Farmington chamber seeks feedback on coronavirus shutdown through newsletter survey
Merchants have until end of March to participate
FARMINGTON — Farmington merchants who wish to weigh in on how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their business have the rest of the month to express their views in an online survey being conducted by the Farmington Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber released the seven-question survey in an email blast on March 24.
Chamber President and CEO Jamie Church said the data compiled from the survey, which takes approximately five minutes to complete, will be presented to a variety of local entities such as the City of Farmington, the Farmington Convention & Visitors Bureau and chamber members.
Church said merchants are encouraged to fill out the survey by the end of March, and she hopes to present the findings in early April.
Church said several other local chambers throughout the region have launched surveys of their own, and she hopes to see the data from all those efforts compiled and analyzed to provide a big picture of how businesses are coping with the pandemic shutdown. Church said she essentially adapted the survey launched by the Durango, Colorado, Chamber of Commerce for Farmington.
The survey asks multiple-choice and open-ended questions. It covers such territory as what type of business the merchant operates, how the spread of the virus has impacted the business, whether the business has laid off any employees, what kind of help the business needs and what questions the merchant has about the Small Business Administration. It also asks about other concerns merchants have.
Church said she knows most business owners are busy these days trying to adapt to a difficult new reality, so she purposely kept the survey short.
"Business owners have a lot on their plate right now and don't have 20 minutes to spend on a survey," she said.
She said her main goal in launching the survey is to simply find out what the chamber can do to help its members. She plans to conduct another survey in April, and then perhaps another one six months from now to see how recovery efforts are proceeding and detect trends that have developed over time. That kind of information will be especially helpful if another crisis like this arises, she said.
"I want to see where we are now, where we are in a couple of weeks and where we are in six months," Church said.
Church said she planned to shoot a video to post on the chamber's Facebook page to encourage merchants to complete the survey.
"A lot of businesses are setting up to work from home, so it could take a while for some of our members to take the survey," she said. "So we want to make sure they have enough time to do it."
Church said she would love to see a 50 percent response rate, but she understands that may not be realistic.
"I think maybe a 30 percent return is pretty good," she said.
On an anecdotal basis, Church said she is hearing a good deal of concern being expressed by local merchants, mostly for the welfare of their employees.
"Nobody is saying to me right now, 'I definitely have to close my business,'" she said, though she noted there are likely some merchants who will find themselves in that position.
She said many merchants are trying to operate their business on a virtual basis, even those whohave no experience with that approach.
"With restaurants, not so much, but (they) are working hard to provide takeout and delivery," she said.
Church noted the local economic news hasn't been entirely bad. The Farmington branch of the Shamrock Foods Co., a food wholesaler for restaurants, is hiring workers, and the chamber posted a notice of that development on its Facebook page.
But Church said she understands conditions are likely to get worse before they get better.
"For most of us, we're thinking we're not going to see the true impact of this until down the road a little bit," she said.
The role of the chamber, she said, is to support its members any way it can and provide reliable information.
"Overall, we feel the community is really coming together, and we're doing as much as we can for the community," she said.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or email@example.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly//216TU0e