A total of 135 consumers shared their thoughts and opinions on everything from their satisfaction with customer service to store hours to what they would like to see added to the local business community in the first-ever Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce consumer survey, which ran from Aug. 15-Sept. 15.
Community development officer Cassandra Parise, who created and organized the survey, said she was very pleased with the response rate and input received.
“The survey revealed a lot about what people want locally—why they’re shopping here and why they’re not,” she noted. “All great information that we can now share with the business community to help them meet the needs or increase the level of satisfaction of consumers.”
Of the 135 respondents, 72 percent were aged 30-59. Seventy-three percent were residents of Fort Frances, 24 percent responded from the district, four percent were from other parts of Canada, and one percent resided in the United States.
Consumers shop Fort Frances because of the convenience and location, to support local business and the economy, and because they know the owner or employees. Consumers do not shop in Fort Frances due to the lack of selection, high prices, and poor customer service experiences.
The most important factor to consumers when shopping was customer service, which ranked in at 95 percent. Product selection, price, and consistent store hours also ranked in at more than 70 percent each.
The majority of consumers purchase groceries, personal products, professional services, and home and garden products/services in Fort Frances, but purchase their clothing and footwear in other parts of Canada and the U.S.
Entertainment, including video rentals, are purchased mostly in the U.S.
A total of 86 percent of respondents were sometimes satisfied with their purchase or service in Fort Frances while 71 percent were not satisfied and 54 percent were generally satisfied with their purchase or service in Fort Frances.
A total of 58 percent were not satisfied with their purchase or service in the district, 71 percent were satisfied with their purchase or service in other parts of Canada, while 81 percent of respondents were satisfied with their purchase or service in the U.S. Of those responding, no one was never not satisfied with their purchase or service in the U.S. or other parts of Canada.
When asked what motivates consumers to purchase products or services in Fort Frances, 95 percent stated convenience, 92 percent are motived because they know the owner or employees, and 90 percent purchase their products or services in Fort Frances to support local business.
Thirty percent shop in the district because of good service while 28 percent of respondents shop the district because they know the owner and employees, and to support local business.
A total of 65 percent stated product selection was what motivated them to shop other parts of Canada while 58 percent rated high quality and 43 percent said low price were their motivators.
Eighty-three percent of consumers are motivated to shop in the United States because of low price, 71 percent because of product selection, and 45 percent because of the good service they receive.
The majority of respondents, or 78 percent, would purchase more products and services locally if more of what they needed were available in Fort Frances. Twenty-two percent said they might purchase more if more was available while no one said they would not purchase more if more was available.
And finally, when asked what additional businesses Fort Frances could benefit from, top responses included restaurant (family, not pizza) at 70 percent, movie theatre (64 percent), book store (51 percent), shoe store (48 percent), and doctor/health care provider (47 percent).
Women’s clothing store and grocery store also ranked above 40 percent each.
The survey results now will go to the Chamber’s executive committee for review, analysis, and action planning.
The Chamber, in partnership with the Rainy River Future Development Corp., already is in the process of bringing in a guest speaker on the importance of good customer service and how to get there. Maggie (Milne) Chicoine, from Thunder Bay, will host a seminar Wednesday, Oct. 22 for the business community.
The seminar will cover what it takes for a business to succeed when uncontrollable challenges seem to crop up at every turn, why businesses should link with each other, how to take steps for connecting for everyone’s best service benefit, and a step-by-step guide for small business to help revise your customer service plan.
The Chamber’s executive committee also will be reviewing the possibility of having the survey on its website permanently for consumers to share their thoughts and opinions on an ongoing basis, with results being tabulated quarterly.
The Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce would like to thank everyone who participated in the consumer survey, as well as the businesses that had the surveys available for pick-up.
As an incentive for consumers to fill out the survey, a $50 Chamber gift certificate was up for grabs. Karen Angus was the lucky winner.
For a complete breakdown of all the consumer survey questions and results, visit the Chamber’s website at www.fortfranceschamber.com or call Parise at 274-5773.