Archive for October, 2010

Ventura…Here we Come!

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

After thousands of requests and twelve years of hard work we’re officially expanding into Ventura County!

Your new 12th Edition Axxess Card will be valid for all the offers we add in Carpinteria, Ventura, Ojai & Oxnard! Look out for these new offers on our website and in our weekly emails (sign up here).

The first Ventura Directory is scheduled to publish in October 2011.  It’ll be completely separate from the Santa Barbara Directory and will be produced by our very first franchisee – Mindy Easter. If you want more info you can reach her at (805) 755-5975 or mindy@venturaaxxess.com.

Ventura...Looks like Santa Barbara!

Ventura...Looks like Santa Barbara!

There’s nothing quite like Axxess in or around Ventura and there’s no doubt the Program will be a big hit. I guess what I’m wondering right now is – do you, the Santa Barbara Local want discounts in Ventura? What about a San Luis Obispo / Central Coast Axxess Card – would you use it?

An interesting photo (compliments of santabarbara.com)

An interesting photo (compliments of santabarbara.com)

Girl Scout Cookies are good, but…

Friday, October 15th, 2010
I could've learned from these kids!

I could've learned from these kids!

Girl Scout Cookies are good, but Axxess Books last longer!

Ten years ago I dropped off a box of 25 Axxess Books to a school, went back to the office, and celebrated with my business partner the anticipated success this school was going to have. We then worked the phones, calling other small schools to sign them up for our “amazing” fundraiser. By the end of the week we had five schools selling the inaugural Axxess Program.

A week later we went back to collect payment and congratulate them on raising very needed funds. To our surprise each school handed back the entire box of books – completely unsold. We were deflated to say the least. And while these schools thanked us for our good intentions they also politely told us not to bother approaching them next year, if there was to be a “next year”.

In our naivete and optimism, we failed to understand that a school’s main objective is to educate. Yes they need more money than the government usually provides, but raising money is not necessarily their forte nor do they have the time or people to execute. We thought that a box of Axxess Books would be an easy sell  – like cupcakes or chocolate. We didn’t consider the facts that not only had no one heard of Axxess,  but we also provided no support or materials to the school to help sell – not even order forms.

It was a painful yet valuable learning experience; one that many companies experience early on and one that I read about all the time. The issue is that entrepreneurs are optimistic by nature and they think a good product will sell. Yet they often don’t think about how to sell the product or specifically to whom – two key oversights. (Not to mention that in today’s competitive marketplace a product or service needs to be better than just “good” in order to succeed.)

In our case we created a descent product that first year but forgot to market it or support the schools in their efforts to try to sell it. We simply thought everyone in the Santa Barbara universe should buy one.What were we thinking? How could an organization sell something without an order form or a flier to inform prospective buyers what the product is?! It sounds so basic but surprisingly I see this mistake time and time again as I meet with and talk to new business owners. I would say the issue is in the top two devastating mistakes new business owners make. The first mistake being under capitalized and overly optimistic with sales projections (which might be better suited to be called “sales guesses”).

For Axxess, after those first fund-raising failures we shied away from working with schools and non-profits until our fifth year in business. We learned that we needed to have a foundation of customers before jumping back into the fund-raising world and we also had to figure out how to help the schools actually sell it.

Today, our fund-raising methods are truly kick ass. Our system minimizes school staff involvement so they can focus on what they do best – educate. We have over 50 schools raising money through Axxess Sales and another 35 or so smaller organizations doing the same. Our base of customers result in repeat donors for the schools each year I estimate that this month alone we’ll raise nearly $100,000 for these groups!

Speaking of our educational system – there’s an Independent film out that’s all the buzz called Waiting for Superman. I’m yet to see it but apparently it’s an eye opener and one that can lead to some good dinner table discussions.

To Golf or not to Golf

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

It’s been almost three years since I last broke out my golf clubs. The last round I played was with my wife at Hidden Oaks and it was so nice out that we ended up sharing a few beers (even though we started at 10 in the morning!) and whacking balls all over the place. It was a fun and yet embarrassing performance. Typical of my golf career.

Some good advice

Some good advice

Most of my closest friends golf a few times per month and I don’t know how they pull it off. For some reason I just can’t seem to make the time to play, or even go and hit balls once in a while. But I think it’s time I try a little harder, especially considering the fact that Axxess has such phenomenal golf savings – most of which can be used continually. (For years you’ve asked us for a special offer at Sandpiper so I’m pleased to finally get you one!)

If you’re a golfer, how in the world do you make time to play frequently enough to improve? Are you retired? Wealthy? Have flexible work hours or no kids? Someone please tell me the secret!

Hasselhoff at Montecito Piatti’s

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Earlier this week I went to Piatti’s in the upper village of Montecito and it is most definitely worth your visit.

I don’t live in Montecito and I rarely even go there. I think I have this belief that the town is overpriced and therefore not worthy of my time – but after my experience at Piatti’s I’m forced to reconsider and urge you to do the same, especially if you share these beliefs.

The restaurant has a great atmosphere, totally friendly staff and a tasty and reasonable menu (try the beet salad). They’re new to the Axxess Program offering a free dessert or glass of house wine . I had the Cab and for a house wine it holds it’s own. They also have a cool bar area that for some reason was packed on a Tuesday night…maybe word got out that the Axxess Guy was paying them a visit – but I doubt it.

Maybe it was crowded because of this guy!

Maybe it was crowded because of this guy!

Today – October 1st!

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Twelve years ago today my buddy Nate & I launched the very first Axxess Program. We printed 25,000 of them, spent all that we had borrowed  – and pretty much recycled 24,998 of them a year later!

Happy Anniversary Hooters ( & Axxess!)

Happy Anniversary Hooters ( & Axxess!)

Sometimes I can’t believe how time flies and I’m thankful that I’ve enjoyed the ride thus far.  I always get a little introspective this time of year so I thought I’d share a few things with you that I’ve learned and try to keep in mind:

A short list of things “Not to Do” – probably in any business but definitely not when starting out:

  1. Don’t wear sandals to business meetings or show up with coffee or burrito breath, or cilantro in your teeth
  2. Don’t take advantage of anyone – ever; it’ll come back to you tenfold in very unpleasant ways
  3. Until you are at least 50 years old, abstain from the “martini lunches”; doesn’t matter who you’re with or what they’re drinking
  4. Don’t forward your office phone to your cell phone during Solstice or Fiesta
  5. Don’t waste your time with gossip or negative talk, instead look for the positive and focus on it

And a few things “to do”:

  1. Understand that you’re better off trying than not. On your death bed (hopefully far far in the future) you probably won’t regret the things that you did, rather you’ll regret those that you didn’t do
  2. Be punctual and dress appropriately: No one likes a late slob
  3. You don’t have to have all the answers nor be the smartest one in the room. So hire & seek out people smarter than you and listen more than you talk (this is really really hard for most of us, especially me)
  4. Cherish the process and give it your all but don’t sacrifice your health or your family because nothing is more important

Today is also important because it was on this day, in Florida in 1983 that the very first Hooters opened. And…today is World Vegetarian Day. So now you know.

Go get your new Axxess Book before we sell out and have a great weekend.