I love football and it has been a particularly good week from a football perspective. Last week the Grey Cup was in town with Travis Lulay Paul Mcallum and Sunday was wall to wall Superbowl; the biggest and most viewed sports event on this continent. So what does that have to to do with business or more particularly the Chamber. For me personally being active in team sports, first football and for the past thirty years playing rugby has provided me with the best training in life skills and business skills. Learning the importance of teamwork, patience and understanding how and when to take advantage of opportunities when they come along.
Articles in Category: Voice of Business
The Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce over the past several months have laid the groundwork for a major project concerning the Economic Growth of the Oceanside region. We have assembled a committee of stakeholders including representatives from local government, business and educators. We have applied for and received a grant from the federal government office of the Trade Commissioner to hire a consultant to complete a study of the economic competitiveness of our region and we have made a presentation to the Regional District of Nanaimo Board to secure the other half of the funding to complete the assessment.
I have had the pleasure over the past year of being introduced to the “Start With Why” concept espoused by Simon Sinek. It started with a Food For Thought topic and I have become a believer.
As you get ready for 2012 I would like you to consider becoming more influential and profitable with an increase in loyalty from customers, clients and members.
Any organization can explain what it does, most can explain how they do what they do but very few can explain clearly the why of their organization.
Why is not money or profit – those are results. Why does your organization exist? Why does it do the things it does? Why are customers loyal?
Why does the Chamber of Commerce exist? Everything we do stems from a belief that a healthy business community is the key to the overall health of the community at large. Everything we do whether it is in the operation of our organization or the advocacy efforts we conduct on behalf of our members is based on that belief.
We host networking sessions with our members because we believe that strong relationships promote better business practices – those are both Whats that come from the belief about a healthy business community.
We provide business counseling and training to work towards establishing a business community that prides itself on excellence, this is How we will work towards the development of a healthy business community as an essential component of a healthy community at large.
Over the past year we have championed the benefits of business of sustainability, responsible use of power and water. This is another example of what we do.
Why we do it - to ensure that Parksville & District continues to have a healthy business community.
The list goes on from developing Economic Development tools to working with the School District to find options for our young people to stay and build their lives here.
Starting with Why puts a whole new spin on the development of strong leaders and strong business.
I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year and hope that you will take the time to explore Why as a central theme that the What and How you run your organization can benefit from.
So long 2011 and Hello 2012. January is traditionally that time when we set goals/resolutions as we chart a course for our personal lives and our business lives. The Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be charting the course for the next several years at a strategic planning session on February 4th.
At the last Strategic Planning session in June of 2010 the Board identified Advocacy and Economic Excellence as their priorities and set some goals for staff to negotiate a long term lease with the City for the Visitor Centre and to increase revenue for the Visitor Centre as we move towards financial independence for that operation.
As advocates for business the Chamber has participated in Official Community Planning sessions, submitted letters to the City regarding parking issues, Commercial water rates, commercial signage and a proposed Noise and Odour bylaw. Our relationship with the City is a positive one where we are able to meet and discuss issues. In addition through our bi-monthly articles we hope that the voice of business is being heard throughout the community.
Economic Excellence has translated to Economic Development and we were recently advised that we were successful with a grant application for federal funds to complete an assessment of the economic competitiveness of our region. This is an exciting step as we move towards expanding the commercial tax base, creating jobs and increasing the availability of products. In addition the Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce completed a Business Sustainability exercise with students from Vancouver Island University and will be applying for Sustainability Certification as a result. Check out B-Corp at www.bcorporation.net.
From an operations standpoint with the passage of the referendum we will now be able to complete our lease negotiations with the City and we have significantly added to Visitor Centre revenues; however we still have work to do to be completely independent from Chamber support for the operation of the Visitor Centre. There is a definite benefit to business from the Visitor Centre but if we are going to council sustainability we must also be leaders.
The Strategic Planning session in February will set out our focus and targets for the next 3 years and given the growth of the Chamber over the past year should prove exciting.
I am looking back on a good year and looking forward to a great year. I wish all of you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the City
Not a creature was stirring, except the odd kitty
The shops were all closed, with lights all a glitter
As they’d sold all their wares, shop local marketing pitched a no hitter.
The merchants were nestled all snug in their beds,
While plans for great boxing day sales, took form in their heads.
And the local media sales group,
Had just settled their brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the Beach there arose such a clatter,
The police and fire trucks drove out to see what was the matter.
Away to the Community Park I drove in an instant
Ran down to the Boardwalk to look of in the distance
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if?
