It’s time to Wake Up Pagosa

The buzz around town concerns the new, classy “coffee-table” book entitled “The Pagosa Springs Official Visitor Guide™.” What a dynamic product a collaborative effort has produced.

Major credit goes to The SUN staff for taking their existing guide and upgrading the look, feel and content with a nice flow to the book and a comprehensive look at Pagosa. Producing this book included the vision of the TTC and Chamber and everyone making concessions to produce the first-class product that we have in our community today. Of course, there are always comments (not criticism in this case) on ways to improve the book. Thanks for the comments on ways to “tweak” the guide, making it better in the future. My sincerest thanks to all groups involved for helping bring to fruition a personal dream of mine. As an added value to advertisers and visitors, this guide book is also online at www.explorepagosa.com. Check it out!

This book, however, is only the beginning, or the “lure,” It is now time for the rest of Pagosa to step up to the plate.

The Chamber column this week may read like a Barbara Kingsolver novel where all the different characters have individual parts in the book but are woven together throughout the novel, coming together in the end.

The novel begins with the Chamber pleased to announce two new programs that will begin in May.

World-class service

You can have all the window dressing possible, but if service is not executed properly, you might never sell another product or assist another customer at your business again.

Every single person who works in Pagosa affects the economy of our community.

Our community has many attractions: the mineral baths are certainly an enticement to visitors; so is our ski resort, our natural outdoor beauty and activities and our relaxing ambiance. But they are nothing if we can’t deliver basic services.

On Tuesday, May 19, the Chamber will host national trainer and speaker Bob Ash with “Life Lessons for a Day of World Class Customer Service.” If you don’t think that you or the employees in your business need some customer service pointers, you may be the one who needs to attend this class the most. If you don’t think you can spare the staff to attend one of the two sessions offered that day, please determine how your lack of involvement affects the economic vitality of our community. If you don’t think you can afford the nominal cost to send your employees to one of the sessions, just look at how not sending them affects your bottom line, our community and our livelihood.

Poor customer service can cost our community thousands of dollars in the upcoming months. Don’t just look to the TTC, CTC, AEDA and Chamber to bring people to Pagosa. Look inside your own business and see how all associates affect our tourism livelihood on a large scale, with benefits trickling down to each business.

In the upcoming weeks, we will provide more details concerning this day of World Class Customer Service. Ash will be in Pagosa May 19, then hold seminars in Durango on May 20. The seminars in Pagosa will be held at the community center 9-11:30 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m.

There is no limit on the number of people that can attend and we hope to see every single business represented. Tickets will be $20 per person and there are “group rates” available for businesses that send five or more employees. We will also be giving away tickets in different and fun ways.

We especially encourage owners of businesses to attend. Once again, if you think that you don’t need or have the time to attend, look at your sales. While economic times are certainly affecting all of our businesses, we must vigorously try to capture every piece of business out there. People can shop online, they can easily research who has the best price for what they are looking for, and the customer service that might make or break your business. Are you providing it?

We cannot function on Pagosa Time. We make fun of it and consider it part of our charm, but let me assure you, if you don’t provide quick, efficient quality service, locals and tourists will travel somewhere other than Pagosa! From the owner of the business, to the clerk at the sales counter, to the ski lift operator, to the restaurant server or bartender, to the mechanic, to the hotel clerk or bath house attendant — everyone matters. You can call the Chamber at 264-2360 for reservations to the event. We hope we run out of paper taking reservations.

Wake Up, Pagosa

Part II: For well over a year now, we have heard the community wonder out loud, “What exactly is the TTC doing? What exactly is economic development doing? The Chamber needs to drive local business more. We are struggling here — someone needs to fix this problem for us.

“The county keeps talking about improvement projects and roads — where did our 1A money go? There was this great study on a trails system and a recreation center. What happened to those projects? We’ve poured this money into the airport, with more work scheduled — what’s up there? What are the plans for our hospital with several directors having left and hospitals across the country closing?”

So many questions about our community, but how do you get the correct information? Beginning Tuesday, May 5, from 7:30-8:30 a.m., the Chamber will host a morning “Town Hall” breakfast meeting entitled “Wake Up, Pagosa.” Every first Tuesday morning of the month, a different topic will be presented to the community. So many people ask the questions, but do they have the interest to obtain the information from the sources?

