Kenda Morrison is back living in the small town. The move back has brought back an old frustration for her. Service businesses that cater to residents but not tourists seem to get overlooked by the chamber of commerce, etc.
“All too often I see them floundering in the Tourism environment and a complete lack of attention and training on how to market within the sea of tourism activities,” Kenda said.
|Does your chamber of
commerce reach out to local
service businesses that don’t
These are the kinds of businesses you need in your town, to support the quality of life of your residents. Your mechanic, accountant, and hair cutter all fall into this category.
Because the Chamber and any other business groups in tourism towns are usually focused on promoting tourism, local service business may tend to stay away from them. So where do they find any help? Good question!
My first thought is that local service businesses can and should band together in a business group of their own. This group can focus on the needs of local businesses, provide education and programs they want, and support their interests as a group. Neighboring towns could even work together, in order to get enough local businesses to make a sustainable group.
What about your experience? Have you seen a tourism town doing something smart to support necessary local services?
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Good topic and points, but I would first encourage service businesses to approach their Chamber about what their needs are and how the Chamber can help them. Chambers want to stay relevant and keep & grow their membership, and if that means finding ways to support segments of membership in specific ways, they should be more than happy to do it (especially if these service businesses are taking the volunteer lead to get it going). I’ve seen towns with multiple “groups” struggle because there is just not enough resources (volunteer & financial) to go around.
Becky McCray says
You’ve made a good point. No business should presume that the chamber will not help them. Best to start with a positive attitude, and see what you can accomplish. Maybe the chamber will be willing to host a service business group. You won’t know until you ask.
From a realistic point of view, some chambers just don’t live up to their charge of serving all local businesses. In those cases, it may be best to start a separate group, even if it causes a shortage of resources.
There is no one solution that works for every town.
Leslie McLellan says
I’ve had experience with a couple of Chambers that have done the following: 1) Made sure that the board of directors is made up with a mix of businesses that serve tourism related businesses as well as local service businesses. 2) Had a committee within the Chamber that did nothing but address service businesses. By putting emphasis on both tourism and local businesses, the Chamber becomes much stronger and really focuses on ALL of the issues of their members which in turn makes the community all the stronger.
Becky McCray says
Leslie, thanks for adding your experience. That definitely sounds much better than ignoring the service businesses.
Becky McCray says
This comment came in by email, from Joel Miller of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce in Ohio:
Our Chamber is not in a tourism heavy area, so maybe my perspective is off, but I’d see the Chamber as an opportunity for those service-based businesses to get some help. To me, a small group of concerned service-based businesspeople should confront their local Chamber with their concerns. A good Chamber executive will wrap their arms around these concerns in their community. Then those service-based businesses can use the centralized organization of the Chamber and its facilities and personnel to shape their needs. That “business group of their own” could be under the umbrella of the Chamber – utilizing their resources (financial, branding, availability of non-volunteer central staff…whatever may be available) to craft their group and fill their needs with some help.
Frequently, a Chamber may feel pulled in 20 different directions – they may not realize a sector is dissatisfied with the help they could be receiving. A gathering of concerned businesspeople can be beneficial to large degree for both sides. I also realize that no two Chambers (or any number of other organizations) are made the same. But, I’ve seen too many side groups form around a cause and not have the support they could have received if a hand had been reached out and concerns shared.
I love your stuff and your perspectives. I learn a lot from them each time and share them with many. Thought I could reach out and share my perspective and maybe shed some light from snowy NW Ohio. Thanks!
Henry County Chamber of Commerce