Erie Chamber Blog
Monday October 1, 2018 

Thank You For Your Support

'Our local chambers play a critical role in supporting the needs of our vibrant business community and are essential to the commonwealth's continued economic growth and advancement.'

Read the proclamation signed by Governor Wolf.

 

Tuesday October 2, 2018 

 

 

ERCGP Members Highlighted in WICU/WSEE in September

In partnership with Lilly Broadcasting, the Erie Regional Chamber sponsors Giving You the Business segments which air weekly on WSEE35 and WICU12 during the 5:30PM. Monday broadcast and Tuesday mornings in the 6-7AM. hour.
Each segment takes viewers behind the scenes of a local business they may not have a chance to see.

Recently highlighted members:

Giving You the Business segments highlight members of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, and is a free membership benefit! Contact our office if you would like viewers to see behind the scenes at your business! Email marketing director Nadeen Schmitz, or phone 814-454-7191 x139 to schedule your segment.

Wednesday October 3, 2018 

Every business goes through similar stages, no matter which industry it operates in. Knowing what stage your company is in can help guide you in focusing your efforts on the right activities for your current situation. Here's an overview of the primary stages of any business.

Stage 1: Development

This stage actually takes place before your business even becomes a business. In this phase, you'll be developing your products or services, finding suppliers and other service providers, and establishing the goals for your company. Take the time to do ample research on the market you intend to enter so that you can set yourself up for success right from the start.

Stage 2: Startup

Once you have completed the planning process, it's time to launch your business. This is the riskiest phase for any company in any industry. You'll need to keep close watch on all company activities to ensure that your team is working on the most critical tasks in this delicate stage. It is also important to be flexible during this period as you gain feedback from your earliest customers. Don't be afraid to tweak your offerings to better meet the needs of your customers.

Stage 3: Establishment

By this point, your business should have a solid customer base and continue to bring in new customers. Your products and services should have reached their peak at this time as well. Your company's cash flow should cover your ongoing expenses, and you should be able to see a bit of extra money to cover the expenses related to future growth.

Stage 4: Expansion

Now is the time to start really pushing to grow your business. Draw on your existing customer base for referrals to keep growing your company. This phase is also the ideal time to think about adding new products or services to your arsenal. Use customer feedback to guide you in the best areas for your company to grow. Don't forget about the importance of delegating once you reach this phase. Your team can likely handle many of the daily tasks you complete yourself, freeing you up to focus more on growing your enterprise.

Stage 5: Maturity

In the maturity stage, you are running a successful business with stable income and high-quality products or services. Your customers are happy with your offerings, and your team is more than capable of handling their work load. At this point, you can keep doing what you are doing, sitting back to watch the profits roll in. You also have the option of selling your company. With this route, you can obtain a large windfall of cash and relieve yourself of the ongoing duties of running your business so that you can shift your focus to your next endeavor.

Although every business is unique, the stages that it will go through are common across all industries. It is important to know where your company falls in this hierarchy so that you know which tasks are most deserving of your time. The better prepared you are for each stage, the easier it will be to progress to the next level.

Friday October 5, 2018 

Ready for your close-ups?

No one knows your business like you do. While it may take some getting used to, you are your own best advocate and should be featured in your own business videos. People like to know who they are dealing with. The message you deliver is crucial to landing new clients and maintaining existing relationships.

Identifying the purpose of the video will help you create a solid format. is the purpose to gain new clients, to inform them of changes in the company or products, or to create videos teaching clients how to use your products or services?

Most entrepreneurs and many small business owners have created companies from scratch. Your excitement shines through in a video explaining who you are, why you created the company, and how you got started. People enjoy hearing success stories and are more likely to be inspired to try your services or products when they learn more about the person behind the company.

Tips for Creating a Good Video

It's a good idea to practice talking and being in front of the camera prior to creating your first video. Set up a smartphone or other recording device and practice until you are comfortable with the delivery and your appearance. Placement of the recording device will make a difference in how you look, as does your hair, makeup if applicable, and clothes. Do you have a nervous habit that needs to be overcome before producing the final version? You will overcome obstacles through practice.

