Thanks to a partnership with the Flint/Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, my employer will save dollars in the high six digits that would have been used to pay property taxes over the next 10 years. No doubt, a pretty substantial return on their membership investment, right?
To help me gain traction in a new role as the operations director for a primary care practice in Flint, MI, I brought to the table nearly decade of being affiliated with Chambers during my time as a membership director at a not-for-profit. One of my first priorities when I started at my current job nearly two years ago was to set up a meeting with the local Chamber to determine how we could work together to advance economic development in our region. When Michigan Health Specialists decided to purchase and redevelop a vacant 27,000 sq ft building, investing $3.5M into the project, the Chamber staff was ready with a portfolio of programs that if leveraged would prove the value of membership ten times over, plus some.
While I was readily aware of the power of partnerships with chambers, it took at least five-seven conversations for me to commit to allocating the time to fully digest the opportunity, and to make the time for the administrative work to capture the rewards.
For Chamber staff who need to grow member recruitment and retention, the takeaway is monetizing return on investment for members in tangible ways will make a difference. Garnering the time and attention of executives in decision making roles will always be a challenge. Simply put, the success of Chamber staff efforts is very much dependent on the motivation of decision makers to act – and driving utilization of benefits that project intangible results, but actually deliver huge returns, is a constant challenge.
If your Chamber is wondering why more members don’t use your services, or why non-members don’t recognize Chamber membership as valuable, you should ask:
- How many times have we had the conversation about our services/benefits package?
- In all likelihood you’re going to get tired of messaging before the prospect realizes the true value, or allocates the time to execute
- How service-orientated are the staff that are doing outreach?
- A passion for communicating with difficult to pin down people and the capabilities to connect tidbits offered to a large benefit package must be a core skill set for your team
- Is there a relevant case study of a like-sized employer that’s seen big dollar returns from executing an initiative with the Chamber’s support?
- Lighting a fire under your prospect can happen, and using a recent, relevant case study can be the gas that pushes interest to a new level
The Flint/Genesee County Chamber has developed an excellent, service-orientated team that communicates and delivers on a value proposition: we can help you save money to grow your business in Flint. Thanks to their efforts, we’re poised to redirect resources into wages, marketing, and continuing education. Moreover, we’ve garnered additional credibility with local and state units of government.
It only took a half dozen conversations and a year of partnership building to pull off our first initiative. Does your organization and its staff have the same persistence and patience? If so, you are well positioned to grow membership satisfaction, recruitment and retention. If not, you’ve got a great example to draw from for a template on how Chambers should operate in today’s competitive, fast-paced business climate.