Join Spark Conejo and Conejo Chamber of Commerce for a slew of upcoming in person and digital events. We continue to follow the CDC guidelines with social distancing and wearing a mask. We look forward to seeing you at these events. Feel free to contact Spark if you have any questions.
During this time your Chamber is here to help you navigate resources and answer any questions you may have.
Click Here for our Coronavirus (COVID-19) resource page.
Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Click Here for Resources for Employers.
We’re receiving continual updates from Ventura County and LA County Public Health as well as our local cities and state officials.
If you have any questions we’re here to help. Our phone is 805.370.0035.
Are there any sources of funding to help my business during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Yes! There are two main sources of financial support for businesses – the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Economic Development Collaborative.
The SBA offers low interest disaster assistance loans for businesses affected by COVID-19. Loans can be for terms up to 30 years, in order to make the payments manageable. In some industry categories a company under 500 employees qualifies as a small business.
The Economic Development Collaborative offers low interest micro loans from $5,000- $50,000 through their Disaster Loan Fund to give a cash flow boost to businesses impacted by reduced sales, supply chain disruption or other challenges related to COVID-19.
- Contact Marvin Boateng, Lending Manager to apply at email@example.com or call (805) 409-9158.
Is there anything that I can do to support employees that will be impacted by my business shut down?
If your employees have their hours reduced or are temporarily or permanently laid off, then they should qualify for unemployment benefits from the Employment Development Department (EDD).
Employees can apply for benefits immediately after a work cut back or stoppage.
- The website to apply for benefits is https://edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/
Also, if a child’s school is closed, and employees have to miss work to be there for them, they may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Eligibility considerations include if they have no other care options and if you are unable to continue working your normal hours remotely.
My name is Stella Rowley and I am the Regional Manager for the Conejo Valley / Ventura County area. My job is to strategically help connect businesses like yours that are seeking new customers, to their prime audience. Valpak can meet your customer where they are! Whether it’s in their mailbox with print, online with digital, or on their cell phones with our mobile app. It’s the perfect tri-fecta, no matter where your customers live, Valpak is in the neighborhood! The icing on the cake is that Valpak can track your ROI, by reporting ALL of the actions that result from your ad. This is just one of many features that set Valpak apart from our competition.
In this blog you will get a taste of the method to our madness.
WHY DIRECT MAIL?
70% of consumers prefer traditional mail for receiving unsolicited offers from companies and 54% want to receive mail from brands they’re interested in.
Your message and brand are more likely to be remembered by consumers who are introduced to your business when they receive your promotion in their mailbox. Recall with direct mail is 70% higher than with digital and requires 21% less mental effort to process.
IT GETS RESPONSE
Even online retailers are embracing direct mail. Jet Senior Director of Digital Marketing Emily Frankel, said they mailed 35 million direct mail pieces last year because they’re effective at reaching new and repeat shoppers and attract more urban, affluent shoppers. Online retailer Boxed also increased spending on print ads by 80% in 2017.
Jet and Boxed both recognize direct mail gets higher response rates than all digital channels – up to 5.1% versus a high of 0.6% for digital.4
Many advertisers are now experimenting with new ways to send out direct mail, often dialing in on consumer behaviors or shopping trends to improve their responses. Direct mail can target specific households based on purchase behavior, income, or demographic. In the same way digital advertising does, use online browsing and buying data to send relevant coupons and ads to homes in a format that consumers prefer.
By 2020, millennials, the largest labor force of any generation, are estimated to have a spending power of $1.4 trillion per year and are in tune with direct mail despite their perceived affinity for digital.5 89% of millennials will pick up their mail at the first opportunity, 77% pay attention to direct mail advertising and 52% will switch brands if they have a coupon.
Article from one Spark’s resident real estate agent, Tim Joyce. He’s been in the real estate game for 19 years and has a sensible approach when helping his clients purchase homes.
The interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment. The higher the rate, the greater the payment will be. That is why it is important to know where rates are headed when deciding to start your home search.
Below is a chart created using Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic & Housing Marketing Outlook. As you can see, interest rates are projected to increase steadily throughout 2019.
How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?
Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly. But don’t let the prediction that rates will increase stop you from purchasing your dream home this year!
Let’s take a look at a historical view of interest rates over the last 45 years.
Be thankful that you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.
What If I Wait A Year to Buy a Home?
National home prices have increased by 5.4% since this time last year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained near historic lows which has allowed many buyers to enter the market and lock in low rates.
As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.8% over the next 12 months.
What Does This Mean as a Buyer?
