How Chamber Membership and Community Involvement Help Grow Your Business

Lane Housley, P.S. Executive Vice President Energy Services

What one step can your business take that will –strengthen internal relationships, positively impact recruitment and retention, drive sales, increase visibility, and help create better places to live and work?

According to http://volunteeringinamerica.gov “Altogether, 62.6 million Americans volunteered nearly 7.7 billion hours last year. Based on the Independent Sector's estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour, the estimated value of this volunteer service is nearly $173 billion.”

What better way for a business to connect to the community than volunteering time and resources to make it the best it can be? This is especially true in the A/E/Surveying industry. As those responsible for shaping the physical landscape of cities and towns, professionals within the industry share the responsibility of helping to shape the civic landscape as well. To understand fully the needs of the community, you have to be part of it.

In addition to traditional volunteer activities – giving to charitable organizations, collecting and distributing goods, serving food to those in need, mentoring and coaching – there are many opportunities to effect change by becoming involved in the local government or Chamber of Commerce.

As Executive Vice President of Energy Services at Crafton Tull, it was an honor to be named Chairperson of Conway Chamber of Commerce. This position allows me to further share how community involvement benefits local businesses and the community as a whole. Following are my top three examples:

Increase Recruitment and Retention / Increase Visibility

It’s no secret that people want to work for a company that is visible in the community, and visible for the right reasons. Just like in many areas of life, reputation is everything when it comes to recruiting and keeping a talented workforce. I am proud to say I work for Crafton Tull for many reasons; top of that list is that we walk the walk when it comes to living our values of: Integrity, Respect, Excellence, Responsiveness, Teamwork, and Safety. In February of this year we were thrilled to be named Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation by the Arkansas Business Journal, as well as recently being named a finalist for Oklahoma's Journal Record Beacon Award. I strongly believe that by engaging your employees in community outreach you increase morale, which in turn increases retention and exposure to a broader base for recruiting new talented employees.  In fact, many recent graduates see working for a company that gives back as a job benefit. United Way also states that one-third of millennials surveyed in the 2014 Millennial Impact Report take a company’s volunteer policies into consideration when deciding whether to apply for a job. Having had the pleasure of joining in green initiatives and charitable contributions as a Crafton Tull team member, I have seen the positive impact community involvement has from both the private and public sector. The bonding that occurs when talented, committed people come together for a common purpose is second to none.

Drive Sales

As well as the obvious personal and professional benefits that come from giving back, I have seen community involvement and positive exposure directly affect a company’s bottom line profit. When employees are proud of their company’s contributions, the more they are willing and eager to give back to the community both financially and charitably. A 2014 study by Nielsen found Fifty-five percent of global online consumers across 60 countries are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that commit to positive social and environmental impact. It really is a snowball effect. When companies use their positive reputation to encourage community involvement, it draws positive attention. Our Mission is: Improving communities through professional design and surveying…one project at a time. I’ll tell you, we put a lot of thought into that statement. Crafton Tull wants to make money like any other business, but we know firsthand consumers want to be in business with companies that give back on a real and consistent basis. The positive exposure gained through philanthropic efforts is immeasurable when it comes to actual sales. However, being honored nationally for our year-long outreach program certainly shines a light on what we do in our communities, which in turn highlights our professional design and survey capabilities.
 

Help Build Better Communities

This is your town and your involvement is what makes it strong, and a strong community can withstand whatever is thrown at it. I speak to so many folks and business owners around Conway who are interested in becoming more engaged with the community. The Chamber of Commerce is the place to start. By joining the chamber you gain access to resources you simply cannot find anywhere else. This town is brimming with progress in the form of job opportunities, diversified churches, schools, events, and festivals. When businesses decide to sponsor Toad Suck Daze, Business Expo, Taste of Conway, Bowling for Business, Women in Business, or Minority Enterprise Development, they tap into that progress in a real way. These are just a few of the events that make the City of Conway the close-knit community it is. By volunteering time and financial resources, you build better communities; it’s that simple.  

To find out how to get involved in your local chamber of commerce, visit:

For more information, visit:

http://uschamber.com/chamber/directory

http://conwaychamber.org