We are the sum of our experiences not only due to the chain of events linked from our birth to now, but also because as we make decisions and experience the consequences of those decisions it impacts future decisions of a similar nature. Personally I like where I am and would never want to change a thing; even though there have been many experiences I definitely do not want to go through again.
So what does this have to do with business? Our business, in the same way that we are the sum of our experiences is the sum of opportunities both taken and passed. Opportunities in the business world present themselves constantly. Some are not noticed, some we pass on and some we seize and run with. I want to always be in a position to both notice and take advantage of any opportunity, whether it is as simple as an act of kindness or as complex as an offering that needs serious analysis before moving forward.
Everything is an opportunity; everyone we meet is a potential lead or new customer, or even the source of an idea that may move our business to a new level. Keeping a positive attitude will allow you to see more opportunities and taking advantage of those opportunities will help your business grow and flourish and everything depends on your attitude.
A new national study reveals that membership in a local chamber of commerce can significantly boost a business's image among consumers, as well as among other businesses. In a scientific survey of 2,000 adults, The Schapiro Group, an Atlanta-based strategic consulting firm, found positive perceptions of chamber members in a number of areas, including overall favourability, consumer awareness and reputation and likelihood of future patronage. View the study here.
The study showed that when respondents were told that a particular small business was a member of its local chamber, they were 44 percent more likely to rate it favorably than study respondents who were not told of the chamber affiliation. Respondents were also 63 percent more likely to want to purchase goods or services from a small business that is a chamber member.
“We discovered that informing someone about a company's chamber membership opens the door to substantial increases positive perceptions of that business,” Alex Trouteaud, senior strategist for The Schapiro Group, said. “There clearly is a feeling by our respondents that chamber membership is synonymous with quality and desirability.”
Tomorrow at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year we will all stop and remember those who sacrificed all to ensure we have the lifestyles we enjoy today. I will think of my parents and the sacrifice they made in their service in the Royal Navy; I will also thank them for the sacrifice and the risk they took in moving to Canada, creating the opportunity for me to live the life I have. I am truly thankful for that move and am truly a PROUD CANADIAN.
I contrast their sacrifice (selling everything they owned to purchase passage to a country thousands of miles away where they worked hard for ten years before they were able to purchase our first home) with the attitude of the Occupy groups who believe everything should be given to them because they want it.
I am afraid I just don’t understand a mindset that says this is the way I want things to be and therefore that is the way they should be and I am going to disrupt everything I can until that is so. Looking to government for support rather than working to support needs rather than wistfully seeking support for wants.
All economic systems whether they be hard capitalism where risk is rewarded or communism where hard work is rewarded require a commitment from individuals. Government is absolutely needed to ensure the needs of the many are met through services that we all require; transportation, healthcare, protection and social services for those unable to provide the necessities for themselves. Government also needs to be a regulatory overseer to ensure level playing fields but they are not there to provide guarantees to any individual or group because they want it. The following quote from Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail sums up my thoughts:
It’s not the greedy Wall Street bankers who destroyed these people’s hopes. It’s the virtueocracy itself. It’s the people who constructed a benefit-heavy entitlement system whose costs can no longer be sustained. It’s the politicians and union leaders who made reckless pension promises that are now bankrupting cities and states. It’s the socially progressive policy-makers in the U.S. who declared that everyone, even those with no visible means of support, should be able to own a home with no money down, courtesy of their government. In Canada, it’s the social progressives who assure us we can keep on consuming all the health care we want, even as the costs squeeze out other public goods.
Government, including Local Government needs to return to basics. They need to stop meddling in social experiments and leave those to the passionate groups who are prepared to find a way through fundraising or volunteerism to fulfill those worthy goals.
So tomorrow I will remember those who instilled a solid work ethic in me and contributed to a world where that work ethic meant something. Thank you for your sacrifice and it is my hope that the few sacrifices I made for my children will have the same impact on them.
The local election process is complete for another three years. With the return of four of the five incumbent councilors and the Acting Mayor now taking on the title and role of Mayor the results in Parksville indicate overall support for the leadership the City government has been taking over the past three year term.
Based on the responses to the Chamber Questionnaire focused on business issues there is strong support for revitalizing our downtown core and for economic development to expand our commercial base. There also is strong support for the creation of a mobile business license.
From the community perspective all elected officials see a need to complete the OCP and continue the process of securing a safe plentiful source of water.
To the community’s benefit, five of the seven faces on Council have been there before. There should be no excuses about learning curves, to get on with the priorities discussed during the campaign; the Official Community Plan being the number one priority. It is imperative that this process, which has gone on for far too long be completed.
