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Hospitality, disaster share focus

News editor

Planning for business disasters was on Friday’s agenda for Marion Chamber of Commerce, but increased Main St. traffic sparked an impromptu discussion of customer service.

Central Park Antiques owner Nadine Iseli said detouring US-56 onto Main St. had brought additional shoppers to her store.

“I’ve had people from Kansas City and Topeka and other places to the east pull of and spend as much as an hour to shop,” she said.

But she reported hearing complaints about another business, which she declined to name, where the staff was “always grouchy,” she said.

“I did talk to that business and tell them they need to bend over backward to be friendly,” she said. “One business can leave a bad impression on somebody, and they have the perception that’s the way the whole town in.”

Economic development director Terry Jones said a similar conversation occurred at a recent Marion Economic Development Inc. meeting.

“We decided Margo (Yates) and I will be visiting local businesses, not to say, ‘Hey, you’re doing bad at this,’” Jones said. “We’re going to say, ‘We’re a board of business owners, managers, what have you, and we’re here to help; what would you like us to help you with, if anything?’”

Jones also mentioned “Kansas at Your Service,” an online customer service training program available through Kansas Department of Tourism.

“This is a great opportunity with all the extra cars,” Jones said.

County emergency management director Randy Frank presented information about disaster planning.

“It’s hot outside, so let’s talk about ice storms,” he said.

Frank used a scenario of a winter storm to engage attendees in discussions about data protection, communications, power alternatives, emergency operations planning, and business interruption insurance.

“When you have a long-term disruption, it’s been proved statistically if your business has been closed for 30 days, if you get it reopened, you’ll only be open for six months,” Frank said.

Last modified July 22, 2015

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