Whether you’ve been a Goddard Chamber member for years or if you’ve recently discovered the benefits of chamber membership (link to our blog about why to join a chamber), it’s crucial to understand how to maximize your membership and all of the benefits it affords you. Do you want to gain customers? Do you want to get your business name out there? Do you want to be part of an organization striving for positive change in the Goddard Community?
Of course you do! That’s why you joined the Chamber in the first place, right? Membership to the Goddard Chamber of Commerce is an amazing way to become part of an interconnected community of business professionals committed to bettering themselves, each other, and Goddard as a whole. No matter what level of membership you have chosen, you have numerous benefits available to you!
One of the most valuable and accessible benefits of Chamber membership are the numerous networking opportunities available to you. Monthly luncheons, coffees, and after hours events allow you to mix and mingle with fellow members. Making connections with other members can lead not only to customer referrals, but also to business-to-business referrals. The more contacts you make, the more you can grow your business.
In addition to networking, Chamber membership affords you a wealth of professional development opportunities. Attending monthly luncheons and Lead G quarterly leadership lunches provide continuing education on a variety of topics. Presenting at monthly luncheons or events like the 2020 Health Fair allow you to flex your public speaking muscles. And, of course, joining one of the Chamber’s committees helps develop leadership skills.
And, not only are these incredible networking and development activities available to you as a business owner, but your team is also welcome to take advantage of these opportunities. While you may not have the time to carve out for every Chamber event or committee meeting, there may be someone on your team that would benefit from attending and developing their talents.
Another benefit of Chamber membership is access to sponsorship opportunities that will help get your business name out in the community. People want to do business with those they know, like, and trust, and seeing your company name as a Chamber event sponsor or a digital sponsor puts you at the front of consumers’ minds.
Finally, membership to the Goddard Chamber of Commerce gives you an amazing opportunity to become involved in one of the greatest communities in Kansas. Goddard is growing and thriving, and the Chamber is one of the organizations at the forefront of the movement for positive change in our community.
The most important thing to remember about your Chamber membership, though, is that your return on your investment is almost entirely up to you. If you sign up for a Chamber membership and do nothing else, you’ll get some exposure for your business, but the more involved you are in the Chamber, the more benefits you’ll see come your way.
Doing business is hard enough, even without the added stressors the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced. Business owners, general managers, and administrators have more on their plates than ever before, so why try to carve out time to join and actively participate in the local chamber of commerce?
Membership in the local chamber offers so many benefits. Joining the chamber isn’t just another thing on your schedule – it’s a way to keep on top of vital and ever-changing trends and issues within both the community and the local economy. Plus, for small businesses, research by the Shapiro Group, Inc. and Market Street Services indicate that when consumers know that a small business is a chamber member, they are 63 percent more likely to purchase goods or services from that company.
So what is a chamber of commerce? At its heart, the chamber of commerce is a local business network designed to help business owners in the same town or geographic area connect with one another. A chamber differs from other formal networking groups (like Business Networking International, or BNI) in that membership is generally open to any business within the geographic area.
Joining the chamber of commerce has numerous benefits for businesses across all industries. No matter who you are or what you do, membership in the chamber of commerce can benefit you. Whether you’re a sole proprietorship, have a small number of employees, or thousands of employees, you can enjoy the benefits chamber membership provides.
First and foremost, membership in the chamber of commerce increases your visibility in the community. Every time the Chamber mentions your business – online or offline – you gain exposure. Additionally, online mentions that come with a link to your business page help increase your rank on search engines like Google. New members of the chamber enjoy extra publicity through welcome posts, website tickers, and grand opening or ribbon cutting ceremonies.
The marketing opportunities provided by chamber membership are invaluable. Many chambers have free advertising opportunities built into their membership levels as well as additional advertising on their website or in print media. Sponsoring chamber events can also result in leveraging the chamber’s reach for your business.
