Tag Archives: chamber

Strengthening Our Local Businesses

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Luanne Triolo Newman, Executive Director
Carol Stream Chamber

How many times have you heard or read, “Shop Local”? At some point, for groceries or fast-food, we all most likely do shop local, so why is it emphasized?

Consumers have many choices when it comes to shopping, dining out, or purchasing services that businesses offer.  With internet shopping opportunities, the local brick-and-mortar stores definitely have competition. Local municipalities benefit from tax dollars generated as they provide services for these facilities.

But what are other benefits for Joe Printer on the corner or Jane’s Restaurant down the street, and for us?

We visit our local stores and see smiling faces, some that live in our town, and they are those who support local ball teams and clubs. We forge relationships with staff and owners and we are familiar and friendly faces for them. We keep tax dollars in or community and also keep our local businesses strong, helping them to grow and increase hiring.

The chamber offers several Expos each year where members obtain booths to show and sell their products or services. This brings awareness to the consumers in the community who are sometimes offered specials at the expo or in their place of business after the event. It is an opportunity to start a business relationship anew or strengthen an existing one.

Consider your local businesses. Search your chamber website for listings of companies. Pick one or two to visit and support. Shop local and be proud of making a difference in your community.

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STRONG LEADS, REFERRALS, NEW BUSINESS, OH MY!

The Carol Stream Chamber kicks off ROCS! Leads Group this week, Jan 20th at Augustino’s.

A lead by any name is still a lead!

Or is it?

What do you do to get new business? How do you reach out to companies that could benefit from your products or services? Who is that ‘gatekeeper’ and why won’t she let you talk to the ‘Big Kahuna?’

It is definitely the challenge of most business professionals to reach way down, deep into their souls, down to their toes and come up with ways to grow their business.

What do you have to offer that sets you apart from others in your field? Be ‘known” as the one who goes that extra mile, offers a quirky item or service to your customers that endears you to them. A local auto business thanks their patrons with a note on the invoice, a thank you card, and candy with a giveaway — a holder for your auto documents in the glovebox that is easy to spot. It’s more than giveaways, which are also a plus to most — it’s the extra caring and kind words that bring repeat customers.

Do you help others? Are you able to connect business colleagues in another field with one in need? In “The Go-Giver”, Bob Burg and John David Mann tell a story of a man seeking success. He’s at a desperate point, the end of the quarter, and he needs to GET, GET, GET more sales–he’s a real ‘Go-Getter’. But when he happens upon a wise man who points out the benefits in giving, rather than receiving, he is in for a life-changing lesson.

Do people know how good your product is? Do you give ‘free samples’? Years ago, I was in local craft shows, selling home-cooked caramels. Making samples, however small, was nearly as time-consuming as cutting and wrapping the real thing. But people, who had no pre-conceived notion to buy, would happen upon my display, take a free sample (who can turn down a FREE SAMPLE??), and declare that they needed to buy a bag! Bingo! Does a free sample of your product reach out, draw in, tantalize, and seal the deal? For many, this is a successful venture.

Getting your business’ name ‘out there’ front-and-center to prospects can be key. Partnering with others in associated industries and joining in on cold-calling, presentations or even some forms of advertising can be a way to think outside the box to cut costs and open doors.

You’ve heard the list of groups to join — local business associations, your town’s chamber, the next town’s chamber, the gym. Being a part of an organization, even socially, brings you to meet others with whom you have a common bond. When you bond on a different level or subject matter other than business, relationships form, trust ‘happens’ and business can follow. Now, if you sell steel for a living, and you’ve joined a knitting club, you may be stretching it a bit, but you get my drift.

Your luncheon or “After Hours” events at the local chamber afford great, warm networking opportunities. More formal leads groups take the networking and kick it up a notch. Whether it be a national organization such as BNI or LeTip, or a group of community businesses who band together, focusing on quality leads for your group-mates helps grow their business, while they do the same for you. The frequent meetings — weekly or every other week — benefit all by the repetition of the ‘elevator speeches’. You get to know and understand exactly what the other members of the group have to offer and you are able to, pardon the term, regurgitate it, when you run across someone in need of their type of product or service. The one ‘in need’ is happy they have been helped; the group-mate is ecstatic that they receive a solid referral for business. Win, win, win! It is a reflection on you. You win, too.

Whatever your plan of attack, best of luck as you forge forward and do what needs to be done to grow YOUR business.

2010: 365 Days…Starting…NOW!

Is 2010 a new decade or just a New Year? Different people have different opinions on that topic. Whatever you decide, I hope you’ll decide to make 2010 a great one. What will you do with your 52 weeks – your 365 days – 8766 hours? Is it just me or do the days, weeks and months fly by faster than they used to? We cannot get back yesterday or a great day we had last year; we can just make the most of today…and tomorrow.

How will you make the most of this year when it comes to business? Will you vow to be more organized, spend more time with family, improve follow-up on leads, seize opportunities you have otherwise taken a pass on?

Realizing the economic situation affects most of us, how do you view your chamber membership? Do you look at the luncheons as the most efficient 1.5 hours you can spend per month? Do you check out the chamber advertising and sponsorships and consider them when planning your year? Are you taking full advantage of the free online resources and free Business After Hours and Ribbon Cuttings?

What will 2010 bring? Speaking for the Carol Stream Chamber, I can tell you it brings some new and unique opportunities. Watch for Member Benefits such as the new Mobile Alerts, a Leads Group beginning, a Candidates’ Night and a ‘meeting’ to help introduce you to ‘power partners’ and beneficial connections. We continue our Chamber Video Opportunity, New/Prospective Member gatherings and multiple Expos, so that you can have the chance to meet others, learn from others, and build your business through others.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season, new decade…or not!