Chamber sees spike in non-renewals
The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce reported the number of small business members that did not renew their memberships — citing reasons that they closed, merged or relocated — increased significantly in November and December.
Membership renewals don’t occur at the same time. In a normal month, the chamber has 15 to 25 members leave the chamber, and usually two or three of those drop because they will no longer be in business. That jumped to 10 to 12 each of the past two months. During November and December, a combined 25 members dropped because of closing, merging or relocating, said Diane Schwenke, president and CEO of the chamber.
As a result, the chamber launched a free online tool to help small businesses through tough economic times.
“We’ve been noticing for quite some time, as we’ve been seeing our renewals come back, that a significant number of our small businesses have closed their doors, and we didn’t know about it,” Schwenke said. “We’ve also seen a jump of people citing financial reasons for not renewing their membership. Anything we can do to help businesses weather the storm, we’d like to do.”
The yearly rate of renewal of membership with the chamber dropped from 90 percent in 2007 to 85 percent last year, she said. The chamber’s end-year membership number was 1,250.
The chamber added 19 new members in November and 12 in December. Those include businesses that have been open for some time in addition to new businesses.
Schwenke said six to eight businesses left the chamber because they closed, merged or relocated during November and December.
The free tool is offered to all businesses, not just members, she said.
“Reduced credit, wary customers and longer payment cycles are all causing many small business owners to lose sleep,” Schwenke said. “We want to support small businesses during this period by providing Tools for Business Success, an extensive online toolkit to start and grow a business.”
Joining the chamber, she said, helps businesses get exposure and referrals, and they can attend networking and business education events for lower cost.
The rate of businesses closing has encouraged the chamber to offer the online tool to nonmembers, too. It includes a link to a free workshop, titled “Eight Marketing Tips for Recession Stressed Entrepreneurs,” by a nonprofit. For eight days, participants will receive a link to a short video that will give practical tips on how to operate during this recession.
The site has a link to a free cash-flow calculator that helps business owners quickly see how changing inventory, collections, payable schedule and pricing will affect their cash flow.
The site offers selling tips and an option to buy templates for customer appreciation cards.
The site is accessible at gjchamber.toolsforbusiness.info. For more information, call 242-3214.