In addition to putting your business in the spotlight, chamber membership gives you the opportunity to get yourself out there through a myriad of networking opportunities. Attending chamber events such as luncheons, coffees, or happy hours, gives you the chance to meet other business leaders in your community. This allows you to build your personal and professional network in a ready-made way.
The more you’re able to network at chamber events, the more likely you are to find opportunities to help your business – and yourself – grow. Whether it’s gaining a new customer from a referral by another chamber member or business-to-business sales, if you want to grow your bottom line, chamber membership can benefit you. Furthermore, these networking opportunities can lead to partnerships with other businesses, give you the chance to support other local businesses, and if you are ever in need, you’ll have a community of business leaders to turn to for help.
In addition to connecting businesses to stimulate the local economy, a chamber of commerce can leverage their resources to advocate for the business community. The chamber can be an invaluable source of information regarding proposed changes in regulations, taxes, or other statutes affecting local businesses. While a chamber can’t advocate for every business on every issue – especially when there may be chamber members on opposing sides – the chamber acts as a sounding board and a voice for business, giving you the opportunity to get more involved in local government.
Chamber membership lends an air of credibility to your business, which can be especially crucial for new businesses. Naturally, it takes time for a business to build their image and reputation within a community. And, since consumers – and other businesses – prefer to do business with those they like and trust, building that trust is critical to success. Joining the local chamber of commerce gives a new business the opportunity to network and gain visibility in the community, helping to build that all-important image.
Of course, specific benefits will vary from chamber to chamber – and will depend on which level of membership you choose for your business. Other benefits that often accompany chamber membership include professional development opportunities for yourself and your staff, mentorship programs, the chance to join chamber committees and help shape events and policies, and even member-to-member discounts.
To truly maximize all of the benefits joining a chamber of commerce has to offer, the key is to get involved. If you sign up, pay your dues, and do nothing else, your business will get some exposure. But to see a significant return on investment, it takes more than being a member in name only. The more you engage with chamber events, committees, and other opportunities, the more you – and your business – will receive exposure that will lead to increased revenue.
One final thing to consider, especially for small businesses, is how critical building relationships with the community can be. Over 3 million businesses are currently part of a chamber of commerce. While your local chamber will have a fraction of those numbers, the people you meet at chamber events will become invaluable resources for you as a business owner. And, since it’s estimated that 8 percent of small businesses fail because they don’t have a network, can you really afford not to join the chamber?
Goddard: Live here, work here, play here, stay here: Why it is important to support local business especially now.
Supporting local business creates relationships, partnerships and community. In order to have a strong local economy, support local community groups and keep a community unique you need to shop locally. It is especially important in this unique and difficult time to stay local and support those smaller businesses that may be struggling to survive in this economy.
Staying local helps promote future growth, is convenient and puts your tax dollars back into your community. Before you decide to head out of town for a purchase, think about the businesses who chose Goddard as their home and give them an opportunity to fill your needs. Local business owners invest back into the Goddard community and the Goddard community needs to invest in them.
Show your community pride by staying local.
February Luncheon Recap
In February, GCC Luncheon attendees were treated to an engaging and educational presentation from Danielle Basile of Bandura Plus. Danielle’s talk, “Is Your Business Thriving? Six Crucial Questions Impacting Business Success”, took a critical look at how business leadership affects the overall success of a company.
First, Danielle asked “does your business have a clear vision of where it’s going?”. The vision of a business is like a roadmap – it gives leadership and employees a clearly-defined plan of action to reach an overall organizational goal. Everyone wants to know where they’re going and how they fit into the bigger picture, and communicating that vision from the top-down provides a level of focus and allows employees to stop playing “firefighter”. The vision of a business sets the tone of the organization and affects everything from mission and core values down to day-to-day operations.
Once a vision has been set, it’s important to consider whether an organization has strong leadership – and sufficient “depth” to lead the organization today and into the future. Organizations that are serious about growth must take a critical look at who is at their leadership table and whether there is a diversity of thoughts, backgrounds, ideas, values, and experiences. The “voice of the people” is crucial as well – if leadership isn’t properly attuned with what the rest of the team is thinking and feeling, communication can quickly break down.
