Archive for June, 2010

South Coast Deli to Open 3rd Location!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

South Coast Deli is planning on opening up a 3rd location on State and Carrillo where the former Tuttini’s was.

I’m not sure what happened to Tuttini’s, but I know the previous owners worked so damn hard to make a go of that little place that they probably just gave up due to pure exhaustion. (You may recall Tutti’s in Montecito? The word on the street back then was that their lease was up the landlord didn’t renew it and was instead seeking a more long term corporate renter. Tutti’s old location is now home to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Coast Village Road.) Tuttini’s, the spin off a few years later was on the way to my office and before I had a wife and baby, or a life – I used to often get to work just after 5 am. I could always count on Susan being there so early each day, prepping treats and brewing a pot from  Roco . And although I was a business owner myself busting my tail and working ridiculous hours, I was always so impressed at her hard work and dedication. Also, her perseverance – because when her Montecito restaurant closed they re-opened it in Ventura (Tutti’s off Main) and opened Tuttini’s in downtown Santa Barbara.

I tried for years to get them on board with Axxess but never got anywhere. But regardless, it’s a bummer to see them go. The good news is that one of Santa Barbara’s favorite eateries is going in there – Yup, South Coast Deli.

Again, here’s a couple who has also worked endlessly hard at building their business and it’s nice to see they’ll soon have 3 doors open. I’ve known them for over ten years as they were one of my very first clients in Axxess Book #1 back in 1999 -  and amazingly they’re still with us (Axxess). Over ten years ago, they had a location in Carpinteria and the one that’s still on Hollister at Patterson. They believed in what I was doing and give me the opportunity to prove that it could work and for that I’m most thankful. If I didn’t have clients like them I’d be long out of business!

South Coast Deli on Chapala

South Coast Deli on Chapala

Anyway, I think they’ll be open in the next few months so look out for an Axxess email announcement.

(My favorite sandwich is either the South Coast Cajun Turkey or Mark’s Panini. My wife loves the Cobb)

Restaurant “X”

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Here’s another quick & current story: Over the past few weeks we’ve had numerous calls and complaints about a restaurant implementing a “two drink minimum” in order for our cardholders to receive the advertised “two for one entree” offer – I’ll call them “Restaurant X”.

When customers object to this spontaneous and unfair change, Restaurant X has been informing them that Axxess made a mistake when designing the advertisement and somehow left out this detail.

An Honest & Brilliant Sign

I doubt anyone would call this "false advertising"

These customers feel duped and will probably never go back. Would you? We all know bad word of mouth spreads faster than good, as an unhappy customer will probably share their negative experience with at least 6 other people.

What is Restaurant X thinking? This little rule they’ve implemented will give them about $3.50 in additional revenue per check but it will lose them hundreds of immeasurable future dollars. To me, this is a perfect example of the famous quote: “Penny wise pound foolish”.

Like Cafe Y that I talked about recently, Restaurant X has been happily a part of Axxess for several years. We bring them new customers every day and have helped grow their business – so why the sudden change? Restaurant X is being elusive when we call to discuss the situation so we’re at a loss.

The worst part is that Restaurant X is publicly blaming Axxess for a misprint. But I assure you that’s not the case since all our advertisers approve their final ad in writing before it goes to print. We cover our butts to avoid situations like this! So the fault does not lie with Axxess and it’s unfair for Restaurant X to tell people such.

Anyway, I’m still hopeful that we’ll connect with Restaurant X and turn this situation around. It’s not the first time this has happened with a restaurant and probably won’t be the last. In this business this stuff just happens and the good news is that I now have to go there for happy hour to try to talk with the owner. So maybe I’ll see you there!

And the next story I share will be a positive one, I promise. But by all means if you have a comment, send it my way!

Cafe “Y”?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
Sherill's Sign caught my eye!

Sherill's Sign caught my eye!

I’m currently dealing with a long time restaurant client who moved, changed their name and for some reason will no longer honor their Axxess discount – let’s call them “Cafe Y”.

I just don’t get it. For years we’ve brought them customers and for years I’ve had a good relationship with them – or at least I thought I did. My wife and I go to dinner there frequently, high five the manager, tip well and I often go out of my way to promote them.

Suddenly, the owner will not take our calls and they’re upsetting cardholders everyday who go there and are then denied the discount when their check arrives.

