Chambers are always looking for more ways to demonstrate value for their members. And restaurant members are often the toughest customers to please. Their business hours and hectic schedules can prevent them from attending chamber functions, and sometimes they can get a little touchy if they aren’t the one selected to cater a big event.
Understand their point of view. Restaurant profit margins tend to be slim, and the industry is highly competitive. If a restaurant doesn’t have enough people walking through its doors every single day, it will be closed before you can say Business After Hours. So, aside from a link on your website, what are you doing to show value to this important but sometimes volatile segment of your membership?
Here are two easy and affordable ideas that leverage little more than the power of your chamber network, and you’ll likely benefit from an increase in social engagement to boot.
Pick a day, a week, a month (you decide) when you encourage your members to patronize member restaurants, but take it a step further by also encouraging them to share their positive experiences and/or photos of their delicious meals on social platforms.
Announce the effort on your social networks, provide a link to the restaurants section of your chamber’s online membership directory and then get out of the way as your members show their favorite member restaurants some social media love. Create a hashtag so you and others can follow the posts.
Don’t leave its success to chance. Launch the effort by personally asking your most enthusiastic volunteers to lead the charge when you send out the appeal. (Maybe a good job for your Ambassadors?)
It will probably be most effective if you designate a specific day of the month and keep it going continuously. You will build a following, your restaurant owners and managers will take notice and your members may even start doing it on their own without being nudged.
Help on Yelp (or other listing/rating sites)
As a chamber, you have the best access to the largest number of business professionals in your community. Shopping local is important to them and they also value doing business with other chamber members. And you encourage members to do business with other members, right?
Put all of those elements to work for you and your member restaurants by encouraging members to visit some of the top review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, etc.) and post honest, favorable reviews of the chamber member restaurants they love.
This is the kind of effort that could easily extend beyond just restaurants. Send out reminders on your social platforms periodically, encouraging members to help other members by posting reviews when they have a good experience at a member business.
Are these two tactics alone going to keep a restaurant from canceling its membership? Maybe not, but the little things can add up. It only costs you your time (and not much of that) to show them a little specialized attention. It’s something they’ll remember. It lets them know that you care about their success and it leaves them feeling good about the chamber.