A sufficiently deep leadership bench must then be able to clearly communicate to their team so that everyone understands their roles and expectations. More than a group of employees, successful organizations build communities amongst their team. Communication is the cornerstone of culture. Team members deserve to have expectations clearly communicated to them, and team members knowing how they fit in with the overall plan (everything ties back to vision!) helps leadership manage accountability.
In order to build a community of team members willing to go above and beyond, an organization needs a plan to recruit and retain the best talent in their field. It may sound like a cliché, but people are the most important asset in every organization. It’s crucial to engage employees and gauge turnover. If team members are leaving the organization, it’s important to find out why. Talent is critical to the ongoing momentum of any organization.
“Culture” is an oft-used amorphous term in organizational development, and while hard to define, culture is critical to the success of an organization. A toxic culture will ruin even the best-organized business. Leadership must examine whether communication, teamwork, and energy are where they need to be. Of course, if culture at an organization is suffering, leadership is often the last to know. Cultivating an environment where any team member feels they can approach leadership with questions, new ideas, or concerns is vital to creating a positive culture.
Finally, there are very important legal and structural considerations to make sure an organization can continue to be successful. Confidently managing employment practices is crucial to ensure that an organization isn’t tiptoeing across a minefield that puts the organization at risk. Navigating employment laws, a constantly-evolving handbook, document management, and a system to review policies and procedures may not be the “fun” tasks of organizational management, but they are paramount.
To kick off an action-packed 2020 for both Goddard and the Chamber, we invited several of our civic members to speak at our January Luncheon, held at Dove Estates. Goddard is an amazing community with so many ways to get involved. Here’s a round-up of just a few of our amazing civic organizations.
Dane Baxa, Executive Director of the Goddard Education Foundation, spoke about the amazing community we have in Goddard. The generosity of both businesses and individuals have helped the Foundation grow tremendously in their ability to support students, teachers, families, and alumni of USD 265. The Foundation is in the process of planning activities for Teacher Appreciation Week, though they are always looking for businesses that have an innovative way to support schools.
2020 is going to be a busy year for the Foundation. In addition to their annual Distinguished Alumni inductees and the annual Boots and Bling fundraiser, the Foundation is planning to launch a new, exciting program. A community supporter with property I the Czech Republic approached the Foundation with the idea to start a teacher exchange program. Later this year, the first two teachers will be travelling to Europe to spend time in the classroom, share knowledge, and have an amazing experience.
Lisa Stoller of the Goddard Woman’s Club introduced Luncheon attendees to one of the oldest civic organizations in Goddard. Founded in 1933, the Goddard Woman’s Club is part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, a national organization that has been active in shaping child labor laws among other nonpartisan legislation. The GWC’s core mission is that of volunteer service, and they have many programs that continue to have a significant impact on the community. This year, their focus is on health – healthy aging, keeping families healthy, art therapy, and mental health. In April, at their annual art show at Dove Estates, there will be a seminar about art therapy.
The GWC supports the entire community from birth to the elderly, with programs ranging from Parents as Teachers, partnering with the GEF on their books and blankets program, cooking at the Ronald McDonald House, and events at both Medicalodges and Dove Estates. In December, the GWC partnered with the Chamber to help collect items for Passageways, a nonprofit supporting veterans. The GWC usually meets the third Tuesday of the month and they will host an old-fashioned tea party on February 18th as a membership open house.
April Hernandez, Director of the Goddard Public Library, shared just some of the Library’s many accomplishments in 2019. April took over as Director in April of 2019 – the first of many positive changes last year. In May, the Library joined the Sunflower E-Library for e-books and audio books, which has been a very popular addition to the library’s offerings. New seating and shelving have also begun to transform the Library, a transformation that continued in December with the renovation of the children’s area. With the help of the Goddard Woman’s Club, the new Children’s Kingdom is officially open for business.
