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The fact that Sarnia-Lambton has a “last-minute” mindset is legendary. But at some point, the risk of disappointment is bound to collide with procrastination and that day is almost certainly here.

With spots rapidly disappearing from the Imperial Theatre ticket system (CLICK HERE to check for yourself), securing your tickets for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night is now an imperative.

“We’re so very excited to have done all the preparations ahead of next Friday’s event,” said Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s president and CEO. “What’s left is really up to those who we hope will be able to join us starting at 7 p.m.”

Thanks to the generous title sponsorship of Libro Credit Union, this 30th-anniversary presentation of the Outstanding Business Achievement Awards promises to be one of the very best yet.

“The OBAAs have always been our most significant expression of all that excellence in the 15 categories for which we’ll be presenting awards,” said de Silva. “Let’s get ready to enjoy one of the greatest events on the Chamber calendar!”


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Express Employment Professionals, a proud Chamber member, is hosting a leadership training event focused on Emotional Intelligence.

Organized by the franchise company’s Express Speakers Bureau, the Tuesday, November 12 event will run from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club.

Breakfast—which is included in the $35 plus HST fee—begins at 8 a.m., with the session starting at 8:30 a.m.

The speaker, Danielle Hoeltzel, is director of Organizational Development at Express Employment Professionals International Headquarters, where she is responsible for talent management initiatives such as employee and leadership development, engagement, retention and succession planning for more than 300 employees who work at corporate headquarters.

Emotional intelligence is said to be the ability to identify, evaluate, control, and express emotions, and having it is critical to your success. Organizers say that By attending this session, you’ll be able to build stronger relationships and connections not only with team members, but also with your customers, family, and anyone else you encounter in your daily life.

After this session, you will be able to:

• Recognize the impact emotional intelligence has in your workplace

• Discover the four domains of emotional intelligence

• Identify how negative emotions become a pitfall that limits team effectiveness

Limited seating is available. To register, click HERE. Organizers are requesting registration be completed by Thursday, November 7, 2019.

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Selfies are no longer the domain of duck-faced teenaged girls. (That’s not an insult. It’s a description. Google it.) They’re gaining in popularity among adults and businesses too. Selfies are a way of showing customers and potential customers a “behind the scenes” look at your business. They also are an effective way of telling your business story.

In addition to selfies, photo bombs can be lots of fun as they are extremely shareable content. Photobombs start off as portraits, similar to selfies, but the person in the foreground is upstaged by what’s going on behind him/her.

Here are five types of selfies/photo bombs you should take for your business and post to your social streams:

Your history

A selfie of the business owner in front of something historic about the business or the year it opened. Good ideas include standing in front of an old picture of the business from way back when, standing in front of a former owner’s portrait, or the first dollar made in the business. If you founded the business yourself, recreate a picture of you taken when you first opened and display them side by side.

What makes you unique (and the same)

This picture is all about showcasing your personality but remember it is for business as well. Try taking a shot in front of a favorite collection or hobby, a picture of you in your favorite spot in town, or you enjoying your favorite meal.

When you post it ask a question of your audience, so while it appears to be about you, you are opening it up to a greater connection with them. Have fun with it. For example, taking a picture of you in the morning with your coffee/favorite mug. The caption could read, “You should’ve seen me before I had my first cup. Anyone else unapproachable before their morning coffee?”

 You and your right hand

Not literally.

This selfie is a picture of you and the person (or people) who helps you beyond measure. It could be someone who works for you, or a vendor partner, your entire team, or your best customer. The point of this selfie is anything but self-serving. Show some appreciation on a grand level. Mention how thankful you are for that person in the post.

Answer the most common question asked of your business

This selfie is a unique way of answering the most commonly-asked question you hear in your business. For instance, if you are always asked your hours take a picture of yourself Vanna White style showcasing your open sign and listing your hours. Make it funny and you’re more apt to see shares.

Show the Busy-ness

This idea is more of a photo bomb than a selfie but sneak up on your employees hard at work, or sneak into a meeting and take a picture of yourself with them in the background.

The key to this shot is the caption you use when posting it. Something funny like, “This team is always hard at work, regardless of what I’m doing” makes people laugh. Let’s face it, people identify with jokes about hard-working employees and their bosses.

Selfies and photo bombs lend a humorous air to your social media shares. They delight your audience and show a fun side of your business.

All social media posts should either educate, entice, or entertain. With selfies you have the last one covered brilliantly.

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Time is running out to secure some of the “best seats in the house” for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce 2019 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, which takes place on Friday, October 18, 2019, at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

Tickets are available ONLINE by CLICKING HERE.

“We are expecting a very strong turnaround at this, our 30th-anniversary OBAA,” said Shirley de Silva, the Chamber’s president and CEO.

