The March Slave Lake Business Support Network (BSN) revealed some fairly predictable things about local business. I.e. – 2016 was a tough year. On the other hand, said several of the business reps in the round table portion of the meeting, they’re busy enough to hire more people, but can’t find them!
“It’s hard to keep up with demand because I just don’t have the personnel,” said Brittany Giesbrecht of Thrive Wellness Studio. “It’s been a challenge since I opened four years ago.”
Government workforce consultant Brad Hestbak provided some perspective: “A lot of people are out of work and a lot of people are looking for workers and they don’t match,” he said. “We’re trying to make them match. It isn’t easy.”
Several of the businesses said 2016 was tough for them but things are looking a bit better so far in 2017. For a couple of others, 2017 has been tough due to lack of snow! That was Grizzly Ridge Honda and Ry-True Ltd. Ryan Burton of the latter firm said he expects things to be picking up with construction and landscaping season
“We’re hiring in the next month or so,” he said.
Kim Hughes of Distractions said things “aren’t bad,” for the store at the moment. Helping is a new online sales component, which she hopes to expand. She said she’s also working on a ‘shop-local’ campaign and a local fashion show (in conjunction with Community Futures).
Ali Mouallem of Alimo’s Pizzaria said he’s working with the Ice Breaker people to cater the big banquet with Wayne Gretzky in August. For those purchasing seats on the field house walking track, Alimo’s plans to have an “Oilers-theme menu.”
At that, Judy Olsen of RE/MAX Reality said she was concerned about Gretzky’s hefty fee resulting in a lot of local money going out of the community.
“I’d hate to see a business being forced into this because everybody else is,” she said.
Mouallem said he has similar concerns, but has nothing to do with the business model.
Offering another perspective, Tony Giesbrecht of Tony’s Custom Catering said the event is bringing people in from all over western Canada and even the States, so money will be coming to town as well.
As for his own business, Giesbrecht said this is a slow time of year, but wedding season is coming. He’s also “still working toward a restaurant,” he said.
Joe Schultz of Trimline Signs and Graphics said times are slow in the sign business, and making things tougher are customers who don’t pay their bills.
“We have problems with that too,” Giesbrecht said. “We pay for all our materials up front, and then some say, ‘Oh, we don’t pay for 90 days!’”
BSN organizer Josh Friesen suggested a workshop on “on how to do collections better,” might be a good idea.
Speaking of BSN projects, Friesen provided a list. On May 31 is a workshop on how to put out requests for proposals (RFPs). In April, Community Futures (for whom Friesen works) is doing a youth entrepreneurship camp. A workshop on social media is planned for sometime in June. Then there’s a tourism seminar planned for early summer. Or was; some of those present urged Friesen to consider having it earlier. A customer service workshop is also being considered.