From restaurants and hospitality businesses to contractors, professional services and even manufacturers, small businesses have always made up the great majority of the North Country Chamber’s membership and they always will. And our many direct business support services as well as activities, such as our advocacy efforts in Albany and Washington, reflect this.
As we do every few years, we recently surveyed all of our members with 50 or fewer employees for a snapshot of current needs and of which basic Chamber services are most valued. We learned the following services and benefits are most used:
#1 – Networking, including Business After Hours. 57%
#2 – Gaining Info Through Chamber Newsletters. 48%
#3 – Workshops and Seminars. 45%
#4 – Commerce Card Discounts. 41%
#5 – Displaying brochures in the Chamber lobby. 26%
As a reminder that small business includes all sorts of activities, 20% use and value our Workplace Safety Training programs.
We obtained useful input on topics for workshops in the coming months, with the top requests being Marketing/Social Media, Strategic Planning, Employment Law, Business Planning for Succession, Sexual Harassment Training Compliance, and Health Insurance Updates. Our team, along with partners such as SBDC and AEDC, is already working on these in response.
When asked for a snapshot of their top three challenges at present, we had the following response:
#1 – Finding/retaining qualified employees. 64%
#2 – Health insurance costs and changes. 39%
#3 – Taxes: State/Federal/Property. 31%
#4 – On-line competition. 30%
#5 – Complying with new state business mandates. 28%
We were pleased with indications that our newsletters are seemingly well read and useful, with 92% saying they read the Chamber VISION each month. We also had many requests by members to be added to specialty e-newsletter lists such as Plattsburgh International Airport News, Quebec-New York Corridor News and Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau communications.
And finally, we received and have now individually responded to specific requests for more information on a number of programs and services including health/dental/vision insurance, SCORE business counseling, displaying materials in the Chamber lobby, electricity costs savings, the Annual Women in Business event, tourism advertising opportunities, exporting/international business, safety programs and more.
We thank all who participated, allowing us to serve them and the general small business community even better as we go forward. And we always encourage contacts by small businesses who would like to be sure they are taking the fullest possible advantage of the wide range of services and programs the Chamber offers.