Given the stated desire to improve the downtown and expand the commercial tax base, the completion of the OCP process is the first step. For the past six years there has been a significant decline in building permits and Development Cost Charges revenue. This is hurting the construction trade which provides 17% of the jobs in the area and it affects the rate at which the City can install and upgrade the essential infrastructure which we rely on. We have seen a steady drop in both the number and value of building permits from 315 permits valued at $44 million in 2005 to 95 permits valued at $12 million to October 2011. This is a dramatic drop and it is time to turn it around.
I am hoping that council will seek to understand why the development and building community are staying away from Parksville, complete the implementation of the recommendations of the Development Process Review and complete the OCP process; all of which are hindering revitalizing the downtown, expanding the commercial tax base and ultimately providing a portion of the tax, DCC and utility revenue necessary to upgrade our water system.
I recently returned from the BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting held in Prince George. Getting away from the day to day operations of the Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce was not initially appealing to me; however being immersed in the policy environment of the BC Chamber for three days was a very positive experience.
The BC Chamber is the advocacy agency for taking resolutions from around the Province to the BC and Federal Governments from Chambers around the Province. Resolutions are brought to the floor of the policy session, debated and passed to be taken forward to government for action or defeated.
The BC Chamber priorities are:
- A Vibrant Resource Sector
- Competitive Taxation and Regulation
- Crime and Public Safety
- Reform of Local Government
- Skills and Labour Shortage
And this year we debated everything from the legalization of marijuana (defeated) to getting the most from our education system (passed). Debate was passionate and skilled and in the end those policies that will work to improve the quality of life in BC and assist business to contribute to that quality of life were passed.
During the convention we were educated and entertained by a number of knowledgeable speakers providing information to Chambers on ways to better serve their members and their communities. The coming referendum on HST was a hot topic as was changing our language when working with various stakeholder groups to ensure we speak on the facts during debate and not become embroiled in emotional arguments.
The Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce Policy Committee meets regularly to discuss Local, Provincial and Federal matters to ensure that the Voice of Business is more than a mantra; that it is relevant and effective. We will continue to work to ensure the Parksville & District business community is well served by our advocacy efforts.
As one of our speakers stated “The Chamber of Commerce is the watering hole for the community”. Strong Chambers build strong communities.
Last week one of our business members was telling me about a staff member who had gone above and beyond in order to assist one of their customers. It was a great story and the employee definitely went out of her way to look after that customer. I suggested that service of that nature was the type of service recognized when we hand out our Glassies. I know the Community awards are in March and with all that is going on it seems a little early to be thinking about handing out awards eight months from now, but it is important to recognize those individuals and businesses that excel at what they do.
It is never too early to submit a nomination and if it is fresh in your mind then the nomination will be a lot easier than trying to think of details in January. The online form can be found at www.parksvillechamber.com/special-events/ .
So speaking of excellent service, it is summer, when we entertain the bulk of our visitors. They are certainly streaming through the Visitor Centre and if Canada Day was an indicator it will be a busy summer. Our Visitors come for the beach, the scenery, relaxing accommodations and the fantastic events. They will return if they find a friendly, warm and welcoming community. It is up to us, the business community, to go out of our way to provide super service.
When customers experience that great service they will return, the opposite is also unfortunately true. With the recent increase in product availability through new entrepreneurs opening businesses here, the provision of great service and the impact of $1.25/ltre gasoline it is possible we will see the $$$ spent in Nanaimo reduced and our Oceanside economy strengthened. Recent statistics reveal a 70%-30% split with the 70% being retail dollars spent in Nanaimo.
Service is the difference, service sells.
I had a couple of interesting quotes cross my desk last week.
“You can fool all of the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough.”
Joseph E. Levine
“The enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.” John F Kennedy
Too often I hear people repeating myths as though they were facts. Rumors and gossip also fall into this category and when a group on a campaign seize upon a myth and put some advertising dollars behind it the myth can easily become the prevailing idea.
The availability of “instant uncorroborated news” from sources everywhere via the internet has compounded this issue and made it more important than ever to investigate, explore and verify information before treating it as factual.
Every election campaign, every issue campaign carries with it the persistent myth fueled by a big budget advertising campaign. I am constantly surprised at the things people believe because they read it somewhere or heard it somewhere or saw it somewhere. This is not a new phenomenon; how many of you remember seeing Jack Parr’s spaghetti harvest? People actually phoned the station the following day wanting to know how they could grow spaghetti.
