We talk about Chamber membership each year, but this year we thought we’d interview our Small Business Person of the Year. Let’s see what T.J. Kaikobad, owner of the Dalton Depot has to say about Chamber Membership.
T.J. You have been a chamber member for as long as I can remember. Please tell me why?
95% percent of my business is conducted within the community, 95% of the members are directly engaged personally and professionally in the community. By working with the Chamber, we are dealing directly one on one with our demographic. Chamber members are our clients.
Not being Chamber member would be like owning a food truck that services a manufacturing facility and then going on break when the factory is out for lunch, it just doesn’t make sense.
It gives me an opportunity to engage with the members and with our business community.
For me, the key thing to membership is, if someone writes a check for membership dues and says “well now it’s going to do wonders for my business”, that’s not going to happen. It’s like saying just because I drop my child off at school they should get all A’s. But we all know that’s not so. You have to follow up, put in effort, give them encouragement and so on. Same goes with your Chamber membership, you have to follow up, put in effort and do your part. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, you can look at the website for targets. Ask yourself who is my demographic and contact them. Why not introduce yourself and do business or mail them a coupon for your service?
The Chamber is like electricity, because you have it in the house doesn’t mean the lights are on. You need to use your membership, flip the switch. Whatever action you take creates light in the room.
Why is it important for a business to be involved?
If you’re not involved you’re not in the game. Back to the school analogy, ask a parent “Is it important to be involved with the PTA, take cupcakes to school for a party or sign the report card?”
Sure it is, it’s the same way with membership.
For example, read your ChamberLink, see what is going on in the business community.
It’s just farming, it takes effort and time. Sowing the seed doesn’t happen overnight, you sow, tend, and monitor before you reap the rewards. You may come to several events, months may pass, maybe even years. But when people start to establish your name with your company AND need your product or service, they will call you. Chamber members are faithful.
How has the Chamber helped you grow?
Exposing me to members, providing feedback to our business, helping direct people who make inquiries about where to eat. These are just a few things I have entrusted the Chamber with throughout the years.
Also, when I needed a product or service I knew I could trust a Chamber member! They have been an excellent referral base when I needed something in my business.
The Chamber has also served as my voice when I haven’t had time or the capital resources to be heard. They represent local business on the local, state and national level. That’s something I can’t do alone.
What’s been your favorite part of membership?
Well that’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. I can’t! To name a few, Leadership Dalton-Whitfield, serving on the Executive Board of Directors, and the camraderie and friendship of the other members,
When I look at my hand and say which of these fingers can I do without. I can’t.
And I can’t be a thriving business person without my Chamber!