Chamber evolves to meet new business needs
The Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland (CCIQ) launched a new range of low or no-cost tools for members this week, signalling another innovative change in the way it supports small business in Queensland.
Although renowned for its members-only HR hotline and workplace health and safety training, CCIQ is now helping small business by negotiating great deals on products and services that they need such as software, payment systems, policy manuals, and utilities.
General Manager - Marketing, James Flaherty, said it's about staying relevant and valuable to members.
“First and foremost, we’re here to speak up for the rights of employers – that will never change,” Flaherty said, “but things have changed for membership and cause-related groups. Generations X and Y tend not to be “joiners” like their forebears. Today, our members are expecting instant value for their money, not just the long-term lobbying outcomes we achieve, even though that’s still makes the biggest difference.”
Since 2011, CCIQ has been aligning with both small and big business partners to build more real benefits into its membership offering – including industry intelligence reports, e-workshops, e-commerce websites, even individual consultations about reducing energy costs. And almost all of these benefits are delivered for free, funded either by a corporate sponsor or partner.
“We realised some time ago that we could go in any kind of direction, but we couldn’t be great at everything at once,” Flaherty said. “We made a conscious decision to stick to what we do best – engage, research and lobby for business interests – and work together with the private sector to meet our members’ other needs. By and large it has produced a win-win-win scenario so far.”
Other benefits come in the form of significant discounts to universally-needed business services or software, such as cloud-hosted email, internet connection and rostering software, provided by Atmail, iiNet and Deputy respectively.
“Our mission is to be an essential partner for every start-up and small business in Queensland,” Flaherty said. “That means keeping the price of entry into the chamber as low as possible, and giving members the ability to subscribe only those tools and experiences which will make a positive difference to their bottom line.”
The new business model seems to be working. While many other not-for-profits persist with more traditional methods, CCIQ has seen three consecutive years of membership growth rates above 20%. At current rates, it will be the biggest state chamber of commerce within the next decade. Obviously, the more members the organisation attracts, the more influence it has in reforming tax, workplace relations and competition laws which impact all business owners.
“It isn’t rocket science,” Flaherty said. “We’re simply putting our customers at the heart of our business decisions. If we’re helping them succeed, by extension we’re helping ourselves.”