Write out a basic script of what you want to say. Practice, revise, and try to memorize the script so that a few note cards will be all that is necessary to jog your memory during the actual video. Speak slowly and practice modulating your voice for the best impact. Allow a smile and expression to come through.

Choose clothes that are professional, comfortable, and that blend well with the background. You want viewers to listen to the message you want to convey rather than focusing on what you are wearing. Your delivery will appear natural once you are comfortable.

Make sure you and your surroundings are reflecting the best face of your business. Keep flat surfaces tidy and polished. A business video is a great asset to any type of business. Flower shops, hotels, restaurants, web developers, CPA's. and software creators are just a handful of the industries that can create a business video starring the owner.

Once you are satisfied with the video it can be embedded on your website, and/or uploaded to your own YouTube channel. This is a prime advertising medium that can also be used to improve your website performance.

The Erie Regional Chamber can help you find people to help with recording or uploading your next video. We provide services to members throughout the area to help improve local businesses and our community.

Tuesday October 9, 2018 

Registration now open!

Join us on October 18th for our next evening networking event hosted by Scott Enterprises at their newest venue, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, a $1.5 million dollar investment which renovated an existing structure on upper Peach Street. The new hotel, with updated amenities, reimagined hotel room layouts, improved lobby area and more will better accommodate families visiting nearby Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park as well as the new sports park.

  • Tour the newly renovated hotel, scavenger hunt style!
  • Food and beverages will be catered by Ambassador Catering and Chef Ray Caprari
  • Bring your business cards for maximum networking

Register Here

Thursday October 11, 2018 

Deciding between hiring in-house talent or outsourcing the job can be a tough call to make, and both options have their benefits and drawbacks. Here are some things to consider when choosing between the two recruitment options.

Why Independent Contractors Make Sense

It's easy to understand the draw that outsourcing certain tasks has for business owners.

First of all, while you should work closely with an independent contractor, there are no employee-related expenses; no training costs, health care, vacation time, or sick leave.

Additionally, in many cases, you will be working with and benefiting from the experience and insight of a team of specialists, rather than a single worker.

Outsourcing may also spare you business expenses. For example, perhaps you are interested in making some promotional and informational videos for your website. You could invest in expensive equipment, along with hiring someone with the proper know-how, or you could outsource the job to a video production company that already has the knowledge, experience, and the equipment.

Finally, outsourcing certain tasks can free you and your workers up to focus on the core areas of your business without pouring time and effort into peripheral tasks.

Making the Call

While outsourcing can be a good thing, it also has its drawbacks. Your project may not receive the focus it deserves, you lose a little bit of control over the timeframe, and you have less control over the quality of the finished product. Before deciding whether to outsource a task or operation, consider these questions.

Is it a Business-Critical Function?

Generally, anything that relates directly to the operation of your business should be handled in-house. For example, for some businesses, their social media marketing strategy is an essential part of their competitive advantage. In this case, a social media manager should likely be an in-house hire who shares your goals and vision for marketing campaigns.

However, duties like payroll, bookkeeping, and administrative tasks, though they don't relate directly to the vision of your business, tend to take a significant toll on overall productivity. Outsourcing these tasks, rather than hiring in-house, makes sense for most businesses.

What Is Your Budget?

There may be a significant cost difference between a trained employee and an independent contractor. Oftentimes, if you're shooting a single promotional video or you want to create an app, outsourcing the job may make the most sense because it will spare your business the expense of investing in expensive equipment and providing highly specialized training. On the other hand, independent contractors may charge a relatively high daily rate, making outsourcing less than ideal for long-term projects.

What Is Your Time Frame?

If you have a skills gap that needs to be filled quickly, then outsourcing makes sense. Rather than taking the time to go through the hiring and training process, you can hire an experienced professional who can hit the ground running.

In the end, whether or not you choose to outsource hinges on your timeframe for project completion, budgetary considerations, and how it will impact the efficiency and goals of your business. Using these as guidelines will help you choose the recruitment option that is right for your business.

Wednesday October 10, 2018 

Hosted by the Erie County Bar Association

Thanks to all who attended this months morning networking event at the Erie County Bar Association in the recently renovated education center on their property on West 6th Street.