2019 also saw the establishment of a Teen Advisory Board, an increase in outreach programming (including programming at Dove Estates and Medicalodges), and the Library’s entry into a local consortium with neighboring cities to speed up local interlibrary loans. And, in very exciting news, the Friends and Foundation of the Goddard Public Library was incorporated in order to help raise funds for programming and capital improvements as well as to recruit volunteers. Coming up in 2020, the library will debut preschool programming at Earhart and CDS as well as Fitness Fridays, starting with yoga story time in January.
Representing the Goddard Lion’s Club, Teri Slavenburg reviewed some of the accomplishments of this long-standing pillar of the Goddard community. In addition to hosting bingo every third Saturday from January to November and hosting a tax free fireworks stand in July, the Lion’s Club has numerous projects that benefit the community. Their annual pancake breakfast, coming up on February 15th, raises funds for scholarships for Eisenhower and Goddard students. Last year, the Lion’s Club was able to award 6 scholarships thanks to these fundraising efforts. The Club also provides financial relief for neighbors affected by fire, maintains a natural disaster response trailer that can be mobilized anywhere in the state, and joins with other Lion’s Clubs at the state fair to host hearing, vision, blood pressure, and blood sugar screenings.
Other community partnerships and activities include providing breakfast for Neighbors United, providing volunteer assistance at National Night Out, sponsoring half the cost of the annual fireworks display, founding the Fall Festival, and partnering with the Goddard United Methodist Church for the annual Thanksgiving Feast. The Lion’s Club also supports after prom programs at both high schools and donates to school projects and fundraisers on a regular basis. By far, the biggest undertaking for the Lion’s Club each year is the Mitten Tree, which helps provide holiday gifts to those in need. In 2019, the Mitten Tree program was able to help 361 students from 140 families. 3,000 presents were wrapped, 40,000 pounds of food were donated, and over 1,800 volunteer hours were logged.
On Thursday, November 7th, the Goddard Chamber of Commerce held their 2019 Annual Meeting at Pathway Church. The purpose of the Annual Meeting is to update members on the business side of the Chamber – what staff and the Board have accomplished over the past year and what is planned for the coming year – rather than presenting that information at the Annual Mixer, as had been done previously.
2019 was a banner year for the Chamber, with numerous accomplishments. 2019 Chairman Maggie Seiler (First National Bank of Hutchinson) and Vice Chairman Erinn Bock (Tanganyika Wildlife Park) recapped 2019, starting with the Chamber’s biggest accomplishment – hiring a full time President/CEO. Since coming aboard in November 2018, Angie Duntz has made an incredible impact on both the Chamber and in the Goddard community. Under Angie’s strong leadership, several huge projects were completed, including the creation of a strategic plan and formalizing and strengthening the Chamber’s committees.
Thanks in large part to the presence of full-time staff, the Chamber grew in 2019, ending with a total of 76! members. Membership benefits were revised in 2019, thanks to feedback from the membership. Angie and the Board also worked very hard in 2019 to continue to strengthen relationships between the Chamber and the City, USD 265, community groups, and the business community.
In 2019, several changes were made to monthly events. The traditional monthly luncheon transitioned to a “lunch and learn” with presentations from both Chamber members and speakers from the SBA. The luncheon venue also received a refresh – having outgrown Pizza Hut, monthly luncheons moved to the beautiful meeting space at Dove Estates. Additionally, in order to give more members the opportunity to attend monthly networking events, Chamber Coffees and After Hours events were added each month.
2019 also saw the Chamber’s leadership of community events grow. National Night Out in August was incredibly well-organized under the strong leadership of the Chamber. The Amazing Race, a new event focused on driving community members to Chamber businesses, received a very strong response for a first year event. And, of course, the Chamber was excited to participate in Neighbors United and host the beer garden at Fall Festival.
