Archive for May, 2011

Web reviews

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

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.

Enjoy Your Soup

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

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!)