So all of a sudden why the change? I can’t imagine it’s anything me or my team has done so it must be something purely on their end. As Cardholders and Axxess supporters, something like this may have happened to you in the past so I’ll give you my two cents:

-Cafe Y’s business is down, costs are up and each time he gives an Axxess discount he now sees it as losing money

-Cafe Y has moved and is trying new things, they might be the “hot spot” of the month so they decide they no longer want to offer a discount

-Cafe Y has partners who don’t work the restaurant floor and are less in touch with the business than the managing partner or general manager. As majority shareholders they really call the shots. And often, for some reason will not make time to discuss the situation with me.

I try my hardest not to take situations like this personally but some times are more trying than others. The fact is this: business IS personal. The key is simply focusing on the positive, dealing with these situations as best I can and understanding that their actions likely have little to do with me. As frustrating as it sometimes may be, I try to move on quickly to better things.

The list continues & stuff like this happens all the time. By sharing these stories I hope to give a little insight into our world and how hard we work to make Axxess outstanding for all.

Nice office

Friday, June 18th, 2010

After several days on the road we came to a park that actually had wifi.

As I check email I’m glad to only find emails that read “stop checking your email!”

Another day at the office

Too bad this isn't the regular Axxess office

A Productive Vacation

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Last Friday, my wife and I (& our 7 month old daughter Sierra) rented an RV and hit the road. The plan is two and a half weeks touring parks in Northern California.

Despite the fishing, the cold beer and the hikes – I’m calling it a business trip. Not that I can write it off  (although I’m sure I’ll try) but because I’m kicking back and thinking about my business from a view that is less that of being directly in the trenches. And I’ve also scouted out the mountain towns looking for the next Axxess community. So far, no luck with that yet.

Even though I’m technically on vacation I’m finding myself pretty productive for about two hours a day. In fact, in the last two hours I caught this monster rainbow trout and checked email! No fires to put out while I’m away (so far) so I think I’ll go back down to the stream and catch tomorrow’s breakfast – since I already took care of dinner, although my confidence will probably jinx my luck.

I didn't actually catch the flip flop - just using it for size reference

I didn't actually catch the flip flop - just using it for size reference

And by the way, there is a discount card for  serious RVers which although I don’t have one, I bet is a wise way to go because I’m quickly learning how expensive RVing can be! More to come…

Who Doesn’t Enjoy a Happy Ending?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Not sure about this one but I thought it was funny!

Not sure about this one but I thought it was funny!

In my last post, I talked about doing whatever it takes in your business even if it costs you your coolness. In my case, if you fast forward 12 years, thankfully I’m no longer knocking on doors selling Axxess Books one at a time, or better put “none at a time”. Today, Axxess boasts nearly 15,000 happy Cardholders and more than 350 business advertisers. We have a solid staff of 6 awesome people, we’ve raised over $400,000 for schools and my shareholders even get a check once a year. So after putting myself through years of  “uncoolness” – the fruits of my efforts are very cool. (And I’m not trying to brag, I just thought providing a happy ending would be encouraging.)

A friend of mine started a pizza and movie delivery business about 6 or 7 years ago. I remember placing a phone order and he answered the phone. Half an hour later he showed up as the delivery guy. It was a Friday night , he’d been at it since 9 in the morning and he was pretty much doing it all. The guy was working his tail off and even though he was the owner, he wasn’t too good to run deliveries as well. Some might find that work a little embarrassing, but by doing what it took day in and day out, Sean has built Pizza Mizza into a household name.

He and I still joke about those early years. One time back in 2001 I had worked out a deal with Jamba Juice and had set up a table right there on State Street at De La Guerra. Anyone who bought an Axxess Book would get a free smoothie. I knew Sean from UCSB and from around town but we didn’t know each other that well and this was before he had gotten into the restaurant industry. I remember he came up to my table and was looking at the Axxess Book and trying to make conversation I jokingly poked fun at myself for standing on State Street scrapping to earn a few bucks. Instead of him agreeing and laughing at/with me he congratulated me on having the balls to not only start this type of business but for getting out there and trying to make it happen. He bought 2 books and refused the free smoothies. I was happy to have money in my pocket so I could eat that week, but I’ll never forget how good those compliments made me feel. And it was true, I was busting my butt and no one would laugh at me for that.

After this instance and a few others, my entire mentality changed. My determination grew as did my confidence. I looked around at what others my age were doing and knew I stood out. All I had to do was stay focused and remain motivated and someday it would pay off.

Sean and I are no different than entrepreneurs all across the globe, so when you do business with a company remember there’s a person and a story behind it. So spend your money wisely…I’m going to end it right there because that’s an entirely different topic to be continued…