President/CEO Angie Duntz treated Annual Meeting attendees to a sneak preview of the coming year, and as busy of a year as 2019 has been for the Goddard Chamber of Commerce, 2020 looks to be an even more exciting year of growth and change. The Chamber is a business built on relationships, and Angie and the Board will continue to work to strengthen the Chamber’s relationships across the community. New events for 2020 are already in the planning phase, including a Health Fair in February and a Disc Golf tournament in May. The Amazing Race will return for its second year and the Chamber will again lead the planning for National Night Out.
Part of 2019’s work for Angie and the Board included the creation of a Strategic Plan, and its implementation will begin in 2020. Thanks to input from members and a great deal of careful thought from Angie and the Board, the Chamber has identified five goals to intentionally work towards over the next three years. These goals include cultivating strong leadership from both the Board and staff; intentional communication efforts both internally and with the community; recruiting, engaging and retaining members; building relationships through community involvement; and development and retention of young professionals in the Goddard Community. The full strategic plan can be found on the Chamber’s website https://www.goddardchamber.net/strategic-plan.html.
2019 also saw Young Professionals of Goddard brought further under the Chamber’s umbrella as an official committee. Having operated as a subsidiary of the Chamber for several years, YPG has been extremely successful at bringing the community together for service through Neighbors United. Committee Chairman Rodney Elliott announced that in 2020, YPG will continue to help develop young professionals through a mentorship program and 2 leadership development events.
Leading the charge into 2020 alongside Angie will be the 2020 Executive Committee, elected by the general membership at the Annual Meeting. Maggie Seiler (First National Bank of Hutchinson) will continue to serve as Chairman, with Erinn Bock (Tanganyika Wildlife Park) serving as Vice Chairman. Kimberly Becker (Meritrust) will return as Treasurer and April Hernandez (Goddard Public Library), who had been serving in an interim capacity, is the official Secretary for 2020.
City Planner Micah Scoggan treated Annual Meeting attendees to a “state of the City” review as well. Micah reported that Goddard is growing – with an expected 605 new dwelling units under construction (or planned), the population of Goddard should grow by about 1,800 people over the next several years. As the population increases, commercial growth will follow. With the continued construction of the STAR Bond district, more businesses will move to town. Additionally, the completion of the aquatic center and ball fields will bring more opportunities for commercial growth.
Angie and Maggie closed out the Annual Meeting with some tips to help maximize your membership with the Chamber. All attendees received a packet with updated membership benefits, including some great new opportunities for digital marketing. All of the 2020 sponsorship information for Chamber events is available as well – and you can select all of your sponsorship options in January and pay quarterly (regardless of when your membership renews for the year). Additionally, the Chamber’s full calendar of 2020 events is available now – attending these events is a great way to meet other members as well as interact with the community at large.
In 2020, the Chamber will be working to continue to strengthen their committees, so if you or anyone at your business is passionate about events, membership and marketing, finance, communications, or young professionals, the committees are a great way to get involved. Anyone that has questions about how to best maximize their membership benefits is more than welcome to set up a meeting with Angie.
Mike Walsh, with Farmer’s Insurance, closed out the 2019 Annual Meeting by highlighting the importance of joining the Chamber. Mike began looking at opening his business in March of 2019 and after talking with Micah at the City, Mike realized that Goddard was a “no brainer” as far as location is concerned. And, after attending a few Chamber meetings and events, Mike saw the value in joining the Chamber. The opportunities to network and meet other small business owners have been incredibly helpful to him as he began his journey of opening a business in Goddard.
For our September luncheon, John Ash and Jon Grover with Digital Office Systems spoke about finding and choosing an IT provider. Over the last two decades, perspectives regarding IT and technology have changed drastically, and it’s crucial that businesses adapt to the changing technological landscape in a way that makes sense for their business and their bottom line.
