several years but I’d never met her personally or worked with her directly. She was in the kitchen stirring soup looking stressed out and pretty unhappy. As I walked in, she made a sour face. A face so sour it could’ve spoiled her soup!

Before I go any further I must tell you that even though I’m a business owner and all that – most working hours I’m a salesperson. And like all salespeople I sometimes (unfortunately) get treated like a leper – which is funny to me because I think pretty much everybody is in one way or another a salesperson. Whether you’re a financial adviser, a roofer, a massage therapist or a  cafe owner – all of us are selling something. It’s just that some sales roles are a little more direct and obvious than others.

Anyway, the short version of the story is that she was pretty rude to me despite the fact that I had no agenda with her and was not there to sell her anything.  So I pleasantly just said hello and skedaddled out of there. But it got me wondering what in the world could be so stressful about making soup? And more importantly, since she chose that business, that life, job, whatever -  why does she seem so miserable and is she even aware of it?

Owning a business can be stressful no doubt. And maybe I caught her on a bad day. Maybe she was up all night changing poopy diapers, got a speeding ticket on the way to work, chipped a nail, who knows. But man did she seem just downright unhappy.

There’s a point to all this…For the past two years I’ve been moonlighting from Axxess working on another project up in San Francisco. I traveled a lot so I was often away from my family and before I knew it I was totally stressed out, emotionally wiped and overall pretty miserable. I didn’t recognize it at first and when I did I pushed forward because I had signed up for it and I don’t consider myself a quitter. And then it dawned on me that it simply didn’t have to be this way. I chose it, so I can “un-choose” it. Or better put, I can choose to be happy even if that means letting go of that project and disappointing a few people in order to save my sanity.

I chose to come back to Santa Barbara, to my family, my business and to a life that hopefully and so far undoubtedly is  happier and simpler. And since I consciously made this choice I’m going to try my hardest to enjoy all that it brings.

The point is, we make decisions every day that shape our lives. Some are huge while some are tiny and irrelevant. If you choose something keep in mind that you did so, that you should try to enjoy it, and that you always have options. You’re in control and you’re responsible for your own happiness. No other person or situation can dictate this but you.

Go out and enjoy!

(like what you’ve read? Let me know and I’ll start posting more often!)

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Free Taco at Wahoo’s – Today Only!

Axxess Members are invited to celebrate Wahoo’s 3 year Anniversary, today Tuesday March 1st, 2011.

The owner, Jeff Lauer has invited all Axxess Members to join him for a free taco. Just print this post and bring it in to Wahoo’s (511 State Street) and pick your choice of taco – Grilled Ono, Blackened Mahi Mahi, Grilled or blackened chicken breast, Carnitas or Teriyaki tofu.

Fine Print: One taco per guest, no photocopies of this post please. No purchase is necessary, but it wouldn’t hurt to make a purchase while there!

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When the Competition Copies You!

In our modern society and marketplace it’s hard to be original. It seems all good (& bad) ideas have been tried.

I should've thought of that!

I should have thought of that!

Dollars and dreams have been pursued and wasted, some things catch on while others don’t.  And more often than not a good idea poorly executed goes nowhere – which in my opinion is one of the  main reasons small businesses fail.

But when you have a good idea and someone copies it, try taking it as a compliment. And do not fret if they’re a competitor of yours, as their efforts will only force you to enhance your own. I know that’s easier said than done but it’s something I try to keep in mind. Especially considering that:

  • In 1999 I copied a company from Marin County where I grew up. They were a multi-million dollar organization while I was just a start up.
  • In 2001 I copied the other local newspapers by building a website. It sounds ridiculous but back then not everyone had websites nor thought they were worth the investment. I’m glad I did.
  • Throughout the years I’m sure I’ve copied or “borrowed” ideas from many sources and most recently in 2010 we copied Groupon by launching Axxess Daily Deals. It’s been a huge hit for our clients and subscribers and I’m well aware of others trying to enter the market. Are they copying Axxess or are they copying Groupon like I did? And does it matter? Probably not.
  • Google tried to buy Groupon and their $6 Billion offer was rejected just a month ago. This week they announced they are launching their own service – and guess what? They’re copying Groupon.