YouTube, Wikipedia and your Inbox are not repositories of perpetual truth, neither for that matter are the local media. Before you pass on to your network of friends and neighbours a politicians salary, a perceived violation of rights and freedoms or the impact of policy ideas, check your facts with a reliable source. Too many times we rush to judgment and are slow to repent when the truth comes out.
With silly season (pre-election time) well underway municipally and the possibility of a provincial election looming, it would be prudent for all of us to check our facts and be responsible for our decisions.
The Provincial Government has provided us with an interesting and useful new source for data (facts). They have consolidated all of the data from the different ministries on one site -http://www.data.gov.bc.ca/ - and while it still takes some mining to find the info you are looking for it is much easier than it was.
I have been playing rugby as a weekend warrior for longer than I care to think about and beyond keeping me out of the healthcare lineup and forcing me to realize that this is not really a game for old men; it has given me a true appreciation for the benefits of teamwork. I am not built for running at great speed down the sideline and the wingers on my team are not built for the heavy lifting and heaving that constitutes the life of a front row forward. Together with the other 14 individuals on our team we can accomplish that goal of winning the odd game and surviving the rest. If we all had the same talents and abilities we would not be able to realize the success that we can with our individual skills working together.
There is a correlation here to not only business – “do what you are good at and hire good people to do the rest” – but also to the community at large.
So, why is teamwork important? With every team member it is important, that they feel like they are a part of a group. Team building and creating a bond between team members goes a long way in increasing the productivity of a business place. It is important for every member to possess teamwork skills in the workplace and work with each other. Continuous interaction with other members can also often increase the loyalty to the company. Another great thing about teamwork is that it helps create an atmosphere that has healthy competition. This goes a long way in improving the productivity of a company. Working towards a common goal and at the same time competing with each other to do better can help foster ties at the workplace.
Teamwork in the workplace and working with different individuals also enables quicker learning processes. You grasp concepts regarding the work better and with ease. Seniors in the team can always guide newer members regarding possible pitfalls, and help them learn pathways better. In some situations it has also been noticed that teamwork tends to increase creative output. One suggestion can lead to another, which like a pack of dominoes; can bring in some interesting results. All this can be credited to the importance of teamwork.
As mentioned one of the most important reasons to encourage teamwork and collaboration is to increase the rate of productivity and the time taken. The importance of teamwork has also shown that it can in certain cases foster satisfaction that bears a direct correlation with performance. These are just some benefits that highlight the importance of teamwork. There are many other benefits that can be very specific to the team that you are working with. While for many people adjusting to an environment consisting of groups of people can be a stumbling block, their adaptability to the situation will improve, making them more receptive to teamwork.
I am troubled by the decision making process of both the Regional District of Nanaimo and the City of Parksville when looking at various redevelopment applications; specifically the application at the French Creek property next to the Shell station and the Parksville Post and Lantern application. I am not necessarily questioning the decisions themselves; rather the reasoning behind them.
Membership - The Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce is a member driven organization. We rely on our members for input regarding their needs and to ensure we are providing services that are beneficial to those needs. We also rely on our members’ direction to ensure our organization remains focused and truly represents the business community. In order to remain relevant we must stay true to our purpose to be “The Voice of Business”.
I am pleased to see that to date this year membership is growing and growing in a way that I find exciting. We are seeing a number of new businesses opening and a healthy number of these new businesses are truly unique and being run by young entrepreneurs.
It is my hope that this is a trend; a trend that bodes well for our community. New blood in the community will invigorate, revitalize and move us towards a healthy balance. New businesses seen to be successful will attract others to invest in our community. New businesses will also provide new products and hopefully decrease those too frequent trips to Nanaimo.
Business Energy Advisor - The Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that they have been selected as the umbrella organization to provide the Services of a Business Energy Advisor to businesses with current BC Hydro costs under $50,000.00/year on the Central/North Vancouver Island, Powell River and the Sunshine Coast.
Conservation and sustainability are the primary focus of this program with the goal of providing small business owners with energy conservation tools , and incentive/grant programs to assist them to decrease their energy footprint.
Small businesses will be able to access free energy-efficiency advice, equipment and incentives with the new LiveSmart BC: Small Business Program.
The program was designed with small business and restaurant owners in mind. We want to make efficiency upgrades easy and affordable so entrepreneurs can focus on what matters most: serving their customers. The support and products offered through the LiveSmart BC: Small Business Program can save businesses thousands of dollars in equipment and utility costs.”