The “digital revolution” has metamorphosed the way businesses use and interact with technology. From the “Adoption” age of the first decade of the 2000s, which saw the rise of ecommerce, to the “Build Up” of social media marketing, big data, and cloud services over the last half-decade, the technology landscape has undergone a massive evolution. And, in the last several years, this transformation has continued, with more and more businesses realizing just how much technology matters.
Digital transformation is about using technology to improve processes and enhance the customer experience with an emphasis on utilizing digital-intensive means to achieve goals. Of course, this can be a daunting proposition for many businesses, especially those whose current IT solution involves “Bob from Accounting” because he’s great with computers.
Security concerns facing businesses today – of all sizes – include computer viruses, spyware, email security, leaking confidential information, and a host of other attacks that the average businessperson may not even be familiar with. And it’s a scary technological world out there, with over $4.2 billion reported in victim losses annually. With $676 million of those losses stemming from business email breaches and a further $60 million from data breaches, it’s imperative that businesses take necessary security precautions.
Though large companies – and their technological blunders – receive the lion’s share of the press, small businesses are increasingly becoming popular targets, especially since they are less likely to have IT departments devoted to security. Taking a proactive approach for identification of, protection against, detection of, response to, and recovery from threats is a crucial step, much in the same way we take precautions to make sure our homes are as safe as possible.
Reducing liability is an aspect of security that companies would do well to spend more time considering. Making sure that employees have access to the resources they need – and making sure that employees don’t have access to resources they don’t need is often overlooked. Onboarding and offboarding employees can also be an area to reduce liability. Employers need to make sure that new hires have access and the proper training for their systems and, equally importantly, employers must have a process for cutting off access to systems and information once an employee has left the company. And, of course, there’s the need for creating an implementing policies to protect data.
Unfortunately, many small businesses are in a reactive position when it comes to IT security. Sometimes the “IT Department” consists of one overworked individual or at worst, the person in the office that knows the most about computers. It’s almost impossible for these small-scale operations to do anything but put out fires. Even small businesses that outsource some of their IT needs often rely on a “break/fix” model where their IT provider waits until something breaks before working to fix it.
To move forward in this digital age, businesses – especially small businesses – must realize that technology is both operational and strategic. Technology innovation, and the disruption that comes along with it, is a major factor in every industry today. In order to be successful, businesses must incorporate technology into their strategic plans. In fact, if done right, innovative technology solutions can be used to give businesses a competitive advantage.
Thankfully, there are options beyond the reactive IT models that so many small businesses are stuck using. Digital services managed by providers that view IT and technological solutions as a partnership can alleviate many of these concerns and free up internal IT staff for other tasks beyond the mundane day to day operations of data security.
When considering entering into a partnership for managed IT services, it’s crucial for business to first honestly assess where they are with respect to user support, industry standards, management and remediation, current technology, security, data and documentation, and technology strategy, planning and budgeting. Not every business needs to be on the cutting edge of each aspect of technology services, but it’s important for a business to see where they are and where they want to be.
Partnering with an IT firm provides a host of benefits that small businesses often can’t find with in-house IT staff. Even the best IT staff can’t work round the clock, but managed services can provide availability to monitor threats constantly. Fast service and response times mean that if problems occur, they can be quickly rectified by professionals. Taking over daily backups and cloud services, security testing and monitoring, and proactive maintenance means that your business is always up to date – even if Dave the “IT Guy” is on vacation.
Of course, as with choosing any service for your business, there are red flags to look for. If your prospective provider has no interest in getting to know you or your business, they aren’t likely to be interested in working with you to create solutions for your unique needs. And if they don’t provide a scope of services agreement up front to tell you what you’re going to get, that’s bad news too. Make sure you get a written commitment of service and a written contract – any good partnership with an IT firm is built on a solid understanding of each party’s responsibilities.
At the end of the day, there is no perfect IT solution for every business. Each business has unique needs, challenges, and concerns. However, it is crucial for businesses to realize that a reactive approach to security opens them up to an incredible number of very real dangers. The wolf is a the door, so to speak – being proactive to keep it at bay is vital to success in our digital age.