By Jane Bartnett
As the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce wraps up the first year of their successful Business Ambassadors Program, Nancy-Jo Manney, the Chamber’s Membership Director is looking ahead. Our goal, she said, “is to get all Chamber members involved in Chamber activities.”
That’s where the Chamber Business Ambassadors come in. Jimmy Bonner, a property sales representative for Sherwin-Williams, and Natalie Gutwein, a Sales Associate with The Judie Berger Team, a Premier Sotheby’s International Realty firm, are two of the Chamber’s 12 Business Ambassadors. “These individuals have really helped to make this program take off like wildfire during the past 12 months,” according to Manney. “These people are our cheerleaders. They are helping us interest other business owners in increasing their involvement, and it’s working,” Manney said with a smile.
Both Bonner and Gutwein told the Siesta Sand that their work as Ambassadors this past year has been professionally rewarding and good for their small businesses.
“Working with Nancy-Jo, Jimmy and other Siesta Key Chamber members has been a great advantage for me,” said Gutwein. “Building a small business network on the Key has been a factor in increasing my business,” Bonner reported, as he and Gutwein spoke of their continuing role and interest in serving as “B to B” Siesta Key Ambassadors.
In the short time that the two have been affiliated with the Chamber’s Business Ambassador Program, they have been able to refer numerous clients and share information about local small businesses on the Key with each other and other Chamber members. “The more you connect with other business owners, the more you engage, the more benefit you will see in your own business,” Bonner said. “So many small business interests are linked to each other,” Manney said. “When Natalie sells a house, the new owners may ask about painting their walls. Can she recommend a good painter? Natalie refers her clients to Jimmy and they soon become his client. As they work together, Jimmy is asked if he can recommend a good local designer, landscape company or carpenter? With assurance, he is able to recommend and refer a fellow Chamber member.”
“It’s a small town,” says Gutwein. “We live and work here, and we are raising our families here. We want Siesta Key to be a great place for everyone. As Ambassadors, we are the ones to say – These are my go-to people for business services!” According to the Chamber, there are approximately 8,000 people who call Siesta Key home on a year-round basis. The population swells by 20,000 more residents during “season” yet, no matter what time of the year it is, Manney says, “Siesta Key is a small town and that’s what makes it such a special place.”
As Membership Director, it is Manney’s job to support the 400 Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce members. Business categories on the Key are: “a mix of all things tourist, that includes property management and resorts; hospitality related small businesses made up of restaurants, water sports businesses, fishing and charter operations; realtors and real estate
related businesses; service businesses that include plumbing, HVAC, painting, carpentry, etc., and finally a small group of professionals in the medical and legal community.”
This past Fall, the Business Ambassadors program held a “Kickoff to Season” event, and conducted a survey of business owners to learn what they would like to see the Chamber do for them. As the season winds down, planning is underway to develop more member-focused events and to encourage members to support and benefit from participating in the Chamber’s big annual events such as The Siesta Key Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Festival, the Siesta Key Light Up the Village & Holiday Parade, the Siesta Key Chamber Easter Egg Hunt, and the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Community Fireworks, on the 4th of July.
Work is also underway on a new Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce website that will launch in the Fall of 2020. “As small business owners on Siesta Key, we’re all linked together,” Manney stated. “We’re looking forward to hosting two networking events monthly. That will include a breakfast or lunch or an after hours business card exchange on the third Thursday of the month at different sponsoring locations. Business members like being able to communicate with fellow members, and that’s why the Ambassadors are such an important touch point.”
To learn more about membership in the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and the Business Ambassador program, contact Nancy-Jo Manney, Membership Director, at 941-349-3800, or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.