In keeping with its mission of serving the needs of business, the Southlake Chamber of Commerceconducted its first comprehensive business survey this summer. Open to all Southlake businesses, the online survey included 26 questions coveringseveral important business issues:
The survey results have been tabulated and released by the Southlake Chamber, providing an overall sense of the current economic environment in Southlake, along with issues facing Southlake businesses.
“This is the first time we have reached out to the entire business community to get feedback and we need to know how they’re faring in today’s economy,” states Dana Davis, president and CEO of the Southlake Chamber of Commerce. “The purpose of the survey was tohelp us get a sense of the big picture, both good and bad. Now, we can develop ways to better support them.”
In the past decade, Southlake’s business community has exploded with new commercial development along Southlake Boulevard, State Highway 114 and beyond. Today, the city has an estimated 1,600 businesses (including home-based) encompassing a broad range of industries. Of the 139 survey responses, the overwhelming majority (64.7%) are small businesses with less than 10 employees. The following industries are represented in the survey responses:
According to Davis, several positive responses in the survey revealed Southlake has not been as badly affected by the economy as other areas:
Overall business challenges revealed in the survey responses include road construction, high commercial lease rates, lack of affordable housing in Southlake, and workforce issues such as wages (46%) and competition from surrounding cities/businesses (28%). Community factors with significant responses as fair or poor were local taxes (48%) and zoning and permitting (42%).
Most of the survey questions allowed for comments and these can be viewed in the online summary at http://www.southlakechamber.com/files/Southlake_Business_Survey_Report.pdf.
“Nothing in the survey responses really surprised me and was consistent with what I had been hearing from people since joining the Chamber in July 2010,” Davis comments. “What is important to note is that we were able to glean positive findings from the report that we believed to be true, but now we have data to support it.”
Another section of the survey focused on employee training, with 41% indicating local opportunities (i.e. seminars, webinars) would be beneficial. Of those respondents, the areas in which training is most needed are marketing (29%), customer service (23%) and communication (22%).
As a result, the Chamber has announced a business seminar series in 2012 that will cover the identified topics. The first one is scheduled for January 2012 on social media.
Other initiatives are creating a marketing and communications plan to better promote the Chamber’s programs, and working with the City of Southlake to develop a business retention program.
Davis has made formal presentations to the organization’s board of directors and Southlake Business Council, along with sharing the results with the Southlake Economic Development Department and City Council.
“We appreciate the businesses that took the time to answer the survey questions and we’re looking at the results carefully to determine how we can help to sustain Southlake’s business community,” Davis says, adding the Chamber plans to conduct the survey every two years.
For additional information, go to www.southlakechamber.comor call 817-481-8200.