Chamber uses new Facebook group to update local biz status

Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce has stepped up to keep the public and businesses informed on the status of businesses in Farragut and beyond with a new public Facebook group.

The group, Farragut/West Knoxville Take Out Delivery & Service Options Amid COVID-19, started Tuesday morning, March 17.

“It is open to any business — not just Chamber members — that wants to join, FWKCC president/CEO Julie Blaylock said.

“Businesses can join as their Facebook page, and, when they join as their page or if they join as an individual, they can post their take-out specials, delivery or pick-up or curbside offerings,” she added.

“Businesses may post their hours of opening or if they’ve changed their hours of operating. They can post if they’re closed and when they might re-open. So they can let their customers and the community know and let their customers feel good about still patronizing.”

Businesses also can communicate all the precautions they are taking in light of the virus, she added.

“For example, a lot of businesses are posting the additional sanitation measures they are taking. You know, they are sealing orders, they are using throw-away menus or whatever the case may be,” she said.

“I think it’s very important to get out that information,” Blaylock added

Thursday morning, March 19, FWKCC staff sent out a 10-question survey to its members to solicit statistical data, their concerns, their new measures of practice and whether or not they feel those are helping with their business continuity at this point.

Blaylock said the survey also was made “to try to collect some information we can pass on to local and state entities that are trying to put together legislation and push it through in order to accelerate things, like recovery funding and other measures.

“And also, so our Chamber board of directors will meet next week and talk about things we can do in the coming weeks and months to help businesses,” she added.

Within 10 minutes of the survey being sent, Blaylock said she had gotten 20 responses.

“One thing we are seeing, so far, is people requesting a streamlined central place where they can get data,” she said. “There are a lot of places, a lot of wonderful organizations and individuals and groups trying to post updates, but I think it’s important for individuals and businesses to have a centralized place they can get good information.

“Of course, Chamber members worry about each other because that’s the nature of being part of a Chamber of Commerce — the community that we build,” Blaylock added. “We’ll probably be working on creating a mass list of our businesses, what their hours of operation are, their specials and things like that.

“But right now, we are trying to solicit that data through the Facebook group and through direct calls and e-mails from our restaurants and food and beverage retailers and businesses in the service industry. This week I started sending targeted e-mails to give those categories of businesses extra promotion at no cost.”

Normally the Chamber charges an additional fee for those types of marketing efforts.

“We have waived those fees at least through the end of the month for members,” Blaylock said.

“We are trying to give them a little extra advertising and let people know whether or not they are still open for business and how (the community) can patronize them in the meantime.

She said joining the Facebook group is easy.

“All they have to do is get on Facebook,” she said. “They can go to our FWKCC page — because that group is linked to us, so they can find it through our page — or they can just type in the group name.

“When they pull the group up, there will be a button to join.”

Blaylock said since the group is public, anybody can view that group and the posts in it.

“They don’t have to be a member of the group to see what’s in there, but they do have to join to post on the page,” she added.

“We do have rules for the group. This is a time to help each other and draw together as a community, so that page is specifically for businesses to promote and provide information about their services at this time.”

As for maintenance, “We are monitoring it very carefully to make sure that it stays clean and professional,” Blaylock said. “More than anything we are seeing a need for people to be flexible, to be kind, to be compassionate toward each other.”