July 02, 2014 - In order for small businesses to succeed in today's hyper-competitive marketplace, they need someone in their corner offering support, suggestions and services.
With clipboard in hand, Lisa Renaud is ready to meet business owners as the new executive director for the Oxford Chamber of Commerce. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Locally, that person is Lisa Renaud, the new face of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce.
The 11-year Addison Township resident was recently hired as the organization's executive director.
Renaud believes Oxford has the potential to become just as successful and well-known as some of Oakland County's most economically prosperous communities.
"I grew up in Rochester and I see what Rochester became from 1972 to now," she said. "I see a lot of similarities in Oxford and I think there isn't any reason why we can't become like them."
Renaud plans to spend most of her time "being out in the community and working with the members."
"Walking the streets, so to speak," she said. "I think they just need somebody encouraging them, giving them some new ideas because the majority of the businesses are smaller and have little to no marketing budget."
That's where Renaud's extensive experience and expertise comes into play.
She spent 15-plus years involved in event-planning, marketing and commercial leasing for the luxury home furnishing market. She worked for the Michigan Design Center in Troy and served as a liaison between nonprofit organizations and the design community.
"I worked with multiple nonprofits," Renaud said. "I have lots of roots in the nonprofit community."
To Renaud, partnering with nonprofits to create events is a simple and inexpensive way to expose the chamber and the businesses it represents to potential customers while providing new revenue streams for various causes, thus creating a "win-win" relationship.
"The chamber only has so much money to spend on advertising in outlying communities," she said. "The key is to find a nonprofit in one of those areas."
"It's all about reaching out to a new audience," Renaud continued. "If people in Rochester and Birmingham don't know all of what's available in Oxford, they're going to continue to shop at their local stores.
"Every (nonprofit) group that you partner with, that you reach out to, they have a whole new database of members or supporters. That opens up your marketing."
Renaud is also hoping to partner with other chambers of commerce in surrounding communities such as Orion and Clarkston.
"Ultimately, it makes sense to me," she said. "Whether they want to do that, I don't know."
Prior to the Michigan Design Center, Renaud spent 16-plus years working in high-end and specialty retail. She believes this gives her "a clear understanding of the obstacles small businesses face in our market."
For now, Renaud's goals include expanding the chamber's presence on social media, redesigning the organization's website "so it's truly a benefit to our members," improving relations with the press and enhancing the chamber's remaining events in 2014.
"My first and foremost focus is to make those events bigger and better than last year," she noted.
Renaud also hopes to build the chamber's membership base by encouraging business owners who don't belong to see the benefits of joining. She can relate to these folks.
After leaving the corporate world three years ago, she founded LL+R, an on-line company that sells antique, vintage and handmade items.
"(Joining the chamber) was one of those things that I was thinking about (doing), but frankly, never got around to it," Renaud said. "There must be a ton of other people like me out there that I can reach out to and get to become members."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.