• 66°

Chamber launches membership drive

The goal is 60, and on the first day theygot almost half-way there.

    The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce launched atwo-week membership drive Tuesday. Chamber Executive Vice PresidentCliff Brumfield was pleased with the first day’s results, which saw28 new members added.

    The new members were the result of cold calls from phone-banksoperated by business leaders already in the chamber. Phone bankcalls will continue until next week.

    But, “This is not a telemarketing call.”

    So said Paul Oliver, described by Brumfield as “a legend in thechamber business.”

    Oliver, an independent consultant who works with chambers ofcommerce nationwide, spoke at a Tuesday luncheon for chambermembers that officially kick-started the membership drive.

    True to the Chamber of “Commerce” name, Oliver emphasized that themembership drive is a business transaction.

    “If you tell the people you call the benefits, you can convincethem that they are getting a whole lot more than they are paying,”Oliver said. “No-brainer.”

    These benefits include increased exposure through chamberpromotional activities such as the Best of Brookhaven shoppingcampaign.

    Oliver contrasted a sales approach to calls with that of otherorganizations and emphasized that the membership drive is not aboutfundraising.

    “We (the chamber of commerce) are a selfish, free enterpriseorganization and proud,” Oliver said. “I got an executive I’mworking with who’s trying to compare the chamber of commerce to theBoys and Girls Club and other charitable organizations. We are notcharitable. We are non-profit, but not charitable.”

    Oliver held Brumfield’s post at the Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce from 1965-1969. He has also been the directorof the Clinton and Columbia chambers and has performed more than300 membership drives nationwide.

    He currently resides in Fort Worth.

    Brumfield said the membership drive could not have beenaccomplished without bringing someone like Oliver in. But,Brumfield thinks the added enthusiasm and expertise Oliver bringswith him will be worth it.

    The chamber is offering members a significant incentive during thedrive.

    The member responsible for the most new additions during the drivewill receive a dinner for two at a local restaurant and $500dollars in gift certificates to be spent at any local retailer thatis a chamber member.

    The chamber currently has more than 500 members, of which Brumfieldsaid about 300 are local businesses.

    “What we’re hoping to accomplish is not to grow our numbers for thesake of increasing our rolls, but to gain new insight, creativityand support for the programs we manage,” Brumfield said.