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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If you or your business has been nominated for one of the 15 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, there’s only one thing to say: CONGRATULATIONS.

As anyone who’s lived with the complexities of email can attest (even 50 years after we figured out how to land humans on the moon), things don’t always go according to plan.

And some nominees—we’ve been told—either didn’t receive their notifications or thought they had run out of time.

We DO need to hear from you, especially since we’re getting ready for the teams of hard-working, volunteer judges are anxious to pore through the submissions.

If you’ve been nominated but not sure what comes next PLEASE CALL US at 519-336-2400 or send an email by clicking HERE.

And good luck to you on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre. If you haven’t purchased your tickets, click HERE before the best spots are gone.

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It will be a great opportunity to celebrate the advent of fall—a few days early—when the Town of Petrolia hosts the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Business After 5.

The big day is Wednesday, September 18 and the place to be is Victoria Hall.

The Town of Petrolia, always a great host for these events, is rolling out the welcome carpet for this great networking event, so be sure to put it on your calendar—from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

We’ll see you there!

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She’s a Dragon; an engineer; a Venture Capitalist, and serial entrepreneur.

Michele Romanow started five companies before she was 33, is lauded as one of North America’s boldest and most successful entrepreneurs, and she’s coming to Sarnia on October 10 to deliver a keynote for Sarnia-Lambton Business Week.

Romanow’s list of accomplishments, accolades and collaborators is long and impressive. She’s the ONLY Canadian listed on Forbes’ “Millennials on a Mission,” has collaborated with Sir Richard Branson, and was named Angel Investor of the Year by the Canadian Innovation Awards.

She founded Buytopia.ca and SnapSaves, which was acquired by Groupon. At 34, Romanow has a thing or two to share about achieving success, but unlike many she freely acknowledges the role failure and iteration play in any entrepreneurial journey. An engaging storyteller who recognizes the extraordinary resiliency required of an entrepreneur, Romanow’s latest venture as co-founder and president of Clearbanc, is poised to invest $1 billion with tech entrepreneurs in 2019. Clearbanc’s growth is remarkable; in July 2019, it announced it had raised an additional $300 million US in capital to continue its impressive growth.

News articles describe the concept as an attractive and innovative model, bound to leverage “billions upon billions’ as they grow.

Dan Nova of Highland Capital Partners was quoted in July 31st edition of The Globe and Mail ‘It’s rare, as a venture capitalist, to see as powerful a concept come down the pike as we’ve seen with Clearbanc.”

Perhaps best known for her side gig as a Dragon on the perennial hit CBC show “Dragons’ Den.” Romanow returns this fall for her fifth season in the Den.

This event promises to be the highlight of the fall calendar and will serve to inspire the business community of Sarnia-Lambton of all ages to know they too can strive to achieve great success.

The Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation extends its gratitude to local credit unions, whose cooperation in co-presenting this event is a nod to the collaborative approach played by the local business community. Tickets will be available for sale on Monday, September 9 at 10 am, and will sell out quickly!

Tickets ($60 each) are available online by clicking HERE.



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If you’re online for business, you’ve likely been told to engage and be human. But what does that look like? And can you do it wrong?

Yes, you can but it’s also easy to avoid these common mistakes.

—Not knowing their audience. Humanizing your brand online is easy if you know who you’re talking to. If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll find connecting and engaging to be a lot harder than it needs to be. Analyze your demographic. Where are they? What platforms are they on and what do they like to do there? Knowing these things can ensure you reach them where they are in a form they’ll enjoy. Speaking of which…

—Using the wrong media. Young people love video. It’s a preferred form of learning and entertainment. If you want to appeal to a young group, video is a great medium. If you want to appeal to readers, it might not be. Again, knowing your demographic will help you understand their preferred media. If you don’t know, ask. Or create the same content across multiple mediums. (This is an easy way to build your content library too while ensuring everyone can interact with your content their way.)

—Not sharing enough. Some businesses fail to share themselves and their culture with their audience. Think of it like going to a social event and answering everyone’s inquiries with a “yes” or “no” and nothing more. That becomes boring for those you’re speaking with. The same is true of social media. If you just post articles with no commentary and no tone, your feed becomes very boring.

—Sharing the wrong things. There are many polarizing topics these days: religion, politics, topics involving Constitutional law and fringe groups. Shoot to provide value and avoid topics that could polarize your audience. The only exception to this is if your business is based on inciting topics.