“Now’s the time to make sure you get your ‘best available’ seat!”


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Those of you who’ve seen The 10 Commandments, starring Charlton Heston, may recall the account of the plagues that came upon Egypt, most notably the plague of frogs.

Like those near-apocryphal events, we can sometimes feel overrun by all the things we need to get done. There was no escaping frogs. They were everywhere. Frogs were in their houses, bedrooms, beds, ovens, even in their jars of flour.

Sometimes it can feel that same way when our to-do list grows exponentially, as we go from one meeting to another, taking on more action items to complete. Everywhere we turn there is something that needs to be done. No matter where we are, whether at home, in bed trying to sleep, making dinner, or with our friends, we think about all the tasks that need our attention.

When Pharaoh had seen enough frogs he summoned Moses to finally put an end to the problem. When Moses asked Pharaoh when he wanted Moses to take action, Pharaoh replied, “Do it tomorrow.” With millions of frogs in the land of Egypt and the opportunity to rid the land of the problem, Pharaoh did what so many of us do when overwhelmed by a growing list of demands: he delegated it to tomorrow. Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, in one act, became Pharaoh, the King of Procrastination.

Overcoming procrastination is never easy but there are some steps that can be taken to help move toward a more aggressive approach to completing tasks, satisfying commitments, and fulfilling responsibilities.

Summarize the Problem (Tasks)

Creating a to-do list is one of the most important components of completing and fulfilling one’s obligations. Too often people attempt to keep a running list of all their tasks, promises, and commitments in their heads only to forget what was promised to whom and by when.

Don’t forget, there’s an app for that. Task management software and apps by the dozen are available to assist in one’s effort to compile and track all your to-dos. Ta-da List, Evernote, and Remember the Milk, are just a few of the more popular apps that can be downloaded. If writing out a list of tasks is simpler, then grab a piece of paper and do so. Use a journal to track your daily list, a wire-bound notebook or a Franklin Planner, but whatever you do, write it or log it somewhere.

Prioritize the List

Since thoughts of what to do come at us randomly, it’s good to list the items as they come. Take the time to list all that you need to do and then assign a priority rating to each item. Develop a priority rating schedule that works best for you but you may want to consider 3 priority categories to choose from such as:

  • tasks that must be done promptly or immediately,
  • tasks that should be done soon, and
  • tasks that can be delayed without any problem.

Capitalize on the Opportunity to Do It Now

Once your list is summarized and prioritized it’s time to capitalize on the opportunity to do it now. Get to work on completing the items on your list, check them off as you go and move unfinished tasks to the next day. Keeping a prioritized list will minimize your thoughts to procrastinate and help you get more things done, allowing you to sleep better at night.

Remember, when there are frogs in your flour, act now!

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There’s a principle in business and in life known as “the law of reciprocity” and Chamber members can take full advantage of this when they deal with their fellow members or others in the business community.

Basically, it can be summarized as follows:  “If you do something nice for me I’ll do something nice for you. I feel obligated to reciprocate.”

For example, if two people go out to lunch and one of them picks up the bill, the other one almost always offers to pay for it next time.

Here’s what former Chamber executive (and now expert advisor) Frank Kenny has to say about how this “law” can effectively work in a networking situation.

The lesson, of course, for veteran networkers or those who are just beginning to build a cadre of professionals who you can trust—and who will trust you—is to first think of what you can do for others.

And good luck!

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With the recent “first day” opening of the Holiday Inn Express property, located on Venitian Boulevard in Point Edward, operator Vranco Hospitality Corp.—which also operates the adjacent Hampton Inn and Best Western Guildwood Inn—is adding to a network of more than 5,700 hotels worldwide.

The new property has been in ‘full speed ahead” development since last September’s final approval of the development by the Village of Point Edward Council.

“We are thrilled to open the new Holiday Inn Express,” said Darko Vranich, president and CEO of Vranco Group. “We’ve operated hotels in Sarnia and Point Edward for a number of years and are proud to add t his new hotel to this great community.”

The property includes a 24-hour access fitness facility, heated swimming pool, and meeting facilities.

Pictured on the “first-day opening” are, from left, hotel staff members Louis Jaketic, Brittany Wheeler, Karen Meloche, Karen McQuade, Monica Gonsalves, and Tim Akin-Adaramola.

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The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, a county-wide organization that includes representation through the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is launching a series of community consultation sessions continuing through early January 2020.

The sessions are designed to give residents of the Sarnia-Lambton area “to participate in the development of their community,” said SLEP CEO Stephen Thompson, who is pictured with Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber.

