What keeps you up at night?
Have you seen that question lately? I have. It seems that many of the articles and books I have read ask that question.
Over the years, there have been many reasons I have found it hard to sleep – business, family and, at times, even my own “issues” have kept me tossing and turning. The question is, do we continue to toss and turn, or do we do something about it? What often works for me is to write it down and make a plan.
As the president of the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber, my door is always open to the members (new and established) to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of their business. What I hear most often is: “I need to grow my business.”
If only there were a magic wand to wave, and, poof, more business. Unless someone is keeping the wand all to themselves, it does not exist. What I do encourage is – first and foremost – make a plan. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it does have to be written down. And although the Chamber is a great tool for helping a business gain exposure, have you ever seen a tool box with just one hammer? Probably not.
To have a successful business, it takes more than hanging a sign on a door and expecting customers to find you. From a marketing plan to a analyzing your financials, you need to utilize every possible tool available to a business: the Chamber, the Small Business Development Centers, trade associations, workshops, books, etc.
During last month’s Alliance of Professional Women luncheon, we held a roundtable discussion in which the topic was “How Do You Maintain Your Customers & Create Raving Fans.” During the conversations, there were plenty of ideas and book recommendations on how to gain new customers and clients, but very few had taken time to develop a retention plan.
We all know it costs more to gain a new customer than it does to keep and grow an existing customer. Adding a new customer costs a business five to seven times more than keeping and building current customers. If growing your business is what keeps you up at night, read the book “Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard, and make a plan to retain and grow your existing customer base. Take a look at your customer service and consider adding a few new customer benefits.
Tuesday: The Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber will host a Chamber Orientation and Panel Discussion for new and established business members. This is a great opportunity to hear how current members have utilized their Chamber membership. For information, visit www.ALChamber.com or call 847-658-5300.
Nov. 5: Multi-Chamber Business After Hours at Mario Tricoci in Crystal Lake. This is a great opportunity to mix and mingle with members from the Algonquin/LITH Chamber and the Crystal Lake Chamber. Guests will receive a free gift bag. RSVPs are appreciated by calling 815-479-0985.
Nov. 13: The Chamber will host its annual Member Luncheon at Montarra Grill to introduce and hold board elections for 2014, which will include Dennis Adams, owner of Adams Collision in Lake in the Hills, and Karen Lavorata, a director of Mary Kay Cosmetics.
Nov. 19: The Chamber and the Alliance of Professional Women will host its annual Holiday Luncheon at Village Vintner Winery & Brewery. Guests are encouraged to bring along a raffle item. Everyone receives five free tickets, with additional tickets available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit the Algonquin/LITH Food Pantry.
Nov. 20: Wednesday Social Media Meet Up. Chamber members and their guests are invited to join in this interactive Meet Up for Blogging (10:30 a.m.) followed by a Meet Up for Facebook (noon to 1:30 p.m.). This is a great opportunity to learn and share what you know. Laptops are required, and all must participate in the exchange of information. For information, call 847-658-5300.
Nov. 21: Stop in at the Business After Hours hosted at Colonial Café in Algonquin. Members and guests will enjoy an evening of great food and casual conversation.
Nov. 30: Deadline to advertise in the Chamber’s 2014 Hometown Guide. The Hometown Guide is a community resource and is mailed to 23,000 homes and businesses in January. For information, visit www.ALChamber.com or call 847-658-5300.
• Sandy Oslance is president of the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce.