Friday, June 26, 2009

Who is Measuring the Winnipeg Business Call Initiative?

It was reported today in the Free Press that 12 hot leads have been prospected from the "Business Call/Selling Winnipeg to the World" initiative led by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. At the Chamber breakfast Friday morning, it was further revealed that actually 100 prospects were identified, and of those 12 were considered "hot." What also came to light was that about 5 or 6 Winnipeg businesses are preparing to exit the city as well - something the Free Press failed to report on. To me this is the most important piece of information, and may be the most critical work done by the Business Call team.

My question - Who is the Chamber/Business Call team accountable too? Who, outside the Chamber, is measuring their performance? Is it the responsibility of Winnipeg business owners or the taxpayers or some third party committee? How are they measuring success? One company relocating to Winnipeg?... Two? Keeping one here who was going to leave? What?

We all know should the Chamber close any of these 12 hot leads that Martin Cash will be quickly be shouting the praises of their good work in the "City and Business" section of the Free Press...but what if they don't close any? Furthermore, what if they lose the 5 or 6 businesses looking to leave?

I was also puzzled when the Free Press quoted V.P. Bill Morrissey on the results of the survey that Business Call did to the variety of Winnipeg business owners. He stated that "the results were not surprising -- the highest positive attribute was the reliable workforce and the most prominent negative one was the tax base." So why do the study then? Was this the best use of time? Why not at least make a statement more to the flavour that "the study reinforces our strong workforce and limitations that the payroll tax provides" as opposed to saying "no surprise?" I'm big on the language people use, especially in the business and political world, and I would guess that interested Winnipeggers would be sensitive as well - especially when in writing. The statement made me think that there may have been better questions to ask to better utilize the time of the business owners they called.

All in all, the Business Call initiative is important. The one-to-one approach will always be effective. I only wonder, though, that if this initiative fails, how or will we ever know?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Winnipeg Business - Online Brand Protection

I was enjoying a walk with my beautiful wife the other day - my mind far off the Winnipeg business scene - when we came across a home that was quite obviously mired in renovations. As we grew closer, it was easy to see the amount of work that remained to turn this construction site into a home. What was most eye-popping was the sign, written in red marker on a large piece of cardboard, which read:

"I.C.E. Construction Group
8-10 weeks Concrete Project
Began Sep 08
Trying to focus on what my wife was telling me - I couldn't help but think about the power of the written word, but more than this, the importance of online brand protection.
The sign, coupled with the obvious state of disarray this poor homeowner was enduring, sent a very powerful message to the competency of I.C.E. Construction Group. Immediately, my wife turned to me and said "remind me never to use them for any concrete work."
This event made me think about the power a blog can have when distributed effectively, and how people really do believe what they read. I can almost guarantee that my wife is not the only one to have made that comment, and that the entire surrounding neighbourhood will never use the services of I.C.E. Construction Group for any of ther concrete needs. But what if that message on the piece of cardboard was seen by 1,000 people or 10,000? At that point the angry voice of an unsatisfied customer turns into thousands of lost dollars. What happens if you have no way of protecting what is written about you across the net?
A good recent example of this would be Furnasman One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning. Just search the term "furnaces winnipeg" or "furnace repair winnipeg" and see for yourself.
With blogging across the internet, your brand is open to anyone and everyone.
Winnipeg buiness - what are you doing to protect yourself online?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Winnipeg Business Tees off with the Chamber

Yesterday, I attended the 19th annual Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament at Pine Ridge Golf and Country Club. The course was in beautiful shape, the drinks were flowing and, despite moments of rain, the event was a great success.

As can be expected, much schmoozing was going on amongst the many Winnipeg business owners and other organizational leaders. As much as the event is to help network and give back to a worthy charity - this year being the Winnipeg Human Society - much like in my high school days, there is curiosity amongst all that attend as to who is mingling with who.

Yes, despite being over a decade since walking the halls of River East Collegiate, I still feel that same sense of "who's hot and who's not" that happened when identifying the "cool" kids from the popularity challenged. Each handshake carrying with it either a label of "in the know" vs "no need to know." "Why his he golfing with them?" or "Where is so and so this year?"

As much as things change, they just stay the same.

The mixture of booze and fatigue always lead to a slip or two of the tongue, and its no different at this event as I witnessed when within earshot of one very example - though no further details will be found on this blog. Point being that no matter the title on the business card or the level of education, it seems at heart we are creatures motivated by acceptance and driven by curiosity, mixed with a healthy dose of drama. As the world turns, these are the days of our lives in business in Winnipeg.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Manitoba Moose Downtown Party

I'm calling all Winnipeg business and Winnipeggers to flood our downtown for a massive street party to cheer on the Manitoba Moose when they win the Calder Cup Trophy. I have vivid memories of the craziness that ensued in downtown Winnipeg after the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series back in 1992. Everyone poured into the streets, fanatic that a Canadian team was able to capture the crown of best in baseball. The Manitoba Moose are Canada's hockey team now, and let's show the country and the continent how much we love our home town teams.

Considering most Winnipeggers would rather eat fish out of the Red River than support anything based in Toronto, it would be a disgrace to our beloved Moose if we didn't honor them by taping off the downtown and filling the TV screens with everything Moose.

So... I encourage all fans of the Moose, all fans of sports in Manitoba and all fans of good times in general to flood the streets of downtown when the Moose raise the Calder Cup. Bringing Manitobans our first title in too many years to mention is worth getting the police out to watch us as we party and celebrate our rightful place at the top.

First drinks on me!

Monday, June 1, 2009

CentrePort Canada - Bridging Commerce to the North

The effects of global warming are heating up opportunities for business in Canada's North. CentrePort Canada realizes this opportunity and is using the Port of Churchill as further fuel in selling the world the benefits of doing business at the future site of Winnipeg's inland port.

The selling point for CentrePort Canada has been location, location, location. The changing seascape in the Artic has opened the opportunity to shorten shipping routes, open new trade avenues for Manitoba and Canada with international partners through Canada's only major international Arctic Seaport at the Port of Churchill. The "Arctic Bridge" as its being called connects with the Port of Murmansk, Russia, allowing for trade opportunities that were unavailable only years ago. Further development will also lead to increased commerce opportunities for those communities located in the both Arctic regions.

Further development of the marine link between Russia and Manitoba is being planned from establishing working groups, doing test flights and shipments, and continuing to improve communications amongst all industry stakeholders.