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And the survey says…

July 11, 2022Doug Peters, President & CEO

One of my favorite things about being a part of the Abilene Chamber is the interaction I get to have with those of you who support our mission. I generally start and end my days communicating with our member businesses. I really enjoy our conversations, commiserating on the topics of the day, and learning about what keeps you up at night.

I appreciate each minute our members spend with me, whether in person, by phone or even by email.

As much as I’d like to bring every member into the same room at the same time for those conversations, we know you’re busy. We also know that busy is good (we cheer for “busy” as long as it’s good busy!).  That’s why you’ll get hit with a survey on occasion – a way for the Chamber’s Board and staff to keep tabs on your perspective.

Recently, the Chamber issued its annual comprehensive member survey. For those of you who found the time to participate – which was about 15 percent of our membership – we thank you. We learned much from the results. And, based on widely accepted standards for survey responses, 15 percent is a really great rate.

The information you provided is representative of a unified voice of regional businesses and is used to help the board set strategy and priority for the coming year. The Chamber Board will meet later this month for a rundown of the feedback, and then use your input as we set our course for not only the coming year, but for the foreseeable future.

In addition to the survey, I also want to thank Mike Fernandez (Texas National Bank) for leading our Chair-appointed Program Taskforce this past year. Comprised of your fellow members, this taskforce did a forensic deep dive into all that we do – programs, initiatives, and service to our members.

To say we have great feedback to work from would be an understatement.

So, what did the survey tell us?

First off, 50 percent of our members have been among our membership for at least 10 years, 12 percent for five to 10 years and nearly 30 percent have been with us just shy of four years. Those are numbers we can be proud of. It handsomely beats the national average among more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce nationwide, but it also tells us that our members are aboard for the long-haul. While our work is purposeful, progress is an ongoing process.

We learned a lot about what keeps you up at night, and it comes as no surprise that workforce remains our chief challenge, followed closely by lingering supply chain challenges and rising costs. While these issues are not germane to Abilene, you can bet that your Chamber will be working as allied partners with anyone and everyone who can help us move the needle. We get it. These issues are among the major challenges that keep us up at night as well.

Related to workforce, we are seeing a growing number of member businesses providing additional flexibility for their workers, and some even shifting to a remote workforce model. While that solution certainly isn’t for everyone, we will be looking into “lessons learned” and best practices for those the remote option might help.

And while we will never be “good enough” at delivering service and value to our members, we won’t stop working hard to be better. I was pleased that a full 85 percent of those respondents believe that their Chamber meets or exceeds their expectations as our community’s chief business advocacy organization. 12 percent believe we meet some of their specific expectations, and we’ll be looking closely at how we can improve in areas where we fall short. In the survey, our members rated our performance at 4.45 on a scale of one to five, with five being the best.

On a similar note, we also discovered that there are a good number of our members who remain unaware of some of our offerings, or even our affiliate work and its impact on the community. We will work hard to constantly tell the Chamber’s story, and to invite you to be a part of efforts like Military Affairs, Abilene Young Professionals, our Convention & Visitors Bureau, Industrial Foundation and Cultural Affairs efforts.

Nearly 70 percent favor text message alerts as a means of communication, we’ll be looking into how we can better communicate through this increasingly popular tool.

In our upcoming planning effort, we know that we have what may be an interesting legislative session ahead in Austin. We will be working through our Business Advocacy Council to prepare our legislative agenda, just as we do each session. If there is an issue of importance to you or your business, now is the time to let me know.

And so again, thank you for taking the time to weigh in and for sharing the issues and challenges that confront your enterprise. As we prepare for our effort next year and beyond, I want to reissue this call to action: the Abilene Chamber of Commerce and all that we do is in place to serve the interests of business. All business. And for us to do that with impact, we need to know what is important to you. Please don’t wait for a survey. I’m always on-duty, my phone is on, and my door is open. We look forward to serving you.

Onward!

Doug

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