Chamber Survey Results

Posted: 30th May 2008, 10:31am

Assessment of responses to Chamber Survey
Compiled by Mel Hilbrown - September 2007

Of 220 surveys issued we received 52 responses, a 24% response.

A general comment: some of the answers do require some judgement to categorise them. I am giving my view; others might come to slightly different conclusions. I have not tried to categorise

Size of Business:
Of the 52 respondents, 51 gave their number of employees. 28 (55%) were 10 or under; 12 (24%) were 11-49 and 11 (21%) were 50 or over (N.B. 4 respondents claimed to have 50 employees, so changing to 11-50 would put this section up to 31%).

How did you hear about the Chamber?
Over half (54%) of respondents gave word of mouth or referral as how they heard about the chamber; 5 (11%) said the firm was already a member; 5 (11%) found the Chamber from the internet; 7 (15%) just knew about it from general knowledge, and 3 (7%) could not remember.

How long in the area?
19% of respondents answering how long their business had been situated in the area gave less than 5 years; 55% have been trading for 10 or more years.

What do you expect to gain from chamber membership?
47 recorded. This is a particularly difficult question to categorise and many respondents gave several reasons, and the way I have broken down the responses has potential overlap between categories:

55% specifically focused on networking
32% wanted to be seen, to raise their profile, to be part of the local community, to build professional relationships, to promote their business.
19% were focused on gaining business and referrals
9% did not expect to get anything specifically from the Chamber.

Membership of other Chambers and networking groups:
48 responded on, half belonging to other groups and half saying they did not. Many answers did not specify which groups but the most frequently mentioned (7 times,15%) was the Herts Chamber and the Watford Chamber (3 times, 6%). BNI and Women in Business Network were each mentioned twice.

Have you referred your clients to the Chamber?
47 responded on whether they: 22 (47%) said they did, and 25 (53%) did not.

Do you use other Chamber members as a first choice?
48 responded, 19 (40%) said unequivocally that they did, 14 (29%) said sometimes and 15 (31%) said they did not.

Do you offer any discount to Chamber members?
On this question, I have taken a non-response to mean no discount is offered (on some services of course this might not be possible to define anyway however). 15 (29%) did offer some incentive.

Should the Chamber do more to encourage trading between members?
37 expressed a view. 29 (78%) said the Chamber should do more; 5 (14%) said it was up to the members to arrange this for themselves and 3 (8%) said that the Chamber should not get involved in this.

What does the Chamber do well?
42 responded. Again in this question there were multiple answers, overlapping issues etc. 3 (7%) said everything! A further 25 (60%) said networking/breakfasts; 8 (19%) specifically mentioned communicating; 6 (14%) mentioned social activities and 3 mentioned speakers and information and 2 local issues.

Suggestions to improve:
There were 23 specific comments, too diverse to really categorise, but worth individual attention.

Local issues:
There were 26 responses, exactly half the respondents. 15 of these (58%) supported lobbying on local issues; 8 (31%) thought the Chamber role should be to provide information and a discussion forum but did not specifically support any active lobbying role, although 1 said do not get involved unless the business case is clear and 1 said discuss position (These could be interpreted to support lobbying when there is broad agreement in the Chamber); 2 said the Chamber should foster relationships with the local authority but did not specify any other Chamber role.

The issue of taking member views before lobbying was raised several times.

Issues to bring to the attention of local authorities:

These need to be considered individually, but the most common comments were regarding parking, congestion, the state of roads and pavements, and retail closures.

Additional Feedback from the discussions at the Centenary Networking Lunch
Held on Friday 14th September 2007

Improving Chamber services:

• Focus Groups/Problem solving forums
• More details on Member website listings, full profile with photographs
• Opportunities for individual members to make presentations eg at breakfast meetings, although this may not be practical with the number of new members joining!
• Opportunities for new members to give presentations
• Trade fair every year instead of a Conference open to Members and the general public
• Stronger links with other agencies: affiliation with the Watford and Herts Chamber

Increasing trade between Members:

• More events both formal and social. Informal evenings/smaller events/more variety
• Welcome evenings for new members
• Form a social committee with a Calendar of Friday evening events
• Encourage more use of the Chamber Website
• Widening Membership
• Write Testimonials – for the website

Lobbying/Local Issues:

• We should have a non political business voice on local issues that may affect business
• Members of the Council should join the Chamber
• Form a local issues policy group
• Web based forums to assess members’ views on local issues
• Continued feedback is important

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