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2019 Business Walk

In October, during Small Business Month in BC, the Township of Langley’s Mayor and Council, staff, business stakeholders, and students of Walnut Grove Secondary conducted a door-to-door Business Walk in Northwest Langley, Walnut Grove, and Willoughby.

Together, concise interviews were conducted with representatives from 160 area businesses. The following interview questions were intended to capture the market sentiment of the areas as a means to understand programs and services, and to identify new initiatives for consideration for 2020.

1. Please rate the current status of your business:

  • Slow / Poor
  • Fair / Steady
  • Good / Increasing

Pie Chart

Ninety four percent (94%) of businesses surveyed identify their business operating in a positive state of either 'Steady' or 'Increasing'.

The map below displays the geographic breakdown of those results using the same coloration as the pie chart. The height of the bar represents the number of businesses in that area that expressed that view.

In Northwest Langley and Walnut Grove, the data could be interpreted to show that businesses located the furthest from highway access reported performance as Slow/Poor. Further analysis or follow up discussions with those businesses are required to understand if their geographic location has an actual bearing on this result. The data also appears to show a positive correlation where a business is in close proximity to dense residential areas. This finding was substantiated by business owners who indicated that they perceived this as a contributing factor to their success.

State of Business

2. What do you like MOST about doing business in Northwest Langley, Walnut Grove/Willoughby?

The following bar chart illustrates that the most frequent responses were 'location' and 'clientele'. ‘Location’ was identified by 112 businesses as the primary preference, followed by ‘clientele’ by 79 businesses. Businesses that were surveyed had the option of selecting more than one option, and some businesses elected to opt-out of answering. Very few businesses provided an 'other' response but for those that did, 'Community' was a common theme.

With ‘Clientele’ being identified as the second common option for doing business in the area, many businesses identified that the ‘value of community feeling’ was a key benefit of being located in the Township.

Responses

3. How can business be improved?

Businesses were asked to describe how they felt business could be improved and were encouraged to provide open responses. While some suggested programs and initiatives that were specific to their business, in general, most described items typically connected to municipal government. The word clouds below illustrate the major themes derived from these responses, with the size of the word representing the frequency of use.

Expressed interests for improved traffic flow, effective road infrastructure as well as increased parking capacity were identified, along with minimized temporary road closures. Separately, crime prevention, including issues related to drug activity, robberies, and shoplifting were identified by respondents. Issues related to homelessness were equally identified.

Businesses Wordmap

4. Do you have a recovery plan for your business in the event of a disaster?

Pie Chart

The graphic illustrates that most respondents surveyed either had no recovery plan or were not aware of one. For many of those that did identify a plan, they spoke to (i) insurance or (ii) basic evacuation plan. Some owners admitted to never giving any thought or acknowledged that they simply chose not to have one. Others referenced that they understood their corporate office was responsible.

Community Relationship Building

Township of Langley staff contacted the area's secondary school, Walnut Grove Secondary School, to discuss their potential interest in enabling senior students to join the 2019 Business Walk team. The teacher, advisor, and students of the Grade 10 Career Life Education class actively participated in this year’s activity. This collaboration supports the value of strong municipal relationships in the community.

While students are typically consumers in the area, they had the opportunity to view business through the lens of business owners and build connections in the community as they join the labor force.

On November 27, Mayor Froese presented the Grade 10 Career Life Education class with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Township.

Summary

Through this business engagement activity held during Small Business Month in BC this October, and planned in collaboration with the Walnut Grove Willoughby Business Association, walk team members conducted in-person surveys with 160 businesses over a four-day period. The 2019 walk team consisted of sixty-four (64) members including local high school students, advisor, and teacher. All of the participating businesses and walk team stakeholders will receive a thank-you note along with aggregated summary results.

The majority of businesses surveyed indicated that their respective business is operating in a positive state (e.g. 'Steady' or 'Increasing'). ‘Location’ and ‘Clientele’ were identified as positive aspects of doing business, followed by ‘Community’. When asked for areas where improvements might be made, survey respondents identified a number of areas including, but not limited to infrastructure, traffic flow, and crime reduction.

The results also found that the majority of businesses surveyed do not have a business recovery plan.