A little about our host

The Erie County Bar Association (ECBA) was founded in 1875 and is a not-for-profit professional association with member attorneys and judges in Northwestern Pennsylvania. They provide continuing legal education for their members and offer many services to assist the public including the Lawyer Referral and Information Services, E-Law, an online resource to help you understand the basics of many different areas of the law, as well as a Speaker’s Bureau.  

Here's what we learned this month

  • The Quinn Law Firm, celebrating their 100th year anniversary this year, is a full-service law firm, including succession planning. On the defense side, they are able to assist companies who may have issues with their employees. The firm has 20 attorneys and 40+ support staff.
  • Breakiron Jewelers is a 2nd generation retail jewelry store now in their 55th year serving the Erie area. They offer a lot of bling, do custom work, and have a jeweler on-site at all times.
  • The Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers for over 100 years. They are a non-profit membership organization offering resources and programming for both business and consumers including a speakers bureau.

Join us on November 13th at the Renaissance Center in downtown Erie for our next Connect 4 Coffee event where our host will be Radius CoWork.

View Photos

Friday October 12, 2018 

What Scott Crabtree Can Teach You About Brain Science

The average American spends over 90,000 hours at work , or more than 10 years over the course of their lifetime, which can be seen as either a blessing or a jail sentence, depending on your perspective.

Whether you love your job or dread it could be a matter of science - neuroscience that is.

Can You 'Choose Happiness'? Scott Crabtree Thinks So

Scott Crabtree has dedicated his entire 25-year career helping employees from small start-ups, mid-size companies, and even big multi-national organizations like Microsoft, Nike, and Boeing achieve happiness at work through science-based techniques.

It should come as no surprise that the founder and Chief Happiness Officer (or CHO for short) of a company called "Happy Brain Science" believes there's a solid connection between neuroscience and job satisfaction. Crabtree holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science from Vassar College, and he balances his time between public speaking engagements, data analysis, and corporate training.

According to Crabtree, happiness is by and large a choice - one that begins with gratitude. He points out that science shows that the common belief that hard work leads to happiness is flawed - in fact, the key to success is to be happy with your current status, since happiness frees up critical space in the brain that's needed to achieve results.

Increasing Productivity Through Brain Science

Crabtree asserts that happier people are more productive, healthier, and even live longer - claims that have been confirmed by numerous scientific studies, including one from the University of Warwick that concluded happy worker were 12 percent more productive than their counterparts.

In addition to having a sunny disposition, Crabtree believes that happy workers are more creative, sociable, and intuitive - qualities that can be of real value in the average workplace. He claims that a key part of achieving happiness is to focus less on people and things that we don't enjoy, and spend time focusing on the positive.

He also emphasizes that happiness comes from being social, that "we need each other to be happy" - and we do that by "spreading happiness at work".

Monday October 15, 2018 

They say hindsight is 20-20. If you only would have known. As a business owner, you may already have a few things you wish you knew. Would you have hired that one person? Perhaps you would have started your company sooner. While it is important to look back, reflect and learn from these decisions, it is also important to realize that, when you are at the end of your business ownership, your wishes may be much different.

What Do Owners Reflect On?

There are many things business owners wish they would have done differently. Here are some common themes that seem to come to light.

Getting Help Sooner

Many business owners start out with a desire to build a company from the ground up on their own. It may be admirable, but it may not be exactly what helped your business to thrive. Instead, many business owners realize that if they could do it again that they would have hired on more help sooner. Some would have turned to a mentor sooner. They would have networked with other business owners more readily to pull them into their company.

They Would Have Done More Locally

It goes without saying that every business relies on its community to grow and thrive. Even online companies still need to hire from a local talent pool and build their business with the support of local suppliers. But, not all companies give back. Giving back to the community does not have to be a challenge – doing simple things on a routine basis can help to make a big difference in the community. You don't want to be on your deathbed and wishing you would have done more.

Getting Rid of the Problems

It's quite common for businesses, especially those starting out and looking for solid footing, to actually make the move to get rid of employees that do not fit the mold. However, we know today from our workplace culture that it's important to create a sense of culture, respect, and dependability. Some business wonders wish they would have taken a problem employee into the office and let them go long before they did damage.

The Risk Question

Many business owners wonder about risk. For some, taking on too much risk is just too much of a worry. For others, it is all about not taking enough. When you are there, at the end of your life, you'll want to have taken that risk and experienced perhaps not only the thrill of the ride but also the struggles.

