Surveys can provide a ton of good data when utilized correctly, or they can be a waste of time. My three basic rules of surveys have been to spend a lot of time behind the scenes to make them short and sweet, don’t survey people to death, and acknowledge and use the discovered data efficiently.

The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce recently followed the first two rules, and will be following the last one in the months to come. Before that, the most recent survey completed by the chamber seems to have been conducted in 2015. That doesn’t mean there weren’t others — I just haven’t found them.

Interestingly, it would be hard to guess which results are from what survey. After all of the shifting and shuffling and cyphering, the eight questions from the 2015 survey and the four questions from the current survey seem to rate very closely together overall when it comes to satisfaction.

If you are a current member of the chamber, please complete the survey this week. Check your inbox for the email from me titled “Got a Minute?”

The first question asks how valuable you find certain benefits of membership, including Advertising, Promotion, and Referrals; Communication and Advocacy on your behalf at Local, State, and Federal Levels; Member Networking Events; the Monthly “Business Perspective” Printed Newsletter; Supporting Your Community; and the Weekly “Business Online” e-Newsletter.

The leading take-aways from question No. 1 so far is that our local businesses, not surprisingly, want to support their community and want their chamber to continue communicating and advocating for them.

Question No. 2 sounds simple, but the race is doing very well and is neck-and-neck. Members are asked to rate their level of agreement about three aspects of their chamber membership: “I am getting good value for the cost of membership;” “I am getting useful information;” and “Participating in events is worth my time.”

We’ll see what happens with question No. 2 as the survey enters the home stretch, and I’ll keep you posted. (See what I did there?)

Question No. 3 is fun. We ask which ways our members prefer we communicate with them. When you have about 1,000 business members — each with any number of employees — and all with different preferences, just what is a chamber to do? Ask, that’s what. A list of communication methods is provided, and members are to select which ones they prefer. An “other” choice is even available, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

The options we provide to select from are phone, email, e-newsletter, printed newsletter, website updates, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Other. Guess what? Big surprise, they have all received votes. Email is winning by a landslide.

I admit that I’m excited to see if any other “other” write-in suggestions will be submitted. We have four so far. I was secretly hoping for things along the lines of skywriting, carrier pigeons, Morse Code or smoke signals.

But the four suggestions we have now are a great start: text, podcast, one invitation to “come out and see us,” and one personal number to text. I’ll leave that right there.

I’m back

When you read this, I will have just returned from my first overnight time away since before “it” started. My daughters and I decided to mask up, load up on sanitizers, and head to the Kingdom of Magic for two nights. Seriously, I forgot how to pack and hope I didn’t forget anything. I’ll keep you posted about that as well.

Ashley is the executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, now in its 96th year. She can be reached at 941-627-2222 or at