Lookie Lookie! Your new AIBA website is finally here

We are so excited to present the new, bigger, better, more engaging, exciting website. This new dynamic site promotes our members and AIBA so much better. 

• Latest From Your Locals, the popular promotion of members’ events and announcements is now on the front page. But that’s just the first glance. Latest From Your Locals is now displayed in a bolder and friendlier format. Make sure you’re included by sending us any events, sales or announcements you have. We are putting all of these on the AIBA Facebook page as well.

• AIBA Member Listings are more engaging and highlight each business better. The new search function allows site visitors easier, faster access to your listing! Behind this beautiful new face is also a new member management system. This new system will allow members to login to renew, change your listing or edit your information (see next bullet point). 

• New Member Login is a big part of the new member management system and is easy to use. You can find the login button in the top right navigation bar and in the footer of every page. Members will soon begin receiving invoices from this new system called Wild Apricot (We would rather have Wild Armadillos but the Apricots are pretty amazing). The invoices will look different but contain a link to login and renew. For existing members, the first time you login you will want to follow the “forgot my password” link to set a password for your account. In an effort to save trees and reduce our footprint, we will no longer be sending out paper invoices so be sure to watch your email. We’re still learning the system ourselves but it is a robust and flexible choice.

• IndieAustin is now highlighted at the bottom of the page with all the feature articles visible. 

• AIBA Events are now handled through our new system. The screens might look a little different but the RSVP process is the same. 

• The IBIZ District pages are embedded within the AIBA website and showcase our new Premiere IBIZ Merchants.

Visit. Check it out. Explore. Discover. It’s new and still a work in progress so let us know if you get lost somewhere or discover a broken link. 

I’d like to thank Julie Niehoff, Distance Learning Media, for creating this amazing system. She flowed right along with our angst, our excitement and our frustration at learning all new systems. Special kudos to our small but mighty team who put in several weeks of twelve hour days to get this launched on time. 

AIBA Membership Survey Results

A big thank you to our members who took the time to take the membership survey. Your comments, insights and opinions will guide us in the coming year.

We’re pleased to see that the vast majority of you think we’re doing a terrific job. That makes us feel great about the work that we do. Knowing we’re on the right track is important but it doesn’t make us better. Knowing where we fall short or what new ideas you want to see realized makes us a better organization. To everyone that offered constructive criticism or new ideas, thank you. After all, we’re here for you. When AIBA works for you, an apparently it does, it works for all of us.

You can read the entire survey including comments here: AIBA 2018 MEMBERSHIP SURVEY-SUMMARY. We’ve removed only the names and contact information to protect the privacy of members. Here are a few highlights:

98% would recommend membership in AIBA to other businesses. This is the strongest endorsement we could receive. Yes, please do recommend us and help us grow!

97% felt that our local business advocacy is important to absolutely essential.

75% of our members have engaged another member for their business needs. We not only talk the talk, we walk the walk!

68% of members said that our events are important to crucial.

36%, the single largest group, prefer to attend an event once a month. We often have two events each month to ensure that there’s something for everyone.

69% of our members have made valuable connections through an AIBA event. If you’ve never made it to one of our events, here’s the proof that you need to!

When asked about new plans, 70% want a members-only Facebook Group and 81% want a weekly deals promotion. We listened and will launch the Facebook group in January and the weekly deals promotion in the spring.

Of the various marketing methods that we use to market your business, IndieAustin and social media ranked at the top.

There were no surprises when asked about the obstacles facing your businesses. The top two were property tax increases and lease increases. These were closely followed by City of Austin regulations and finding employees.

61% said AIBA has benefited their business through the community of members. This was closely followed by 56% through our marketing and 54% through our advocacy.

We’re growing! 64% added staff this year and 59% intend to within the next 12 months.

73% said their revenue had grown in the last 12 months and 80% are anticipating growth in the next 12 months.