As you work to build your business, reach out. Embrace the community. Support each other. Provide mentorship opportunities. By taking these steps, you can solidify your business model now and learn from the mistakes and wishes of those business owners that came before you. It may be exactly what you need to push your business forward that extra level.

Wednesday October 17, 2018 

A Night of Honors

Our Celebration of Excellence is just a month away. Join us as we honor three amazing women who have been chosen as participants in the Athena PowerLink program. The Louis J. Tullio Community Service Award will be presented to our friends at The Erie Community Foundation, recognizing their commitment to the betterment of the Erie region.

The Erie Regional Chamber's President/CEO James Grunke will be our Keynote Speaker at the event. Come hear James' take on what he's observed his short time in Erie, and get a glimpse of his vision for the ERCGP and the Erie region! 

There will be plenty of networking opportunities as well with your fellow ERCGP members. 

It's going to be a GREAT night! For complete details visit eriepa.com.

 

Tuesday October 16, 2018 

by Pamela Marlowe, Public Relations Director, Better Business Bureau Western PA

 

Has your company been targeted by a con artist?

Scams can impact every business, regardless of location, size or industry. A recent survey of businesses nationwide, initiated by the Better Business Bureau and includes responses from company representatives in Western Pennsylvania, discovered scam activity directed at small businesses is on the rise. In fact, total losses to businesses are estimated to be over $7 billion, not including tangible costs such as time, impact on reputation and loss of consumer trust (CBBB Study, 2018). 

The results of the nationwide survey and its subsequent report are designed to help small businesses spot and avoid scams while empowering employees to speak up and report fraud.

Key findings from the scam survey include:

  • Nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed said their business was targeted by a scammer in the past three years.
  • Scams targeting businesses can result in a higher monetary loss than those targeting individuals.
  • The top five riskiest scams for businesses include: 1) bank/credit card company imposters; 2) directory listing and advertising services; 3) fake invoices/supplier bills; 4) fake checks; 5) tech support scams. 

Locally, the business scam most commonly reported to BBB Scam Tracker in the Erie marketplace is variations of the Tech Support Scam. 

Scammers do not always succeed in claiming a victim. Fighting back and passing on the message to help others is an important step in advancing marketplace trust. 

What can businesses do to protect their employees and company from potential scams?

Train and inform employees. Explain common scams and prevention tips. Encourage employees to talk to coworkers if they spot a scam or questionable practice. 

Verify invoices and payments.  Make sure procedures are clear for approving invoices or expenditures. Limit the number of people who are authorized to place orders and pay invoices. 

Be tech-savvy. Imposters’ often fake caller ID to gain your trust and it’s relatively easy to create legitimate-looking email addresses and websites. Don’t open attachments or download files from unexpected emails. 

Know who you’re dealing with. Before doing business with a new company, search the company’s name online with the term “scam” or “complaint.” Check BBB.org to see if there is a Business Profile on the company. 

In order to thrive and prosper, businesses must be able to operate in a fair and transparent marketplace. Scammers undermine trust, distort the playing field, and take money from legitimate transactions that benefit businesses, thus impeding economic growth. Spreading the word about the risks, the tactics of scammers and the most common types of scams can help us create a safer and more trusted marketplace for all. 

Where can businesses report potential fraud and scams? 

If you spot a scam, report it to FTC.gov/Complaint and to the Better Business Bureau at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help stop a scam.

Monday October 22, 2018 

They say that you only get one chance to make a first impression, and nowhere is that more important than in the retail industry. You'll need to draw customers into your store from the moment they step foot inside, and this requires care and attention to detail when planning the entrance to your shop. Here's what you'll need to consider.

Cleanliness

Of course, you want to keep your entire store clean, but you should pay particular attention to the entrance. If prospective customers see dust and dirt when they first walk into your store, they'll likely turn around and walk back out again. From their perspective, how can they expect you to offer quality wares when you can't even care for your store? Dust the shelves and sweep or vacuum the floors daily, and clean any permanent fixtures, like lighting and ongoing displays, at least weekly. Depending on your location and the local weather conditions, you may need to clean more often.

