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The Hardin County Chamber of Commerce has turned to its membership base for feedback on its performance since the merger of the four county chambers last year.
A 17-question email survey was circulated to the chamber’s full membership of more than 750 between June and August. Of those numbers, 109 members responded, the bulk of which represented businesses with fewer than 100 employees, according to Executive Director Brad Richardson.
Richardson said the survey was formulated to learn how the chamber’s initiatives and programs are viewed in the eyes of its members.
“We think we are doing the right thing, but we wanted to hear from our customers, ... our members,” Richardson said.
The survey’s questions inquired about chamber programming, including opinions on monthly luncheons and how they could be improved.
The survey also asked members to relay the preferred method of communication to receive chamber information and what social media networks they most often use.
On another note, the survey gathered information on the size of businesses replying, which Richardson said helps in updating chamber numbers.
Results showed most respondents joined and retain memberships to network with other businesses. Others indicated marketing and public relations opportunities as a reason for joining.
Richardson said business-to-business networking has been requested by members on several occasions, and the chamber responded by holding its first “mix and mingle” luncheon in October, which shuffled business and community leaders from table to table so they could chat with multiple people before leaving.
“It was a hit,” Richardson said, indicating another “mix and mingle” session would be hosted early next year.
Richardson said a group of 200 people can come together, but most individuals stay in their small groups for the majority of the time.
Among the respondents, 58 percent hold a favorable impression of the monthly luncheons with 22 percent wanting the chamber to engage in more networking opportunities.
Thirty seven percent also said the chamber should visit other communities to find out what practices are being used elsewhere.
Coupled with that, more than 60 percent of respondents wanted the chamber to consider “lunch and learn” events while 40 percent wanted to pursue after-hour networking events. About 32 percent promoted breakfast business gatherings, and the chamber recently completed its first “Business at Breakfast” series, titled “Marketing Your Business.”
Roughly 91 percent of respondents said they would likely recommend chamber membership to others and expressed satisfaction with programs such as Leadership Hardin County and the use of chamber ambassadors and councils.
The chamber also was encouraged to use its website, social media networking sites, email and a local newspaper presence to promote its mission.
Richardson said the chamber plans to use the survey format to poll its members two to three times per year on different topics.
“We’ll be doing it on a periodic basis,” he said.
For example, Richardson said the chamber plans to survey members on public policy, exploring what issues the chamber needs to discuss with state legislators.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.