If home prices appreciate by 4.8% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:
If buying a home is in your plan for this year, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.
Tim Joyce, Realtor CalRE#01382672
The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Tim Joyce does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Tim Joyce will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.
One of our SPARK Members, Many Mansions, does so much in our community to give back! One of the ways they bring awareness to their cause is through their Bowls of Hope event that took place November 4th, 2018 at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks for the 17th year!
WHAT THE EVENT IS ABOUT
The Bowls of Hope event is designed to spread awareness of the need for affordable housing in our community as well as the importance of on-site services and programs provided by Many Mansions. Many Mansions, if you don’t know, is a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing for low-income families, homeless, and disabled individuals in Ventura County. They are the leading provider of Permanent Supportive Housing in the area, and they take pride in the quality of their homes!
Hundreds of ceramic bowls have been created by local community leaders to keep as souvenirs. You can see the array of designs and colors of these awesome symbols on the Many Mansions website! Many other businesses within the Conejo Valley also threw their hands in the game! Many gourmet soups, salads and breads were donated by local restaurants and bakeries. This year, their servers were dignitaries, civic leaders and veterans and over 400 guests in attendance!
WHERE THE PROCEEDS GO
The proceeds from this event will benefit the residential service programs put on by Many Mansions, including veteran services at their new site in Oxnard! The way this non-profit lives out it’s mission statement is inspiring at best. The Family Housing provides affordable, income-based rental housing to low-income families. With beautiful properties families are able to find a place to live that they can afford and thrive in. At these sites they offer Children’s Programs to support the resident children and their families in safe, supportive programs that are right on-site. Food bags are also offered, monthly, at each property through our local food pantry, FoodShare.
Many Mansions also provides Supportive Housing for individuals and families who are formerly homeless and/or have a disability. A specially designed Supportive Services Program is offered on-site at each of these properties. This unique program is meant to provide safe, family-friendly housing with life-enriching services designed at bringing a family out of poverty and into a prosperous life. Services are essential to the lives of these people, and allow them to not only maintain housing, a feat in itself, but to grow into more stable and enriched individuals.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Many Mansions welcomes everyone to join them in their efforts to break the cycle of poverty! They are always accepting donations however, be sure to keep your eyes open for the Bowls of Hope Event for 2019! It is sure to be spectacular!
Your donation makes a difference — it positively impacts the lives of more than 1,200 individuals, 300 of whom are children. When you donate, you help Many Mansions provide important services like; computer and school supplies for after-school and literacy programs, self-sufficiency like skills for single mothers and fathers, emergency food assistance to many families each month, and much much more!
Phishing emails are the most common way for criminals to distribute malicious software or obtain sensitive information. Is your business safe from these attacks? We have some tips that you can follow to make sure your business doesn’t become a victim!
In a previous post, we gave you the top 3 email security tips for your business. Unfortunately, phishing emails are a more common occurrence now than ever before. According to Symantic, the average user may receive on average 16 phishing emails per month. With so many avenues of attack available to phishers, businesses should prioritize their security standards to make sure that they mitigate the risk of a compromised system.
When starting your own company you soon realize that without quality relationships it can be hard to thrive. Whether your building up your customer base or setting a solid foundation for networking one thing is clear…learning how to create and keep lasting business relationships will measure your success! Below we have 5 tips that will help you do just that!
Know Your Audience:
First things first, what type of relationships do you want? You should already have a good understanding of your industry, so, who fits into your category? If you are a real estate agent then it may be beneficial to reach out to an insurance provider. Together you can send each other referrals based off of your customers needs! Say someone just bought a house from you and they now need home owners insurance. This would be a great referral to pass along to your connection. You are now more valuable to your customer and have helped out your business colleague! With one easy relationship everyone benefited.
Be Your Best Self:
No matter what industry you’re in, the personality you show people is the one they will remember. So bring the best version of yourself to the table and people will naturally gravitate towards you! We come in contact with so many individuals throughout the day and naturally we choose to spend time with those that lift us up so be that person to someone else. Energy is magnetic, you’ll soon realize how easy it is to start building and creating lasting business relationships simply by making sure you have the right attitude!
You won’t make friends if you never venture into the sandbox! Getting involved in the community where you work is a great way to meet like minded professionals who could be your next best business relationship. Look up your local Chamber of Commerce to instantly be welcomed into a thriving business environment. See if there are any charitable organizations that you’d love to be apart of. Every step you make to reach out to others will be another step in the right direction to gaining those relationships your business needs!