Window Displays

Your store's front windows are your most powerful tools for drawing in prospective customers. Aim to display your best offerings right at the front so that customers will want to come in to see more. When placing those products inside your store, though, you'll want to place them near the back so that customers have to walk by all your other wares to find what they are looking for. This encourages impulse purchases, making it more likely that customers will buy more than just the single item they originally sought.

Product Placement

You'll need to carefully consider the placement of the rest of your products as well. The front of your store should show off some of your most desirable items, but you don't want the best things to be up front. Aim for a mix of popular items and those that don't sell as frequently. By dispersing your best products throughout the store, you can guide customers through the aisles so that they'll see as much as possible.

Be Prepared to Make Changes

Over time, you'll likely discover that some products do better in particular areas of your store. Try to identify any patterns that emerge so that you can make adjustments to your displays as needed. Take note of customer feedback in this area as well. After all, it is your customers who matter most when it comes to making decisions about purchasing your products. Listen to what they are telling you.

Of course, none of this matters if you don't offer the products your customers are looking to buy, so take care in choosing the products you offer. Look to strike a balance between quality and affordability. If you notice that the quality of the products from a particular supplier seems to be diminishing over time, it may be time to find a new supplier. Design your store to draw in customers in the first place, and keep up the quality of your products to keep those customers coming back again and again.

Wednesday October 17, 2018 

October 24th & 25th

Red Letter Hospitality is looking to expand their team.  For those of you who are not familiar with the name, Red Letter Hospitality manages The Skunk and Goat Tavern, Molly Brannigan’s and The Cork 1794.  

It is time to start hiring for their new location, The Cork 1794, and they are looking for fantastic people to join their team!  Red Letter Hospitality is hosting a two day career fair on October 24th and October 25th to interview candidates for both Front of the House and Back Of the House positions. i.e (management positions, hosts/hostesses, bartenders, servers, expos, line cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers). Searching for part-time, full-time, week days and weekends.

From Management:  “Each candidate will be interviewed with the potential of being placed at any given location. Having this said, we are a restaurant family and all three of our locations are held to the same expectations and quality.  Throughout this career fair you will have the opportunity to meet the owners as well as management across all three restaurants.”

We will have an application available to fill out prior to the fair, which is highly recommended. However, we will also have copies available to fill out on site.

Application form: https://goo.gl/forms/7f9k6EftI25o00pu2 

Please email Tammy O'Neil to schedule your interview time throughout the course of the two days. Please attach your resume.

In the Email Subject please include: Name-Position

Tammy.oneil@cork1794.com

Time/Date: Wednesday October 24th and Thursday October 25th 10am-6pm

Location: 900 West Erie Plaza Drive Erie PA 16505

Please share this information with someone who might be a good fit!

Monday October 22, 2018 

Our Host, Barber National Institute

Get in the holiday spirit and join us for our November evening networking event hosted by the Barber National Institute.                                                

  • Delicious cuisine from Calamari's
  • Local craft beer and wine will be served
  • Visit the Barber Gift Shop for gift bags, cards, unique gift items, and other creations handmade by the adults at the Barber Institute
  • Enjoy a display of paintings created by the Fine Arts Program
  • Bring your business cards for networking and a chance to win a prize package that includes 2 tickets for the spectacular Barber Christmas Ball!

Register Here

Wednesday October 24, 2018 

Scott Enterprises host October Business After Hours at their newest venue

Our October evening networking event was held at the newly renovated and soon to be open for guests Country Inn & Suites, Scott Enterprises newest venue that transformed the former Econo Lodge on upper Peach Street. 

The investment by Scott Enterprises for the facility is $1.5 million dollars. The new hotel, with updated amenities, reimagined hotel room layouts, improved lobby area and more will better accommodate families visiting nearby Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park and the new sports park.

Congratulations, the place looks great! And thank you for your hospitality! 

Check out the event album HERE and be sure to scroll through to see the before photos!

Thursday October 25, 2018 

Radius CoWork to host next Erie Regional Chamber morning networking event

Located in the Renaissance Building on 10th and State, Radius CoWork will host Connect 4 Coffee on November 13th.

Connect 4 Coffee takes place from 7:30 to 9:00AM. Members who have difficulty attending our Business After Hours evening events are encouraged to give this format a try! 