The first speakers slated will be the TTC and Chamber with me, Bob Hart, chairman of the TTC and Jennifer Green, new TTC coordinator. Find out what TTC has actually done. We hear so many rumors. Find out how the TTC, Chamber and Visitor Center are taking the pieces and attempting to create a whole for the community. Find out the successes and failures of the organizations, and then take time to ask questions.

If you missed the AEDA annual meeting, you can find out from Bart Mitchell, executive director of AEDA, what this organization is doing and planning for future economic diversification and a more sustainable economy, at the second Wake Up Pagosa session Tuesday, June 2.

Wake Up Pagosa is a breakfast meeting that will initially be limited to 40 people. The monthly session will be held at the Pagosa Mountain Hospital in the Pagosa Room, with a fabulous breakfast provided by the hospital’s Pagosa Pine Café. Attendance is $8 for Chamber members and $10 for nonmembers. Attendees will also be given a chance to win future free Wake Up Pagosa attendance opportunities through a business card drawing. We hope with the interest of the community and the importance of the topics, we will quickly outgrow our limited numbers and be able to hold the morning session in a larger facility. But, let’s see if the community is really interested. We’ve seen the county and town hold informational sessions before and it’s always the same few people who attend.

There are so many pieces to the Pagosa community puzzle: tourism, building, future plans for our community, existing concerns, economic sustainability. How are we as a community juggling them all and planning for the future? Please try to attend, arm yourself with the facts and have your questions answered. The speakers will be given an opportunity to review their efforts, challenges and present concerns. The audience will then be given a chance to ask questions. We hope this forum will also alert presenters to “hot topics” or concerns that community members have and use this forum to prioritize projects.

The difference in the new Wake Up Pagosa breakfast and the Business Bites luncheon offered by the Chamber is education. While both sessions are educational and informational, Business Bites focuses more on training for your business on topics that help you improve your business skills. Both sessions are important and will hopefully be perceived as value added to your overall business and community involvement. You can reserve your space at the breakfast by calling the Chamber at 264-2360.

So now, the end of the novel: Both World Class Customer Service and Wake Up Pagosa are parts of the Pagosa puzzle. All the pieces that are offered, or that you experience in your business or everyday world, affect the way you do business and the future of our community. Many people believe that others should do the work and we’ll just see what happens. If you think this, let me tell you I receive almost one negative comment a week from visitors (and locals) about customer service in our community. With tourism being the lifeblood of our community right now, no one can afford not to give great service.

Take a hard look at yourself: make an investment in yourself, your employees and your business. Don’t think that you can’t make an impact on the economy of Pagosa. Many of us have had to make some hard decisions in our businesses this past year. Over 600,000 jobs were lost nationally just this past month. It is devastating. But, with this adversity comes ways that we must reevaluate, recreate and revive. There are many people and groups working on this — are you one of them?

Membership news

We welcome one new member to the Chamber this week — musical group Leadfoot Ruthie, with Mark DeVoti and Dennis Kleckner join up. Leadfoot Ruthie is available to play weddings, reunions, parties and clubs. They provide a mix of country, rock and roll, blues and bluegrass from the yesteryears through contemporary music with a huge repertoire of music to meet your needs. They are available for listening or dancing pleasure. Call 731-3621 to find out more about them, their availability and hear their sound.

Our renewals this week include: Archuleta County; J.R. Ford and Pagosa Land Company; Pete Dach and the Pagosa Bar and Silver Dollar Liquor Store; the San Juan Conservation District; the Pagosa Springs Ranger District; San Juan Basin Health; the San Juan Mountain Association; Congregation Kadima Yisrael; San Juan Back Country Tours of Silverton; and longtime friend of the chamber, John Weiss.

Don’t forget to get your bowling teams together for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids’ Sake on Saturday, May 2, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Turn in your team registration forms to ensure a prime bowling time slot, or check out their Web site at www.bbig.org for more details.

Although not detailed in this week’s article, don’t forget all the other activities going on around town in the upcoming weeks such as the Safety Expo on May 2 at Pagosa Springs High School from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Enjoy all the Earth Day activities, especially on Saturday, April 25, at the community center, beginning at 9 a.m.