Be Engaged In What Your Doing:
People can tell if you aren’t interested in or care about what they’re saying. So, show them you care! Be engaged in what those around you are talking about. Show interest, ask questions, and answer them truthfully. If you think their business could blend well with yours tell them! People love to know that others are genuinely curious about what they do and there is no bigger complement then when someone wants to work with you.
Networking is one of the quickest ways to start building those business relationships you need! Find a local networking group and if you’ve already joined a chamber check out which networking groups you may fit into. These groups are designed to bring companies together and to offer referrals that can lead to lasting customers! At SPARK we have helped join multiple companies together and have not only contributed to lasting friendships but have helped the businesses within our group to thrive!
Whether you are just starting out, or have been in it for years, building relationships is a key component to any successful business. Make sure you are taking the right steps towards building your relationships to help develop an even stronger economic environment in the 21st century!
No Referral Pushing
I’ve worked with a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs and the number one thing that often turns them off from joining a networking group is the fear of referral pushing.
A lot of networking groups operate on the pretense that at each meeting you must bring up to 3 qualified referrals for another group member. This can be a daunting task! Not only are you working day and night to grow your own company; you are also straining to find leads and new customers for a business that isn’t yours. Some networking groups will even ask you to leave if you don’t produce.
It is easy to see why some avoid organized networking groups.
The SPARK Relationship
The SPARK Networking Group believes in igniting your businesses through relationships. In other words, they work hard to develop lasting friendships, business relationships, and a working comradery that naturally produces leads for the group members. Just ask Candu Graphics, a printing shop located in Westlake Village. Through their participation in the group they have obtained many customers simply through word of mouth and testimonials.
SPARK believes, not in forcing members to produce referrals, but rather, encouraging the participation and ongoing motivation to get to know their fellow members and from there the referrals organically come in.
I’ve seen in my years of business, that when people are simply working from a genuine setting leads will manifest and success comes with ease!
Informative Marketing Tips
The world of business we live in today is constantly changing and with the rise of technology it can be difficult for a new company to stay up to date with all those changes. At SPARK they understand this! Their meetings are filled with not only presentation from current group Members but also with guest speakers to talk about the new facets of marketing, social media management, and staying fresh in a market that is constantly growing!
What makes a community?
Is it the families living within their homes? Is it the land or is it the properties on that land? Could it be the many flourishing businesses within the shopping malls, or perhaps a civic arts plaza where performances are held? Schools, government entities, law enforces?
I think it’s safe to say that a community is created through all of the above aspects. A community stands to serve the residents within it, who then turn around and make positive impacts back to their community so it can continue to be prosperous for all.
Now think about your own community. How long you’ve lived there, the great restaurants you like to eat at, your family and friends you like to spend time with, the hiking trails you enjoy on Sunday afternoon…these very aspects that make your home so special, and where you live so valuable probably owe a large thanks to your town’s chamber of commerce.
Chamber of Commerce Influence
Most cities have one and it is through the hard work and relentless dedication of your commerce to cultivate a town where people will love to live.
Not only is it a trustworthy place for consumers to turn to to get great information on their town. It is also an economically sound place for business owners to invest their dollars and increase their presence within the exact community they are working to engage. The chamber promotes entrepreneurship and provides assets that help a company go from a start up to a thriving and revenue earning business. The Balance, a sales based blog talks even more about how chambers can help increase your success
Benefits of Networking
Chamber’s do this not only through their events but through their organized networking groups within their organizations. These networking groups bring the right businesses together whose main goal is to create quality referrals to drive revenue and sales for its group members. The best way to get involved with one of these groups is, of course, to become involved in and get to know your chamber. It is only through this avenue that you then get the opportunity to experience and try out the different networking groups to see where you fit best! Just ask The Daily Herald, and they will give you 6 reasons why it’s beneficial to link up with a networking group from your local chamber!
Networking to some may seem fruitless however, just ask anyone who is a part of a group, and more likely than not they will say not only have they gained friendships through their groups they have been able to send leads to the businesses within it.
You see the whole goal of a networking group is to find other businesses that are as passionate and committed to growing their companies as you are. It is when you find the right group that you will see those referrals coming in naturally, relationships building on their own, and the dream of growing your establishment coming true!
So, if you’ve recently started your own business or maybe you’ve been in business for a while now go and search for your nearest chamber of commerce and once you’re a member start visiting the networking groups within your organization. You will be happy you did!
If you are within the Conejo Valley then visit: https://www.conejochamber.org/ to find information on how to become a member today!
Then visit the SPARK Facebook Page to start your path on a successful business with great relationships to back it!