With the intention of increasing economic activity in the region, the consultation sessions will offer residents to have a voice when it comes to the future of their community.

The consultations will supplement ongoing visits to businesses throughout the Sarnia-Lambton area and provide more information to promote economic opportunities across Lambton County.

The facilitated sessions all begin at 7 p.m.

Sessions will take place in:

—Lambton Shores at Huron Shores United Church, Grand Bend (Thursday, Sept. 26);
—Point Edward at Optimist Hall (Wednesday, Oct. 16);
—Sarnia at Sarnia Arena Kiwanis Room (Wednesday, Oct. 23);
—St. Clair Township at Sombra Community Hall (Wednesday, Oct. 30);
—Plympton-Wyoming at Plympton-Wyoming Municipal Chambers (Tuesday, Nov. 5);
—Oil Springs at Oil Springs Youth Centre (Thursday, Nov. 7);
—Petrolia and Enniskillen at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia (Tuesday, Nov. 19);
—Dawn-Euphemia (location TBD) (Wednesday, Dec. 4);
—Warwick at Watford Arena (Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020).


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One of the most obvious ways to boost revenue in your business is to make more sales. Here are 10 ways you can start doing that today:

1. Do You Have A Sales Strategy?

Most businesses think they have a strategy, but they don’t.

Now is a good time to develop one.  You need to consider who your ideal customer is and what are the products and services that provide the best return for you.

The sales strategy should be a brief one-page roadmap that encapsulates:

  • what you want to sell
  • who you are going to sell to
  • where you are going to sell
  • how you are going to sell
  • when you are going to sell

Keep it simple and keep referring back to it.

2. Are You Missing Opportunities?

You could best sum this approach up as “preach to the converted.” Your current customers are likely an excellent source for new business.  You may have a product or service that they may not know about that might suit their business.  Essentially, the first port of call should be the clients that have already bought from your business.

3. Back to Basics

Chambers mentor businesses that have sales issues all of the time.  Oftentimes the problem is businesses have veered from their target market and fail to realize it.

Take an honest look at what your market is and where you are at the moment.  If sales are not at a level that you would like you might need to ask yourself some tough questions such as “Have I focused too much on one sector of my business?’” or “Have I deviated from my sales strategy and forgotten about my target market?”.

The second question is quite a common question.  In struggling economies, many businesses survive by “throwing everything at it.”

Regardless of the current economic climate, it may be time to assess the business and get back to selling the right products to the right customers.

4. Customer is King

Simon & Garfunkel knew this 45 years ago when they sang “Keep the Customer Satisfied.”  In an age when almost anything can be bought or sold online at any time of the day or night by anyone, the need for excellent customer service has never been greater.

Some businesses have built their reputations on looking after generations of families.  Your business can do that too by ensuring that staff are properly trained and that customers get consistently excellent service every time that they deal with your business.

5. The Price is Right

Have you considered how your product or service is priced?  What research have you carried out to make sure that it is competitively priced and that overheads and margin are factored in?  It is very easy to sell too cheaply just as it is very easy to end up broke.

6. Be Ruthless

What you are not selling is as important as what you are selling.  Take a look at the products or services that are simply glued to the shelves and get rid of them.

Don’t be reluctant to retire certain products or services.  One of the secrets to success is being able to detach yourself from the emotion of a business decision.  If something is not selling don’t stock it and don’t waste money marketing it.

7. Open Your Eyes

Right now may be a good time to take a look at what your competitors are doing. And how about looking at similar businesses in different geographical areas to see how they are trading and to see if lessons can be learned.

Tip: Use events such as Chamber networking events to meet new people and to gain market intelligence.

8. Raise Awareness

You know all about your business, as does your family, but never presume that your target audience does.  Think about how you how can market your business.  Go back to your sales strategy in point 1 and identify your ideal customers and then target them where they are.

9. Look the Part

When was the last time you looked at your branding?  Branding isn’t just a logo or a website. It is everything from an auto signature on an email to letterhead to company vehicles.  There are more options available now to help you to get your branding right.  There are countless examples of how you can carry out a brand audit online.  

10. Stay in Shape

Look at your training needs and areas for professional improvement.

There’s a good chance the Chamber of Commerce can help you with training through networking and other learning-based events.  They are also a great resource on what your community offers.

Every company needs sales to be successful. In order to do so, sales and marketing strategies should be reviewed periodically to ensure they are the most effective for your business. Adjusting your tack every so often is the best way to stay on course.

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At the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, we’re always looking for ways to help our members become better at what they do.

Starting this week, we’re presenting a periodic “Moment for Business” video feature that we hope you’ll find both interesting and instructive.

Our first video is entitled (appropriately enough) Are you a leader that leads?

We hope you enjoy.



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