Attendees prepare a 2-minute talk about their business or programs, bring business cards, marketing material, and expect quality networking in a business-conducive environment. Time is always allowed for short Q&A among guests, and of course, coffee and networking. 

Space is limited and pre-registration is required for this ERCGP  member only event.

Register Here

Friday October 26, 2018 

Ribbon Cutting Held to Celebrate

Guitar Center is the world's largest musical instrument retailer and now has a location in the Erie area. With more than 280 stores across the U.S. and one of the top direct sales websites in the industry, Guitar Center has helped people make music for more than 50 years. 

The new location marks the seventh of seven store grand openings in 2018. The 9,500 square foot facility at the Millcreek Mall offers an expansive set of services and gear to serve the music needs of the Erie community.

The new Erie store features modern showrooms equipped with the latest products for musicians — from guitars, amplifiers, percussion instruments and keyboards to live sound, DJ, lighting and recording equipment. Musician services include Guitar Center Lessons, an in-house, state-of-the-art music academy for players of all ages and skill levels, GC Repairs, an on-site maintenance and repairs service, GC Rentals, providing easy rentals of instruments and other gear, and Guitar Center Workshops, offering free introductory classes and instruction on guitar, ukulele, and recording.

Welcome to the area! We wish you years of success!

Event Pics

Friday October 26, 2018 

Join Us

The annual meeting of the membership of the Erie Regional Chamber is scheduled for Thursday, November 15th, at the Bayfront Convention Center. 

The business meeting will be called to order at 4:30 p.m. by Chairman of the Board Tom Tupitza. Election of 2019 officers and board members are on the agenda as well as reports from the ERCGP team on 2018 activities.

All members are welcome. Registration is required. Contact Event Coordinator Colleen Gross at cgross@eriepa.com

After adjournment, our Celebration of Excellence event will kick off. For details, visit eriepa.com.

Monday October 29, 2018 

Why did you open the doors to your business? Today's business owners often say it's because they want to make a difference, fill a need, solve a problem, or support their community. There's little doubt that business ownership isn't just about making money; it's about making a difference. What role will your business play in supporting, molding, and developing our community? That's left up to your goals.

Our Members Make a Difference Daily

Our members make a difference in many ways. There are countless ways and opportunities to support our community, give back, or open doors for those living here. We've seen members take on incredible challenges or offer simply support.

Creating Important Jobs

Your business is already doing so. For example, you're creating jobs for the community, which ensures that people can find a way to support their families and to work towards reaching their financial goals. Sometimes, the jobs our members offer can provide new opportunities not otherwise present in the community.

Empowering Employees

Our members also empower their employees. Imagine the opportunities to learn, grow, and expand. Some help to support the educational goals of their employees by supporting flexible scheduling, tuition reimbursement, or continuing education access. This can change the future path of an individual, allowing that individual to achieve his or her goals. Many times, they come back to the community to use those new skills to better it as well. It's comprehensively worth the investment from all sides.

Contributing to the Positive Culture of the Community

Our members also contribute to the positive culture of the community in many ways. As an independent local association, we help facilitate opportunities to do this by communicating needs. However, many of our members find ways to contribute on their own. They may help to support a sports team by contributing financially or purchasing uniforms. They may help to sponsor an event taking place to raise money for a charity. Though some do so through well-recognized events, festivals, and programs, others do so behind the scenes. They contribute because they believe in supporting the efforts of the organization, residents, employees, or just the community as a whole.

Are You Building a Legacy?

Some entrepreneurs build their businesses themselves as their legacy. They work hard to grow and scale. Others view their greatest impact as what they leave behind within the community. It is the steps they take to make the community better than they found it. Do you hope to leave an imprint? Do you plan to achieve incredible goals?

Many of our members look to find the good and praise it. They volunteer, give away their time, providing discounts on products or services, or simply give their knowledge. They work to support charities, children's activities, and seniors. They listen, learn, and act to help others in our community to achieve their goals or meet their needs.

As the Chamber of Commerce, we're proud of the business's efforts to take these steps. We encourage every member to take another look inside to find out they can build a legacy.

Who are our members? Check out our directory HERE.

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