My point is that all good ideas get copied: books, movies, pick up lines, software, businesses, consumer products, etc. Just think how many brands of ibuprofen or toilet paper there are. Starbucks owns the coffee market and McDonald’s owns the fast food market, so McDonald’s copies Starbucks with their McWhateverLatte and boom – they’re now competing with the coffee giant. Before we know it, Starbucks will be serving assembly line burgers and kickass french fries. Sorry, I digress…

Anyway, like most people I strive for originality – but I also know a good thing when I see it…and know when to copy it! Hopefully it makes everyone better in the long run.

I doubt anyone ever copied this idea

One idea we WON'T be copying!

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Free tickets to Disneyland Anyone?

I’m happy to give away a pair of FREE Park Hopper Tickets to Disneyland (worth $202!) to the first person who answers the following question correctly and calls our office by 1pm Today. hakuna matata

The Question is: How many Validation Numbers are printed on the back of your current Axxess Card?

This is valid today, Thursday December 16th, 2011 only and please don’t call after 1pm because the tickets will undoubtedly be gone by then. Our number is 884-0307.

Tickets must be used by January 3rd, 2011. No refunds, cash value, returns or complaints!

Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

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Borders Bookstore & Chino’s Rock & Tacos Close

closed signI can’t believe that Marshall’s (the discount clothing store) is going in on State Street where Borders Bookstores is. Nothing against Marshall’s, or even Ross for that matter since I admit I do shop at both when no one is looking. But State street with its trendy fashion stores doesn’t seem like a suitable home for Marshall’s. I believe it’ll be right across the street from the high end retailer Pierre La Fond / Wendy Foster & Saks? It just doesn’t fit in for me, not to mention I like it when Borders has small bands playing out front. For me this is a bummer and another step for State Street turning toward “Anytown USA”.  But…H&M going into Barnes & Nobles is less of a blow.

Another bummer is that the downtown Chino’s Rock & Tacos closed this week, so hopefully you had a chance to try them out with your 2-for-1 earlier in the year. Luckily, their Isla Vista location is still in business.

On the flip side, our friends who own the FisHouse, Boathouse and Shellfish Company are hoping to open their new Mexican restaurant this Spring. They’ve taken over the old furniture store One World Imports (not to be confused with Cost Plus World Imports!) on the corner of State & Haley, next to Beachbreak Cafe. The White family father son duo has a history of successful restaurants so look out for that opening in the months to come.

And another nice addition is the re-opening of Savoy Cafe on Figueroa. They’re not yet part of Axxess but we’re working on them.

That’s it for today and while I’m out and about all the time and pretty much hear all the news and rumors, I find the best place for all that on a daily basis is actually John Dickson’s blog.

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Is Axxess Worth $5.5 billion…yet?!

There’s a company called Groupon that apparently is taking over the world. Rumors are circulating that Google attempted to buy Groupon last week for over $3 billion dollars. What I read was that the offer was denied and Google countered a second offer for $5.5 billion, which was also rejected by Groupon’s soon to be very very rich shareholders.

Groupon is only about three years old and doesn’t exist in Santa Barbara, but Axxess Daily Deals does! Essentially, it’s very similar BUT

  • We probably are not yet valued at $5.5 billion and last I checked Google had not called me
  • We’re Local, our Merchants and our Deals are Local
  • We contribute a portion of our sales to local schools

Here’s how it works: Axxess emails you a “deal” once or twice a week that is typically a ridiculous value of 50% off or more. For example, it’ll say something like: $50 for $25 at Restaurant ABC! You can purchase the deal right then and print up your voucher directly on your printer. Viola! You just saved $25 and the voucher is immediately ready to be used. Use it yourself or give it as a gift.  Our deals are available to everyone so you can share them on facebook or twitter or email them to friends.

Don't waste your Money!

Don't waste your Money!

Our deals start this week so keep an eye out and if you don’t already receive Axxess emails, just go to Axxess Daily Deals to sign up (it’s FREE)!

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