Twice per month (on the first and third Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m.) we hold small, semi-informal Member Focus Group luncheons. A member of our board of directors attends and provides lunch in addition to listening in, and either our CEO Raymond Burns or EVP Beth Stephens conduct the focus group. Often, our members commit to attend without being quite certain what they've signed on to do, other than attend lunch. These focus groups have a significant impact on the way we do business on behalf of business, and we think they're of benefit to members, as well.
We start with a quick overview of the Chamber, our mission, the state of the community and a few updates on trends in the community related to business, demographics etc. Really, we're just giving the attendees time to chew. The real meat of the focus group comes when we stop talking and start listening to our member businesses - typically 6 - 10 per month. We go around the room and ask for the top issues confronting each of the attendees and their businesses, and the results can have an effect on the way we operate at the Chamber that very same day.
This month, our attendees were Pamela Nelson from Music Arts Productions, a company providing an enormous array of live entertainment productions including string quartets, bagpipes, DJs, jazz combos and so forth (www.musicartsproductions.com); Mike Dodge from Carroll Electric Cooperative, a member of the Chamber Board of Directors wh reminded us that CECC offers free home energy audits for customers (www.carrollecc.com); Ann Williams and Lucia Guillen from Northwest Arkansas Head Start (www.nwaheadstart.org), which currently serves more than 500 children and families and seeks to improve their lives every single day; and Holly Mang, owner of Brick Street Botanical in Historic Downtown Rogers, a new and thriving small business owner with an intriguing, unique shop specializing in a natural approach to floral design and plants (www.brickstreetbotanical.com).
In talking with this small group, we learned about the effectiveness of our programs for non-profits, utilities and small businesses as well as areas where we can improve, and our attendees made meaningful connections and left with a thorough understanding of how the Chamber can be their very best ally. To us, that's what it is all about - improving the state of the business community every single day, and helping our members maximize the value of their membership investment. The last thing we want to do is collect a membership check without a connection and service to our members.
We'd love to have you attend a focus group if you have not already received your invitation or found time to attend. Contact Marni Rogers, our Customer Service guru, at 479-619-3194 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Lunch is on us, and we believe that it will be meaningful for you. At the very least, you can give us some feedback on better serving you as we work toward our goal of Growing Business, Building Community.