FOLEY – During the “Report Card” Luncheon held by the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Nov. 8., Vice President of Investor Relations and Business Growth & Retention Travis …
FOLEY – During the “Report Card” Luncheon held by the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Nov. 8., Vice President of Investor Relations and Business Growth & Retention Travis Valentine gave an update on his initiative: what had been done, improved, and what they were planning next.
“I’m going to talk about three things: industry clusters, training, and research that we’re going to do in the hospitality force,” said Valentine. His initiative requires a large team-effort between the Chamber, Small Business Development Center, Alabama Technology Network, Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, Alabama Industry Develop Training, SAWDC, and all other Chambers in Baldwin County.
Valentine and his team decided early on that one of the most efficient ways to accomplish their five-year goal was to begin by collecting data from local businesses to determine what sort of training and programs needed to be implemented. Through that data, industry clusters were created, with more on the way in the future. The original ten were Lodging, Banking/Insurance, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail, Professional Services, Development/Real Estate, Attractions, Maritime, and Restaurants.
“We invited four of the industry clusters to come together, sat them at their own table with a facilitator, and we put them through a SWAT analysis,” Valentine said. “We asked what’s going well and what’s not, and then created an action plan to make good things better and make bad things not so bad. That gave us extremely valuable information, and I know we’ll continue to do work sessions and bring in other platforms.”
The information gathered from these work sessions will determine what type of trainings the Chamber will offer, what types of program seminars will be available, and what partners the Chamber needs to connect with.
“One of the first things we did as far as training went was to develop a customer service training, called Gateway to Great Customer Service,” said Valentine. “We started off with a focus group and we invited several of our investors to have some of their supervisors and managers to come and experience the hour long class. We got some great feedback, and then sat down and redeveloped what we were doing.”
Currently the class is two-hours long, beginning with 30 minutes dedicated to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach tourism, teaching employees, especially those who have relocated to the area, all the activities and attractions found on the beach. The rest of the class consists of insight to employees on great customer service. The Chamber has starting doing onsite visits to give classes.
“We also want to do some research in the hospitality industry,” Valentine said. “A couple of things we did to start this research was to learn where we were currently, so we sent out a flash survey to businesses to gauge where they were with their employees mid-season, where they were lacking, and what was needed. What came back across the board was they all said they were going to need more employees in 2019.”
The Chamber recently sent out a comprehensive wage survey to local businesses in the hospitality industry to gauge fair wages for employees.
To learn more about the South Baldwin Chamber, the Gateway Initiative, or upcoming Gateway to Great Customer Service classes, check out their website at www.southbaldwinchamber.com.