Yelm Chamber Can Help Make 2018 a Success

The beginning of the year is such a great time to plan for growth and set goals for the next 365 days, whether these goals are for personal development, or our favorite, business! We’ve come up with a few resolutions that you may have, and we’ve outlined some of the ways that the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce can help make those dreams a reality for you.

Maybe one of your goals is to promote your business regularly and consistently. We can help with that! The Chamber is active on social media, promoting our members in the community and surrounding areas. In 2017, we fielded nearly 500 requests for information, these were people who called, stopped in, or dropped us an email looking for our recommendations for dentists, attorneys, gift shops, insurance, and so much more. We were able to direct them to our online member directory at www.yelmchamber.com, or give them the information by phone.

Is your goal to learn something new? We can help with that! We have learning opportunities at our monthly forums, held the second Tuesdays of the month at the Yelm Community Center, and our workshops. We can even connect you with other members who can help in your quest for knowledge, like Yelm’s Timberland Regional Library or the Economic Development Council.

Do you want to add to your contacts? We can help with that! There’s nothing like talking to other business professionals to help spark new ideas and creative solutions. We invite you to join us at our networking events. Here, you can connect with like-minded individuals who can become customers, colleagues, or friends. We offer networking at our Chamber forums, the second Tuesdays of the month, and at our Drive 507 Business After Hours, which are a great way to network in a casual environment at different business locations. The Drive 507s are held the last Thursday of the month, starting at 5:07 pm, and move from business to business in our area. Join us for our first one of 2018 at Steele Clayton State Farm on January 25th.

Is one of your resolutions to give back to your community? We can help with that too! We are happy to connect you with one of the many non-profit groups that are members of the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce. Whether your passion lies in education, serving veterans, caring for our community’s youth, senior issues, or addiction recovery, our non-profit members are excited to partner with new volunteers!

Is all this resolution making and goal setting wreaking havoc on your personal life? We can help with that! Whether you need to sweat out some frustration at our member Anytime Fitness’ award winning facility, take a class at member Oak Tree Dojo, or slip into a blissful relaxation with a massage from member Bliss Experience Salon and Spa, our members have everything you need to recharge your batteries.

As always, we wish you the best for a happy, healthy, safe, and successful new year. Make sure to check us out on Facebook or at www.yelmchamber.com to see what’s new and exciting this year.

 

Chamber Looks Ahead to 2018

Congratulations to all our honorees and thank you to everyone who attended the 2018 Best of Nisqually Gala. After increasing our capacity, we still sold out and are so grateful for everyone who made this another wonderful annual event! Some of our many award honorees included: Uptown Lounge for Best Restaurant, Best Happy Hour, and Best Cocktail; Alex Diffendaffer for Best Bartender; Ronelle Funk with Allstate for Best Customer Service and Best Insurance Agency; Mr Doug’s for Best Breakfast and Best Waitperson, Dennise; JW Foster for Best elected leader; and many more.

Of all the events the Chamber hosts, the Best of Nisqually Gala is my favorite because we celebrate some of the best businesses, organizations, and people who help make Yelm an awesome place to live, work, and play. I feel unbelievably grateful to honor our many nominees and winners.

With a New Year on the horizon, I can’t help but reflect on the more than 50 events the Chamber planned, hosted, and promoted in 2017. Some of many highlights include celebrating the grand openings for Shine Specialties & Promotions, Easthaven Villa’s Memory Care Facility, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and Junk Queen Thrift Shop. We’ve reignited our ‘Drive 5:07 Business After Hours’ monthly events to connect businesses and customers thanks to hosts like the Yelm Senior Center, Shine Specialties and Promotions, Today’s Dental Center, and the Nisqually Valley News.

In 2017 we also partnered with experts to host new training classes and workshops at the Yelm Community Center about social media marketing, video production, sales techniques and other important topics. More than 500 business professionals networked together at monthly Chamber forums in the Yelm Community Center, which provided a great event space and first class venue for high-caliber speakers.

