Formerly known as the Plympton Chamber, the newly renamed ‘Plym Chamber’ is rebranding and expanding to reach out to even more businesses across Plymouth and the surrounding area in the coming year.
Plympton Chamber, not to be confused with Devon and Plymouth Chamber which is a separate organisation, first became established in 2010. The local community aimed to engage with local business folk who had a common aim and purpose.
Stella Goodman – Secretary of Plym Chamber and founding member of Plympton Chamber – wanted to utilise the Plympton Chamber to be able to reach out to more local businesses, especially smaller ones:
“Our mission statement is ‘Together we can do so much’ and I still think that’s true today – especially if you’re a sole trader because when you’re working by yourself, you can be quite isolated. So we thought the Chamber should be reaching out, in particular, to small businesses as collectively we can achieve a lot together.”
Now known as the Plym Chamber which is currently standing at 120 members, the community aims to keep steadily expanding and branching out to even more local businesses and business owners.
The decision to rebrand didn’t come overnight. Although they are based in Plympton, Beverley Clarke – a volunteer for Plym Chamber – explains that a lot of their members are based outside of the PL7 area, so there was a need to expand:
Part of our success has been our breakfast networking meetings. This has enabled the Chamber to grow from 20 people to 120 people. There is obviously a need for small businesses to work together, and it’s just getting bigger and bigger. The majority of our members now are outside of the PL7 area.
The name change will see the launch of the new Plym Chamber VIP Rewards Scheme. These rewards can be obtained by showing commitment to the Chamber and receiving points for doing so for example by bringing a guest along to a Breakfast meeting or by hosting a networking event for the Chamber. By encouraging more guests along they will gain an insight into the opportunities within the Chamber and, hopefully, see the benefits of joining the Plym Chamber, or even helping out with the community activities and events that they hold. Matthew Bryant – the current Chairman of the Plym Chamber – tells us more about how this works:
“It’s a points-based rewards scheme, where points are awarded based on the amount of involvement and interaction with the Chamber, bearing in mind that we are all volunteers organising it, so it is quite a commitment, and therefore the more people and the more members who can contribute and get involved in some way, then the more successful we will be as a group.”
The Plym Chamber caters for all businesses and its membership covers a wide range of different occupations, trades and professions from the business community including lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, builders, plumbers, painters and decorators … the list goes on!
There are all sorts of changes in motion for the new Chamber; not just the rewards package for members. Mark Hinchliffe – a committee member for Plym Chamber – explains that they will also be offering seminars where members can learn new skills that they can take away and implement into their own businesses:
“We will be hosting a number of different seminars using professional trainers offering a cost effective way for small businesses to ensure their staff have the relevant training in areas such as health and safety. We are also planning to run seminars on the benefits of social media to promote your business, and to provide guidance for members on use of the chamber’s website and how to get the most out of it including the use of website reviews.”
Plym Chamber is an affordable business network with real benefits.
“One of the things we’ve always aspired to be is inexpensive.” Stella explains, “Every event that we organise we try and do it cost-effectively. It’s all going to be very affordable.”
The current price to join the Plym Chamber as a new member is only a £75 joining fee for an annual membership. After that, if you setup to pay through standing order, the current annual renewal fee stands at only £60 per annum (corporate offers also available).
The aim of the Plym Chamber now is to encourage more members to join. Their goal is to hit the 200 members mark within the next year.
Matthew Bryant describes the great opportunities that come with being a Plym Chamber member:
The Breakfast Club really struck me specifically because it’s a good opportunity to share topics of interest.
So you might have a presentation from a member firm on a specific legal topic, you might have a property specialist giving an update on the current housing market, or it could be individual businesses just having a platform to promote their services and their products to other members. And it’s really not easy for small businesses to reach out to the larger community, so it’s a ready-made network for that.”
The Plym Chamber currently hosts a number of different meetings. On the second Tuesday of each month they hold their popular Breakfast Meeting at Boringdon Park Golf Club, in addition there is a Talking Tables supper club, with guest speakers, which is held quarterly at Elfordleigh and also their well established Members Mingle, which is an opportunity for businesses to showcase their business at their place of work.
“Before the name change, we felt outside of the breakfast meetings, people were put off joining because they thought the Plympton Chamber was exclusive to Plympton, but we hope that the name change will now help combat that.” Stella explains.
The aim of the Plym Chamber is to continue to grow and encourage people locally within Devon and Cornwall to join.
“To summarise what the chamber has done up until now,” Matthew explains, “ the main aim has been to engage with the local community directly through staging events like “Light up Plympton” in the run up to Christmas whilst engaging with the business community at the same time – through events like the Breakfast Club meetings to improve and promote business referrals between members. We have also been proud to represent the local business community at civic events and through engaging with local councillors and MPS and with local interest groups.”
The members currently engaging with the Plym Chamber have driven the name change. The community currently reaches out to places such as Tavistock, Saltash, Plymouth, Ivybridge and even Totnes!
The Chamber is also involved with a number of charities. They have recently worked with St Luke’s Plymouth and Friends and Family of Special Children. Through the Plym Chamber, they are able to give fantastic causes like these an opportunity to promote their events, but they also raised £1,700 at a Breakfast Meeting for St Luke’s last year. They are continually seeking out opportunities to engage with and help the local community.
With such a wide range of businesses involved within the Chamber, it is important to cater to the needs of every member. Beverley explains that: “Taking away from what we learn from our Breakfast Meetings, it’s about listening to what our members want, so we can then go forward and deliver things that people may not do as an individual, but collectively as a group they might want to do. There are lots of ideas taking shape going forwards.”
Plym Chamber will be launching on May 1st.
If you’re still unsure about why you should get involved with the Plym Chamber, Carolyn Croft – a committee member of Plym Chamber – has a very good reason why: “What’s very good about our Chamber and where it differs from some of the other networking groups, is that we’re quite informal and relaxed, everyone’s very approachable.”
The Plym Chamber can help local businesses spread the word of what they do through their community and network, so it would be foolish not to take up the opportunity that is right on your doorstep!
Together We can do so Much
Plym Chamber is not affiliated to Devon and Plymouth Chamber.