—Listing platforms they’re not active on. Ever go to a site where they list their social media icons so you can connect with them on other platforms? When you click on them, you see they haven’t posted there in months, maybe years. If you’re not there on a consistent basis, take them off your website. You can retain the profile but don’t publicize it until you plan on using it consistently. If you publicize it but don’t use it, people will wonder if you’re still in business.

—Not having a website. Social media is great but you don’t own it. Your preferred platform could be shut off tomorrow or your account could be frozen for no reason. Then try calling that platform to straighten it out. Good luck. You could lose years of content with no warning. Always have an online presence that belongs to you and back the content up regularly on your own or with a service.

—Having a bad web presence. A bad web page is just as bad as none at all. A bad web page is one that:

  • has spelling errors
  • is difficult to read
  • is not updated with fresh information
  • looks slapped together
  • takes a long time to load
  • pulls content from someone else (that’s plagiarism, by the way)
  • has outdated social media profile icons on it
  • has out-of-date information like your address or
  • is difficult to find the information that is being sought.

—Not being human enough. Don’t think of social media as a megaphone, it’s a conversation. Yes, you need to post but you also need to listen and respond. Get involved in conversations with people. Be human. Ask them questions and take an interest in them.

If you are trying to become more human on social media and in your branding, you want to avoid these common mistakes. They’re common because they’re easy to do. Businesses are told to share on social media, to post good content. But not all of it is as effective as it could be. Avoid this list and you’ll be well on your way to more meaningful dialogue with your audience.


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The overwhelming popularity of this year’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, now in its 30th year, has prompted organizers to reach out in appeal for more judges than usual ahead of the Friday, October 18 event, which will be held at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia.

“We have already received more submissions than last year and have given many organizations an extension. We anticipate double what we had last year!” said Lisa Isaac, who is chairing this year’s OBAA committee.

“If you are able to give some of your time before September 28th to help make the 30th anniversary a success, we would really appreciate it!”

Referrals through your networks would also be appreciated. Contact Lisa Isaac directly by email: info@lisaisaachr.com.


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You’ve probably read all the articles that tell you employees want more money, more praise, and more opportunity. And these things are true but there are other things they wish they had too. These are things they probably haven’t told you and maybe haven’t even figured them out themselves.

Natural Light

Office buildings can be dingy, and most businesses operate solely under artificial lighting. During the late fall and early winter, employees hardly see the light of day. While depriving people of natural light may be a great idea in Vegas because it keeps people from knowing how much time has passed, it’s not a good idea for employees. Boredom and dissatisfaction will cause a lack of motivation and productivity will plummet. Providing natural lighting will not only make your employees happier but it may just save on your electric bill as well.

Professional Development

It’s likely your employees have talked about this to you. But maybe you don’t have the time or the budget to help them. However, if you don’t give them access to professional development or room to grow within your business, they’ll likely leave for somewhere that will. But how can you meet their needs on a limited budget or in a business where there’s not a lot of room for upward mobility?

Make sure they know you’re a member of the chamber, and as a member, they are welcome to attend chamber networking and professional development events. While you may be concerned that networking means they might leave, if you don’t provide these things for them you know they will.

A Comfortable Workspace and Desk

This desire covers a lot of areas, but employees don’t want to be too cold or too hot. They want to be comfortable in their surroundings like having a chair that doesn’t make their back hurt. They also want to be comfortable from a job safety perspective. They don’t want to worry about injury or personal safety either. Make sure these basic needs are met.


Morale will only be as good as your tolerance of the biggest problem in the office. Fairness is a pie-in-the-sky concept because there will always be some form of inequality, but you absolutely cannot allow some employees to get away with bad behavior. This brings everyone down. To the best of your ability, ensure all employees are held to the same standards.

Downtime They Can Use

Thousands of Canadians are not using their vacation time. The number one reason they don’t is that it isn’t worth the amount of work they must put forward to take the time off or the mound of work they will return to. This deluge of work can be incapacitating in the long-term.

It’s essential that employees feel comfortable taking the time allotted to them. Ensure your managers know that time is to be used. Some companies have begun requiring its use by disallowing rollover of time. But that’s not enough. There are still some employees who will lose it instead of using it.

The other thing you can do is allow your employees some flexibility. Maybe a work from home day or a flexible start time within a range of hours. For instance, you could allow employees to select their own official start time between 7:30 and 10:00. They can finish their day based on start time.

Happy employees provide the best customer service. A disengaged employee will never win over your customers. So, the right investment in your employees will always benefit your customers. This list is a good place to start. But the best thing to do is to find out what means the most to your team.

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