As we look forward to 2018, our focus will be on advocating for local businesses as we work together to strengthen the City’s recent economic development efforts under the leadership of Mayor JW Foster and new City Administrator Michael Grayum. We participated in the public meetings held to develop the first economic development plan for the City and are actively involved with the development of the Downtown Corridor Plan. We will fight for water rights, which are crucial to Yelm’s growth and will still be there for relationship building and social events, beginning right away in January with our Leads at Lunch program, monthly Chamber forums, and the ‘Drive 5:07 Business After Hours’ events. Our calendar continues into April when we host the Nisqually Valley Home Show, with headliner Ciscoe Morris! Ooh la la!

Connect with us on Facebook @yelmchamber and stay tuned for upcoming events on the calendar page on our website, www.yelmchamber.com

On behalf of the Chamber, we thank you for supporting local businesses and wish you all the best in 2018!

 

Letter from the President

Dear Yelm Chamber Members,

Denise Hibbeln, President

As president of the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce I want to assure you of the viability and vitality of your chamber moving forward.

We have had turnover in our executive director position after Cecelia Jenkins retired after 30 years serving the chamber. She left large shoes to fill after all those years of dedicated work on your behalf.

Most recently our Executive Director Victoria Wortberg resigned as she was offered a desired position within the Thurston County Economic Development Council.

The good news is that Victoria worked long hours putting together several programs and built upon the foundation Cecelia set placing the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce in a positive direction.

On behalf of the board of directors, we are happy to announce our new Executive Director Line Critchfield. Many of you are aware of the talents she brings to the chamber and that she served as assistant to the chamber director with Cecelia. I believe Line is perfect for the job: hard working, pleasant, is a true Yelmite and knows the needs of the chamber. Please welcome her back and we look forward to fulfilling our mission in assisting the growth of local business in the Nisqually Valley.

The mission and direction of the chamber has not changed. During the January Strategic Planning Session the board of directors renewed their commitment to being the primary champion for our local businesses. The chamber is dedicated to working toward the growth and betterment of the city of Yelm and surrounding areas specifically by responding to the needs of the business community.

The near future will be an important time for our chamber and our community. We are here to help businesses thrive but we can’t do it without you. I encourage all local businesses to join the chamber as we hope you partner with us and take advantage of the many benefits of membership. As current members we welcome your input anytime at   info@yelmchamber.com.

Finally, please take some time and enjoy everyone’s favorite time of year in Yelm — the Prairie Days Parade and festivities kick off Thursday, June 23 with the Parade beginning at 7 p.m. This is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the spirit of the prairie and support our local businesses.

Yours in business,

Denise Hibbeln
President
Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce

How Does Your Website Rate?

 

Entrepreneurs are either overspending or underspending on their web sites, and many have no idea what they’re doing or why.

Half of all small businesses still don’t have a website. Many small companies are reluctant to outlay the expense of a new website design; however, if done well, redesigning your website can be a high return on investment. Remember, first impressions count. You only have a few seconds on a website to get a customer’s attention and to engage them. It’s important that your website look professional, fresh and contemporary.

 

One Human Year Equals at Least Four Internet Years.

It has been said that one human year equals at least four Internet years. Technology is rapidly changing. Even a website designed a few years ago may be susceptible to unwanted hacks or not usable on mobile phones. Your website should evolve and change as your business grows and technology changes.

“In a world where people stay online for most of the day, a standard website just doesn’t cut it. Depending on the product, up to 83% of consumers visit a company’s or service provider’s website before making a purchase. And as more and more consumers make decisions based on their online experience, the appearance, usability, and accessibility of your website is more important than ever. Even if they learn about your company through a trusted referral, at a sponsored event, or in a meeting with you, before they make a final decision they will visit your website.” – Mandr Group

Case in Point

Dr. Lee Anne Campbell, owner of Yelm Prairie Dental and Associates, understands the importance of a great website to showcase the impact of quality dentistry on a person’s smile. “I wanted my website to reflect the fact that we go the extra mile to help our patients,” Dr. Campbell shared. “Our website is an important part of our educational mission to show people what is possible with advanced dentistry.”

Years ago, Dr. Campbell hired a company to provide a turnkey approach to creating her website. The company handled everything including the content and selection of stock images. But, Dr. Campbell was never really satisfied with the cookie-cutter approach used by most medical/dental website companies. “It never seemed to reflect our values or goals,” said Dr. Campbell. About one year ago, she decided that she wanted to invest in a quality website that would mirror the quality of her practice.