And we have winners of the drawing for three prizes. The Vortex Theater won a year membership in AIBA, End of an Ear won the membership upgrade and Slow North won the $50 Gift Card to Moonshine. Congratulations to all.

IndieAustin is Coming

IndieAustin, AIBA’s membership magazine will be available at the end of November—just in time for the holiday shopping season. Pick up your copy at more than 300 premier locations throughout Austin and use it to shop local for the holidays and throughout the new year.

AIBA members should watch their mailboxes for IndieAustin. In the packet, members will find materials to promote shopping locally for the holidays. Post them everywhere!

Free promotion for AIBA Members: Shop Local for the Holidays

It’s time to promote your business through Shop Local for the Holidays. Included in the benefits of membership in AIBA are promotions like Shop Local for the Holidays that promote your business but cost you nothing.

This is designed for retailers and gift giving. Services are welcome as long as the focus is a gift. 

Just send us a square photo and 100 words and we’ll take it from there. These will be posted on ibuyaustin.com and through Facebook. This promotion runs from Thanksgiving through Christmas so don’t delay. Send photo and 100 words to Rebecca.

It’s Free. It’s Easy. Do it.

Not a member yet? Join now.

Japanese Tourism Delegation Meets with AIBA

AIBA was delighted to meet with a small group from Japan in the US to learn about advancing regional tourism. The State Department recommended they meet with AIBA to discuss the value of local business and how to market local business to tourists. We were honored to be the only Austin organization that they met with.

We met with Harumi Tokuoka, Executive Director of the Iriomote Island Ecotourism Association; Aya Takeda, Sales Manager for Hotel Metropolitan Sendai; and Yoko Akagi, Executive Managing Director of the Beach Hotel Sunshine Ishigaki Island. While all three spoke some English, we had an interpreter from the State Department.

AIBA is by nature, hyper local-focused. It’s wonderful to connect with others from around the world focusing on the same things we are. Across oceans and cultures, we shared stories and goals. I was proud to represent Austin and local business to our foreign visitors. From our recent advocacy on tourism, I felt quite educated about Austin’s tourism industry and able to share knowledge and views freely.

Thank you to our visitors who took the time to share with us and to Global Austin for hosting the meeting. Activities like this broaden our horizons too. #Think Globally Shop Locally!

Earned Sick Time Update: The Final Rules

At the time of this writing, two things have happened:
1. The implementation of the Ordinance is in limbo. Originally passed to take effect on October 1, 2018, lawsuits, appeals and counter suits have put this date on hold. Only the courts can activate this so it’s in a wait and see position. Of course the Texas Legislature (in session in January) can kill the ordinance passed by the Austin City Council, rendering it null and void.
So what is a business owner to do? The on, off, on, off again process has left the local business community confused about implementation. My advice is to treat your employees like family (in all the good ways), be fair always and generous when you can. Prepare for the regulations and stand by.
2. The Rules for Investigation of Complaints and Assessment of Civil Penalties under City Code Chapter 4-90 (the Earned Sick Time Ordinance) have been approved and contain a couple of surprises. The entire document is 411 pages and includes comments and answers during a public participation period addressing, not the ordinance, but the rules. Most all of the comments are contained in an 80 page chart which I did read.
At the end of this input, the city made a few changes to the rules. The most concerning is that they increased the penalties to businesses, effectively doubling the fines of businesses with fewer than 14 employees. Just to note, of 80 pages of comments, 12 people requested that the fines be raised and thus it was so.
The time investigators have to schedule interviews was shortened from 10 days to 8 days. The time to complete a final determination was shortened from 120 days to 75 days. 10 people requested some form of shortened process time.
While the most requested change (from both sides of the issue) was to add an appeals process. 13 people requested this. There is no option for an appeal of a determination in the rules and none was added.
No request for any adjustment from a business or business entity was granted.
Once again, it appears that divisiveness rules the day and local business loses.