from the Executive Director
How Your Local Chamber Can Help your Restaurant Business
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Running a successful restaurant was hard enough even before COVID! Serving good food is often not enough to be successful in the restaurant industry. Restauranteurs struggle with everything from staffing to marketing, to supply chain issues all that on top of providing quality customer service.
The demands are endless but your local chamber of commerce can help. Here’s how to leverage a chamber membership to grow your restaurant’s visibility and profitability.
Half of all adults in the US have worked in a restaurant in some capacity during their working lives and 46% of restaurant employees want to open their own restaurant some day. Whether you’ve already made that dream happen or are working on it, a chamber membership can be a valuable investment in your success.
Here’s what your chamber can do for your restaurant marketing:
1. Location. Chamber members often have connections on available spaces and know about availability before the for sale or lease signs go up. They are plugged into the business community and have economic development connections. If you are new to the community, other Chamber members may also have the low-down on the current businesses climate and could be valuable neighbors.
2. Employees. Chambers are also in the know when it comes to people looking for jobs in the community. Our chamber provides an online job board to help you get your hiring message out. Many chambers are doing creative things these days to assist employers in overcoming the server/staff shortage.
3. Advocacy. Restaurant owners came to understand the importance of their voice being heard during the COVID outbreak. Chambers worked hard during Covid to advocate for their community’s restaurants to ensure they were able to operate as openly as possible. We are a resource for the restaurant owner’s voice to be heard on the municipal level but the chamber also can help your voice be heard on a state level as well when regulations or new legislation ]\affecting the industry is being proposed.
4. Funding. While there are many small business avenues for funding, the application process can be daunting. The chamber is well-versed in the options available and may be able to direct you to some you hadn’t even thought of. This was especially true with the funds and grants available due to COVID or through FEMA.
5. Social media teasers. Even if your restaurant isn’t open yet, the chamber can “tease” it’s audience about the delicious new dining that’s coming. You can get a sizable amount of interaction and shares on social media. It will not only bring attention to your restaurant but may also help build your follower count. If you’re already open, the chamber can share your specials on social media. We love promoting our members.
6. Shop local programs. We participate in many shop local programs that extend to restaurants as well. You can get additional free restaurant marketing by participating in these programs.
7. Referrals. We provide information to people who are new to town or planning events like conventions in the area. When visitors come into town, they often reach out for referrals of where to eat and what to do.
8. Ribbon cuttings. If you’re opening a restaurant, hosting a re-opening, or marking an anniversary or large launch (like being under new management), you can ask us about hosting a ribbon cutting to mark the occasion. We will work with you to invite the community. You can provide dining specials or other offers to bring people in on that special day.
9. Member to member discounts. We are happy to offer member to member discount programs to entice and/or reward chamber members for supporting one another. This is yet another way to get more people in the community to try your restaurant.
10. Run an event. We are always looking for ways to support our members by hosting events. You can bring in a crowd and get great exposure by hosting an event with the Chamber.
11. Cater an event. We also like to support our local members when we need catering for speaicla events. If you have a catering arm, let us know so we can work with you to partner on a larger event.
12. Host a cooking (or tasting) class. Another way to showcase your food and staff skills is by hosting a cooking class with the chamber. This is a great way to get exposure and let members know more about you and try you for future referrals.
13. Research. Every chamber member eats. True fact. As a member, you can poll people you meet to igure out their interest in new offerings, locations, and more.
14. Business know-how. If you are a restauranteur whose skills lie in areas outside of business (like making amazing food), you may be able to learn about business concepts for free with the chamber. We host sessions on things like social media, marketing, and branding. We’d love to learn to hear from you on the educational offerings you’d like to see. If you don’t have time to attend, know that as a chamber member, all of your employees are also members. Encourage your staff to attend instead.
15. Access to newsletter space. Our chamber sends out a weekly newsletter. We love to share our members news. We often highlight new businesses or share news and promotions. We also have advertising and sponsorship opportunities for special events through that year that can further your reach in the community.
16. Community membership. Our belief is that people view chamber members as being upstanding members of the community. Being a chamber member instills a feeling a confidence in the business. Displaying your chamber member logo in your window can invite people to dine with you.
17. Elevator pitches. The chamber can help you perfect your elevator pitch. While you may think that because everyone eats, the entire town is a candidate to dine with you, that is probably not true. There is a select clientele that you serve best. Figure out exactly who that is and what you do incredibly well and then use that to communicate every time you meet someone new at the chamber. Telling people you own the new restaurant on Main Street won’t bring in customers. Telling them you own the “new Thai-Mex place with a hot sauce you can’t forget” will entice the right kind of people (those who love a culinary adventure and hot sauce) to see if your claims are true.
18. Branding and content. Branding is important to a restaurant. It’s how people remember you. We can help you find an affordable designer or put you in contact with someone who can help you design your menu for amazing results.
19. Access to the Chamber Directory. We have an online directory of Chamber members that is a useful tool for finding reputable businesses that can meet a variety of needs. Our Chamber members strive to help and support each other.
20. Mentors. Yes, the restaurant industry is competitive but sometimes you just need the insights of someone who has been there before and gone through the challenges you’re going through. You want to know what they did or what they wish they hadn’t. The chamber is a great place to meet others in your industry, connect and share information.
21. Communicating the importance of reviews. We understand the importance of reviews and positive feedback. Our mission is to remind the community how much small businesses need them. We share social media posts on supporting our local business and you can easily share this as well with your audience. Or you can create your own and tag the chamber. We will then share and promote for even greater reach.
Running and marketing a restaurant is challenging but with the right connections through the chamber you can reach a larger part of the community. Chamber membership can be a wonderful investment in your business with a great return.