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

Yelm Prairie Dental Team

Even though it took longer and more time, her custom designed website has met her expectations. She was involved in every step of the process from copywriting, content and even providing much of the photography. According to Dr. Campbell, “I did not want to use stock photos. Instead, I asked our patients if they would be interested in sharing their before and after pictures. The use of real people (rather than stock photos) added some challenges and time to our project but it was well worth it.” The website took over five months but Dr. Campbell said she is delighted with the outcome. “We want to give people back their smile. Our website demonstrates that we can do that.”

 

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design

The other large cost to her website was her goal to make it able to automatically resize and reconfigure its layout based on the device it is being viewed on. This is called Responsive Website Design (RWD). This technology ensures that your website will be appropriately viewed whether your customer is seeing your website on their desktop, tablet, or smartphone. If your current website is not responsive, you should consider the potential downside to this. Over the last year, the percentage of traffic to websites via mobile devices has increased by 78%. In 2016, nearly 48% of all website traffic is derived from mobile devices. If your website is not mobile friendly or compatible, you are potentially losing out on 1 out of every 2 customers.

Should You Update Your Website?

Your website is an extension of your staff and should be evaluated as often as you evaluate your team.   Furthermore, your website reflects you as a business owner. According to Stanford University, 75% of people judge the credibility of a company based on the design of its website. According to HubSpot’s Nicole Denton, here are ten reasons you should update your website.

  1. It doesn’t work well on mobile devices.
  2. Your search engine rankings are low.
  3. It uses Adobe Flash, a multimedia and software platform.
  4. Your visitor’s aren’t sticking around and/or converting (a “high bounce rate”). For example, how many users actually complete simple tasks on your website (like completing an order or asking for information). Research suggests that one out of three users fail to complete these simple tasks because of poor website design. Causes could be too many steps, too much reading, not well organized or not enough information. This is costing you potential sales.
  5. It looks outdated.
  6. It’s slow.
  7. You’ve outgrown it.
  8. You’ve changed your brand positioning or messaging.
  9. You can’t easily make content updates.
  10. You are embarrassed to give out your URL.

Learn How to Create a Great Website

Because your website is one of the most important investments you can make, the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring a workshop on how to create or improve your website. This workshop is geared toward business owners who are either getting started with their first website or have an existing website that they would like to improve. We will walk participants through the standard design process for a website and show them how to make design decisions themselves or find and work with a design professional to take their website to the next level of quality and customer satisfaction. Visit us on Facebook for more information about the date, time and location of the website workshop.

In the meantime, check out Dr. Campbell’s website at for an example of a great site.

New Executive Director to Reinvigorate the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce

This is a great article from the Nisqually Valley News about our new Executive Director, Victoria Wortberg. Thanks to the NVN for letting us post the article in full on our blog site. Happy reading.

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Creating Magic

Chamber of Commerce Hires New Executive Director; Victoria Wortberg Has Experience as Business Owner, Trainer, Coach and Teacher

 

Wortberg Biz Photo

Victoria Wortberg, Executive Director

By Jenna Loughlin, Nisqually Valley News
Businesses in the Yelm area have a new champion who has walked a mile in their shoes.
Victoria Wortberg began her role as executive director of the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Sept. 7. She comes to the position as a former owner of five business — ranging from a $150,000 company to a $25 million company — and the founder of the statewide Washington Center for Women in Business program, a subset of the Thurston Economic Development Council.
“From the time I was a little girl, I was an entrepreneur selling something. … I know what it is to start a business and grow it and what it takes to be successful in owning and operating your own business,” she said. “I also have a strong background in coaching businesses and in training businesses to be successful.”
Wortberg has master’s degrees in social psychology and public administration, is close to completing her Masters in Business Administration and stays current in her field by teaching at Saint Martin’s University’s business school in Lacey. She is the fourth generation small business owner on her father’s side, and during her two years of work at the WCWB, which she grew to national prominence, she testified in front of the United States Senate in 2014 on issues related to women entrepreneurs and what the government can do to better support them from startup to growth.
“I believe that America is great because of small business and small towns. They create community in a way that big cities and large corporations don’t do,” Wortberg said. “(Small businesses) are the engine that creates jobs in this country. … It is small business that actually drives the American economy. And when we lose our small businesses in this country, we lose everything that has made America great. We also lose that personalized touch. … Economically, our country won’t survive without our small businesses thriving.”
Through her work as a trainer and coach for the EDC’s South Thurston Economic Development Initiative as well as the 10 years she lived in Yelm and Rainier, Wortberg is already familiar with many of the area businesses. She also knows YACC Board President April Sage through WCWB.
Her goals as the chamber’s executive director are to help all local businesses thrive, to promote the area as a place to shop, to create a sense of pride around what Thurston County can offer and to work with the board and the community to create a strategic plan. In order to accomplish that, Wortberg brings with her connections to EDC as well as contacts with lenders and angel investors.
This is not her first time dealing with a chamber of commerce. Wortberg has sat on five chamber boards in five different cities in multiple states including Virginia, Florida and Missouri.“I believe the chamber of commerce can be a vital link in a community,” she said. She took the position in Yelm because she saw an opportunity to be of service and loves to work with communities “to create magic.” With one of her companies, which was a community development firm, her role was to travel the country helping communities revitalize.
“I loved that work and spent a lot of time in volunteering, in working with communities,” Wortberg said.The key to a successful executive director is to promote the area, be a “cheerleader for the community,” to understand the dreams and goals of business owners and to help them achieve their desired outcomes. “You have to respect where the business owner is and provide the services that they need and want, not what you think they should do,” Wortberg said. “Owning a business is like having a baby, going to college and getting married all at the same time. It becomes a relationship that is constantly demanding something new of you. And my job is not to tell them what to do, but to provide the resources that they need to figure out what they’re going to do with this incredibly demanding child that never shuts up and how to even survive the challenges of being a small business owner in an economy that is just starting to pick back up.”She credits working with and learning from EDC Executive Director Michael Cade to leave her ego at the door and to collaborate.
The connection people who live in the Yelm area have to their town is a strength Wortberg sees, as well as the diversity among the area’s businesses.“I think this whole community is very solid; it’s basically a very healthy community … and you’ve got a lot of successful businesses who have been here for a long time,” she said. “There’s something charming about coming to shop in a small town. You get personality and uniqueness.”
One of the challenges Wortberg plans on tackling is creating a shared, comprehensive vision for the business community. To do this, she wants to speak with every business owner and invites any of them to contact her or stop by the chamber office.“I want to hear from business owners what they’re facing … so that I can learn what are the challenges for their individual business, what are the challenges for the industry that they’re in and what are the challenges for the community in general,” Wortberg said.
To that end, she wants to have the chamber office staffed 40 hours per week, but is still deciding what hours would be the most friendly to small businesses and is looking for input. Anyone who wants to share their thoughts can contact Wortberg or chime in on the chamber’s Facebook page.
Other challenges she sees are businesses being able to access the capital they need and to make Yelm a place people come to shop. Though Wortberg does not have a particular plan as to how to achieve the latter, she knows communities across the country have already found solutions and will look at those examples.
When it comes to the issue of how city government handles its small businesses, this is a topic Wortberg has dealt with on every chamber board she has been on.“I’ve never been in a community where that wasn’t a topic of conversation,” she said. “It’s almost to be expected. In every community, there is a need for the business community and government to continually improve their relationship. It’s not unique to here. That being said, I think, from what I’ve heard, everybody wants the same thing, which is a thriving community, which is great. So now it’s a matter of figuring out how to get there. I see tremendous potential for small businesses and the city to have a fantastic relationship. I hope that the chamber will play a role in that by being supportive in that process.”
Members of the Yelm Business Association have reached out to Wortberg and she is looking forward to meeting with them. Her job is not to take sides, but rather to find out where the two organizations agree and work together in the same direction. “From what I understand, we have the same goal, which is finding ways to help start up businesses and existing businesses to grow or to accomplish their dreams,” she said. “In that sense, we are completely in sync.”
Wortberg is the second executive director the YACC has hired since long-time executive director Cecelia Jenkins retired from the position in December 2014. On Monday, May 18, Sage announced in a press release that Casey Cochrane, who preceded Wortberg, was no longer with the organization.
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Happily serving the Yelm Area,
The Chamber of Commerce Team